While you're pregnant, you'll normally see a small number of healthcare professionals.
They want to make you feel as comfortable as possible while you're pregnant and when you have your baby.
You may want to get to know the people caring for you during pregnancy and the birth of your 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.
This page lists 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.
Important: Coronavirus (COVID-19) update
If you're well, it's really important you go to all your appointments and scans for the health of you and your baby.
If you're pregnant, hospitals and clinics are making sure it's safe for you to go to appointments.
If you get symptoms of COVID-19, or you're unwell with something other than COVID-19, speak to your midwife or maternity team. They will advise you what to do.
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 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.
Head of midwifery
The head of midwifery can support you if you're having problems with your care or you feel your wishes are not being considered.
The charity Birthrights has factsheets on your rights and the law in pregnancy and birth that you might find useful.
If you've had your baby and want to talk about your birth experience, even if this was some time ago, the head of midwifery will be able to arrange this for you.
An obstetrician is a doctor who specialises in care 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.
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).
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 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.
A sonographer is trained to carry out ultrasound scans.
A sonographer will perform your:
You may be scanned at other times in your pregnancy.
An obstetric physiotherapist is trained to help you cope with physical changes during and after pregnancy and childbirth.
Some go to 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 visitors are trained nurses who support and educate families from pregnancy through to a child's 5th 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.
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.
Video: What can my baby understand and feel in the womb?
In this video, a clinical psychologist talks about what your unborn baby may feel in the womb.
Media review due: 20 March 2023