Pregnancy checks

Part of taking care of yourself is seeing your midwife

Health care for pregnant women is referred to as ‘maternity care’ in New Zealand.  Maternal care is mostly free for New Zealand citizens, permanent residents (or their pregnant partners) and students with visas.

Once you are pregnant, you will need to choose a lead maternity carer (LMC). Your GP or nurse can give you information on how to contact a LMC.  
 

The options for maternity care are:

  1. Independent midwife - FREE
  2. Midwife team employed by the hospital - FREE
  3. Hospital specialist and midwife team for high risk pregnancies - FREE
  4. Shared care (GP + midwife - some GP clinics but not all have this contract) - FREE
  5. Private obstetrician (User pays)

Maternity care includes:

  • Free LMC visits before and after birth including any specialist visits that your midwife or GP may refer you to (e.g. Obstetrician & Gynaecologist).
  • Screening for conditions or illnesses like, HIV, Down syndrome, spina bifida, and other congenital conditions. These are usually done in the first trimester. It is therefore important to seek maternity care as soon as you know you are pregnant. Later in the pregnancy you may be checked for other things like Gestational Diabetes and other conditions.
  • Referral for ultrasound scans.  Depending on which stage of pregnancy they are done at, ultrasound scans will be able to accurately date your pregnancy by measuring your baby, check your baby has a heartbeat, examine your baby to check all their organs are developing normally, diagnose certain abnormalities such as spina bifida, see how your baby is growing and more.  Search for NZ pregnancy ultrasound services here.

This video clip below provides a great overview of the type of care you will receive during pregnancy.  Click image to play.

Your doctor and/or midwife provide free check-ups during and after pregnancy and informs you of tests and pregnancy and parenting workshops that are available for most people in New Zealand. They will also make arrangements for delivery. It is therefore important to have maternal care as EARLY as possible to reduce the risks to you and your baby and to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.  

Pacific women are at a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes (diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy) and pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) during pregnancy. Your midwife will monitor and may check for these conditions as the pregnancy progresses.

These conditions are the most serious complications of pregnancy and can affect many organs including the brain, liver, lungs and kidneys of the mother and affect the growth and development of the baby.

A detailed description of what your midwife will provide during the different stages of pregnancy and after your baby is born is available below:

To receive a FREE pregnancy week by week guide which shows the changes you and your baby are going through, download our Tapuaki app in the Google Play or iTunes store.

 

Nausea during pregnancy

Nausea during pregnancy is one of the most experienced and complained about symptoms that women report. Not only is it known to be one of the early signs of pregnancy, but it is a symptom which is common throughout the first trimester, and sometimes even longer.  Nausea during pregnancy is commonly reffered to as 'morning sickness' however symptoms can occur anywhere and at any time of the day.  To help prevent and treat nausea during pregnancy click here.

 

Vaccinations during pregnancy

Pregnant women including those with pre-existing medical conditions (like diabetes or asthma) are at greater risk of severe influenza related illnesses.  It is recommended that all pregnant women receive a flu vaccination in order to protect them and their unborn baby or new infant from the effects of influenza.

NZ is currently experiencing a whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic and pregnant women between 28 to 38 weeks pregnant are advised to have the free whooping cough immunisation.

Click on the image below or more information about protecting yourself with vaccinations during pregnancy.

Medication safety during pregnancy

This is important. If you are unwell for any reason and need to take medications whether prescribed or bought over the counter, please contact or see your GP or midwife/LMC first. They will advise you whether it is safe to take certain medications during pregnancy. Your local pharmacist can also advise you if you inform them that you are pregnant.

Click here for further information about medication safety during pregnancy.

 

WARNING SIGNS IN PREGNANCY

IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SIGNS OR SYMPTOMS, CONTACT YOUR MIDWIFE, LEAD MATERNITY CARER OR LABOUR & BIRTHING SUITE NEAREST TO YOU AND LET THEM KNOW WHAT IS HAPPINNING.  THEY WILL GUIDE AND ADVISE YOU ON WHAT TO DO.

  • Bleeding vaginally
  • Leaking fluid
  • Pain when passing urine
  • Vaginal discharge which becomes itchy or smelly
  • Contractions (especially if its before 37 weeks gestation)
  • Slowing down of baby’s movements (particularly in the last three months)
  • Baby’s movements become unusually infrequent
  • Severe vomiting
  • Swelling or puffiness of fingers, ankles or face and
  • Generally feeling unwell

Other signs also include:

  • Persistent or severe headaches
  • Problems with vision such as blurring, flashing or spots before the eyes
  • Bad pain just below the ribs on your right side or upper central abdomen
  • Unexplained or severe vomiting
  • Sudden swelling of your face, hands and feet/ankles (especially in the morning) and
  • Chills and fevers, feeling hot/fever and unwell with flu like symptoms

 

Content provided by Dr Monica George

Dr Monica George is a General Practitioner currently working at Mangere Family Doctors.  Monica's background includes working in medicine, youth health and recently in primary health care.  Monica is Niuean/Samoan and is married with one son.