There’s a pink line on the stick – What do I do now?
Congratulations! You’ve had a positive home pregnancy test, now what do you do or where do you go?
01. Your GP or family clinic
Generally, your first port of call is to the GP. Many young women don’t have a regular GP – they may have moved away from their family, they may have moved several times, or away from the area where they studied, they may have even moved countries! Not to worry, just book an appointment at one of the family clinics near where you live. All of the GP’s will be able to help you and guide you on what to do.
A couple of things the GP will need to know is what was the first day of your last normal menstrual period, how long your cycle is normally, is your cycle regular – if you don’t know any of this or if you have recently ceased the contraceptive pill and haven’t had a regular cycle since, don’t worry, the GP will perhaps order a “dating scan” (an early ultrasound) to try and gauge roughly how pregnant you are.
02. Antenatal Screen
The GP will need to request some blood tests, routine blood tests collected at the beginning of every pregnancy, referred to as an Antenatal Screen, and include:
- Blood group & Blood group antibodies
- FBE (full blood examination – cell counts, haemoglobin/iron)
- Blood group antibodies
- Hep B & C
03. Pregnancy care options
The GP will also talk to you about your pregnancy care options (which you may not know about or have even thought about but there are several) and provide a referral
- Public hospital care (all appointments and visits done at the hospital where you are planning to give birth)
- Midwife Clinic Care in public hospital
- GP shared Care (see your community GP for pregnancy care visits but give birth in public hospital)
- Private Midwife (see a Midwife working in private practice and give birth at hospital or give birth at home with some midwives)
- Private Obstetrician in public hospital (see Private Obstetrician but give birth in public hospital)
- Private Obstetrician in private hospital (birth in private hospital)
This can be a confusing time, you are dealing with early pregnancy hormones, early pregnancy nausea and vomiting, possibly working full time, not a lot of support from anyone other than your partner because you haven’t told anyone yet and trying to make really important decisions. Take a breath and take your time. Don’t rush this decision, do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions from potential care providers i.e induction rate, normal birth rate, caesarean section rate, etc. You do have plenty of options, you need to feel safe and you need to like the person who is guiding you through this very important time in your life.
04. Early pregnancy screening
The GP will then talk about and order early pregnancy screening. There are two different tests which both involve an ultrasound and blood tests.
- First Trimester Combined Screening/Maternal Serum Screen:
A blood test from you done between 11 weeks and 13 weeks gestation combined with an ultrasound done between 12 and 13 weeks – the results of these will be sent to VCGS (Victorian Clinical Genetic Services) who will calculate your particular risk of having a baby with a chromosomal abnormality (Down Syndrome, Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13) and your risk of developing Pre-Eclampsia. It does not tell you the sex of the baby. Part or all of this test may be covered by Medicare.
- NIPT (Non Invasive Prenatal Test):
A blood test from you to detect cell free fetal DNA in your blood. The lab will analyse these cells and tell you if the baby has a risk of a chromosomal abnormality (Down syndrome, Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13, Turner syndrome). It will be able to tell you the sex of the baby. An ultrasound at 13 weeks will also be done. This test is not covered by Medicare and costs around $600 depending on the lab.
05. Booking your care provider
Once you feel ready to decide on your care provider, you will need to book an appointment for a booking interview. They will usually aim to see you for this booking appointment around the 12-week mark. You will need to take the referral letter from the GP as well as all your pathology and scan results.
06. Booking appointment
At the booking appointment your care provider will ask you questions all about your general health and wellbeing, any past medical or surgical history, family history, allergies, previous gynaecological or obstetric history and ask about medications you might be taking. So if you are able to have a chat to your partner about any of his family history and also both your sets of parents to get any further family history it will make the appointment a little easier because you won’t be worried about not knowing any information.
You will be given information about diet and exercise, ongoing growth and development, pregnancy care appointments, tests and investigations, ultrasounds, safe sleeping, childbirth classes, labour, birth and postnatal care. You will be encouraged to ask questions at your appointments as well, so if anything comes up at any time, make sure you put some notes in your phone ready to ask.
07. And then…?
You’ve done all the hard work, now you can relax a little and wait for the little being inside you to grow and develop, whilst doing plenty more learning and preparing along the way.
The pregnancy will go fairly quickly. You are now training and preparing for the main event – the labour and birth!
‘Til next time,