Standard maternity care is a curious mix, I am discovering. Half is highly medicalised; the other half involves being left to your own devices.

At every appointment you are routinely poked, prodded and measured. You have blood tests for everything from syphilis to sickle cell. Routine scans look out for all sort of terrifying things.

Then for the rest of the time you are largely left to it, or in my case at least left to anxiously look through books and websites every time something new happens. This, as a GP pointed out to me, is because pregnancy is a "natural condition". But it can still be a daunting prospect if you have not got the foggiest idea what to expect.

Meanwhile I have had the chance to make a few observations of life as an occasional patient. First, that GPs really don't like it when you self-refer (taking the initiative rather than mutely following their lead? How could I?).

Self-referring does have its downsides; it means your hospital and GP do not talk to each other so you have to get your notes delivered to your own home and trust that a) they will be posted and b) the postal service will actually deliver them.

Second, visiting a maternity unit with or without an appointment can mean a lengthy wait (this won't apply when I actually have the baby, I hope). While the national birth rate is on the rise, London's is rising even faster and I think all these mothers-to-be are having their babies in the same place I am.

Third, despite having what I am sure are the best of intentions for patients, medical staff often act as if we are all deaf. So yes, Ms Phlebotomist, we can still hear you having a 15-minute conversation with your mate as we wait to have bloods taken.

And yes, Ms Senior Sister, it is alarming for people in the waiting room to overhear you make numerous phone calls explaining that the tube system that takes samples to the lab is broken and as a consequence you have a morning's worth of bloods slowly cooking in an overheated building. Perhaps a private office might have been a better location from which to make such a call?

Just a thought.