If you are looking to start a family planning can seem like a daunting discussion. With all the information available, where do you start? We will take a brief look at the latest recommendations for pre-pregnancy preparation and choices for antenatal care.
Getting ready to have a baby is an exciting time, and there are some things you can do to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.
Now that you are set to try for a pregnancy, keep the following tips in mind:
Navigating Antenatal Care
There is a lot to do in 9 months, so let’s make sure you have the basics covered! Pregnancy care can be provided either publicly or privately in Australia. Choices include:
For all public options of care, you will need to call the pregnancy referral line (Ph: 1300 368 820) to obtain a reference number and allocation for a hospital first visit appointment.
First trimester – Your doctor will confirm your pregnancy with a urine sample. You will then need a set of bloods and a urine sample to check your immunisation status, ensure you do not have any medical conditions that might affect a baby, and to check levels of iron and vitamin D. Your due date will be calculated using the first day of your last menstrual cycle, and if there is any uncertainty, a dating ultrasound can be done. The first trimester screen is performed at 9-13 weeks with a blood test and an ultrasound to determine the risk of having Down’s syndrome or Trisomy 13. If the risk is higher, a doctor can speak with you about whether you want more invasive tests done to confirm is the risk is real.
The harmony test (N1PT) looks for foetal DNA in maternal blood and can be done from 10 weeks gestation. It can tell you the sex of your baby, and looks at the risks of trisomy 13, 18 and 21. Any higher risk reading will prompt a discussion about whether you would like further invasive testing to confirm a diagnosis. This test is not routinely offered and costs around $400 out of pocket.
If you have not yet had a flu immunisation, it is recommended to have one at any time during pregnancy. The government provides this free of charge.
If you are at risk of diabetes (personal or family history gestation diabetes, BMI >30), you will be invited to have an early glucose tolerance test around 12-16 weeks gestation.
Second trimester – The morphology ultrasound occurs at 19-20 weeks gestation and will check that baby is growing normally.
Third trimester – At 28 weeks, a booster for pertussis (whooping cough) is recommended. Maternal antibodies transfer across the placenta to provide some protection for the baby. A glucose tolerance test to check for gestational diabetes will also be organised at this time.
Preparing for delivery – See a physio and work on your pelvic floor exercises. At 36 weeks, a low vaginal swab will be taken to find out your status for group B streptococcus. If positive for this bug, you may need antibiotics during delivery to protect baby. Normal vaginal delivery may be assisted with episiotomy, vacuum or forceps if needed. In some cases, a lower segment caesarean section is needed.
For further advice and to discuss a plan that suits you, please make an appointment with your local general practitioner.