Antenatal care

Antenatal care is a planned visit between a pregnant woman and a midwife or doctor to assess and improve the wellbeing of the mother and baby throughout pregnancy. Antenatal care is associated with positive maternal and child health outcomes.

Duration of pregnancy at first antenatal visit

Regular antenatal care in the first trimester (before 14 weeks gestational age) is associated with better maternal health in pregnancy, fewer interventions in late pregnancy and positive child health outcomes.

The Australian Pregnancy Care Guidelines (DoH 2018) recommend that a woman has her first antenatal visit within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

The majority of women attend antenatal care in the first trimester, nationally and across all states and territories. Some mothers were less likely to have an antenatal visit in the first trimester, including those:

  • who were aged under 20
  • who smoked during pregnancy
  • who were born overseas
  • who had given birth previously.

Number of antenatal visits

The Australian Pregnancy Care Guidelines (DoH 2018) recommend that first-time mothers with an uncomplicated pregnancy have 10 antenatal care visits during pregnancy (7 visits for subsequent uncomplicated pregnancies).

More than 9 in 10 mothers had at least 5 or more antenatal visits during their pregnancy. This proportion was slightly less among teenage mothers (aged under 20) and mothers who smoked during pregnancy. The proportion of mothers who had 5 or more antenatal visits decreased as the number of previous pregnancies increased.

Antenatal visits and Primary Health Networks

The proportion of mothers attending an antenatal care visit in the first trimester and the proportion of mothers attending at least 5 or more antenatal visits varied across Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

The proportion of mothers who attended an antenatal care visit in the first trimester ranged from about 1 in 3 women to about 9 in 10 women across Primary Health Network (PHN) areas. A high proportion of mothers attended 5 or more antenatal visits across all PHN areas—ranging from 4 in 5 to more than 9 in 10.

References

DoH (Department of Health) 2018. Clinical Practice Guidelines: Pregnancy Care. Canberra: DoH.