Your pregnancy and birth
Preparing for pregnancy, birth and parenthood
If you and your partner are planning to have a baby, you can improve your chances of conceiving by:
- Eat a balanced diet and try to keep a healthy weight – eating a balanced diet and taking regular exercise can help you stay a healthy weight. If you're overweight, you may have problems getting pregnant and fertility treatment is less likely to work.
- Stop smoking – stopping smoking is good for both you and your baby and it reduces the likelihood of any complications during your pregnancy. NHS Smokefree can offer you advice, support and help to quit smoking.
- Cut out alcohol – the advice is to cut out alcohol if you’re trying to get pregnant or are pregnant. Alcohol can be passed onto your unborn baby and cause long-term harm.
- Take a folic acid supplement - It's recommended that you should take a daily supplement of folic acid when you're pregnant, or there's a chance you might get pregnant. You should take a 400 microgram supplement of folic acid every day before you get pregnant, and every day afterwards, up until you're 12 weeks pregnant. Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby having a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida.
- Check whether the medicines you take are safe to take during pregnancy - Not all medicines are safe to take when you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy, whether they're on prescription or medicines you can buy in a pharmacy or shop. Check with your GP before you take or stop any medications.
- Vaccinations – Check that you’re up to date with any relevant vaccinations. Some infections like rubella (German Measles) can cause harm to your unborn baby.
- Speak to your GP about any long-term conditions – If you have any long-term conditions e.g. diabetes or epilepsy, it’s worth speaking to your GP about the effect that getting pregnant may have and the choices you make around your pregnancy and medication.
Early pregnancy – Antenatal Appointments
We recommend that you attend regular antenatal appointments during your pregnancy to help monitor your health and that of your baby. Antenatal care describes the care you receive during your pregnancy.
Your antenatal care will be given by your midwife and this can take place in hospital, at your GP surgery or in the community.
Choosing where your care will be based (hospital/community/GP services)
Your midwife or GP will discuss your options for where you want to receive your antenatal care. This may be in hospital, at your GP surgery or in the community.
Choosing where to have your baby (hospital/ home births)
Your midwife or GP will discuss your options for where you have your baby. This may be in hospital or at home and your midwife will help you make a personalised birth plan depending on your individual circumstances. This will usually happen when you are around 30-34 weeks pregnant.
You are also able to see an obstetrician during your pregnancy if you have any additional concerns that you would like to discuss to help confirm your birth plans.
Birth after a caesarean section
If you have previously had a caesarean birth, you may be thinking about how to give birth next time. Planning for a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) or choosing an elective (planned) repeat caesarean section (ERCS) have different benefits and risks. Your midwife will discuss your birth options with you during your antenatal appointments.
Personalised Maternity Care Plan
It may help during your pregnancy to keep a note of any key decisions or preferences that you have about your pregnancy or the birth of your baby. This personalised maternity care plan booklet may help you keep a record of this important information.