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Maternity Services

We want to make sure you receive the maternity healthcare that takes account of all your health needs and preferences.

As soon as you know you are pregnant, it’s important to get in touch with a midwife or your GP to organise your antenatal care. You can also find out about local antenatal classes, which will put you in touch with other women and prepare you for becoming a mum. These may be run by your maternity service, midwife, GP or Health Visiting service. The NCT (the National Childbirth Trust) also runs courses in many areas.

We are committed to providing you with:

  • A choice of how to access maternity care
  • A choice of the type of antenatal care you receive
  • A choice of where you have your baby depending on your circumstances
  • A choice of where you receive your postnatal care

Did you know you can pick where you have your care?

There is so much to think about and plan when you are expecting a baby!

You can choose where you go for your maternity services.

In north east Essex and Suffolk maternity services are led by the hospitals. The hospitals have teams of midwives in their local community, and teams in the hospital clinics.


You can choose from the list below to get your maternity care. During your pregnancy you will receive antenatal care, which means your midwives and other clinicians can monitor you and your baby’s health. This care includes appointments for things like checking your baby’s growth, health checks for you, blood tests, your 12-week and 20-week scans.

Each area has a slightly different way of organising your care. So, depending on your needs you may receive some of your care in the community such as health centres or children’s centres, and some care such as scans in the hospital clinic setting.

You and your midwife or obstetrician will decide where it is best for you to give birth. Depending on your needs this could be at home, in a birthing unit, or in the chosen hospital.

To help you choose, either visit NHS Choices or on the links below.

Where to have your baby

Whether you choose to give birth to your baby at home, in a midwifery-led birth unit, or in an obstetric delivery suite you should discuss your options with your midwife.

In north east Essex maternity services are commissioned from East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust.

Breastfeeding - Infant Feeding

How you choose to feed your baby is an important decision. We would expect your healthcare staff to make time to have a chat with you about how you feel about feeding your baby and to give you some information to support you to make an informed decision about infant feeding.

They will also offer you about some simple tips to support you get breastfeeding off to a good start.

You should be given information including a link to ‘Caring for your baby during pregnancy and the first year’ and be signposted to the online DVD called ‘From Bump to Breastfeeding’.

‘From Bump to Breastfeeding’ is a useful guide to see how other people have managed breastfeeding.

In most areas of north east Essex there are ‘Preparing for Baby’ breastfeeding workshops you can attend to talk about infant feeding and the reality of becoming a new parent. Ask your Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service, Healthy Family Team or midwife for details and booking.

How breastfeeding can protect you and your baby

Breastfeeding can make a big difference to you and your baby. Remember ABCD:

Breastfeeding protects against:

  • Asthma
  • Breast cancer
  • Coughs and colds
  • Diabetes

Breastfeeding also helps protect your baby from:

  • Severe diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Chest infections
  • Eczema
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (cot death)
  • Obesity

Breastfeeding helps protect you from:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Osteoporosis (weak bones later in life)
  • Obesity (helps you lose weight, breastfeeding burns an extra 500 calories a day)

How you can make breastfeeding work for you

A precise of the Virgin Care and Colchester Hospital Foundation Trust ‘Infant Feeding Guidelines’ is printed within the ‘Caring for your baby during pregnancy and the first year’ booklet. A full version is available on request. This will advise you of what sort of things you should expect the healthcare provider to be doing to support you.

If you aren’t sure breastfeeding is for you…

Maybe none of your friends or family have breastfed and you are not sure about what to expect for yourself, or about their reactions? Or maybe you have heard that breastfeeding may be difficult, or had a hard time breastfeeding your last baby?

Your midwife and/or Healthy Family Team can answer any concerns you may have. You may also like to talk to another mum who has experienced breastfeeding – your local Baby Beginnings Breastfeeding Support Group has Peer Supporters you can talk to. Peer Supporters are mothers who have breastfed and had training to enable them to support other mothers. Ask your midwife or Healthy Family Team for information about when and where your local group meet or drop into your local Family Hub for more information.

For breastfeeding support and information you can also contact:

  • Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service: 01206 266891
  • National Breastfeeding Helpline: 0300 100 0212
  • National Childbirth Trust (NCT): 0300 330 0700 or www.nct.org.uk
  • Breastfeeding Network (BfN): 0300 100 0210 or www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk
  • BfN Drugs in Breastmilk Helpline: 0844 412 4665 or www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk
  • La Leche League (UK): 0845 120 2918 or www.laleche.org.uk
  • Cry-sis: 0845 228 669 (7days week, 9am – 10pm) support for crying, sleepless and demanding babies.

These are run by mothers who have breastfed and have had training to support other mothers.

After your baby is born

After birth, skin-to-skin contact is one very simple step that every mother can take to welcome her baby into the world.

Being born is a tiring time for your baby, and we now know that the best way to help your baby adapt to his new environment is to hold him in skin-to-skin contact.  No matter how you choose to feed your baby, spending some time in skin-to-skin contact is very beneficial.

After birth, your baby will be gently dried and then placed on your chest, (it’s fine to have a nappy on your baby, just in case!) and a warm blanket may be placed over you. You can then spend some time getting to know them.

You can have skin-to-skin contact as often as you want with your baby, it’s a great way to calm your baby and let you both get to know each other, and the more time you spend in skin-to-skin contact the quicker this will happen.

Skin-to-Skin contact

There is lots of evidence about the many benefits of skin-to-skin contact. We know that babies who have spent an hour in skin-to-skin contact are significantly less stressed after the birth experience. This means that their breathing and heart rate are more stable, they cry less, and when they start to feed, they digest their food better.

Being close to their mother will help them to pick up some of the friendly bacteria from your skin and help protect them from catching infections now they are no longer protected inside you.

Skin-to-skin contact can help with breastfeeding

When baby is in skin-to-skin contact, your baby is close to their food. They can see and smell the nipple/areola and this acts as a draw to encourage them to start to breastfeed. In addition, holding your baby in this way will help trigger the release of the hormones that help your breastmilk to start to flow and help you to bond with your baby and feel confident to look after them.


Breastfeeding information and support available to women in north east Essex

Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service is managed by Virgin Care. Mothers can use the service by contacting their local Healthy Family Team or Family Hub:

Health Family Teams aim to contact all women within 48 hours of discharge notification to support them with Infant Feeding.

  • Weekly telephone/texts and one-to-one home visits are offered for the first 6 weeks.
  • All staff are trained to Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative standards.
  • Practical support is offered within the midwifery department at Colchester General and Clacton Hospitals, a 24-hour Maternity Advice Line is available for all antenatal and postnatal enquiries up to day 28.

Clacton: 01255 201600

Colchester: 01206 742473

Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service and Colchester Hospital Maternity Services are Unicef Baby Friendly Accredited and work in partnership to ensure continuity of care and support.

Other useful information

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