It’s probably come to the time when you are starting to seriously think about who you are going to choose as your primary care giver. In Australia you have several options, but depending on where you live, you should thoroughly check out your local options. Some women have a great relationship with their GP, and some GPs have specific training in prenatal care. Some women prefer to see an obstetrician privately. Others know where they will have their baby and prefer to see the doctors and midwives at their local hospital. You could also do something called “shared care” which means that during your pregnancy you can see the same GP, obstetrician or community midwife for most of your pregnancy visits with some key visits at the hospital.
Whether you choose a midwife or a doctor or a group of providers who work together, your prenatal care should be more than just medical tests and a long list of dos and don’ts. Good prenatal care helps you stay confident and healthy throughout your pregnancy and prepares you for the safe, healthy birth of your baby.
Prenatal care is your chance to get answers to your questions about pregnancy and birth, although the amount of education you can expect to receive varies depending on your provider. While there are exceptions to every rule, in general, doctor visits are shorter and tend to focus on recognizing and responding to problems in pregnancy. In contrast, midwives offer longer visits and care that is centred on helping you stay healthy and avoid problems. While checking on your health and that of your baby can be done quickly, the value of longer appointments comes from having an opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with your provider. By doing so, you can expect to receive care that fits your individual needs.
At your first visit you can expect to have a complete physical examination, including a discussion of your medical/health history, as well as some blood work and other lab tests. While some tests are standard and necessary, you have the right to ask what tests your provider recommends and why, and to decline any that you’re not comfortable with. Although blood tests are not risky, sometimes the information you get from a test can be confusing or misleading, lead to more tests or cause unnecessary anxiety. If these test results won’t change the course of your care or your decision-making, you may decide to pass. It’s very likely that your doctor will also do a quick ultrasound to confirm your baby’s heartbeat (it’s quite an amazing experience to hear it for the first time!).
Bring along the date of your last menstrual period and the date you think you conceived (if you think you know), as your provider will need these to calculate your estimated due date. If you have irregular menstrual cycles or can’t remember when you last had a period, your midwife or doctor may order an ultrasound to estimate your due date. Remember, your estimated due date, no matter if it is determined by ultrasound or your last period, is just that—an estimate! Instead of focusing all of your thoughts on one day on the calendar, think of your “due month” as the two weeks before and the two weeks after your “due date.”
Your first visit will be longer than other prenatal appointments. If possible, bring your partner with you so that you both have a chance to get to know your provider. Come prepared to review your medical and family history. This is the best way for your midwife or doctor to know if you have any medical issues that will need close attention during your pregnancy. While your provider will be asking you many questions about your family and health history at your first visit, you’ll also be able to ask questions. Ask any questions you have about your care or your pregnancy, no matter how silly or trivial you think they may be. Most likely, these are the questions your provider hears most often!
Some questions you may wish to ask during your first visit include:
- Who do I call if I have a concern?
- How can nutrition affect my pregnancy?
- What can I expect during my prenatal care?
- What testing do you recommend? How do you support women to make informed choices about which tests to have?
- What are your views on weight gain during pregnancy?
- (If you are taking a private obstetrician) Can I expect you to attend my birth, or who else would be on call?
If you have a lot of questions, your provider may not be able to address all of them in one appointment, but your questions should not be brushed aside. Beware of providers who simply tell you what you want to hear or who treat you like a number rather than an individual. If something about your provider bothers you, talk it over. If the issue doesn’t resolve, or you feel uncomfortable with your provider’s philosophy and approach, consider finding someone else. The relationship between you and your provider is going to play a key role in your pregnancy, your preparation for motherhood and the birth of your baby. Make it a good one!
So what’s going on with your little one at this point in your pregnancy?
At a length of about 1.25 centimetres right now, your baby has graduated from blueberry-sized to raspberry-sized!
Your uterus, usually the size of a fist, has grown to the size of an orange. Admittedly, still small (it will grow to be a rather large watermelon by the end of your pregnancy!), but while it’s unlikely you look pregnant from the outside, you almost certainly feel pregnant on the inside at eight weeks pregnant.
Developmentally, your baby’s upper lip is forming, the protruding tip of his or her little nose, and tiny (and very thin) eyelids. Your baby’s webbed fingers and toes are differentiating now and taking shape. Incredibly, your baby’s heart is beating at the incredible rate of 150 times per minute. (That’s twice as fast as your heart beats) and amniotic fluid increases at a rate of about two tablespoons per week.
Coping with Nausea
Nausea is so common in early pregnancy that it’s often the first signal a woman is pregnant. It may help to think of that queasy feeling as nature’s way of keeping you and your baby safe from harmful substances during your baby’s most sensitive developmental stage. Try the tips below to help you cope. If nothing else works, keep your eyes on the road ahead: Nausea will end eventually. For most women, it goes away somewhere between the third and fourth month.
- For many women, a change in diet can help. Eat and drink whatever you think you can handle—small, frequent snacks that sound comforting and easy to digest.
- A high-protein snack before bed, as well as to snack on before getting out of bed, is a traditional remedy for morning sickness. Keep some crackers on your bedside table.
- Motion sickness bands, which stimulate an acupressure point near the wrist, also can ease symptoms.
- Ginger and vitamin B6 (75 mg daily) have both been proven to provide relief for nausea and vomiting. Ginger can be taken in capsules (1 g daily), added to cooking or brewed into a tea.
- To make ginger tea, thinly slice one inch of peeled ginger root. Bring two cups of water to a boil, and then add ginger. Cover; reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain tea into a cup. Add honey and lemon to taste.
Some great reading:
Weekly Birth Inspiration
We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful; it’s that women are strong.”
~ Laura S. Harm
I am stronger than I can ever imagine. Birth comes easily to me.
About Tanya Strusberg
Tanya Strusberg is the only Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) in Australia and teaches prenatal education to pregnant women and their partners in Melbourne.
She and her husband Doron have two beautiful children, Liev and Amalia.
To learn more visit www.birthwellbirthright.com
About Katrina Zaslavsky
Katrina Zaslavsky is the passionate founder of Birth Goddess, author of A Modern Woman’s Guide to A Natural Empowering Birth (featured nationally, paperback available in bookstores Australia-wide, direct via http://shop.inspiringbirthstories.com.au/shop-online/ or as a kindle e-book on Amazon) birth columnist, speaker and committee member for Natural Parenting Melbourne. Her calling is to awaken people to live a more conscious, natural lifestyle and especially to empower women to discover their inner birth goddess!
Profoundly impacted by her own personal journey into motherhood, Katrina provides an empowering birth community, resources, workshops and products including her book, Birth Goddess Cards and the newly launched Empowering Birth Magazine to support women to give birth the way nature intended- fear free, drug free and even pain free!
Join the empowering birth community: https://www.facebook.com/KatBirthGoddess
Browse the blog: http://www.birthgoddess.com.au/