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.
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 help birth your baby. If any complications develop during your pregnancy or labour 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.
An obstetrician is a doctor who specialises in care during pregnancy, labour and after birth.
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 and they may be present when your baby is born.
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:
- 12-week scan
- 20-week scan
- screening test for Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome
You may be scanned at other times in your pregnancy.
Maternity Support Worker
A Maternity Support Worker undertakes duties in a maternity setting, under the direction and supervision of a registered midwife
Maternity Support Workers complement the care that midwives provide to parents and babies.
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.