Pregnancy – giving your child the best start in life

Key points about giving your child the best start while pregnant

  • Often the first visit to your doctor or midwife can be overwhelming, as they will ask you lots of questions and give you lots of information.
  • The following table provides some information and resources on key things you need to do and know about.
Pregnant woman eating salad



Choose a lead maternity carer (LMC)

  • Your LMC can be a midwife, GP or specialist.
  • They will take responsibility for your care throughout your pregnancy, labour and the birth, and for you and your baby’s care until 6 weeks after your baby is born.
  • Learn more: Your pregnancy booklet(external link) HealthEd, NZ

Have your screening tests 

When you are first pregnant, you will be offered a standard blood test and a urine (pee) test. These tests are free.

The blood test checks for:

  • your blood group and rhesus factor – if you are rhesus negative, ask your midwife or specialist doctor to explain what this means
  • your haemoglobin (the amount of iron in your blood)
  • if there are any antibodies that may be harmful to your baby
  • if you are immune to rubella
  • if you are a hepatitis B carrier
  • if you have syphilis
  • if you have HIV (see below)
  • if you have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes (HbA1C test).

 A urine test is to look for any sign of a urine infection or asymptomatic bacteruria

Take folic acid and iodine

  • These are key nutrients to help your baby develop well in your womb.
  • Ideally take folic acid once a day for 3 months prior to pregnancy and the first 3 months of pregnancy.
  • Iodine is taken as 1 tablet per day throughout pregnancy.
  • Ask your GP or midwife for a prescription for each.
  • Read more about avoiding nutrient deficiencies in pregnancy.
  • For this brochure, see the webpage(external link) and pdf(external link) HealthEd, NZ 

Don't drink alcohol 

If you smoke, quit now and make sure your home is smokefree

Take care with food safety

Learn about healthy eating in pregnancy

Protect your unborn child from rubella (German measles)

  • If a pregnant woman contracts rubella, especially during the first 3 months of pregnancy, the infection can pass to the unborn baby.
  • Vaccination with the combination measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best way to protect against rubella. 
  • If you are planning a pregnancy, ask your midwife or doctor if you need to be vaccinated against rubella so that your baby is protected.
  • When you have been vaccinated, you should avoid getting pregnant for at least a month afterwards. 
  • Pregnant women should not be given the MMR vaccine.
  • If you are pregnant and not vaccinated against rubella, you will need to take extra care to protect your unborn child from it.
  • Rubella information(external link) HealthEd NZ

Being active during pregnancy

  • If you have a healthy, normal pregnancy, keeping active while you are pregnant is good for your health and the health of your baby.
  • Staying active can help prepare your body for labour, give you more energy, improve your mood and relieve aches and pains.
  • Talk to your lead maternity carer about healthy weight gain for your pregnancy.
  • For this brochure, see the webpage(external link) and pdf(external link) HealthEd, NZ 

Have your pregnancy vaccinations

Read this pamphlet for more information or visit the HealthEd webpage(external link).(external link)

Get tested for HIV infection

  • All pregnant women are offered the option of being tested for HIV infection, as early detection can reduce the risk of passing this on to the baby.
  • Read this pamphlet for more information or visit the HealthEd webpage.(external link) 


Make sure you get enough vitamin D

  • Your body needs vitamin D to maintain healthy levels of calcium and phosphorus.
  • These help build your baby’s bones and teeth.
  • If you don’t have enough vitamin D during pregnancy, your baby may be at risk of rickets (which can lead to deformed and broken bones), abnormal bone growth and delayed physical development. 
This factsheet (Ministry of Health, NZ) is available in the following languages:

Decide whether you want screening tests for Down’s syndrome and other conditions

You will also be offered screening tests to check for Down’s syndrome and other genetic conditions. The type of test depends on how many weeks pregnant you are.


First trimester combined screening

If you are less than 14 weeks pregnant, this screening can be done with a blood test and an ultrasound scan that looks at the thickness of the back of the neck of your developing baby, known as a nuchal thickness scan.


Second trimester maternal serum screening

If you are 14–20 weeks pregnant, the maternal serum screening combines the results of a blood test from you, with other information, such as your age and weight, to give a risk result. This is not quite as accurate as the first trimester testing as the nuchal thickness scan needs to be done at 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. 

Your pregnancy(external link) Ministry of Health, NZ, 2020

Pregnancy information factsheet [PDF, 212 KB] Healthify NZ, 2020

Immunise during pregnancy(external link)  HealthEd, NZ, 2020

A healthy pregnancy(external link) 

Health Information Translations, US, 2019 (Note: this is an overseas resource so medicine and emergency phone numbers information is different. In New Zealand, call 111 in an emergency.)

Your baby's movements and what they mean [PDF, 1.8 MB] Australia & NZ Stillbirth Alliance (ANZSA), 2016


Pregnancy and parenting education for you and your whānau  [PDF, 2 MB]Auckland DHB, NZ

Travelling during pregnancy(external link) Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2016

Why your weight matters during your pregnancy(external link) Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2017

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Credits: Healthify Editorial Team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

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