I'm Gwyneth Lewis.
I'm the National Clinical Leader
for Maternity Services,
which means I work in the Department
of Health with doctors,
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
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
to be done in the early stages.
that's the most crucial time to go.
That's when your doctors and
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
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
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
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
of women and women with their partners.
And they're classes we really
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.
those little homely things, you can ask.
They also teach you about
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
and they should link up with the
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,
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,
you could ask all these questions
and not just the obvious ones.
People asked questions about,
safe to have sex in later pregnancy?"
Or, "What do I tell my husband
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
all the time?"
"What cream do I use for things
like that?" And indigestion.
All the little questions you
want to bother somebody with
whose time is really important,
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
So they're really good even if
a second, third or fourth-time mum.