“Most women’s first port of call after they find out they’re pregnant will be their GP,” says Mary Steen, a midwife and Pampers Village Parenting Panel expert. “Some GPs will ask for a urine sample to confirm the pregnancy.”
However, you don’t have to visit your GP first. “You can book an appointment to see a midwife direct through your GP’s surgery, or in some areas, a birth centre or midwifery led unit.” Your GP will then send a referral form to the local maternity unit or the preferred unit of the your choice. Once the hospital receives the referral form, they will calculate your EDD (estimated due date) and arrange your first visit with a midwife.
Where do you find a midwife?
If you choose to go through the NHS, your midwife will be assigned to you based on where your GP is and where you live. “Exactly how the provision of midwives works under the NHS varies from area to area: your midwife may be attached to your GP’s surgery or to a local hospital or may be attached to a local health centre,” says midwife Anne Richley. “You may be cared for by a single midwife, whom you come to know quite well, or by a team of midwives who share the task of supporting you through pregnancy”.
If you decide to go private, you can pick and choose which times and dates the midwife visits (this will be a visit to your home), as they can be more flexible than NHS midwives. If you want to find an independent midwife in your area, check out the Independent Midwives UK for full listings.
When will you see the midwife?
Midwives aim to see pregnant women before 12 weeks, so your the first visit will probably be within the first six to eight weeks depending on how early on you’re pregnant. A follow-up booking will be penciled in at 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
What happens during your first midwife appointment?
“Your midwife will advise you on what to do next – from taking folic acid, diet, take your BMI measurements and ask you what type of birth you’d like,” says Mary Steen.
“The midwife will want to find out as much as possible about you – but it’s also a good chance for you ask them questions too,” says midwife Diane Jones from the London Birth Practice. “Ask about tests, scans, your baby’s development, types of birth plans and breastfeeding as there’s lot’s to digest!”
You’ll also be asked to complete a FW8 form to send off so you can receive free prescriptions, dental and optician care during your pregnancy and for 12 months after your baby is born.
Will you need a blood test?
“After your local maternity unit receives your referral form, this will also coincide with the ‘combined test’, but only if you’re classed at high risk,” says midwife Diane Jones, from the London Birth Practice. Women classed as high risk are usually those aged 35 years and over. “This blood test will assess the woman’s risk of carrying a baby with Downs Syndrome”.
However, all pregnant women will have 'Booking in tests', usually at the first appointment with a midwife (or doctor). “These blood tests are to check her blood type, blood count, iron levels as well as for Rhesus factor and Rubella status, as any abnormal findings can cause complications later on in her pregnancy,” explains midwife Mary Steen.
Your antenatal notes
“Women now have to keep their own maternity notes and will be asked to record their personal details, medical and obstetric history from each booking with their midwife,” explains Mary Steen. “During each visit, your midwife will check all your notes and add any further information that you might need.”
It’s important to keep these notes safe, as they won’t be recorded anywhere else. “You must keep your maternity notes safe as it’s the only recording of your pregnancy,” says midwife Diane Jones.
How often will you have to visit your midwife?
“If it’s your first pregnancy, you’ll be seen at 16, 25, 28, 31, 34, 36, 38, 40 and 41 weeks (10 times in total),” says independent midwife Diane Jones. “If you’ve had previous pregnancies, you’ll be seen seven times during your pregnancy.”
Now, meet the rest of your medical team.