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.. see also prepregnancy planning(pdf - 4/2002) see also Ultrasound Video ..

About your pregnancy 

Congratulations on becoming an expectant parent-this is a very exciting time in your life, even though you may be inclined to feel flat and sick at first. Your baby is very special and deserves every opportunity to get a flying start in life by growing healthily in your womb. Pregnancy is really a very normal event in the life cycle and usually goes very smoothly, especially if you have regular medical care.

Why have regular checks?

Antenatal care is considered to be the best opportunity in life for preventive medicine. It is important to check the many things that can cause problems-these are uncommon, but preventable. A special problem is pre-eclampsia, a condition of weight gain, high blood pressure and kidney stress, which shows up as protein in the urine.

Areas that need to be checked include:

  • blood count
  • blood grouping and Rhesus antibodies (Rh factor)
  • immunity against infections that may affect the baby (eg. rubella, hepatitis B)
  • number of babies (one or more)
  • size and state of your pelvis
  • blood pressure
  • urine (for evidence of diabetes or pre-eclampsia)
  • cervix (smear test)
  • progress of the baby (eg. size of uterus, heartbeat and movements)
  • mother's progress, including emotional state
  • any concerns of mother

When should you be checked?

The recommended routine is as early as possible and then every 4 to 6 weeks until 28 weeks of gestation, then every 2 weeks until 36 weeks, and then weekly until the baby arrives (usually 40 weeks).

What common things can cause problems in the baby?

  • infections such as rubella
  • diabetes (can develop in pregnancy)
  • pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure
  • smoking-retards growth and should be stopped (if impossible, limit to 3 smokes per day)
  • alcohol-causes abnormalities, including mental retardation, and should not be taken (if you must, 1 glass of beer per day maximum)
  • other social drugs
  • aspirin and various other drugs (check with your doctor)

What is usually prescribed?

Iron and folic acid tablets.

What important areas should you attend to?

Nutrition

A healthy diet is very important and should contain at least the following daily allowances:

1. Eat most:

  • fruit and vegetables (at least 4 serves)
  • cereals and bread (4 serves)

2. Eat moderately:

  • dairy products-3 cups (600 mL) of milk or equivalent in yoghurt or cheese
  • lean meat, poultry or fish-1 or 2 serves (at least 2 serves of red meat per week)

3. Eat least:

  • sugar and refined carbohydrates (eg. sweets, cakes, biscuits, soft drinks)
  • polyunsaturated margarine, butter, oil and cream

4. Bran with cereal helps prevent constipation of pregnancy.

Antenatal classes

Trained therapists will advise on antenatal exercises, back care, postural advice, relaxation skills, pain relief in labour, general exercises and beneficial activities such as swimming.

Breastfeeding and nursing mothers

Breastfeeding is highly recommended. Contact a local nursing mothers group for support and guidance if you need help.

Employment and travel

Check with your doctor. Avoid standing in trains. Avoid international air travel after 28 weeks.

Normal activities

You should continue your normal activities. Housework and other activities should be performed to just short of feeling fatigued. However, get sufficient rest and sleep.

Sex

Continued sexual activity, which may have to be modified from time to time, is most appropriate, unless advised otherwise.

When should you contact your doctor or the hospital?

Contact your doctor or seek medical help:

  • if contractions, unusual pain or bleeding occur before the baby is due
  • if the baby is less active than usual
  • if membranes rupture and a large amount of fluid comes out
  • when you are getting regular contractions 5-10 minutes apart

Remember

  • Pregnancy is a normal event.
  • Good nutrition is vital.
  • Continue your normal routine.
  • Get adequate rest and sleep.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol.
  • Breast is best.
  • Many support services are available.
  • Raise any concerns.

Copyright 1995: John Murtagh, Professor of General Practice
Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

North East Valley Division General Practice, Victoria, Australia, Disclaimer 
Level 1, Pathology Building, Repatriation Campus, A&RMC, Heidelberg West VIC 3081. .. map
Phone: 03 9496 4333, Fax: 03 9496 4349,  Email: nevdgp@nevdgp.org.au
Please note: NEVDGP does not provide an on-line consultation

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