What is antenatal care and why is it important?

Different women have different needs during their pregnancy. Timely monitoring of mothers and babies improves health outcomes. Antenatal care is a system of planned visits with a midwife and/or doctor during pregnancy to support promoting healthy lifestyles, and screening for and managing health problems to help both mother and baby (WHO 2016).

Antenatal care, especially in the first trimester (before 14 weeks gestational age), assists to identify high risk pregnancies, and is associated with positive maternal and child health outcomes (AIHW 2020). The Clinical Practice Guidelines - Pregnancy Care (DoH 2019) recommend that the first antenatal visit occurs within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy and that first-time mothers with an uncomplicated pregnancy attend 10 visits (7 visits for subsequent uncomplicated pregnancies).

In Australia, there are a number of ways women can access antenatal care services. These include public hospital services, general practitioners, public and private obstetricians and midwifery services. This report only includes antenatal services covered by the MBS. Services provided in antenatal clinics run by public hospital staff within public hospitals are not claimable on the MBS and are therefore not covered in this report. It is currently unknown what proportion of services this represents.


AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare). 2020. National Core Maternity Indicators. Cat. no. PER 95. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 20 November 2020

DoH (Australian Government Department of Health). 2019. Clinical Practice Guidelines: Pregnancy Care. Canberra: DoH. Viewed 20 November 2020

WHO (World Health Organization). 2016. WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. Geneva: WHO. Viewed 20 November 2020