I'm Gwyneth Lewis

I'm Gwyneth Lewis.

I'm the National Clinical Leader
for Maternity Services,

which means I work in the Department
of Health with doctors,

with midwives...

..and women,
to help design the best services

the NHS can give all pregnant women,
partners and new families.

It's really important to go and see
your doctor or your midwife

as soon as you find out you're pregnant.

A lot of people do, but, you know,
up to a third of women don't.

It's easy, perhaps, when you don't show
and you think it's a long way away,

to put off going to see your midwife
or your GP

because you think there's nothing much
to be done in the early stages.

Actually,
that's the most crucial time to go.

That's when your doctors and midwives
want to see you.

It's in early pregnancy
that you can have the tests

to see that you and your baby
are getting along just fine,

or to find out whether you or your baby

might need more specialist
care during pregnancy.

It's in early pregnancy when you make
contact with your midwife,

you develop a relationship
with your midwife, who will support you.

She'll give you information
about going to your antenatal classes,

and other support particular
to your needs that you might want.

So I would really encourage everybody
not to wait until the bump's showing

or two or three months down the line.

Go and see your doctor or midwife
as soon as you know,

because it's really the best thing
for you and your baby.

Well, for me, going to an
antenatal class was really important.

Even though I'm a doctor,
there are lots of things I didn't know

and perhaps I was a bit scared
to ask the professionals about.

The things they covered
in my antenatal class

were really good, because they said,
"You're going to get really tired,"

and told my husband,

"Make sure you look after your wives
or partners, because they get tired."

And it was great they told him,
because I'd been telling him.

Antenatal classes are classes
held usually in the community

by different groups for different sorts
of women and women with their partners.

And they're classes we really encourage
everybody to go to if they can.

Those provided by
the National Health Service are free.

Others you may have to pay a little for.

But antenatal classes
are really important

because they teach you
about preparing for your pregnancy.

They teach you about a healthy diet.

What to eat, what not to eat,
how much exercise to take.

The sorts of things
you might not want to ask your doctor

because you think they're too busy. All
those little homely things, you can ask.

They also teach you about childbirth:
what to expect, how it's going to be.

The choices that you've got
for childbirth, you and your partner.

Where you can go locally
to have your baby.

And you'll probably meet
some of the midwives

who will be working in those centres.

Antenatal classes might even arrange
for you to visit all the various places

you might want to choose locally
and to ask questions there.

Antenatal classes are available
throughout pregnancy,

and they should link up with the classes
in the community afterwards

for new parents too.

So when you go to see your midwife
or your doctor early in pregnancy,

you'll be told about all the options
available to you.

Some sorts of antenatal classes
you may not want to go to

until further on in your pregnancy.

The sorts of classes
to do with getting ready for birth,

breathing techniques,
relaxation techniques.

Other classes you might want
to go to throughout,

to learn more about becoming a new
parent and how to care for your baby.

I thought they were really good, because
you could ask all these questions

and not just the obvious ones.

People asked questions about, "Is it
safe to have sex in later pregnancy?"

Or, "What do I tell my husband when
I don't fancy him on a Friday night?"

You could discuss all these things.

"What is safe food?"

"What do I do about having piles
all the time?"

"What cream do I use for things
like that?" And indigestion.

All the little questions you wouldn't
want to bother somebody with

whose time is really important, looking
after you in the antenatal clinic.

So you can ask anything you like.

You know, antenatal classes change.

They change as services
available locally change.

And we sometimes see women
who have had one or two babies before,

perhaps some years ago, who think
it really isn't going to help them.

But what I really want to say is,
you'll never know unless you go,

because things are always changing
and updating.

So they're really good even if you're
a second, third or fourth-time mum.