Your antenatal care is all of the help and support we give you before you baby is born.

Your first appointment

When you first find out that you are pregnant you should let your GP know. Your GP practice will arrange for you to see one of our community midwives. We will send you a welcome letter and an information pack to let you know what to expect.  One of our community midwives will contact you so that we can book your first appointment with us. This will be between the first 8 and 10 weeks of your pregnancy. 
Your first appointment will be over the telephone and it will take up to one hour.

  • We will ask you to tell us about your medical history.  This includes any other times you have been pregnant.
  • We will need to know your exact height and weight so please make sure you have this ready.  This is so we can calculate what your BMI is.
  • We will offer you some routine health screening tests.
  • We will also talk to you about where you would like to have your baby.

After your first appointment, we will arrange a routine blood test for you. This will take place within a week. When you attend for this appointment, we will also ask you to bring a urine sample. You can get a sample bottle from your GP surgery. We will also record your blood pressure and do some other checks.

Your care during pregnancy

After your first appointment, we will know if your pregnancy is low risk or high risk. If you are low risk, your community midwife will lead your care. We will see you at certain points during your pregnancy. This is to check that everything is ok. We will also make sure you know who to contact if you are worried about anything.

  • 12 week scan with appointment for bloods if you consent for screening tests
  • 16 week Community Midwife review
  • 20 week scan 
  • 25 week Community Midwife review – Offered whooping cough vaccine
  • 28 week Community Midwife review – 28 week blood screening performed
  • 31 week Community Midwife review
  • 34 week Community Midwife review
  • 36 week Community Midwife review
  • 38 week Community Midwife review
  • 40 week Community Midwife review

If your pregnancy is high risk, you will still have all of these appointments. We will also arrange for you to see a Consultant at certain points as well. We may also need to do more scans to keep checking everything is ok with your baby.

Screening tests

We will offer you screening tests while you are pregnant.This is to help us assess the development and wellbeing of you and your baby.The tests can help you make informed choices about your care and treatment throughout your pregnancy. If you have any questions, you can talk to your Community Midwife. You can also telephone the screening team on 0191 5410186.

For more information, click on the links below.

  • NHS Screening Tests Leaflet - including informative videos
  • Screening Information - we advise all mothers to read this prior to seeing your midwife for your first antenatal booking, as it explains the various screening tests on offer
  • Arc UK - the only national charity helping parents and healthcare professionals through antenatal screening and its consequences

Ultrasound scans

Your first scan takes place between 8-14 weeks. This is your dating scan, where we determine your baby’s due date.

Your second scan is more detailed and means we can check everything is ok with your baby. This will take place between weeks 19 and 22 of your pregnancy. It is at this point you may find out the likely sex of your baby. 

If your pregnancy is high risk, you may need more scans.  This is so that we can keep checking everything is ok with your baby. We know that scans are an important point in your pregnancy. You are very welcome to bring one other person with you to your scans. There is no food allowed in the scan rooms but you can bring bottled water. You will also need to switch off your mobile phone. We do not allow photos or filming.
If you are under 16 years old, you legal guardian must come with you. You can also bring one other person.

Consultant-led clinics

If you are high risk, you will need to see a consultant during your pregnancy. If you are low risk, you may also need to see a consultant if you start to have any problems.

These appointments may be over the phone. If not, we will ask you to attend one of our antenatal units.This could be in South Tyneside or Sunderland and this depends on where you live.

When you attend, we will carry out some health checks before you speak to the consultant. This will include a blood pressure check, a carbon monoxide test and a urine sample. 

The consultant will then talk to you. Together we will make a plan for your ongoing pregnancy and birth. You will be fully involved in this and we will listen to your wishes about your plan of care. You can also ask us any questions you have.

Early Pregnancy Assessment

If you have any vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy we are here to support you. If this happens between 7 and 14 weeks, contact your GP or speak to your Community Midwife. They will arrange for a scan to check everything is ok.

If this bleeding is heavy and you feel unwell, this could be more serious. You should go to your local Emergency Department as soon as possible.

Antenatal Day Unit

We have two Antenatal Day Units. You will attend appointments here during your pregnancy. If you need to attend, we will arrange an appointment for you.

South Tyneside District Hospital  Sunderland Royal Hospital
Telephone: 0191 404 1031 Telephone: 0191 5699181
Opening hours:
Monday: 2 - 5pm
Tuesday: 9 - 5pm
Wednesday: 2 - 5pm
Thursday: 9 - 5pm
Friday: 2 - 5pm
Opening hours:
Monday: 8.30am - 8.30pm
Tuesday: 8.30am - 8.30pm 
Wednesday: 8.30am - 8.30pm
Thursday: 8.30am - 8.30pm 
Friday: 8.30am - 8.30pm
Saturday: 8.30am - 8.30pm 
Sunday: 8.30am - 8.30pm 

If you have any concerns about your baby please up the phone and contact us at any time. We are here to support and reassure you. We will make sure you get the help you need and we will check everything is ok with your baby.

Antenatal Classes

We run lots of free support classes to help you and your family prepare for your new arrival. To book, please call 0191 404 1031.

Class Days  Time Location
Parent Education
This class will discuss labour, pain relief, active birth and water birth.
Every Thursday  6-8pm  
Infant Feeding 
This class will cover bonding with baby, benefits of skin-to-skin contact, breast and bottle feeding information. 
Every Tuesday  6-8pm  

Virtual Classes
We have also created new virtual antenatal class videos. Click the links below to view: 

NB: If you need to watch these videos in another language please follow these instructions: 
1.    Click the link to take you to the video 
2.    Click on the settings icon 
3.    Select Subtitles/CC then select Auto Translate 
4.    A list of languages should then appear for you to choose from.

Anaesthetic Assessment Clinic

An antenatal clinic is available for mothers with pre-existing medical problems and those with anticipated anaesthetic difficulties, to discuss these with an Obstetric Anaesthetist.

Referrals to this clinic are reviewed by the Obstetric Anaesthetic Team and either a telephone or face-to-face appointment is made if required.

If you would like to speak to an Anaesthetist, this referral must be done through your Obstetrician or Midwife.

Your baby’s movements

Feeling your baby move is a sign that they are well. It is not true that babies move less toward the end of pregnancy. You should feel your baby move right up to the time you go into labour and whilst you are in labour too. Take time to get to know your baby’s normal pattern of movement.

When should you start to feel movement?
You should start to feel your baby move at around 16-24 weeks. This might feel like a kick or a flutter. Some people describe it like a swish or a roll. It might feel different as you move through your pregnancy. This is normal.

How often will your baby move?
There is no set number of normal movements. Your baby will have its own pattern. You should feel your baby move more and more up until 32 weeks. It will then stay roughly the same until you give birth.
What should you do if you are worried about your baby’s movements?

If you think your baby’s movements have slowed down, changed or stopped, please let us know as soon as possible. You should contact your community midwife or call any of the numbers below:

  • South Tyneside Antenatal Day Unit - 0191 404 1031
  • Sunderland Antenatal Day Unit - 0191 569 9181
  • Delivery suite at Sunderland Royal Hospital – 0191 569 9777 

We are a 24/7 service. You should never put off getting in touch with us if you are worried. Please don’t use home hand-held Dopplers or phone apps to check your baby’s heartbeat. Please telephone us and get checked over. We will arrange to see you as soon as possible.

What if I notice my baby’s movements reduce after my check up?
Please ring us back as soon as possible. You should still ring us even if everything was normal last time we saw you. Reduced movements can sometimes be the first sign that something is wrong. Over half of women who have had a stillbirth notice that their baby’s movements slow down or stop. 

Useful documents

Healthy eating in pregnancy

What food should I eat in pregnancy?

You don't need to spend lots of money, or go on a special diet.  You just need a balance of the right types of food. These include:

  • Fruit and vegetables.
  • Starchy foods like bread, potatoes, cereals, rice, pasta and noodles. 
  • Protein foods like fish, chicken, beans and nuts. 
  • Eggs. Pregnant people can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked hen eggs (as long as they have the British Lion stamp).
  • Dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt. 

What should I avoid?
There are certain foods that you should avoid while you're pregnant.   This is because they can put your baby's health at risk. These include some types of cheese and raw or undercooked meat.  You can find out more here.

Do I have to eat for two when pregnant?
No – this is a myth! You might feel more hungry than usual, but even if you are expecting twins, you don't need to eat extra portions.  If you eat the right types of food this should help you feel fuller for longer.  In the final three months of your pregnancy, you'll need an extra 200 calories a day.  This is the same as two slices of bread and margarine.

Can I get financial help with food costs?
Yes. If you are more than 10 weeks pregnant and receive benefits, you can get help to buy healthy food, milk and vitamins.  You can find out more and apply here.

Smoking in Pregnancy

Smoking is not good for you or your unborn baby. Giving up can be hard, but if you're pregnant, now is definitely the time to get help. We are here to support you and give you the treatment you need to help with your addiction.  Please ask your GP or Community Midwife for help as soon as possible.

Why is smoking harmful to my baby?
When you smoke, all of the harmful toxins that you breathe in also go into your baby's body. It means your baby will struggle for oxygen. This affects how they grow and develop. If you smoke when you are pregnant, you will increase the risk of losing your baby. There will be more chance of you going into labour prematurely. You will also increase the risk of your baby being born with health problems. Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for you and your baby.  You can find out more here.

Will you ask me if I smoke? 
Yes. This is one of the first things we will ask you about.  We will also want to know if anyone else in your household smokes. This is so we can support you and your family to stop smoking as early as possible. We will give you all the help and support you need.

I’m a smoker, so what should I do?

The best thing you can do is to stop completely – not just cut down. There is no safe level of smoking, either for you or your baby. To help you with this, your Midwife can refer you to services that will help you.  The earlier that you stop, the bigger the benefit will be to you and your baby.   If you stop smoking before 15 weeks, this means there is less chance of having your baby early.

I don’t smoke but others around me do – is my baby still at risk?
Yes. If you breathe in other people’s smoke this can also harm your baby. This is passive smoking. It also increases the risk of losing your baby. If you live with someone who smokes it means there will be more chance of you going into labour early. It also increases the risk of your baby being born with health problems. You should ask people to smoke outside of the house and not anywhere near you or your baby.  This includes in the car.  You should also try to keep away from places where people are smoking. If you live with someone who is a smoker, they can be referred to a specialist stop smoking support team.

Exercise in Pregnancy

Doing some gentle exercise when you are pregnant is good (and safe) for you and your baby.  It will help you stay a healthy weight and help prepare your body for labour.

If you are used to doing regular exercise, you should keep it up. You should do what feels comfortable for your body but don’t push yourself too much.  

If you're not used to exercising, or haven’t done any for a while, it’s a good time to start. Try and do 10 or 20 minutes a day.  Exercise has loads of benefits for pregnant people.

No matter what your fitness level is, you should always listen to your own body.  Do what feels right for you. You should be able to talk to someone while you are doing exercise. If you can't manage this, you need to slow down.

Which types of exercise can I do?
There are lots of different types of exercise that you can enjoy whilst pregnant. This includes:

  • Walking 
  • Swimming
  • Jogging  
  • Running 
  • Yoga 
  • Aerobics classes 
  • Pelvic floor exercises 

There are also some types of exercise that you should avoid.  This includes things like team sports and more extreme sports.  You can find out more here. Whatever you do, make sure you warm up before and cool down afterwards. You should also drink plenty of water.

Keeping your baby safe during pregnancy and birth

Keeping you and your baby safe is our number one priority. 

We are working together to ensure that the care provided across our Local Maternity System is driven by best practice, and that every step is taken to ensure the best possible outcomes for you and your baby. As a partner in your care we also want to encourage you to ensure that you are doing everything possible to keep yourself and your baby as safe as possible during your pregnancy too. 

This leaflet tells you more about what we are doing to implement the national Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle Version 3 and what this could mean for how we care for you and your baby.