Pregnancy is an exciting time for most women, but it can also be nerve-wracking. You want to make sure you and your new baby are getting the best care so that you stay healthy and your baby has the best start in life. You'll be offered several options for your antenatal care during pregnancy. These can include seeing an obstetrician, a team of midwives or your regular general practitioner (GP). Different models of care are best for different people; however, share care is a wonderful model of antenatal care for many women.
What is share care?
Antenatal share care is a model of care where your GP works with midwives and obstetricians at your chosen hospital to provide comprehensive antenatal care throughout your pregnancy and the postpartum period. Most of your appointments are with your GP, and they will order any investigations such as ultrasound scans or blood tests, making sure results of all of these are also sent to the hospital. When necessary, you will also have appointments with a midwife or obstetrician, usually at the hospital. You deliver the baby at the hospital like any other patient, then see your GP again for postpartum care. Most women are able to have share care as their antenatal care model. However, some women are unable to chose share care due to other medical conditions or having a high-risk pregnancy.
Advantage One: Your GP knows your health
Your GP has the best knowledge of any past medical concerns and knows what is normal for you. This means they can provide excellent, individualised care to you throughout your pregnancy. You can develop a good therapeutic relationship with them over time, making the appointments more comfortable for you. This continuity of care is an advantage once the baby is born too, as they will have a good knowledge of your pregnancy and be able to offer excellent care to you in the postpartum period and excellent care to your new baby.
Advantage Two: A team of healthcare professionals
Share care means you won't have just a midwife or an obstetrician caring for you, but a whole team consisting of your GP, midwives and obstetricians. This means you'll receive comprehensive care focusing on you as a person and a patient. GPs who provide share care need to meet certain requirements with the hospital, meaning they get continuing education about obstetrics and hospital procedures. If any concerns arise during your pregnancy, meaning that it's more appropriate for you to have your appointments at the hospital with an obstetrician or midwife, then your GP can quickly work with other health professionals to make sure your care is transferred as appropriate. Obstetricians and midwives are experts in pregnancy and delivery, while GPs have in-depth, broad knowledge about many areas of medicine, so they can help identify and treat any other problems that may arise during your pregnancy.
Advantage Three: Convenience
Share care means fewer appointments at the hospital. This generally means shorter waiting times and less time and money spent on parking or travelling. You can book your appointments with your GP at a time that suits you, rather than attending an antenatal care appointment at a hospital which will usually have less flexible appointment times.
If you're interested in share care as an antenatal care option, make sure to discuss it with your GP. They will let you know if it is an option for you. If they don't offer share care, they can refer you to a colleague who does.