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Your guide to pregnancy and giving birth in the UK

Whether you’re planning for pregnancy or childbirth, one of the best things you can do is prepare in advance. Thinking about having a baby in the UK ahead of time can improve your chances of getting pregnant and ensure your pregnancy is a healthy one. With that said, the amount of information out there can be overwhelming, and stress is the last thing you need at this time. This Pacific Prime UK article is your guide to pregnancy and giving birth in the UK, so you can focus on what matters.

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Important decisions to make when planning for pregnancy
There are many things to consider when planning for pregnancy. Expectant mums in the UK typically don’t have to worry much about maternity since the National Health Service (NHS) offers care to all UK citizens and legal residents. However, many women prefer to go for private birth in the UK for reasons like personalised care and more. 

Who is your GP?

The first thing you should do when you find out you’re pregnant is visit a General Practitioner (GP). If you don’t already have a GP, you can register with one at your local surgery. This visit can sometimes be free of charge, though you’ll have to check the details.

The GP will be able to confirm your pregnancy, estimate the due date and refer you to a midwife. They’ll also handle any tests and scans you need. You can either get a midwife through the NHS or privately, and find one through the clinics or on your own.

Public vs private hospital for pregnancy

Understanding the pros and cons of the UK’s public and private healthcare systems can help you make important decisions regarding your pregnancy. Whether you choose public or private healthcare essentially comes down to the treatment and level of personalised care you’d like and how much you’re willing to spend. 

Public hospitals

The public NHS system offers free treatment for UK nationals and legal residents. If you’re from a country that has a healthcare agreement with the UK, then you’re also eligible for free NHS care. When using a public hospital, you’ll be taken to the hospital’s delivery room as soon as you go into labour and your baby’s ready for delivery. Once your baby has been delivered, you’ll be moved to the post-natal ward, where the midwife will tend to you and your newborn until you’re all set to go home.

Private hospitals 

Private care is another option, with the majority of private maternity services located in London and South East England. Generally speaking, private hospital facilities are more comfortable, luxurious and private. Aside from having a private room, you’ll also receive one-on-one support from a dedicated obstetrician (OB) and midwife. If you choose a private hospital, you’ll probably have to put down a deposit when making a reservation.

Prenatal care

Through the NHS, prenatal (sometimes known as antenatal) care in the UK offers routine scans, checkups, screening tests and up to 10 midwife appointments. On the other hand, if you opt to see a midwife privately, you can pay for additional appointments with more customised care and advanced tests and scans. You may be referred to a consultant for closer observation if any issues arise during prenatal care. 

You can also combine the systems. For example, by giving birth through NHS hospitals and specialists, and hiring your own private midwife and booking private tests and scans. It’s worth noting that private antenatal care comes with more options and services. Moreover, you can choose 3D and 4D ultrasounds, and other tests and scans that are not provided through the NHS. These costs are typically charged on top of your doctor and hospital fees.

While NHS services are rather standard, private services are more personalised and give you more control over the pregnancy and delivery. Whether you choose the public or private route, or a combination of both, you’ll be able to discuss any concerns with your midwife. She’ll also let you know what to expect and what your options are, as well as provide emotional support throughout your pregnancy.

Delivery

Maternity clinics and hospitals in the UK are typically led by the NHS. However, some of these facilities have private wings, which means you can pay up to GBP £450 a night to have your own room while receiving care on the NHS. Typically billed as packages, private birth costs can be anywhere from GBP £5,000 and up. These packages don’t usually include midwives, obstetricians and additional treatment costs. Since obstetrician fees can cost as much as delivery, you need to be careful when calculating how much it costs to give birth in the UK. 

There are plenty of options for deliveries in the UK in both private and NHS hospitals. Similarly, you can choose the type of delivery you’d like, such as water birth or home birth. You can also decide how much medical assistance and intervention you receive during labour.

Private midwife 

If you’re planning on delivering your baby in an NHS hospital but using a private midwife, they might not be able to deliver your baby – though they’ll probably be able to go with you as a birthing partner. Additionally, it’s possible that you’ll have to stay in the hospital overnight once your child is born. If you have a private room, the hospital might allow your birth partner to stay overnight with you. Be sure to check the hospital’s policy to avoid any last-minute surprises. 

Once you and your baby have been given the green light to go home, you can start to settle into your life as a new mum.

Secure maternity insurance in the UK

Welcoming a new member to the family is undoubtedly a wonderful experience, though it can quickly become stressful at any given moment. While tips for giving birth in the UK for expats may be different than those for UK citizens, many of the differences between private and public facilities still apply. Whether you’re a foreigner or a local who’s planning a pregnancy, your best bet is to secure a maternity insurance policy as soon as possible.

Looking for the best maternity insurance in the UK? With over 20 years of experience in the insurance industry and relationships with top insurers, we can easily find pregnancy insurance in the UK that matches your needs and budgets. 

Contact us to learn more about maternity insurance in the UK or download our free International Maternity Insurance Guide to learn the ins and outs of maternity insurance.

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime UK
​​Jantra Jacobs is a content writer at Pacific Prime. On a typical workday, she writes and edits articles, guides, and anything else word-related. She loves creating content that is both easy to understand and enjoyable to read.

In her free time, she’s likely to be writing poetry and prose, geeking out on her latest interests, reading, or practicing yoga.
Jantra