eRedbook Essentials: 8 Practical Things to Do when you find out you're pregnant
Date: 21 October 2020
1. Book an appointment with your doctor or midwife
You can do this as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. If possible, this appointment should happen before you are 10 weeks pregnant (taken from the first day of your last period). Find out what happens at your first appointment. They will then start you on your journey through antenatal care. The NHS has information on what antenatal appointments you should be offered throughout your pregnancy, what checks and tests you will have, and what routine scans you will have. This is a good time to sign up for your eRedbook account. The eRedbook will work alongside your appointments with your doctor or midwife to support you throughout your pregnancy.
2. Start taking folic acid if you aren’t already doing so
It’s recommended that you take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, from before you’re pregnant until you’re 12 weeks pregnant. Find out more about vitamins and supplements in pregnancy. If you’re on benefits or are under 18, you might be able to get free vitamins and vouchers for healthy food under the Healthy Start programme.
3. Find out the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for pregnant women
Guidance is changing frequently so it is important to know the current official advice. A good starting place is the NHS page on pregnancy and coronavirus. For practical tips and advice on being pregnant in the pandemic, take a look at the series of coronavirus articles from the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).
4. Ask your doctor or midwife to apply for a maternity exemption certificate (MATEX)
All prescriptions and NHS dental treatment are free while you’re pregnant and for a year after your baby’s due date. Children also get free prescriptions until they’re 16. You will need the certificate before you can start claiming, so make sure you ask for this at your first appointment.
5. Find out what maternity/paternity leave and pay you and your partner can get
All employed pregnant women are entitled to statutory maternity leave and partners are entitled to paternity leave. Parental leave and pay may also be shared. Read the NHS summary of parental benefits and leave, and follow the links to the GOV.uk website to find out more detail. Use the GOV.uk calculator to find out what leave and pay you and your partner will be entitled to, based on a few questions about your current jobs. It will also tell you when you need to let your employers know about your plans, based on your due date.
6. Find out what other financial support you might be able to claim
If you are on a low income, out of work, under 18 or receive other benefits, you might be entitled to further financial help. The NHS has a list of links for different things you might be able to claim for when you are pregnant. Read from the ‘Benefits for pregnant women’ section halfway down the page, and continue to the section on ‘Other financial help’. If you need support with working out what you can claim, your local Citizens Advice will be able to help.
7. Book your antenatal classes
Antenatal classes can help you prepare for your baby’s birth. They can also be a great way of meeting other parents-to-be who live in your area. The best time to go to classes is around 8–10 weeks before your baby is due, or sooner than this if you are having twins or more. NHS antenatal classes are free – ask your midwife what is available in your local area. You can also pay for antenatal classes through the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) and other private organisations.
8. Put all your health contacts into your eRedbook
Add your midwife, GP, labour ward, birthing centre (if relevant), and any other health professionals looking after you, to your eRedbook contacts, so they are all in one handy place. You could also add them to your phone and ask your partner to do the same.
There are lots of things to think about when you find out you're pregnant, and with so much information and advice out there, it might be difficult to know where to start. Here's our handy guide for some practical things you can do straight away, as you begin your pregnancy journey.