Your antenatal team can include midwives, family nurses, obstetricians, anaesthetists and paediatricians. These are the health and care professionals looking after you during pregnancy.
These may be male or female. You can ask to be seen by female staff, but this may not always be possible. You can also ask for an interpreter if you need one.
Health professionals, such as midwives and doctors, need to be trained so you might be asked if you mind being seen by a student. It’s up to you whether you agree to this or not.
Midwives are skilled at caring for women during pregnancy and birth and identifying if care from others is needed. They can also offer advice to the baby's father or your partner.
Midwives work in communities and hospitals as part of a bigger team. Other members of the team may also care for you during your pregnancy or after the birth of your baby.
When you’re pregnant you’ll have a primary midwife who'll provide most of your care during your pregnancy, and for the first few days after the baby's born. For some women, this midwife will also provide care in labour.
Your midwife is:
- the person you’ll see most often
- your first and main point of contact while you’re pregnant, throughout labour and usually the first 10 days of your baby’s life
In some areas you may have the same midwife before and after the birth, and a different midwife during the birth.
You’ll usually meet them for the first time at or just before your booking appointment.
How to book your first midwife appointment
Contacting your midwife
You’ll be given contact details for your midwife or maternity unit. You can phone them if you have a problem with your pregnancy or you’re worried about anything.
You’ll also usually be given a contact number for your nearest obstetric unit if you need to speak to someone at the weekends and out of hours.
You'll be offered a family nurse if you're under 20 and this is your first baby.
A family nurse will work with your midwife to help you get ready for the birth and care for your baby. After your baby's born you'll see your family nurse until your baby's 2.
The Scottish Government has more about the Family Nurse Partnership programme
A consultant obstetrician is a doctor who specialises in looking after women while they’re pregnant and during birth.
It's unlikely you'll see an obstetrician if all is well with your pregnancy.
If you're having any health problems during your pregnancy you may see an obstetrician. They'll plan your care with you and your midwife and see you as often as required for your particular circumstances.
You should see the same obstetrician throughout your pregnancy, birth and afterwards, although different doctors may be on duty out of hours.
General practitioners (GPs) are doctors. However, most GP surgeries have a whole team of health professionals working together.
This can include:
- practice nurses
- stop smoking advisers
- occupational therapists
- health visitors and other professionals
Many of the professionals looking after you and your baby will be based at your GP practice. So it’s a good first place to phone if you’re worried or not sure about anything. If your GP practice is closed, phone the NHS 24 111 service for urgent care and advice.
Your continued care
Your GP will provide general healthcare as they did before you were pregnant, including:
- continuing to provide you with medicines
- treating minor illnesses, such as morning sickness or cystitis
- managing long-term conditions
Your GP will continue to care for you after your baby's born. They'll care for your baby too.
An anaesthetist is a doctor who specialises in pain relief and looking after people when they’re having an operation.
You may see an anaesthetist in pregnancy if you:
- decide to have an epidural for labour
- have any health issues that could make it more difficult to give you an anaesthetic in an emergency or for an elective Caesarean section
- have any health issues that could affect the kind of pain relief you have when you’re in labour
More about pain relief in pregnancy
A paediatrician is a doctor who specialises in looking after babies and children. A neonatologist is a paediatrician who specialises in newborn babies.
A paediatrician may be at the birth if there are any concerns about your baby’s health.
Sometimes a paediatrician, or someone from the paediatric team, may check your baby over before you go home from hospital. Normally specially trained nurses and midwives will do this.
More about the post-birth physical examination
Obstetric (maternity) physiotherapist
An obstetric physiotherapist is a specially trained physiotherapist who supports you with the changes to your body during pregnancy and after birth.
They can help with:
- back pain
- pelvic pain
- some bladder and bowel problems
They might also:
Social workers work with families to support them to access the services they need. They often work alongside health and education professionals.
Your midwife or GP can put you in touch with a social worker.
A dietitian can give you advice about what foods to eat and how to eat healthily, especially if you have additional nutritional needs or conditions such as diabetes or coeliac disease.
More about eating well in pregnancy
A sonographer is the person who operates the ultrasound scanning equipment during your pregnancy scans.
The sonographer could be a midwife, radiographer or obstetrician.
More about ultrasound scans in pregnancy
If your baby's ill
There will be times when your baby's ill. This can be worrying if you’re not sure what to do, especially if this is your first baby.
You know your baby best, so remember:
- the most important thing is to trust your instincts
- there’s always help available for you and your baby
- you’re never completely on your own
What to do if your baby's ill