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Antenatal care is the systemic medical supervision of women during pregnancy. Its aim is to preserve the physiological aspect of pregnancy and labour and to prevent or detect, as early as possible, all that is pathological. Early diagnosis during pregnancy can prevent maternal ill-health, injury, maternal mortality, foetal death, infant mortality and morbidity. Hence, the earlier in pregnancy a woman comes under the supervision of an obstetrician, the better.

Antenatal care begins with 'history-taking' and is followed by a complete examination of the patient. Thereafter, the mother-to-be receives advice and instructions about her mode of life, diet and regular antenatal check-ups till labour sets in. The obstetric history begins with the age of the mother and includes information about the number of years since marriage, number of pregnancies, previous deliveries, abortions, pre-term labour, complications during previous pregnancies or labor, etc. Difficulties in previous deliveries, application of forceps, caesarean births and the birth weight of former children is also important.

The date of the last menstrual period and the duration and frequency of normal menstrual cycles as also the calculation of the expected date of delivery is done at this stage. The due date is calculated by adding nine months and seven days to the first day of the last menstrual period.

A general history is necessary and asked for regarding the occurrence of any illness in the past - German measles, rheumatic fever, tuberculosis, and psychological disorders. A family history of diabetes mellitus or hypertension is also enquired into.