Health conditions before pregnancy

If you have an existing health condition, you may need extra care while you're pregnant.

Health check

If you already have a health condition, especially if you're taking prescribed medication for it, it’s a good idea to have a health check before you start trying for a baby.

If you have an existing health condition, you'll be referred to an obstetrician for your pregnancy care. You may have extra appointments and extra scans too.

Epilepsy

Most women with epilepsy have a straightforward pregnancy and a healthy baby. However, some common medicines for epilepsy aren't safe for pregnancy.

Some women will experience increases in fits during pregnancy. Your midwife will work with both an obstetrician and the neurology team to provide your pregnancy care.

More about epilepsy and taking epilepsy medicines in pregnancy

Diabetes

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes your blood sugar levels will need to be closely monitored and well controlled before you're pregnant and during your pregnancy. This is especially important in the early weeks of your pregnancy as high sugar levels can cause problems with the way your baby’s spine or heart develops.

Diabetes increases the risk of:

  • a large baby
  • birth by caesarian section (C-section)
  • your baby being stillborn

If you have diabetes:

  • your baby's likely to be born between 38 and 40 weeks
  • your midwife will work with an obstetrician and the diabetic team to provide your pregnancy care
  • they might recommend that your baby's delivered a little early

More about diabetes

Group B Streptococcus infection

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is one of many bacteria that live inside your bowel and vagina. It usually causes no harm.

About 1 in 4 pregnant women in the UK carry it without any symptoms.

Testing for GBS

It’s not possible to know who has GBS without testing for it.

Sometimes GBS is picked up when you have a test for something else, but there's no routine test because lots of women carry it without being unwell.

Talk to your midwife or GP if:

  • you want to know more about being tested for GBS
  • you’re worried about the risks for your baby

GBS and your baby

Most women who carry GBS give birth safely to a healthy baby who won’t develop the infection.

There's a small chance that GBS could pass to your baby during labour. A few babies who come into contact with GBS can develop a serious infection such as:

  • pneumonia
  • meningitis
  • sepsis

If there's a high chance that GBS could pass to your baby in labour and birth, you’ll be offered antibiotics during labour.

Your midwife or obstetrician will talk to you about whether your baby's at higher risk and what that means.

Mental health conditions

If you have or have had a mental health condition, tell your GP or midwife when you find out you’re pregnant. They can check how you’re doing and make sure you get the right support during and after your pregnancy.

Where required your midwife will work with both an obstetrician and the psychiatry team to provide your pregnancy care.

If you take medicines for mental health, don't stop taking them by yourself.

More about mental health and wellbeing in pregnancy

Taking medicines

Some medicines are safe to take when you're pregnant, while others can be harmful for your developing baby.

Before you take anything, or stop taking anything, it's important to get the right advice. Your GP or obstetrician will help you decide what to take and how much to take, to keep you and your baby as safe as possible during pregnancy.

More about taking medicines in pregnancy