Choosing a Hospital
Did you know you can self-refer to the midwife once you have a positive pregnancy test?
You can also choose which hospital you would like to give birth in.
Screening tests for you and your baby.
Screening tests are to find people at a higher chance of a health condition. Whether or not to have each test is a personal choice that only the individual invited for screening can make.
Screening tests during pregnancy are to look for certain health conditions that could harm them or their baby.
You can discuss them further when the midwife contacts you to discuss your booking with the maternity service.
Keeping well during pregnancy
Smoking in pregnancy
Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, low birthweight, premature births and small poorly babies
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy
Advice about alcohol in pregnancy can get confusing – it is best not to drink alcohol while you’re pregnant. Alcohol passes from the mother’s blood across the placenta to the developing baby. Alcohol in the baby’s blood can interfere with his or her oxygen and nutrient supply, leading to birth defects, reduced growth and long-term learning and behaviour problems.
Stillbirths are also more common in women who drink heavily. Drinking alcohol at critical times in the baby’s development, heavy (‘binge’) drinking and frequent drinking increase risk of harm to the baby.
The safest way to ensure your baby is not damaged by alcohol is to not drink while you are pregnant.
If you are finding it hard to stop drinking, ask for help from your midwife or GP. They will be able to refer you for special support.
Vitamins and supplements
Start taking folic acid and vitamin D supplements.
Folic acid should be taken for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
You need to take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid, but if the below applies you will need to take 5mg of folic acid which you can get on prescription from your GP:
- your BMI is above 30.
- you or the baby’s biological father have a neural tube defect.
- you or the baby’s biological father have a family history of neural tube defects.
- you have had a previous pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect.
- you have diabetes.
- you take anti-epilepsy medicine.
- you take anti-retroviral medicine for HIV.
You need to take a 10-microgram supplement of Vitamin D daily for the duration of your pregnancy.
Women low in vitamin D may be more vulnerable to coronavirus so women with darker skin or those who always cover their skin when outside may be at particular risk of vitamin D insufficiency.
Foods to avoid eating in pregnancy.
Most foods and drinks are safe to have during pregnancy. But there are some things you should be careful with or avoid. Foods to avoid in pregnancy – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Vaccines in Pregnancy
Seasonal flu vaccine
All pregnant women are entitled to a seasonal flu vaccination, as they are at increased risk of severe illness if they get flu.
The seasonal flu vaccine can be given safely during any stage of pregnancy which can be given at your GP surgery.
The Flu season is normally from the end of September to the end of March.
Whooping cough vaccine
Pregnant women can help protect their babies by having a whooping cough (pertussis) vaccination.
Having the vaccination helps protect your baby from catching whooping cough in the first few weeks after they are born, as they will get some of the immunity from you.
The best time to have the whooping cough vaccine is between 20 weeks (after your scan) and 32 weeks. But if for any reason you miss having the vaccine, you can still have it up until you go into labour. You can have the vaccine at your GP Surgery.
The advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) recommend that pregnant women should have both of their COVID vaccines.
Their advice is as below:
The vaccine is considered to be safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy. Some women may choose to delay their vaccine until after the first 12 weeks (which are most important for the baby’s development) and will plan to have the first dose at any time from 13 weeks onwards, but there is no evidence that delaying is necessary.
The risks of serious illness from COVID-19 are greater in the last trimester so women should aim to have had both of their vaccines by 28 weeks.
Maternity certificate (MAT B1)
A MAT B1 is a form for you to claim maternity pay and benefits, whether you’re unemployed, self-employed, full time or part time. The form enables a pregnant woman to claim for:
- Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from her employer
- Maternity Allowance (MA) from Jobcentre Plus.
To get a MAT B1:
Your midwife should give you your MATB1 form when you reach you are around 20-weeks pregnant. They cannot issue the form any earlier than this.
If you don’t receive your form, it’s worth contacting your midwife.
Maternity exemption certificates
A maternity exemption certificate entitles you to free NHS prescriptions.
You’re entitled to a maternity exemption certificate if, at the time of your application, you are pregnant or have given birth in the last 12 months.
How you can apply
Speak to your midwife. They can complete the application for you. They can do this as soon as they confirm that you’re pregnant.
If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, the Healthy Start scheme can help you:
- buy healthy foods like milk or fruit
- get free vitamins
You need to be claiming certain benefits to qualify unless you are under 18. If you are under 18 you can claim even if you do not receive any benefits.