Released on: 24 August 2021

In response to an updated guideline published by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) which focuses on women-centred care, Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Advisor, NCT, said:

‘We’ve always strongly supported the principle of putting women at the centre of their own care, as this is crucial to improving pregnancy outcomes and experiences for both mother and baby. Midwives and other caregivers have a key role to play in sharing evidence-based information and supporting women and their partners to make decisions about the care that’s right for them.

‘It’s satisfying to see that, for the first time, this new guideline addresses the role that partners play in supporting women through their pregnancy and includes recommendations about how to involve them in antenatal appointments. We’ve advocated for decades to help both partners prepare for birth and parenthood and it’s very welcome to see this approach reinforced by NICE in their guidance.

‘Importantly, the guidance highlights that some groups of women are more likely to experience poorer outcomes and need additional support, in particular the increased risk of death for women of Black, Asian or mixed ethnic backgrounds and for women living in the most deprived areas. There is also a strong recommendation to ask a woman about her general health and wellbeing at every antenatal appointment and to provide a safe environment to discuss any concerns about personal circumstances or mental health. The role that antenatal education and peer support can play is recognized, together with the importance of these services being accessible and adapted to meet the needs of local communities.

‘We encourage women to engage with maternity services as soon as possible in their pregnancy, so they receive relevant information and so the right care pathways can be put in place to suit their personal circumstances and respond to any complications in a timely way. We look forward to seeing these guidelines implemented and followed across maternity services to ensure high quality care. Our website has lots of articles about the first trimester to support parents-to-be in the early days of pregnancy.’

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