Turning into a preggo bore? Your midwife won’t mind. In fact, she’s the best friend you’ll have. So make the most of her now
OK, so she makes you pee in a pot every time you see her, but your midwife can be your greatest ally when you’re pregnant. She’s trained hard to get to her position as the main player in your pregnancy support network, having completed around three years of full-time study. Not only is she specially trained to take care of pregnant women and young babies, but she’ll have regular updates throughout her career. And, whether you’re struggling with your changing body, having relationship wobbles or just feeling hormotional, she’ll be on hand to listen to your worries, calm your fears and give you bumper portions of practical advice. So make the most of her.
Since most babies are born in hospital, it’s easy to assume that, when you’re pregnant, you’ll see a doctor. But, once you’ve done your test at home and called your GP surgery, they may not even ask you to come in. If you have no existing medical conditions, you could be put directly in touch with your local midwife unit. And, unlike in the US, where 92% of babies are delivered by an obstetrician, as long as you have a straightforward pregnancy, there’s no reason for you to see a doctor at all. From your first check-up, throughout the labour and birth, and until your baby is 10 days old, a group of midwifes from your local team will be your primary caregivers.
‘They really are your chief source of support and knowledge,’ says Dr Anne Deans, author of Your New Pregnancy Bible (£24.99, Carroll & Brown). ‘They are the people who can get you through the difficult bits of becoming a mum – and help you enjoy all the best bits.’
Overshare. Yes, really
Let’s get one thing straight – when it comes to midwives, there’s no such thing as TMI. ‘At your first antenatal appointment, she will ask you your full medical history,’ says midwife Denise Tiran. ‘This is everything from your height and weight to details of medical conditions or previous operations. The more she knows, the better she can care for you and your baby.’ And that’s the case right through your time with her. ‘If we know what you’re planning, we’re able to give appropriate advice about whether it’s right for you,’ says Denise. ‘Tell your midwife (or midwives – you may have more than one over the course of your pregnancy) about any worries or stresses you have.
'If money’s a problem, we can get you information about financial help. If you’re anxious about your relationship or an issue at work, we can help you find support or counselling.’ If in doubt, let it all out.
Let’s get one thing straight – when it comes to midwives, there’s no such thing as TMI.
Your midwife will expect you to have
lots of queries, so don’t feel embarrassed about voicing them. You won’t be the
first pregnant woman to turn up with
a notepad and (yep, mildly OCD) numbered points to discuss. ‘I took a list of questions along to every one of my antenatal appointments,’ says Sara Churcher, who’s mum to Nell, 18 months. ‘It consisted of everything from “What will they be looking for at my first scan?” to “Where’s the best place to park at the hospital?” It was reassuring and it helped me feel in control of my pregnancy.’
If your midwife can’t answer everything during one of your routine appointments – either because she needs to find out the additional info or because she’s got a tight schedule – just book an extra appointment to run through your queries.
And don’t forget to ask for her help after your baby’s born, too. She’ll be happy to teach you how to bath your baby, change a nappy and hold your newborn when you breastfeed. She’ll also have advice about how to look after yourself and what’s likely to happen to your body once the baby’s out, too.
Do your research
A midwife’s job is to give you the best advice possible, but she won’t tell you what to do. You are the one who will choose things like whether or not to have tests for Down’s syndrome or what your preferred method of pain relief might be. She simply gives you the background you need to make these choices.
‘It helps to make time to read up on things like screening tests and intervention options during labour,’ says independent midwife Joy Horner. ‘This will complement your midwife’s advice and help you get the full benefit of your appointments, because you’ll know more about what to ask.’ Don’t forget, some of these choices come early on in pregnancy. For instance, a midwife will talk to you about screening tests during your first antenatal appointment. But nothing needs to be set in stone. ‘If you change your mind about something, that’s fine. Just tell us so we’re up to date,’ says senior midwifery lecturer Alison Edwards.
check for extras
Interested in alternative therapies? As soon as you tell your doctor’s surgery you’re pregnant, ask if your local NHS trust has any ‘midwives with benefits’. As well as all the normal maternity knowledge, a growing number are now trained in alternative therapies, such as homeopathy or hypnobirthing, which they can use to help you while you’re pregnant or during labour.
Some midwives use aromatherapy or moxibustion and, if you’re lucky, the service will have been set up within your local NHS trust, so you know the midwives are well trained. ‘If your local trust doesn’t have this facility, your midwife may still be able to refer you,’ says Denise. ‘What’s important is that your therapist is not just trained, but also insured, to deal with pregnant women.’
What was the best thing your midwife did to support you? Let us know in the comments box below.