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New RCN guidance aims to enhance early pregnancy care

Information will help clinical nurse specialists to support women concerned about a complication in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Guidance designed to support clinical nurse specialists working across early pregnancy care services has been published by the RCN.


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These specialist nurses care for women and their partners who may be concerned about a complication in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Their support focuses primarily on women who experience a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Other complications they support include hyperemesis gravidarum, which is an extreme form of morning sickness, given prominence by the Duchess of Cambridge who has experienced it during her pregnancies. Symptoms include severe nausea and vomiting, leading to weight loss and dehydration.

Essential skills

Produced in collaboration with the Association of Early Pregnancy Unit (AEPU), the guidance identifies specific skills, including clinical practice, ultrasound and leadership, that are required to fulfil the clinical nurse specialist role. 

It also provides information on nurses’ educational development, and supports the Nursing and Midwifery Council revalidation process. Details on RCN credentialing and how to advance nursing practice are also included.

Providing enhanced care

RCN professional lead for midwifery and women’s health Carmel Bagness said: ‘One in four pregnancies in the first trimester will miscarry.

‘It is vital that women are supported through the first stages of their pregnancy, and clinical nurse specialists are well placed to give enhanced care and advice during this period. 

‘Early pregnancy units should be established and maintained locally, and the role of the nurse is constantly evolving in this specialty.

‘Working together, the RCN and the AEPU recognise the need to provide educational support for nurses working in these essential services, and this new standard will guide them in their career and revalidation process.’


Further information

Read the new guidance


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