Maternity - Who's Who
During your pregnancy it is likely that you will come into contact with a number of difference health professionals. Professionals should, of course, introduce themselves and explain what they do, but, if they forget, don’t hesitate to ask. It may help to make a note of who you have seen and what they have said in case you need to discuss any point later on.
Below are the people you’re most likely to meet. Some may have students with them who are being trained and you will be asked if you mind them being present.
A midwife is the expert in normal pregnancy and birth. They are specially trained to care for mothers and babies throughout normal pregnancy, labour and after the birth, and therefore provide all or most of the care for the majority of women. You should know the name of the midwife who is responsible for your midwifery care.
Supervisors of midwives are experienced practising midwives who have undertaken additional education and training to support, guide and supervise midwives. Every midwife must have a named supervisor of midwives.
Support for parents - How supervision and supervisors of midwives can help you (.pdf)
An obstetrician is a doctor specialising in the care of women during pregnancy, labour and soon after the birth. Your midwife or GP will refer you for an appointment if they have a particular concern, such as previous complications of pregnancy or labour or chronic illness. If everything is straightforward, a midwife will usually deliver your baby. For more information on the individual consultants who may treat you please see Obstetrics.
An anaesthetist is a doctor who is specially trained to provide pain relief and drugs that make you go to sleep. Obstetric anaesthetists specialise in giving anaesthetics to pregnant women.
A paediatrician is a doctor specialising in the care of babies and children. The paediatrician may check your baby after the birth to make sure all is well and will be present when your baby is born if you have had a difficult labour. If your baby should have any problems, you will be able to talk this over with the paediatrician. If your baby is born at home or your stay in hospital is short, you may not see a paediatrician at all. Your GP can check that all is well with you and your baby.
A physiotherapist is specially trained to help you cope with the physical changes of pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards. Some attend antenatal classes and teach antenatal exercises, relaxation and breathing, active birth positions and other ways you can help yourself during pregnancy and labour. Afterwards, they advise on postnatal exercises to tone up your muscles again. Your midwife can help you with these exercises.
Health visitors are specially trained nurses concerned with the health of the whole family. You may meet yours before the birth of your baby. The health visitor will contact you to arrange a home visit when your baby is 10 days old to offer help and support. You may continue to see your health visitor either at home, or at your Child Health Clinic, health centre or GP surgery, depending on where they are based.
Dietitians are available to advise you on healthy eating or if you need to follow a special diet, such as that recommended for women with gestational diabetes.
A sonographer is a specially trained professional able to perform ultrasound scans for a variety of purposes. You will meet a sonographer at your dating scan, NT scan and anomaly scan if you choose to have them. Some women are also scanned at other points in the pregnancy.