What is Shared care?
Shared care with a local doctor provides an option for women to have some of their pregnancy care with their GP and some visits at the hospital’s antenatal clinic (or midwives’ clinic or birth centre).
Essentially, shared care with a local doctor is usually an option for women who have no pre-existing health conditions (such as diabetes) and whose pregnancies are progressing relatively normally with one baby (no twins or more). The local doctor would seek advice from an obstetric registrar or consultant at the hospital you are booked into if there were any health concerns or if complications arose. If complications do develop (such as high blood pressure, bleeding during pregnancy or the labour starting prematurely) then your care will most likely be transferred from the shared care arrangement to the doctors in the hospital’s antenatal clinic. Policies and guidelines for what is acceptable for care by local doctors will vary from hospital to hospital.
Shared care can be a convenient option for women who have a good relationship with their local doctor and find travelling to the hospital difficult (especially if they have other children). Most shared care arrangements require the GP to be accredited by the hospital you are attending.
If you require the services of a dietician, social worker, genetic counsellor, physiotherapist and childbirth educator, your local doctor will usually refer you to the services provided by the hospital you are booked into or services in the local community.
Some of your pregnancy visits will be done at your local doctor’s rooms, and some will be done at the hospital by your chosen caregivers (antenatal clinic, midwives’ clinic or birth centre). Each hospital usually has their own recommended guidelines for how often you see your local doctor and how often you come to the hospital. Your GP may take bloods and order ultrasounds or these may be done by the maternity service at the hospital (depending on when your visits are scheduled throughout the pregnancy).
Your local doctor will not be involved in your labour and birth.
Pain relief options
Pain relief availability will depend on your birthplace and will be in line with the care arrangements you have made with your hospital.
Postnatal care will be in line with the care arrangements you have made with your hospital. Local doctors do not provide postnatal care home visits if you decide to go home early, but the hospital midwives can provide this.
6 to 8-week postnatal check
You can go back to your local doctor for your 6 to 8-week postnatal check or you may prefer to see a caregiver at the hospital, such as the antenatal clinic, midwives’ clinic or birth centre.