Start for Life

The first 1,001 days (from conception to 2 years old) is considered to be the most important time in a child's life for development.

Whether you're a parent/carer, grandparent or other family member, you can use our Start for Life pages to find information, advice and support for this vital period of a child's life.


Midwifery services support all families from conception, during pregnancy, birth and up to 28 days after birth.

I'm pregnant - what should I do first?

Once you know you're pregnant, speak with your GP surgery and let them know. They might offer you an appointment to see them, or they may suggest you self-refer to your local maternity unit of choice, such as The Duchess of Kent Maternity Unit at Hillingdon Hospital.

Antenatal care

Start your antenatal care as soon as possible. You can do this by contacting a midwife or GP or referring yourself directly to maternity services near you. 

Your antenatal appointments will vary according to your specific pregnancy needs and will be held in hospital, a family hub or children's centre, GP surgery or clinic - or at home if you are planning to have a home birth.

Read more about antenatal care and appointments

Antenatal classes

Antenatal classes are usually fun and informative classes, which provide an opportunity to meet other people who are expecting babies around the same time as you. They will help prepare you with information and confidence for the arrival of your new child. 

  • Welcoming our baby - antenatal classes where expectant parents will explore strategies to cope with pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond, and gain the knowledge, skills and confidence needed on the journey to parenthood.

Health visiting (antenatal)

At around 30 weeks, all mothers-to-be in Hillingdon are invited to attend an antenatal group session with a health visitor.

Parents can access free antenatal classes in family hubs and children's centres across the borough. These classes provide all the information you need to make an informed choice about the birth and caring of your baby.

Your health visiting antenatal contact is your first introduction to the support, advice and services you can access from the Health Visiting Service. You and your baby will have a health visitor until your child starts school, so it's important you know what your local service offers and how you can contact them.

Find out more about the Hillingdon Health Visiting Service

Health and wellbeing in pregnancy

It's important to know how to look after your body and mind during pregnancy and what support is available to you.

  • Free vitamins and healthy eating - if you are more than 10 weeks' pregnant or have a child under 4-years-old, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk through the Healthy Start scheme
  • Keeping well in pregnancy - information and advice about what to eat during pregnancy, how to exercise, travelling during pregnancy and more.

If you are pregnant and are experiencing anxiety, low moods or are struggling with all the changes, speak with your midwife, health visitor, GP or make a self-referral to Hillingdon Talking Therapies Service.

Babies born with a medical condition and/or additional needs

If you find out your baby might be born with a medical condition, or additional needs that will cause disability, it can be a very difficult time. Your maternity service provider will advise and support you. You can also find information and advice on our SEND local offer pages.

View our SEND local offer

Pregnancy padlet

The 'Your Pregnancy' padlet provides easy-to-access information needed for your pregnancy journey, including what to expect at your appointments, pregnancy recommendations, creating a birth plan and packing your hospital bag. 

'View Your Pregnancy' padlet

Breastfeeding support

While you are pregnant, it's a good time to start thinking about how you will feed your baby when they arrive. 

Find information and support with breastfeeding

Practical tips for getting ready for a baby

Before your baby is born, you may need to plan how to make your home safe. You can get lots of information about accident prevention from the child accident prevention trust's website.

It's a good idea to plan your journey home from the hospital. If you are planning on travelling by car, the NHS has some helpful tips on buying a baby car seat.

Maternity rights

Maternity Action is the UK's maternity rights charity, which offers advice to pregnant women and new parents on employment rights, maternity pay, maternity benefits and breastfeeding rights. It also provides free legal support for more complex cases or where women are in need of further support, plus advice on NHS care costs to migrant and asylum seeking women.

Visit the Maternity Action website

Maternity Neonatal Voice Partnership (MNVP)

The MNVP works to develop and improve maternity services in the borough. If you are a pregnant woman, birthing person, new parent or family member of a new baby and want to make a difference to maternity services, get in touch.

Visit the MNVP website

Pregnancy trauma and loss

The Maternity Trauma and Loss Care Service (also known as M-TLC) provides specialist support and treatment to women and pregnant people, those who have experienced pregnancy or birth, and their families and support network who are affected by birth trauma or baby loss.

Find out more about M-TLC

Page last updated: 27 Feb 2024