You’ll perhaps have more to do with the NHS in the next few months than you will for the rest of you life – unless, of course, you have another baby. For each pregnancy, there will be a ‘lead professional’ – usually the midwife – but it may be your GP or obstetrician. Here’s a list of the people you may come across during your pregnancy.
A midwife is the main provider of care for most pregnant women. Midwives are highly-skilled, qualified professionals who care for women during normal pregnancy, childbirth and after the birth. You will be introduced to your midwife, who will care for you during your pregnancy and when you go home. You may meet different members of a team of midwives throughout your pregnancy.
Midwives are trained to make sure everything goes as well as possible and to recognise any potential problems for you and your baby. Midwives work both in maternity units and in the community, often in a team system. The style of care may depend on where you live. Community midwives may visit you at home before the birth and will continue to care for you after the birth.
A doctor who specialises in pregnancy and childbirth. You may see an obstetrician or another qualified doctor who is trained in obstetrics. Obstetricians are likely to be heavily involved if there is a problem with your pregnancy or birth but, if everything is fine, the chances are you may not need to see one.
General practitioners are qualified doctors; they may have an extra qualification in obstetrics. Your GP may provide your antenatal care.
If you call at night or the weekend, your call will be redirected to NHS 24 on 111.
A health visitor is a nurse who has had extra training in child development and health promotion and who works in the community, either with a specific GP practice (or practices) or within a specific area. Health visitors give support and advice to parents and their children until the age of five and have a role in protecting the health of the whole community. They have experience and knowledge about what’s going on in your area.
Your Health Visitor will be available to give you help, support you to overcome any difficulties and answer any questions or concerns you may have with breastfeeding your baby.
You can visit your health visitor at the baby clinic, or he or she may come to meet you for the first time while you are still pregnant. Your health visitor also makes home visits.
A doctor who specialises in babies and children. A neonatologist is a paediatrician who specialises in newborn babies. If there are any worries about your baby’s health, a paediatrician may be present at the birth. A paediatrician may also check your baby over before you go home from hospital, although this is increasingly being done by midwives who have completed training in this specialised area of care.
The role of the obstetric physiotherapist is to help you cope with the changes in your body’s shape and functions during pregnancy and after the birth.
Social workers can help to support families who have additional needs or are struggling to cope, if there are concerns for the welfare of the child, or if the child or a family member has a disability. Your midwife or GP can put you in touch with a social worker if necessary.
A dietitian can give advice on food and nutrition, especially if you have specific needs, for example if you are overweight or obese, if you have diabetes or Coeliac disease, etc.
This is the professional who operates the ultrasound scanning equipment (see Having an ultrasound scan).This may be a midwife, a radiographer or an obstetrician.
This is a doctor who specialises in ultrasound.
Students and trainee health professionals
All midwives, doctors and other health professionals need to be trained. You may be asked if you mind if students take part in your appointment. You have the right to refuse.