Your employee’s antenatal care

During her pregnancy, your employee will have various appointments to monitor her health and that of her baby, along with classes to prepare her for labour, delivery and the early days of caring for her baby.
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It’s important for her to attend these appointments. While they may sometimes seem inconvenient in terms of her workload, the monitoring and support they offer mean that she will be:

  • more likely to stay healthy during her pregnancy
  • more confident and less likely to be stressed
  • more likely to work well throughout her pregnancy
  • able to continue working for as long as possible.

Can she take paid time off for antenatal appointments?

Yes, once she has informed you that she’s pregnant, your employee is entitled to paid time off for antenatal appointments. This applies whether she is full-time or part-time. She is also entitled to paid time off for relaxation and parentcraft classes. This paid time includes travel to the appointments.

A worker who is not an employee should also be given time off to attend antenatal appointments, although this may be unpaid.

If necessary, you can request confirmation from your employee’s doctor or midwife that relaxation and parentcraft classes are part of her antenatal care. You can also ask to see an appointment card or other evidence of any antenatal appointment, apart from the first one.

It is reasonable for you to ask for as much notice as possible of your employee’s appointments, so that you can plan ahead for any absence.

When are the antenatal appointments likely to be?

If this is your employee’s first baby and her pregnancy is straightforward, she’ll have around ten appointments.

The first one is called the booking appointment and usually happens in the first trimester, when she’s between eight and 12 weeks pregnant. The booking appointment normally takes considerably longer than later appointments – around an hour or more.

After the booking appointment, she is likely to have routine appointments at around 16, 25, 28, 31, 34, 36, 38 and 40 weeks. There will be an extra appointment at 41 weeks if she hasn’t had her baby by then.

If she has had a baby before, and her pregnancy is uncomplicated, she will probably have just seven appointments. After her booking appointment, she will be checked at around 16, 28, 34, 36, 38 and 41 weeks (if necessary).

If your employee has health issues, has had problems in a previous pregnancy or there are concerns about her or her baby, she may have extra appointments. To find out more: http://www.tommys.org/page.aspx?pid=298 

Will my employee need to attend other medical appointments?

Ultrasound scans

In addition to her antenatal appointments, your pregnant employee will normally be offered two ultrasound scans during her pregnancy.

The first of these takes place between 11 and 14 weeks and is to confirm the due date, check whether there is more than one baby and possibly assess the risk of any problems.

The second scan is done between 18 and 22 weeks and shows how the baby is growing, the health and position of the placenta and whether there are any visible problems with the baby or babies.

She will only be offered extra scans if there is a medical need.

Diagnostic tests

Your employee will also be offered the option of screening to assess the risk that the baby could be affected by certain health conditions or disabilities. This can be done during the regular antenatal and scan appointments.

If the screening test indicates a problem, your employee will be offered a diagnostic test if she would like to know more. There are two diagnostic tests, both of which carry a very small risk of miscarriage: Click here to find out more

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)

Done between weeks 11 and 14, this test takes a sample from the placenta via a needle inserted through the abdomen. Occasionally, a fine pair of forceps is passed through the cervix instead.

Amniocentesis

This is done after 15 weeks and involves taking a sample of the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby via a thin needle inserted through the abdomen.

What are antenatal classes?

Antenatal classes, also known as parentcraft classes, are a way for expectant parents to learn about labour and birth, and how to look after a new baby.

Classes are not just for first pregnancies – many women who are expecting their second or subsequent baby can benefit from them as well.

If parentcraft classes are part of your employee’s antenatal care, you should allow her reasonable time to attend.

NHS antenatal classes generally start around eight to ten weeks before the baby is due and tend to be held weekly over several weeks. Classes can be in the day or evening (although your employee may not have a choice, as provision varies depending on area) and usually last around two hours.