If you’re feeling a bit confused by it all, here’s what you might want to know about your notes
What are your maternity notes or maternity notes folder?
Maternity notes, or handheld notes, are a record book/folder where your midwife will note down details of each appointment. They’re a standardised, national maternity record and you’ll need to take them with you to each antenatal appointment.
When to take them with you
Take your maternity notes wherever you go (within reason…) including on holidays, in case you need medical attention when you’re away from home. It might not be easy to understand everything in your notes, so it’s a good idea to ask your maternity team to explain anything you’re unsure about.
What’s in your maternity (handheld) notes
Your maternity notes contain the following information:
- Your name, address and hospital number and details.
- Your medical history including any disease you are currently suffering from and medications you are taking.
- Your family medical history, for example if any of your family members suffered from medical conditions like diabetes, blood pressure etc.
- Information about previous pregnancies and births.
- Your appointment times.
- Results of blood tests and investigations including ultrasound scans.
- Phone numbers for your midwife, birth suite and hospital etc.
- Information collected by your midwife during antenatal checks. This includes your blood pressure, urine tests, vaccines taken, foetal movements and foetal heart. It also includes the way your baby is lying in the womb and engagement – how deep the baby’s head is below the brim of the pelvis.
- Assessment of the baby’s growth inside the womb.
- Any problems encountered during pregnancy.
- Preferences for birth, eg where you would like to give birth, who’ll be your birth partner, what pain relief methods you would like.
- When your labour started and how it progressed. This will include foetal heart monitoring, your posture during labour and delivery, what type of birth you had and how the placenta was delivered.
Pamphlets and extra information
As well as all the above information about you, you may be given:
- Phone numbers for charities that work with parents and babies.
- Pamphlets on topics you might find interesting, eg breastfeeding, eating well when you’re pregnant.
- Advice on issues during pregnancy.
Meaning of abbreviations used in maternity notes
Urine test results (for presence of protein or sugar)
NAD: nothing abnormal detected
Nil: none found
Tr (trace): small amount of sugar or protein found
+ , ++ , +++: presence of greater amount or protein
Heartbeat or activity
FHH: foetal heart heard
FHHR: foetal heart heard and regular
FHNH: foetal heart not heard
FMF: foetal movements felt
Position of your baby – the way it is lying in the womb
L: longitudinal (length-wise)
O: oblique (slanting)
T: transverse (sideways)
Which part it presents towards the birth canal
C: cephalic (head first – also called as vertex)
B or Br: bottom first or breech
OA: occiput anterior (head down, facing your back)
OP: occiput posterior (head down, facing your front)
OL: occiput lateral (head down, facing your side)
L or R in front of these tell you which side of your body your baby is.
Engagement of baby’s head in the pelvis
NE, NEng, Not Eng: not engaged
E or Eng = engaged
5/5 = free
4/5 = sitting on the pelvic brim
3/5 = lower but most still above the brim
2/5 = engaged, as most is below the brim
1/5 or 0/5 = deeply engaged.
If it’s your first baby, engagement tends to happen in the last weeks. In subsequent pregnancies, it may happen later or even not until labour has started.
This page was last reviewed in May 2018.
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.