My maternity journey
A handy guide of what to expect and when
What to expect and when?
As soon as you know you are pregnant, start/continue taking folic acid tablets (400mcg daily) and 10mcg vitamin D, and see your midwife or GP. You may be able to self-refer (online) to the hospital of your choice. You should have your first ‘booking’ appointment before ten weeks. If you, or anyone in your household smokes, you will be offered support to stop smoking throughout your pregnancy.
Consider where you want to have your baby at home, in a Birth Centre, or in a Hospital.
Every time you see your midwife/Doctor you will be asked to bring a urine sample and you will have your blood pressure checked.
Ask your midwife for a maternity exemption certificate to benefit from free prescriptions and NHS dental treatment.
You will be offered routine blood tests, and screening choices (including a scan), see: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/screening-tests-abnormality-pregnant/
There are foods you should avoid when you are pregnant, see: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/foods-to-avoid-pregnant/ for the latest guidance. You may be entitled to vouchers to help buy fruit, vegetables and milk, see: https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk
Always check with your GP, pharmacist or midwife before you take any medicines.
Visit https://www.nhs.uk/start4life for tips on keeping yourself well during pregnancy.
Your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical health. At your first contact you will be asked about any past or present emotional difficulties or mental illness and if you have experienced mental health problem during or following previous pregnancies. You will also be asked about any severe perinatal mental illness in a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child).
You will also be asked how you feel about your pregnancy, becoming a mother or any previous experiences you may have had that may be causing you any worries or concern. You will also be asked about what support you have and if you need any further help. This is to identify any other needs you may have and find out how you can be supported.
If you feel anxious or depressed it is important that this is identified early, so you will be asked about your feelings at each appointment. This includes asking you if you feel anxious, nervous, or on edge and if you have been bothered by not being able to stop or control worrying.
Your midwife or doctor will also explore if, or how often, you have been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless and if you are worried that you have little interest or pleasure in doing things.
A lot of medication to treat anxiety and depression is safe to take in pregnancy. If you are on medication please discuss this with your GP before you stop taking it.
The NHS website has a lot of advice and links for support. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/
Ask your midwife for a MAT B1 certificate (After 20 weeks). This confirms your pregnancy for your employer.
Book your antenatal classes – your midwife will give you details.
If you’re out of work or on a low income visit https://www.gov.uk to see what benefits you are entitled to.
At around 20 weeks a scan will check your baby’s development.
You will be offered:
- Whooping cough vaccination
- Seasonal flu vaccination
And if you are at risk of gestational diabetes, a glucose tolerance test (GTT).
You may feel your baby move as early as 16 weeks of pregnancy, but most women usually feel something for the first time between 18 and 24 weeks. There is no set number of normal movements you should be feeling – every baby is different. Your baby will have their own pattern of movements that you should get to know. After 32 weeks, the pattern of movements will stay roughly the same until you give birth.
Weeks 28 to birth
Prepare your birth plan – you’ll get the information you need from your antenatal classes or midwife.
Pack a bag for things you will need for the birth, so they are close to hand (for baby too).
Check out what you’ll need for feeding your baby and prepare yourself now.
You will be offered more routine blood tests. If you are rhesus negative, you may need an anti-D injection if you do not know the baby’s Rhesus factor.
Visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/?tabname=im-pregnant to get advice on common health problems during pregnancy.
DO NOT WAIT until the next day to seek advice if you are worried about your baby’s movements. Contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately if you think your baby’s movements have slowed down, stopped or changed. There are staff on the hospital maternity unit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Movements should NOT slow down towards the end of pregnancy.
After baby is born
Your baby will be offered: vitamin K, a physical examination (within 72 hours), a hearing screening test and possibly a BCG vaccination.
You will be cared for by your midwife after which, a Health Visitor will visit you at home to help you, and your family and your new baby stay healthy.
You’ll be given a personal child health record (PCHR). This has a red cover and is known as the “red book”. Your midwife and Health Visitor will write in it and so can you.
A number of women find that being able to revisit their birth experience helps with their emotional wellbeing, especially if it did not go according to expectations and they experienced a loss of control. You can discuss this with a member of staff before you are discharged or home (of with the community midwife if you birth at home).
However it can also take time to reflect on how you feel more generally following birth. You can ask for an appointment to discuss your experience at a later date if required.
Register the birth within 42 days – visit https://www.gov.uk for details.
You will be offered a blood spot test, which tests your baby’s blood for nine rare, but serious, health conditions.
A hearing screen will also be arranged if you had your baby at home.
If you were due for a cervical screening test while pregnant, this should be rescheduled for around 12 weeks after the birth.
It is not uncommon for some women (or their partners) to experience difficulties with their relationship with their baby. You are able to discuss any concerns with your midwife, GP or health visitor who will be able to provide information and support to help your with this as it is important that you get early help.
For more information please go to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-natal-depression/
At any time, you can self-refer for talking therapies (also known as IAPT) for support and therapies.
At your 6 week check the GP will ask you about your emotional and mental wellbeing.