We are pleased to issue these Clinical Practice Guidelines: Antenatal Care — Module I as approved by Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council on 31 August 2012. The purpose of the Guidelines is to provide evidence-based advice on the care of pregnant women in a range of settings.
There are numerous aspects to antenatal care and reviewing the evidence in all areas is a lengthy process. For this reason, the project is being completed in stages. The clinical topics discussed in this module of the Guidelines were selected after a process of consultation designed to identify the areas where specific guidance is required. The topics discussed are generally specific to the first trimester. Some other aspects of first trimester care (eg screening for diabetes) will be included in the subsequent module of the Guidelines, which will be developed over the next two years. Module II will also include an expanded section related to care for women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
The Guidelines summarise published evidence and make recommendations on key areas of antenatal care. The development of the draft Guidelines has followed the key principles and processes outlined in the document NHMRC Standards and Procedures for Externally Developed Guidelines (2007). In areas for which there is insufficient evidence for recommendations, the Guidelines include practice points that are based on best practice clinical judgement. To provide guidance in a single resource, recommendations from evidence-based national guidelines relevant to antenatal care in the first trimester have also been included and their evidence base summarised. Specific reference is made to antenatal care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and expert input has been included to ensure that the recommendations are relevant and culturally appropriate.
The Guidelines are not meant to be a textbook of antenatal care. The management of conditions identified through the screening procedures addressed in this module is not discussed; health professionals are directed to appropriate resources where available.
The Guidelines are intended as a resource for all health professionals working with women in the early antenatal period. They will be relevant to the work of a variety of health professionals in many different settings. Women should be at the centre of care, wherever it is provided.
Summary resources and companion documents for women and their families, and for specific groups of health professionals, will be developed from the Guidelines.
The Guidelines will be implemented within the context of significant current activity at national, jurisdictional and local levels in relation to maternity care and health reform more broadly. It is envisaged that the Guidelines will support activities and Budget initiatives arising from the National Maternity Services Plan. Monitoring the uptake of the Guidelines will assess their contribution to changes in practice and potentially to health outcomes.
It is anticipated that the Guidelines will contribute to greater consistency in antenatal care and improve the experience and outcomes of antenatal care for women and their families.
Dr Jenny Hunt and Dr Marilyn Clarke on behalf of the Working Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Antenatal Care
Antenatal Care - Module 1
Clinical Practice Guidelines