The first NHS online maternity guide has been launched by the Department of Health aiming to offer mothers and fathers-to-be information on pregnancy and birth.
The new ‘Pregnancy Care Planner’ has been published on the NHS Choices website, and contains the latest comprehensive advice on all aspects of pregnancy, from getting pregnant, early pregnancy, the scans, and the birth, as well as the most up to date comparative guides to what is on offer at local maternity units.
Gwyneth Lewis, the Department of Health clinical lead for maternity said: "This new online resource is an excellent way for people to find out more about NHS pregnancy and birth services, and to see what local maternity services can offer them.
"All you need to do is type in your postcode, and choose which units to compare, and you can make up your mind on what services you would like to discuss using with your midwife, based on the best and most up to date information and data. This new service offers mums-to-be vital information, helping mother and baby to be healthy, before, during and after the birth.
Key features in the planner include a personalised NHS Choices pregnancy account which allows users to be sent information of interest to them, an online birth plan to update as the pregnancy goes and discuss with their midwifery team by printing it out and keeping it with them during the labour.
It also offers advice on how to best prepare for pregnancy, what is healthy, the best time for conception, information for dads, health during pregnancy, a week by week guide and information on the birth and where to have it.
Pauline Esson, the head of midwifery at Lewisham Hospital, said: "The lack of a comprehensive NHS online maternity guide has become marked in recent years. Just at the time that people are demanding more and more online information, we haven’t had a reliable place to direct people to.
“I will definitely use this planner as back up to care and will print out the key sections for expectant parents without internet access"
One expectant mother who is helping the DH launch the new service by keeping a diary is Mia Brock, is a theatrical agent and first time mother who is currently five months pregnant.
Brock lives in East Sussex and plans to work as close to her due date as possible which is scheduled for the end of November. She says that knowing what is right or wrong about her unborn child is essential to her, and the online resource is helping to prepare her for what was to come and put her mind at ease.
"I think that a product such as this is vital, especially for first time mothers like myself, who don’t really know what to expect. This product guides you through, step by step, giving safe, reliable information which is important, as other than your doctor and midwife, these days, people expect to be able to look up everything they need to know on the internet.,” she said.
The DH says that health is the most researched subject on the internet, and pregnancy is the most researched health subject.