When you first find out you’re pregnant, there are a few key things you need to do – other than celebrate of course! Firstly, book in with a doctor or obstetrician, then figure out the right exercise and eating plan for you and understand the importance of quitting smoking, before reading up on different baby routines and philosophies. Here’s your pregnancy timeline explained.
Book in with a doctor
While many women see their GP to confirm their pregnancy, doctors would actually like to see you before you even fall pregnant. That way, they can advise on any pre-pregnancy changes to your lifestyle, and help reduce the chance of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, by advising on folic acid supplementation. “It’s vital for all women to take daily supplements of folic acid before trying to conceive as well as for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy,” confirms Dr Miriam Stoppard, author of Conception, Pregnancy & Birth (Penguin). When it comes to which doctor to choose, many Australian practices have a GP who specialises in ‘shared care’, meaning you just see your GP as usual for many of your pregnancy check-ups, rather than attending a maternity clinic or hospital. To find an obstetrician in your area, many mums-to-be rely on word of mouth, or contact the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Stop drinking and smoking
Research has shown that continuing to smoke is one of the most damaging things you can do to the health of your unborn baby. “Risks linked to smoking include miscarriage and stillbirth, damage to the placenta and a higher risk of foetal abnormalities,” says Dr Stoppard, adding that many studies have shown the damaging effects. “Children of heavy smokers were found to suffer from impaired growth and learning difficulties.”
In terms of giving up drinking alcohol, government guidelines recently changed, currently recommending abstaining rather than the seven units per week a year earlier. If you’re unsure, Dr Stoppard advises giving up the grog altogether. “If you don’t drink alcohol during pregnancy, you’ll avoid any problems,” she advises.
Get up and exercise
Whilst pregnancy is the perfect time to put your feet up, you should also schedule time for some low-intensity activity, such as walking, swimming or pregnancy yoga. It’ll help you feel more comfortable as your pregnancy progresses, make birth easier and reduce the amount of weight gained - meaning it’s also a great excuse to help yourself to another Tim Tam. “Exercising means you’ll have a more comfortable pregnancy and a fast recovery post-natally,” says childbirth educator Victoria Marshall-Cerins. “Exercise can also be great for swelling - which can be really uncomfortable - as it gets the circulation moving.”
Buy things for a new baby
Now’s also the time to put together a shopping list for life with a new baby. First off is nappies, although don't buy more than a couple of bags of newborn nappies, as they’ll be too small in no time. Next, baby wipes (unperfumed are kinder to baby’s skin), a nappy bucket (to store whiffy nappies), nappy sacks, talcum powder, formula, baby bottles, nappy rash cream, nappy bag, baby bath, baby oil, bath, car seat, a selection of onesies (one-piece outfits), blankets, socks, vests, hat (depending on time of year), bassinet/cot and a nappy bag. Phew – and that’s just what you’ll need when you leave hospital…
Read up on life with a newborn
If you’re a first-time mum, it might be enlightening to read some baby books before your waters break. Will your baby be sleeping at set hours in their cot, aka Gina Ford (The Contented Little Baby Book) or will you be letting your infant sleep with you in the family bed, or playing night-time ‘womb music’, as advised by Sleeping Like a Baby author Pinky McKay? Every mum is different, but doing some research will enable you to find out more about different baby routines and find one that works for you.
This article was written by Joanna Bounds for Birth, Australia’s best pregnancy, labour and birth resource.
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Last revised: Friday, 28 February 2014
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.