NCT wants all women and their partners to feel supported during pregnancy and prepared for parenthood.

NCT has produced evidence-based information on Antenatal care and Antenatal courses and on a range of pregnancy related topics, including pre-eclampsia and complementary therapies. Stress and anxiety in pregnancy can have immediate and long-term effects on families and children. NCT runs Yoga in Pregnancy courses and Relax, stretch and breathe explains how yoga helps in pregnancy and labour, a glance at the evidence looks at research evidence and a teacher looks at the benefits of yoga and how it can help women have a better birth

The problem of pregnancy and maternity discrimination gained renewed prominence during 2016 as a result of research jointly commissioned by the (former) Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Also in the December 2016 issue of NCT’s Perspective journal, Miranda Dodwell describes her work on ensuring that women have up-to-date information about birthplace choices.

A website that uses personal experiences to provide a wealth of information about pregnancy and childbirth is discussed in Healthtalkonline: a valuable resource for practitioners.

Helen Castledine reviews the guidance and evidence on what impact alcohol has on the health of women and their babies before and during pregnancy and during breastfeeding.

Mary Newburn reports on the meeting 'From Barker to bench, bedside and beyond: the impact of epigenetics in pregnancy on mother and child', hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine on 22 February 2016.

NCT representatives worked with the Department of Health and other members of the Expert Group on ‘Preparing for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond - a multi-disciplinary group of agencies and government officials - to produce Preparation for birth and beyond: a resource pack for leaders of community groups and activities.

Bumps is a new interactive resource that provides information on the safety of medicines in pregnancy, allowing users to give their feedback on their experiences.

Pregnancy Apps are evaluated in a Perspective article by Helen Darlaston and Sam Havis.

Pregnant women with a high BMI are considered to be at higher risk of adverse outcomes, but recent research suggests this may not be true for all women. Kim Thomas reports on the risks associated with obesity

Of course, not all pregnancies go to plan and the impact when an unborn baby dies late in pregnancy or during labour is devastating. In Stillbirth: when there is no 'First 1,000 days' Elizabeth Duff, NCT's senior policy adviser, explains the risk factors and public health messages which practitioners can adopt in order to help parents reduce their risk of stillbirth.

NICE guidance

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced clinical guidance on Antenatal care: routine care for the healthy pregnant woman. Pregnant women with complex social factors may need additional support to use antenatal care services. The guideline Pregnancy and complex social factors: a model for service provision for pregnant women with complex social factors, published September 2010, describes how access to care can be improved, how contact with antenatal carers can be maintained, the additional support and consultations that are required and the additional information that should be offered to pregnant women with complex social factors.

Published in December 2012, NICE clinical guidance on ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage offers evidence-based advice on its diagnosis and management and recommends NHS should offer early pregnancy assessment services seven days a week to ensure timely diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy. An NCT document summary of this guideline is available.

Published in August 2010 the NICE guidance on Hypertension in pregnancy provides evidence-based advice on the care and treatment of women who have or are at risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure) in pregnancy. It contains advice on the diagnosis and management of hypertension during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. It also includes advice for women with chronic hypertension who wish to conceive and for women who have had a pregnancy complicated by hypertension.

NICE also published the Diabetes in pregnancy guideline in March 2008. The Diabetes in pregnancy guideline offers valuable guidance to health professionals on how to help women manage their diabetes from before conception through to the period after they give birth. Ways that practitioners can support parents with diabetes are discussed in Diabetes in pregnancy.

The NICE guidance for Dietary interventions and physical activity interventions for weight management before, during and after pregnancy was published in July 2010. It offers guidance to managers and health professionals working in antenatal, postnatal services and children’s centres who have a direct or indirect role in, and responsibility for, women who are pregnant or who are planning a pregnancy and mothers who have had a baby in the last 2 years.

Government publications

The Scottish Government wants to ensure that all children have the best possible start to life, are ready to succeed and live longer, healthier lives. The Maternal and Infant Nutrition Framework for Action has been developed to help achieve this and is aimed at a wide variety of organisations with a role in improving maternal and infant nutrition in Scotland.

The NHS Quality Improvement Scotland (QIS) published Version 6 of the Scottish Woman Held Maternity Record in November 2011 and is now being used across Scotland. Scotland is the first of the UK countries to have a single national unified handheld record for women during their maternity care.