National Antenatal Care Guidelines

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. Development of the Guidelines has been coordinated by the Australian Government in collaboration with state and territory governments.

Page last updated: 13 November 2015

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. They are intended as a standard reference for health 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 in the Guidelines cover a wide range of care including routine physical examinations, screening tests and social and lifestyle advice for women with an uncomplicated pregnancy. By providing a summary of the currently available evidence on many aspects of antenatal care, the Guidelines aim to promote consistency of care and improve the experience and outcomes of antenatal care for all families.

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.

The development of the Guidelines was undertaken in two Modules. Module 1, available through the link below, covers care in the first trimester of pregnancy. 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.

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

Module 2, available through the link below, addresses care in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and provides guidance on core practices, lifestyle considerations, clinical assessments, common conditions and maternal health tests for healthy pregnant women.

On 24 February 2015 an addendum was issued making two minor changes to the text of Module 2. The addendum is available through the link below. The PDF and Word versions below include the changes.

Clinical Practice Guidelines - Antenatal care - Module 2 (including Addendum) (PDF 6066 KB)
Clinical Practice Guidelines - Antenatal care - Module 2 (including Addendum) (Word 2855 KB)

Addendum No. 1 to Clinical Practice Guidelines - Antenatal care - Module 2 (PDF 442 KB)
Addendum No. 1 to Clinical Practice Guidelines - Antenatal care - Module 2 (Word 14 KB)

Guideline Development

The Guidelines were developed in accordance with National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) requirements which include development of recommendations informed by clinical evidence and public consultation. An Expert Advisory Committee (EAC), with expertise in midwifery, obstetrics, maternal fetal medicine, maternal mental health and perinatal and infant development, developed the content of the Guidelines. Working groups were established by the EAC to provide specialised advice: an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Antenatal Care Working Group and a Migrant and Refugee Women’s Working Group.

Public consultation was undertaken on both Modules, with submissions received from health departments, non-government organisations, health services and individuals. The EAC considered all submissions on the Guidelines, reviewed the evidence and revised recommendations accordingly.

NHMRC and AHMAC approved

Module 1 of the Guidelines was approved by the NHMRC on 6 December 2011, then endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) with a minor amendment on 31 August 2012. The amendment required re-approval of the Guidelines by the NHMRC; this was received on 17 December 2012.

Module 2 of the Guidelines was approved by the NHMRC on 12 June 2014 with minor amendments, and endorsed by AHMAC out of session on 20 October 2014.

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.

Secretariat Contact Details

Email: Antenatal Care Guidelines at Department of Health
Mail: National Evidence-Based Antenatal Care Guidelines
MDP 802
Department of Health
PO Box 9848
Canberra ACT 2601

Printed Copies

Printed copies of Module 2 are available from National mailing and Marketing (NMM). Please contact NMM on phone (02) 6269 1080, fax (02) 6260 2770 or email with your order.