Those early days of pregnancy when you are overjoyed at the news, knowledge hungry and very enthusiastic seem like the ideal time to take birthing classes. Except it isn't
You've spent a few months getting down and dirty with your partner, you've peed on a stick and got two lines you are super excited... What's next?
There is a good chance there has been a lot of google searches on the best way to conceive, or the best positions for a boy or a girl. So now you have outcome you are after you have no idea what to do next. And you probably googled that to.
Here are some of the standard things offered in Australia for pregnancy in the public health system. Some or all may be offered to you and whatever is offered you still have choices!
The first thing to do is visit your GP. They will want you to pee in a cup and do a blood test to confirm you are pregnant. So definitely drink a glass of water before you go. If you haven't been religiously tracking your cycle you may be offered a 'dating scan' at this point. A dating scan measures the baby and estimates a due date based off the babies size. It is an imperfect science so don't be surprised if this gets updated at your next scan. If you've you've been tracking your period and ovulation dates then there is unlikely to be any benefit to getting a dating scan.
At this stage you want to talk to your GP about the care you want. You can ask for recommendations for Obstetricians that support your birth ideals (if you are going private) or ask what is offered at the local hospitals - some have birth centres, some offer home births, case load midwives etc... You still have options in the public system. You may want to get your referral sent at this point to the hospital that supports your ideal care model.
The next big test is the NT Scan at approximately twelve weeks. This is a combination of a blood test and an ultrasound combined with lifestyle risk factors (age, weight, race etc... things that may give you an increased risk of having a child with genetic abnormalities). If you fall into a higher risk you may be referred for further testing. What they are looking for is chromosomal abnormalities which are a marker for Down Syndrome amongst other things.
At around the sixteen week mark you should be moved from your GP to your care provider. You may still have shared care with your GP if you are being looked after by midwives as they can't order all the tests. Now is the time to be locking in your prenatal classes, doing your hospital tours and starting to check your care providers support your birth ideal. They will also start testing your urine for protein at most appointments so drink a glass of water before you go in.
Half way through! You are twenty weeks so it's time for another scan of your baby. This time they are checking growth rates and that your uterus, placenta etc... are all performing perfectly. If everything comes up roses then that's it for medical scans for your pregnancy. I know - you will desperately want to see that tiny human again. And even if the ultrasound tech told you with certainty the sex of your baby you will still wonder if they are right.
The next test is at around twenty four weeks and it is a cruel thing to do to pregnant women. It is the Glucose Tolerance Test. Why is it cruel? You have to fast for 8 - 12 hours before the test and you are pregnant ergo you are starving. Infrequent eating in pregnancy causes low blood sugar which causes nausea. You are then asked to drink something that is essentially liquid sugar. It doesn't taste nice. All that sugar on an empty stomach makes you feel nauseous. Then they will take blood off you before you have the drink and one to two hours after. I think most pregnant ladies will not give you positive stories of the test. It is two hours though and an excuse to have a day off work.
From here on out in a healthy pregnancy your care is likely to be monthly visits with your care provider. You will wee in a cup, be weighed and measured.
As you get closer to your due date you will be seen fortnightly and the process will be the same as above. Some care providers may offer vaginal exams at this point. Feel free to do independent research as to the efficacy of these so you can be confident accepting or declining them. I am not saying this from a biased point of view, I just think if someone is going to become intimately acquainted with your vagina you want to be sure there is a purpose behind it. This may be a particularly important thing to be prepared for and aware of you have suffered from sexual assault in the past as this type of check is invasive and may bring up unwanted feelings.
Then you have a baby and you will bring it home - then what?