GPs still first port of call for pregnant women

Women still opt to see their GP, rather than a midwife, when they first discover they are pregnant, a DoH report has found.

Parents’ views on the maternity journey and early parenthood found that many women choose to contact their GP because ‘they already know them or because they are not aware that they have the option of seeing a midwife for their first contact’.

Many women go to their GP looking for confirmation of the pregnancy, information and support.
GPs therefore need to be aware of ways in which they can improve this first contact, ‘by being more empathetic and giving women/partners the information they need,’ the report said.

The report discovered that many women felt ‘let down’ by their GP for ‘not being excited enough’, not volunteering information on next steps or not doing a confirmation test.

A number of suggestions were made in the report on how healthcare professional such as GPs, can provide mothers with a better first contact experience experience.

It was suggested that GPs could ‘give guidance on scans’ and ‘signpost to information on non-health issues such as housing, benefits and training’.

It is also important that GPs ‘help women connect with other local or online social support networks as they are often not ready to tell friends and family,’ the report said. 

GPs may also be in a position to provide guidance to young fathers as many ‘aren’t in a position to take on the traditional provider role and may feel uncertain as to how to define their role,’ the report said.

Most importantly, the report said, expectant parents want their feelings to be recognised at the first appointment. This could be achieved by ‘being congratulated or simply asked what their feelings are’ rather than focusing on ‘routine paperwork’.

GPs need to ensure ‘where the first contact is with them, it is a positive experience,’ the report said.


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