YOUR MATERNITY NOTES: WHAT DO THEY MEAN?
Your maternity notes are records of your pregnancy journey. They provide you and your health care provider with vital information that helps to keep tabs on your pregnancy. Sadly, many women cannot make head or tail of it. If you find yourself in this category of women, worry no more. This guide provides you with all that you need to know to make sense of your maternity notes. So let's dive in!
WHAT ARE YOUR MATERNITY NOTES?
Your first antenatal appointment (the booking appointment) is when your midwife or health caregiver takes the first set of notes in your maternity notes. They will take down more notes into your maternity notes at every other appointment. These notes provide them with important information about you, your baby and your pregnancy so they can offer you the best of health care. Most often, maternity notes come in the form of record books or folders. You have to keep them with you and bring them along at every appointment. However, these days, most health providers offer the option of accessing your maternity notes online by simply downloading an app.
If you prefer this option, speak to your midwife or health caregiver about it.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR MATERNITY NOTES?
You should take your maternity notes with you to every antenatal appointment. Your midwife or health caregiver will record the details of the appointment in your maternity notes. You should also keep your maternity notes in a safe place and read them as often as possible. If you come across anything you do not understand, ask your midwife or health caregiver about it. And you should take your maternity notes with you when you are travelling out. That way, if you have an emergency, the maternity notes can guide whoever is taking care of you. Do also put them in your hospital bag when you are prepping up for D-day, so you don't leave them behind.
WHAT INFORMATION WILL YOU FIND IN YOUR MATERNITY NOTES?
Essentially, your maternity notes provide enough information about you, your health, medical history, baby, and how your pregnancy is progressing. They also give information about any specific treatment you may need depending on your past pregnancy experiences or current pregnancy. In detail, all this information will cover:
- Name, address and other contact details, federal or provincial health insurance plan number, next of kin, and your partner's details. Plus other personal information your health care provider will ask you to provide.
- Contact details of all health professionals giving you care and treatment, such as your midwife, GP, and the contact details of the hospital switchboard, birth suite and antenatal clinic.
- Complete medical history, which includes current illnesses or complications, medications, and mental health.
- Family's medical history, which includes all diseases or conditions which are hereditary.
- Details on any past pregnancies, births or miscarriages.
- All appointments dates and due date.
- Results of all tests and medical exams done such as blood tests, ultrasound scans and screening tests.
- Details of all antenatal appointments, such as vaccinations, urine tests, blood pressure, heart rate, fetal movements, your baby's lying position, and any problems noticed during these appointments.
- Checks on your baby's growth.
- Your birth plan, which details your preferences concerning your place of birth, the type of birth you want to have, what kind of pain relief you prefer, who you've chosen as your birth partner, etc.
If there's no space in your maternity notes to write your birth plan, write it out on a separate sheet and attach it to your maternity notes. That way, you always have them intact.
OTHER INFORMATION YOU WILL FIND IN YOUR MATERNITY NOTES
Apart from the above information, you will find other vital information in your maternity notes. These are information on how to stay healthy during your pregnancy, your baby's movements, and how to keep infections at bay. You will also find information on pregnancy complications and how to deal with them. In addition, you may find information about charities and support groups that assist parents and babies.
MATERNITY NOTES ABBREVIATIONS
When your midwife or other professionals are taking down notes in your maternity notes, they use abbreviations. These are some of the common ones and their meanings. There are abbreviations for your pregnancy, health, baby, labour and birth.
- EDB (your expected date of birth) or EDD (your expected date of delivery).
- LMP (your last menstrual period): This refers to the date of the first day of your last period.
- Length of Pregnancy (24 + 3): this means 24 weeks and 3 days pregnant.
- Para (or P): This refers to how many babies you've had before. Early pregnancy losses are recorded after a plus sign. For example, 2 + 1 means 2 previous births and 1 miscarriage.
- BP (blood pressure): This has two readings, the systolic blood pressure and the diastolic blood pressure.
- Hb (haemoglobin): A low haemoglobin shows you have anaemia.
- BMI (body mass index): This shows if you have a healthy weight.
- Urine test: This test shows the amount of protein or glucose in your urine. Too much protein can be a sign of an infection or pre-eclampsia, while too much glucose can mean you have diabetes.
- NAD: This means nothing abnormal detected.
- GA (gestation): This shows how many weeks your pregnancy is.
- Fetal Heart: This can either be the FHH (Fetal Heart Heard) or the FHHR (Fetal Heart Heard and Regular).
- FMF (Fetal Movement Felt): This shows your baby's movements in your womb or your baby's 'kicks'.
- FH (Fundal Height): This is the measurement from the top of your uterus called the fundus to the top of your pubic bone. This measurement is taken using a centimetre tape measure. The measurements taken are put on a growth chart to monitor your baby's growth.
- Position of baby: This is can be L (longitudinal, running lengthwise), O (oblique, diagonal), OA (occiput anterior - baby' s head is down and facing your back), OP (occiput posterior - baby's head is down and facing your front), OL (occiput lateral - baby's head is down and facing your side). L or R is written in front of OA , OP and OL to show which part of your body your baby is lying.
- Presentation of baby: This refers to the part of your baby which is pointing down in the birth canal. This can either be C or Vx (cephalic or vertex), which means the baby's head is pointing down or it can be Br (bottom first or breech).
- Engagement of baby: This shows how deep the presenting part of your baby is below the brim of your pelvis. This is measured in fifths. For example, 5/5 = free, 4/5 = sitting on the pelvis brim, 3/5 = lower but most still above the brim, 2/5 = engaged, most is below the brim and 1/5 or 0/5 = deeply engaged.
If you are a first-time mum, chances are that you will experience engagement in the last weeks of your pregnancy.
Your Labour And Birth
- SROM (spontaneous rapture of membranes)
- IOL (induction of labour)
- VE (vaginal examination)
- Elective section which refers to a planned caesarean section.
- LCSC: This refers to a lower segment caesarean section.
- ARM (artificial rapture of membranes)
- CTG (cardiotocograph): This is a way of checking your baby' heart beat.
- Cx (cervix): This is the neck of your womb. It can become thin, short or dilate during labour up to 10cm.
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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