GPs 'need greater maternity role'
GPs' lack of involvement in maternity care is undermining services to pregnant women and their babies, a report has said.
Family doctors are often best-placed to know a woman's medical history and yet often have little involvement in pregnancy care.
The study, from the King's Fund think-tank, calls on GPs to play a bigger role through all pregnancy stages and to work more closely with midwives and consultants in providing joined-up services.
While women can now self-refer themselves to midwives, many still visit their GP to have the pregnancy confirmed or for a referral to a midwife.
This can lead to confusion among women about who to speak to if they need something, including in an emergency.
The report said GPs could play an important role in all pregnancies but particularly for women with complex medical or social needs.
This may include managing weight gain in obese women, referral to stop-smoking services and discussing genetic testing for those women who need it.
A visit early in pregnancy could also check a woman's general health, including a review of medical history from medical records and a heart examination.
The report said a GP could prove vital because women do not always share all their medical history with midwives.
"A GP will often have accumulated knowledge about the women, her medical and family history, sometimes over many years," it said.