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Midwives and health care professionals

Appointments with midwives

Midwives are specialists in normal birth and deliveries. Providing there are no complications, your midwife will provide all your antenatal care.

Make an appointment with your GP as soon as you know you're pregnant, this should be by 10 weeks. Appointments with community midwives are held at the GP surgery, Family Centre or hospital.

If you choose to have baby at home, we can offer a service that supports this.

 
The Health Visiting Service

Health visitors are Nurses or Midwives specialising in the care and development of pre-school children.

They work with you to design your package of care. You'll be offered a range of information, support and the following contacts:

  • Around 28 weeks pregnant (in some areas)
  • 10-14 days following birth
  • When baby is 6-8 weeks old
  • A review of your child’s development around 12 months and another around 2 years

Screening tests

These will be offered during your pregnancy to help identify any complications.

Tests offered

There are a number of tests you may be offered :

  • Blood tests
  • Urine test
  • Blood pressure
  • Ultra sound scans
  • Weight and height checks

For more information speak to your midwife or find out more on the NHS website.

Antenatal depression

Pregnancy is a time when those around you expect you to be happy and excited about having a new baby. This may be but emotions in pregnancy can be overwhelming.

Find out more on our Mental Health page.

Activity and exercise during pregnancy

How much activity or exercise you do during the pregnancy will depend on how active you were before you got pregnant and any health issues you may have.

People may say that being pregnant is a time to rest and put your feet up but if your pregnancy is uncomplicated it's healthier for you and baby to stay active. Too much time sitting down without being active can increase weight gain, loss of fitness, aches, pains and increase the risk of diabetes and pre-eclampsia.

The NHS have a list of tips for exercise and a list to avoid.

Exercises you can do:

  • Stomach-strengthening exercises
  • Pelvic tilt exercises
  • Pelvic floor exercises

Find out more about these on the NHS website.

Healthy eating during pregnancy

Eating well in pregnancy will ensure you remain well and help your unborn baby reach their full health potential. The food we eat in pregnancy and the diet of children in the first two years can influence overall health and wellbeing. There's lots of tasty foods that can be easily prepared to help you remain fit and well in your pregnancy.

Visit first steps nutrition eating well for a healthy pregnancy a simple guide.

What do you need to eat in pregnancy?

You don’t need a special diet, but it’s important to get the right balance of foods for you and your baby.

Important nutrients to eat during pregnancy.

  • Calories - Calories give you energy. Towards the end of your pregnancy (27-40 weeks) you may require some additional calories to support your growing baby Calories can be obtained from fats, carbohydrates.
  • Protein - Protein provides the building blocks for your baby to grow. Foods high in protein include meat, fish, poultry, dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, eggs beans and pulses.
  • Carbohydrates and fats - foods in this group provide energy. You don't need to increase the amount of carbohydrates and fats you eat when pregnant. Foods in this group include bread, potatoes, rice, noodles and pasta, breakfast cereals.
  • Vitamins and minerals - eat plenty of fruits and vegetables in pregnancy. They're a good source of vitamins and minerals. It's recommended that you eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily. Fruits and vegetables also contain fibre which helps prevent constipation.

A General guide to eating well

  • Choose foods low in fat, sugar and salt. Read the labels of packaged foods.
  • Eat less often in small amounts
  • Limit fruit juice/smoothies to 150ml a day. Drink more water
  • Use oils and spreads in small amounts

Healthy Start vitamins are free for all mothers who are pregnant or breastfeeding in Hertfordshire - www.healthystart.nhs.uk

Preparing food safely

  • Wash all fruits and vegetables to remove traces of soil that may harbour a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis. This can lead to serious problems if contracted during pregnancy resulting in miscarriage or still birth.
  • Wash your hands, utensils and work surfaces after preparing raw foods such as poultry, eggs, fish shell fish and raw vegetables.
  • Use a separate knife and chopping board for raw meats
  • Always heat ready prepared foods until they are steaming hot
  • Store raw foods away from ready to eat foods
  • Boil eggs until both the white and yellow are hard


Common Food infections

Listeriosis

  • Only drink pasteurised milk or UHT milk
  • Avoid eating:
    • ripened soft cheese such as Camembert, Brie and blue veined cheese.
    • pate
    • uncooked or undercooked prepared ready meals

Salmonella

  • Avoid raw or partially cooked eggs or foods that may contain them
  • Avoid raw or partially cooked poultry, especially chicken

Read tips on meal planning and further information on eating well in pregnancy for adults and for teenagers.

Keeping healthy in pregnancy

Nutritional supplements

Eating a healthy diet during your pregnancy will ensure that you receive most of the vitamins and minerals your body requires. However, The Department of Health recommends that you take a folic acid and vitamin D supplement.

Folic acid

It's recommended all pregnant women and those intending to get pregnant take 400 micrograms of folic acid throughout the first 12 weeks.
 
Vitamin D

It's recommended that Vitamin D should be given to all breastfeeding babies from 1 month or if your baby is taking less than 500mls of formula

You should also take a daily supplement of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D during your pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding. This is important for the development of your baby’s bones.

Find out about Healthy Start multivitamins.

Avoid harmful substances

1. Smoking

Protecting your unborn baby against the harmful effects of tobacco smoking is one of the best things you can do. Cigarettes contain over 4,000 chemicals and gases which can affect your baby’s growth and development. Smoking can also cause premature delivery, and increase the risk of stillbirth.

Speak to your midwife health visiting service, practice nurse or GP about quitting. You can also visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree

2. Alcohol

It's recommended that if you're pregnant or planning to get pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol in pregnancy, especially the first three months increases the risk of miscarriage, prematurity and low birth weight.

Read more about the risks.

If you have difficulty reducing your alcohol intake please speak to your midwife, health visiting service or GP. You can also contact Alcoholics Anonymous.

3. Drugs

Using drugs during pregnancy can have a serious effect on the health and wellbeing of your unborn baby. If you use drugs it's important to seek help as soon as possible.

You can get help from: your midwife, GP and specialist treatment services such as FRANK.

Vaccinations during pregnancy

Both the seasonal flu vaccine and the Whooping cough vaccine are recommended in pregnancy.

Working during pregnancy

For the majority of women it's safe to continue working during pregnancy.

If you're concerned about hazards through occupational exposure please visit the Health and safety executive.

For information on rights at work, maternity pay and benefits Maternity Action can help.

Infant feeding

We've got lots of information about bottle and breastfeeding on our Feeding your baby page.

Bonding with your unborn baby

The foundation for close and loving relationships begins before your baby is born. Developing a relationship with your unborn baby not only helps you bond but also supports early brain development with better health outcomes in later life.

Take time out to rest. It's a good opportunity to talk to your baby and notice their movements.

Skin to Skin contact

This is where your baby is held close against your bare chest following the birth for an hour or more.

It helps to trigger your baby’s natural instincts to support bonding and evidence shows that skin to skin contact immediately after birth helps to reduce the stress that babies may experience. In addition, there are benefits for mother and baby such as helping to:

  • regulate your baby’s body temperature
  • stabilise your baby’s heart rate and breathing
  • calm your baby and minimises stress
  • support your baby’s immune system
  • initiate breastfeeding

It can be a useful way of soothing and calming your baby in early weeks. Early relationship building helps to promote healthy attachments, vital for building loving bonds and supporting development.

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