National Antenatal Care Guidelines

National Evidence-Based Antenatal Care Guidelines have been developed by the Australian Government in collaboration with state and territory governments.

Page last updated: 28 January 2014

National Evidence-Based Antenatal Care Guidelines

The Guidelines are designed to support Australian maternity services to provide high-quality, evidence-based antenatal care to healthy pregnant women. The Guidelines will assist health care professionals who contribute to antenatal care including: midwives, general practitioners, obstetricians, maternal and child health nurses, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, multicultural health workers, practice nurses, sonographers and allied health professionals.The recommendations cover a wide range of care including routine physical examinations, screening tests and social and lifestyle advice for women with an uncomplicated pregnancy.

The development of the Guidelines has been undertaken in two Modules. Module 1 of the Guidelines which is available through the link below covers care in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Clinical Practice Guidelines - Antenatal care - Module 1 (PDF 4026 KB)
Clinical Practice Guidelines - Antenatal care - Module 1 (HTML)

Module 1 contains chapters on ‘Providing woman-centred care’, ‘Antenatal care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’ and ‘Population groups with specific care needs’ such as women in rural and remote areas. Clinical topics covered relate to antenatal visits, clinical assessments, screening of maternal and fetal health, and lifestyle considerations. The Guidelines complement the Australian Dietary Guidelines, the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol, the National Perinatal Depression Initiative and the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015.

Module 2 of the Guidelines addresses the care in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and is currently being developed.

Expert input and public consultation

The Guidelines recommendations have been informed by clinical evidence. The evidence base for the Guidelines’ recommendations has been analysed in accordance with National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) requirements. An Expert Advisory Committee (EAC) has been appointed to develop the content of the Guidelines. The EAC includes members with expertise in midwifery, obstetrics, maternal fetal medicine, gynaecology, maternal mental health and perinatal and infant development.

A number of working groups were established by the EAC to provide specialised advice. An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Working Group and a Migrant and Refugee Working Group ensure appropriate focus on the needs of these populations.

In June 2011 public consultation was undertaken on a draft of Module 1, resulting in over fifty submissions from health departments, non-government organisations, health services and individuals. The EAC considered all submissions for the Guidelines, reviewed the evidence and revised several recommendations accordingly.

Public consultation on the draft of Module 2 was undertaken in June 2013. The EAC have since included a chapter of diabetes in pregnancy. Public consultation on the draft of the diabetes in pregnancy chapter is open for submissions between 25 January 2014 to 24 February 2014. Submission can be made at Clinical Practice Guidelines – Module 2 – diabetes in pregnancy.

National approach to Guideline development

In November 2010 all Health Ministers agreed to the National Maternity Services Plan which included the development of National Evidence-Based Antenatal Care Guidelines as a priority under Action 2.1: Ensure Australian maternity services provide high-quality, evidence-based maternity care.

The Department is managing the development of the Guidelines on behalf of all Australian Governments.

NHMRC and AHMAC approved

Module 1 of the Guidelines was approved by the NHMRC on 6 December 2011, then endorsed by the AHMAC (with a minor amendment) on 31 August 2012. This required re-approval by the NHMRC which was received on 17 December 2012.

Module 2 will cover the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and is currently under development. Once submissions have been considered, Module 2 will be finalised for consideration by NHMRC and AHMAC with publication anticipated in mid 2014.

Expert Advisory Committee

The EAC membership includes experts in obstetrics, midwifery, psychiatry, general practice, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, rural health and a consumer representative.

Expert Advisory Committee Co-Chairs

Professor Caroline Homer
Professor of Midwifery
Director: Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health,
Associate Dean (International and Development)
Associate Head: World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and health Development, Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Sydney.

Professor Jeremy Oats
Chair Victorian Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity
Medical Co-Director Northern Territory Integrated Maternity Services
Professorial Fellow Melbourne School Population and Global Health, Department Obstetrics and Gynaecology University of Melbourne.

Expert Advisory Committee Terms of Reference

  1. Provide advice, expertise and direction on the appropriateness of the guidelines to promote optimal care for pregnant women across Australia
  2. Supervise the party that is commissioned to:
    1. Consult with a number of advisory groups to draft and review evidence-based guidelines as well as national and international literature on antenatal care with specific attention to the health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women, their families and other vulnerable groups;
    2. Consult widely to develop evidence based guidelines that will function as a useful resource for clinicians and pregnant women and their families in a variety of Australian healthcare contexts;
    3. Undertake analysis of harms and benefits in the Australian context and determine the costs/benefits and cost effectiveness of proposed interventions in accordance with available literature;
  3. Produce a dissemination plan for the implementation and determine a process for ongoing monitoring of clinical uptake of the guidelines.
  4. Ensure the guidelines are developed as set out in the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) protocols and approved by the NHMRC.

Secretariat Contact Details

Email: Antenatal Care Guidelines at Department of Health
Mail: National Evidence-Based Antenatal Care Guidelines Secretariat
MDP 856
Department of Health
PO Box 9848
Canberra ACT 2601

Document help

When accessing large documents (over 500 KB in size), it is recommended that the following procedure be used:

  1. Click the link with the RIGHT mouse button
  2. Choose "Save Target As.../Save Link As..." depending on your browser
  3. Select an appropriate folder on a local drive to place the downloaded file

Attempting to open large documents within the browser window (by left-clicking) may inhibit your ability to continue browsing while the document is opening and/or lead to system problems.

To view PDF (Portable Document Format) documents, you will need to have a PDF reader installed on your computer. A number of PDF readers are available through the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) Web Guide website.