All the information you need to prepare for your maternity in the UK. Taking into account the high level of medical costs in the UK, we recommand to purchase an international health insurance including reinforced coverage for maternity.
The period of pregnancy in the UK
Your first appointment will be set around the 3rd month, at the end of the period at risk of miscarriage. In the meantime, unless there is a serious health problem, if you have any questions or doubts, access to a attentive medical ear is almost impossible with the NHS. The English view of medical care is relatively less comprehensive and much less medicalized than in other countries such as France.
This meeting is mainly used to get you to fill out an administrative file and to assess whether your pregnancy is “at risk”. If no risk is detected, its follow-up will be reduced to a bare minimum, which boils down to 3 medical examinations:
- Down’s Test, which assesses the risk potential of Down Syndrome 21. Rather strongly suggested in France, in Great Britain, it is only practiced if you ask.
- an ultrasound at 12-14 weeks (Dating scan) to determine a date of delivery
- a second at 18-20 weeks (Abnomaly scan) to check the structural normality of the baby (head, brain structures, heart, lungs, bladder, kidneys, intestine).
They are generally not the same midwives during pregnancy follow-up, even during or after childbirth. Unlike in France, the procedures are very sketchy and it is up to you to go to a private centre if you want to deepen the analyses.
What is the Birth Plan?
The Birth Plan is a document issued by the administration that allows you to specify your requests for childbirth (place, wish to use the pain-relieving method, …). In this sense, the health system, the NHS gives you the opportunity to participate in guided tours in maternity wards, as well as online access to the opinions of former patients, in order to make your choice. However, with the NHS, you must give birth near your place of residence, where you have mainly carried out your maternity care.
There are also hospital classes at the end of pregnancy to prepare for childbirth and breastfeeding. In general, they advocate the most natural birth possible and advise avoiding epidurals (presented as an increased risk factor for instrumental birth).
Childbirth in England
With the English health system and the NHS, you will be accepted to the hospital from a dilation of the cervix of at least 4 cm (early work) even in case of water loss.
A trigger is planned 24 hours after the loss of water if the work has not started naturally and this to avoid the risk of infection to the fetus. A trigger is also expected one week after term if the birth has not yet started naturally.
Another surprise the young mother may have: the nurses will not offer you custody of the baby during the night in order to rest. In addition, in the UK, if you are healthy, you will be able to return home 3 hours after giving birth. The NHS offers new parents a midwife visit every 2 days during the first 10 days after giving birth. This will be available to answer your questions.
Maternity leave in the UK
As in France, around the 20th week, you will receive a form of the midwife to pass on to the employer: the MATB, which gives the expected date of delivery.
Maternity leave is up to 52 weeks. In terms of allowances, the legal minimum pays for the first 6 weeks and then the next 20 weeks is paid about $100 per week. The last 26 weeks are not paid. Your employer may abound these benefits but without any legal obligation.
The leave may begin no later than the Friday of the week before giving birth. On the other hand, if you are stopped the month before the scheduled date, maternity leave actually begins. The benefit is more flexibility and parental leave follows maternity leave without any further action. You also don’t need to plan ahead of your return date. You must notify your employer at least 8 weeks in advance when you have decided on your return date.
Many women stop working for a year because public early childhood care facilities are few and far between, while private facilities are extremely expensive. Groups address the lack of structures and allow mothers to find support during these long periods of maternity leave.
Why take international health insurance?
Although there are good public hospitals in the UK, private medicine does not impose constraints on you (such as single access to hospitals near your place of residence) and therefore allows you to calmly apprehend your delivery.
Indeed, international health insurance will give you the opportunity to have access to a network of doctors and hospitals in both the public and private sectors, with the same guarantees. This will allow you to limit payment for the maternity costs, which can range from 6,000 and 40,000 euros in London.
Just as you can choose the practitioners, who will follow you from the beginning to the end of your pregnancy in insurance follow up after birth.
Finally, private hospitals will guarantee you better comfort after childbirth. You will be able to stay in the maternity ward to get back in shape, and learn a little more about the mother’s job from the various health professionals.