Need expat info for Great Britain?
Having a Baby in the UK
- All necessary prenatal checkups and the birth itself are free of charge on the NHS in the United Kingdom, and you can choose which type of healthcare professional you want to oversee your pregnancy.
- Depending on the circumstances of your pregnancy — i.e. whether or not it is complication free — you also have a number of options on where to give birth.
- It is important that expat women do not neglect their intimate health when living in the UK. Luckily, all women's checkups are free of charge and the NHS will send you a reminder when you’re due for a test.
If you or your partner should become pregnant during your time abroad in the UK, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to your child’s health. Pregnancy tests can be obtained free of charge from your GP or sexual health clinic and they can be easily purchased for a small fee in any pharmacy or supermarket. Once you are certain you are pregnant, the first person to see is usually your general practitioner. They will guide you through much of the early stages of your pregnancy, are in charge of running many of the necessary tests and scans, and can refer you to another professional, e.g. an obstetrician, if necessary or requested.
Guiding You Through: Your Midwife
The other person of great importance throughout your pregnancy is your midwife. You will usually be recommended a midwifery service through your GP. As a trained professional and expert in pregnancies and births, your midwife is the person who will be in charge of much of the prenatal care you receive and, in many cases, is also the person to deliver your child. However, there is a chance you will be tended to by different midwives.
Midwives generally work in hospitals, but frequently work out of GP practices and conduct home visits. You will, of course, meet a number of other medical professionals during your pregnancy, but your GP and midwife are arguably your most important contacts throughout. If you are unhappy with the care your midwife offers, you can always talk to their supervisor about your issues and ask to be taken care of by another midwife, if needs be.
Preparing for Your New Arrival: Prenatal Care
Some of your prenatal care consists of appointments which predominantly aim to inform. You will get info on nutrition and vitamin intake, lifestyle factors which may be detrimental to your health or that of your child, pelvic floor exercises, breastfeeding workshops, and more. But you will also inform your healthcare professionals, for example of previous pregnancies, any chronic disease you might have, if your family has a history of inherited diseases, etc.
Of course, regular screenings and tests are another essential aspect of your prenatal appointments. You can get a first overview of the various appointments usually offered to first-time mothers on the NHS England website.
Keeping an Eye on the Little One: Ultrasound Scans
Your GP or midwife will offer you at least two ultrasound scans during your pregnancy. The first one, usually conducted between 8—14 weeks into your pregnancy, determines the due date of your baby, and it will also bring to light if you carry more than one child. The second, optional one is conducted between week 18 and 21. It serves to detect possible physical anomalies your unborn child may have. Please keep in mind that this ultrasound scan is not capable of detecting every problem there might be.
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