Traditionally, the ‘booking’ appointment was when a woman ‘booked’ a place in the local maternity unit for the birth of her baby. This is no longer a formal requirement, but the term is still used.
The ‘booking’ appointment is usually held somewhere between ten and twelve weeks of pregnancy, as recommended by NICE national guidelines. It is often the first time you will have met the midwife who will be organising, and in most cases providing the majority of, your antenatal care.
This appointment is an opportunity for you and your midwife to get to know each other. You will have a chance to ask any questions you may have and discuss the plan for your antenatal care; the schedule for appointments, blood tests, scans, classes etc. Your midwife will ask you lots of questions about your medical history, your family’s medical history, your partner and your partner’s family’s medical history, about any previous pregnancies you have had and how this pregnancy has been so far. Your answers to these questions will help to build up a picture of your current state of health, and will also help identify any factors which may affect your pregnancy – for example, if your mother and sisters suffered from pre-eclampsia, research has suggested that you may be more likely to suffer from it too. 1,2
Your midwife will also take your blood pressure, weigh you, test your urine and also listen to the baby’s heartbeat if you are twelve or more weeks pregnant. She may also take some blood tests. These observations provide a useful ‘baseline’ for future antenatal checks.
For more information about the booking appointment, and antenatal care in general, see the NICE guidelines at: http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/CG6_ANTENATAL_CARE_A5.pdf
1 Pre-eclampsia Community Guideline (Precog) 2004
2 Skjaerven et al 2005: BMJ 331, 877-879