CONGRATULATIONS, you are pregnant! You may have been planning your pregnancy for a long time, or perhaps you have unexpectedly found yourself pregnant. Either way, you are likely to have a long list of questions to be answered.
The best place to start is with a visit to your local general practitioner, obstetrician or midwife. Not only will they get you to take a test to confirm that you are in fact pregnant, but they will also set you up properly to ensure you get the right care throughout your pregnancy and be able to coordinate your prenatal screening tests, such as screening for Down Syndrome.
Keep in mind it is important to see these professionals before you are 10 weeks pregnant if you wish to undertake the prenatal screenings, which are staggered throughout the 40 weeks. After the first check-up, the number of visits with your midwife or doctor varies – usually, in a low risk pregnancy, they will be scheduled for every four to six weeks at the beginning of the pregnancy and more often later down the track.
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At these visits, you will have the opportunity to talk freely and openly about your pregnancy and health; check your blood pressure; check the baby’s growth and wellbeing; gain information about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting; and have all your questions answered.
If you become worried about anything or have any questions between your visits, you can always contact your midwife, hospital antenatal clinic, labour ward, birth unit or doctor. Even though you may be feeling well throughout your pregnancy, regular checkups are really important. These visits to a midwife or doctor make it easier to treat any arising problems early, so you are less likely to have complications with later pregnancy and birth.
Other ways to make sure you are giving your baby the best start in life include consuming a healthy and balanced diet, continuing to keep fit and active, and ensuring you are getting sufficient rest. It is also highly recommended that you quit smoking, give up drinking alcohol and refrain from taking illicit drugs during pregnancy and also while breastfeeding.