Women in the Borders are being urged to make an appointment with their midwife as soon as they find out they are pregnant.
NHS Borders is promoting that message across the region as part of a drive to encourage the best start for pregnant women and their babies.
All pregnant women, including those who have given birth children already, are being encouraged to book themselves into their local maternity services before 12 weeks.
This will mean they can to benefit from the full range of screening options available and have their individual health needs met.
NHS Borders stressed this week that the first two trimesters following conception are a critical time.
This is when the fetus finds itself most vulnerable to damage caused by the use of tobacco, drugs and alcohol, maternal stress and poor nutrition.
The first midwife appointment aims to ensure the best long-term care is provided for each woman and her baby.
Women’s health needs can be different, so support may be given around things like eating well, exercise, dental care, smoking, drinking, money or even housing.
Nicky Berry, associate nurse director and head of midwifery, and also general manager for women’s and children’s services for NHS Borders said this week: “We want to get the message out to women across the Scottish Borders that you can make your first midwife appointment as soon as you know you’re pregnant.
“Pregnancy tests are so accurate now that a positive result is enough to book you directly into maternity services.
“If you are pregnant, seeing your midwife early is the best way to support you and your baby’s wellbeing. Just book an appointment as soon as you know you are pregnant.”
Evelyn Rodger, director of nursing, midwifery and acute services for NHS Borders added: “Women will meet a number of health professionals on their maternity journey but the midwife is without question the expert on what to expect in pregnancy.
“That’s why it’s important that women meet their midwife as early as possible, so that their individual support plan is put in place and a strong relationship can be built up. We know that although all women need a midwife, some will also need an obstetrician, GP or other service during pregnancy, so the earlier we can get each woman’s plan under way the better.”
While women are being offered the option of a midwife as first professional contact, the choice of seeing a GP at any point in the woman’s pregnancy remains available.”