HealthAgenda

PREGNANCY & BIRTH

You’re pregnant! Now what?

What you need to know during those early days of pregnancy.

Karen Burge
August 2018

Perhaps your body feels a little different or your period is late. Then a pregnancy test confirms it – you’re having a baby!

Huge news like this can send you through a range of emotions. You might feel nervous excitement, complete joy or a little daunted about the road ahead. If you’ve previous ly had problems carrying a pregnancy to full term, you may be cautiously optimistic. If your pregnancy is unplanned, it could be a challenging time.

While some women quickly share their news with family and friends, others prefer to wait until around the 12-week mark. It’s at this point you’ll have an ultrasound and blood test which will show you your growing baby and provide important information on its health.

Another reason to wait is, as The Royal Women’s Hospital in Victoria explains, up to 1 in 5 women, who know they're pregnant, will have a miscarriage before 20 weeks. “Mostly this will happen in the first 12 weeks.”

That said, how and when you spread the word is for you to decide.

After you’ve had a chance for the news to sink in there are a few things to think about.

Bring your GP in on the news

Visit your GP as early as is practical, advises GP Dr Wendy Burton, chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Antenatal/Postnatal Specific Interests Network. If you don’t have a regular GP, now’s the time to decide who you'd like to help you through this big and important journey.

“Early review allows a GP to assess any risk factors for [the mother] or the child, to discuss recommended testing and her wishes regarding how she wants to proceed with her pregnancy care,” Dr Burton explains. “Popular obstetricians and high demand public models of care require early referral.”

You’ll also have blood tests and scans and discuss the various models of care in your local area. Dr Burton adds that if your pregnancy is unwanted, your doctor can discuss your options.

If it’s your first time around, you’ll need to learn about the different care options available, where and how you'd like to give birth, and whether you want public or private maternity services. The decision you make will influence who you see during your antenatal checks.

Most women have uncomplicated pregnancies, so generally you’ll have between 8 and 10 antenatal appointments during your pregnancy, explains the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

“Some women might have more complicated or high-risk pregnancies, meaning there's a risk that their health might be affected by the pregnancy or there's a risk to their baby. These women may require additional antenatal visits and testing to monitor the health and wellbeing of both mother and baby.”

Learn more about antenatal care during pregnancy

After deciding what care you’d like, you might want to consider booking in for antenatal classes. 

Learning curve

Whatever your birth philosophy, there are courses and workshops to support you through the experience. Antenatal classes are being delivered in new and innovative ways, from free public hospital-based weekly courses to private seminars, weekend workshops and online courses like Birth Beat.

Talk to your midwife, obstetrician, GP, maternity service and other mums about recommended pregnancy and childbirth education providers. If you’ve been through this before, you might want a refresher or something more targeted.

It’s also a good idea to book in a tour of where you'd like to give birth.

Work life

Melbourne mum Sarah wanted reassurance from her 12-week scan before letting her workplace know she was pregnant. However, she was so ill with morning sickness that it was a struggle.

“I had a supportive manager who could tell I was at my desk looking a little green. I was throwing up a lot and feeling really tired,” she explains. “We ended up chatting about my pregnancy earlier than I’d planned but it meant I had a bit of breathing space and didn’t have to hide how unwell I was feeling. I told my colleagues a little further down the track.”

It’s entirely up to you when you tell your employer, however Fair Work Australia explains that you need to give at least 10 weeks’ notice before starting your unpaid parental leave and to confirm your parental leave dates at least 4 weeks before it's due to start.

Peter Wilson, chair of the Australian Human Resource Institute, says that if you're applying for a job, what you disclose is your choice, and employers can’t discriminate against you for being pregnant. It’s the law.

“In terms of looking for an employer when you know you’re pregnant early in the first trimester, you should be looking for someone that’s family friendly and has policies and a reputation for supporting women through their pregnancy and after birth,” Wilson explains.

“We encourage both parties to see disclosure as a positive thing. It’s very good for employees and employers to think what plan of action can be put in place together in anticipation… rather than it being a surprise announcement.”

Going through the motions

Even though pregnancy can be a happy time, it can also bring worry. Feeling your baby move is an amazing experience, however when bub is a little quiet, many mums-to-be might be concerned. This can particularly be an issue if you’ve experienced loss before or its your first pregnancy.

Pregnancy hormones can make you feel emotional, tiredness can kick in, juggling work or other young children can be challenging, and you have medical appointments to attend. There’s a lot on your shoulders.

If you feel your worries are piling up too high, or you’re confused or unhappy, Beyondblue’s Healthy Families project recommends you reach out to someone you trust to talk about your feelings. You can also speak to your GP or obstetrician about a referral to a counsellor, as sharing your concerns is helpful.

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