Pregnancy and birth

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NHS pregnancy information

The NHS pregnancy support pages offer advice, support and also related facts.

Deciding to have a baby is a life-changing experience. Whatever your age or experience there will no doubt be a list of questions of which you will seek answers. This section aims to answer the most common ones but always talk to your health care professional regarding your own personal circumstances and he/she will be able to guide you.

Signs and symptoms of early pregnancy

The earliest sign is usually a missed period. If you are used to having a regular monthly bleed then missing one could mean you are pregnant. Other symptoms can include the following:

  • morning sickness (though this can occur at any time during the day)
  • feeling tired
  • feeling you need to urinate more frequently than usual
  • sore or tender breasts
  • strange tastes, smells and/or cravings

This list is not exhaustive. Always talk to your health care professional should you have any concerns or worries.

What to expect in the first few weeks

During your pregnancy you will be offered 2 scans, though some women may be offered more. The first scan is usually offered between 8 – 14 weeks of pregnancy and the second one usually at 18 – 21 weeks. Each scan has a different purpose though you do not have to accept the offer of any scan appointment and you can refuse.

Ultrasound scans can:

  • check your baby is growing normally
  • calculate your due date (based on baby’s size)
  • check if you are expecting more than one baby
  • show the position of your baby and placenta
  • detect some abnormalities

Other antenatal checks.

Labour and birth

You may decide to give birth at home, in a hospital or in a midwifery led unit. There are various important points to consider when deciding which location is best for you and your baby. Your midwife will be able to talk through the various options with you and even if you make a decision you are still entitled to change your mind as your due date grows nearer.

Pain relief during labour

Labour can cause pain and as a result you may require different ways of managing the pain. Become familiar with the act of labour, speak to your midwife and read up; that way you will know what to expect once the big day arrives.

If you decide that you would like pain relief there are a number of options available:

  • gas and air
  • pethidine
  • epidural
  • TENS machine

Practising your breathing, changing positions and using support such as a birthing ball or a birthing pool can also help your levels of pain. Everyone copes differently – weigh up each option and write down your choices within your birthing plan.

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