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Pregnancy and baby

Antenatal support: meet the team

What can my baby understand and feel in the womb?

Media last reviewed: 20/03/2017

Next review due: 20/03/2020

While you're pregnant, you'll normally see a small number of healthcare professionals, led by your midwife or doctor.

They want to make you feel as comfortable as possible while you're pregnant and when you have your baby.

Many pregnant women would like to get to know the people caring for them during pregnancy and the birth of their baby.

The NHS is trying to make this happen, but in some cases you may see several different professionals.  

At each appointment, the professionals you see should introduce themselves and explain what they do.

If they forget, ask them. Make a note of who you've seen and what they've said in case you need to discuss something later on.

Below is a list of the people you're most likely to meet. Some may have trainee students with them – you'll be asked if you mind the students being present.

Midwife

A midwife is an expert in normal pregnancy and birth.

Midwives are specially trained to care for mothers and babies throughout normal pregnancy, labour and after the birth. They provide care for most women in hospital or at home.

Increasingly, midwives work both in hospitals and in the community (GP surgeries and home visits) so that the same midwife can provide antenatal care and be present at the birth.

The name of the midwife responsible for your care will be in your pregnancy notes.

Find out more about things to talk about with your midwife when making your birth plan.

A midwife will look after you during labour if everything is straightforward, and they'll probably deliver your baby.

If any complications develop during your pregnancy or delivery, you'll see a doctor as well as being cared for by your midwife. 

After the birth, you and your baby will be cared for by midwives or maternity support workers. 

Obstetrician

An obstetrician is a doctor who specialises in the care of women during pregnancy, labour and after birth.

In some hospitals, you'll automatically see an obstetrician. In others, your midwife or GP will refer you to an obstetrician if they have any concerns about your pregnancy – for example, you had a previous complication in pregnancy or have a long-term illness.

You can ask to see an obstetrician if you have any concerns you want to discuss.

Anaesthetist

An anaesthetist is a doctor who specialises in providing pain relief and anaesthesia.

If you decide to have an epidural for pain relief during labour, it'll be given by an anaesthetist.

If you require a caesarean section, an anaesthetist will provide the appropriate anaesthesia.

They'll also be present if you require an epidural for an instrumental delivery – for example, with forceps or a vacuum device that helps deliver the baby's head (ventouse).

Paediatrician

A paediatrician is a doctor specialising in the care of babies and children. 

A paediatrician may check your baby after the birth to make sure everything is OK, and they'll be present when your baby is born if you've had a difficult labour.

If your baby has any problems, you'll be able to discuss these with the paediatrician.

If your baby is born at home or your hospital stay is short, you may not see a paediatrician at all. Your midwife or GP can check on you and your baby.

Neonatal nurse

Neonatal nurses are specially trained to care for babies who are premature or unwell when they're born.

They usually work within specialist neonatal units in the hospital or in the community.

They also have an important role in providing support for parents whose babies need neonatal care.

Sonographer

A sonographer is specially trained to carry out ultrasound scans.

A sonographer will perform your:

  • dating scan (around 12 weeks)
  • nuchal translucency scan (around 11 to 13 weeks, usually done at the same time as the dating scan) – this screens for the risk of Down's syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities)
  • anomaly scan (around 20 weeks)

Some women are also scanned at other times in their pregnancy.  

Obstetric physiotherapist

An obstetric physiotherapist is specially trained to help you cope with physical changes during and after pregnancy and childbirth.

Some attend antenatal classes and teach antenatal exercises, relaxation and breathing, active birth positions, and other ways to keep yourself fit and healthy during pregnancy and labour.

After the birth, they advise on postnatal exercises to tone up your muscles. 

Health visitor

Health visitors are specially trained nurses who support and educate families from pregnancy through to a child's fifth birthday.

You may meet your health visitor before the birth of your baby and in the first few weeks after the birth.

You may continue to see your health visitor or a member of the team at home, or at your child health clinic, Children's Centre, health centre or GP surgery.

Find a Children's Centre near you

Dietitian

If you have any concerns about special diets or eating healthily – for example, if you develop gestational diabetes – a dietitian can give you the advice you need.

Page last reviewed: 06/11/2017

Next review due: 06/11/2020

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