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I’m Pregnant and Happy: A Guide to Your Prenatal Care.

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 3 minutes read

So you got that all-important positive on the pregnancy test? Congratulations! You’re at least three weeks into your 40 week journey! But where do you go next? Let’s take you through the process so you’re prepared.

How do I access a midwife?

A midwife or your doctor will guide you through your pregnancy, and get you tapped into blood tests, scans and any other services you may need before planning your delivery with you. You can refer yourself to maternity services as soon as you know you are pregnant. They are usually aligned to a particular hospital. See which is your closest hospital and book an appointment there.

The team will get in touch to arrange the next steps. You will have a blood test to check whether you are anemic, have kidney or liver problems, have certain infectious diseases including HIV, and to check your blood group. They will ask you to take a vaginal swab to test for common sexually transmitted infections.

Your blood pressure and weight will be checked and they will ask questions about other medical conditions and that of your partner. This is usually around 8 to 10 weeks into your pregnancy.

You will then be in the system to have your 12 week scan, which is an ultrasound scan to accurately date the pregnancy, and your 20 week scan, where any structural abnormalities, known as anomalies, are picked up, and you can usually find out the sex of the baby.

What should I be doing now?

You should be taking supplements of folic acid and vitamin D, which are available at any pharmacy. Your blood count drops a little in any normal pregnancy, but if you know you have a tendency to anaemia, you may wish to buy iron supplements to keep topped up.

If you smoke, it’s strongly recommended to give this up during pregnancy, as it carries risks to your growing baby. You are also recommended to stop alcohol. If you need any help with either of these, or have addiction issues with street or party drugs, you can access substance abuse services via your doctor's practice.

Certain foods may be higher risk in pregnancy, so take a look online for those to avoid, such as uncooked meat or unpasteurized cheese. Emma's Diary is available free online and a good source of advice.

Where do I go for concerning symptoms?

This can be a worrying time as your body changes and you want to do the best for your baby, and it can be hard to know what’s normal or when to seek help. If you experience bleeding or abdominal pain in your first 12 weeks – your first trimester – you should call your doctor.

If you experience bleeding, abdominal pain or reduced movements of the baby after 12 weeks – in your second and third trimesters – you should go to your local hospital. Try to call your doctor first.

If you have any urinary symptoms – pain when peeing, going more often or going with more urgency – then it’s important to have a potential urinary tract infection treated swiftly in pregnancy, as it carries a risk. Get an emergency appointment at your doctor's office, or if after hours, a local Urgent Treatment Center or the Emergency Department can provide antibiotics.

Who looks after me if I develop complications?

If you have an existing medical condition and are under a doctor specialist, you should discuss with them ahead of any pregnancy whether you need any special considerations or need to change any prescribed medications. They will then give specific advice, and may consult with an obstetrician, a doctor who looks after pregnancy and delivers babies.

If you develop certain conditions during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or thyroid problems, you may attend shared care clinics between a specialist and an obstetrician. Any complications with the pregnancy, such as abnormalities seen on the scan or pre-eclampsia, will be discussed with the obstetrician who will oversee your care and advise on special measures, such as delivering early or taking certain medications. Your midwife and/or your doctor can get you referred to specialist services or an obstetrician.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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