Maternity notes and what they mean

Maternity notes and what to do with them

After each appointment, your midwife will note down details in your maternity notes, which are a standardised, national maternity record which you will take to each antenatal appointment. It is important for you to take them with you wherever you go, including on holidays, in case you need medical attention while away from home. If you are unsure about anything in your notes than ask your maternity team to explain it to you.

Your notes may contain any of the following information:

  • Your name, address, hospital number and details
  • Your medical history including any conditions you currently suffer from or medications that you are currently taking or had previously
  • Your family history of conditions such as diabetes, blood pressure, etc
  • Information from previous pregnancies and birth
  • Your appointment times
  • Results of blood tests and investigations including ultrasound scans. These will include any information collected from checks in antenatal appointments, including blood pressure, urine tests, vaccines taken, foetal movements and heart.
  • Phone numbers for your wife, birth suite and hospital
  • Assessment of the baby’s growth
  • Any problems encountered during pregnancy
  • Your chosen preferences for birth
  • Information from your current pregnancy and birth including when labour started, how it progressed, foetal monitoring, posture during labour and delivery.

A breakdown of some possible abbreviations that may be found in your 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.