Pregnant – what you need to know

Key things to know and do when you get pregnant

Key points about what you need to know when you become pregnant

  • Often the first visit to your healthcare provider or midwife can be overwhelming, as they will ask you lots of questions and give you lots of information.
  • There are some things it's important to know and things it's important to do so you can give your baby the best start in life.
  • This page provides information and resources about the key things you need to think about and do when you're pregnant.
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  • Your lead maternity carer (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.
  • Here's a booklet called Your pregnancy(external link) from HealthEd, NZ

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 bacteriuria

Read more about pregnancy blood tests

Get tested for HIV infection

All pregnant people are offered the option of being tested for HIV infection, as early detection can reduce the risk of passing this on to the baby.

Here are links to a HealthEd pamphlet for more information about testing for HIV during pregnancy. Click on the language you would like to read it in or visit the HealthEd webpage(external link)

Take folic acid and iodine

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. 

Here's a factsheet on Vitamin D and pregnancy(external link) from Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora.

Healthy eating

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.
  • Here's a brochure on being active while you're pregnant and breastfeeding(external link) from HealthEd, NZ.

Have your pregnancy vaccinations

Here are links to a HealthEd pamphlet for more information about vaccinations during pregnancy. Click on the language you would like to read it in or visit the HealthEd immunisation during pregnancy webpage(external link)

Protect your unborn child from rubella (German measles)

  • If a pregnant person 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're 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 people should not be given the MMR vaccine.
  • If you're pregnant and not vaccinated against rubella, you will need to take extra care to protect your unborn child from it.
  • Read more about rubella information(external link) from HealthEd, NZ.

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. 

Read more about pregnancy screening tests and checks on the Healthify He Puna Waiora site. 

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

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