To make sure that everything is going well with you and your baby during your pregnancy, you have regular antenatal care check-ups. Your antenatal care alternatives depend on your preference, whether you have private health insurance, whether you have a straightforward or complicated pregnancy, and where you live. The options are i GP shared care: Your antenatal care is shared between your GP and midwives and obstetricians in a public hospital.
i Independent midwife: In some places you can find an independent midwife to look after you. Independent midwives are practitioners in their own right and specialise in normal pregnancy care.
i Midwifery care in a public hospital: You see a midwife in a public hospital for most of your antenatal clinic visits, but for some visits you're also examined by an obstetrician.
i Private obstetrician: If you have private health insurance, you can see the obstetrician of your choice. Your obstetrician cares for you from early in your pregnancy until after your baby is born.
i Public hospital antenatal clinic: In some hospitals, clinics staffed with obstetricians and midwives with expertise in detecting and managing different types of pregnancy complications are available for women with high-risk pregnancies.
A few years ago some colleagues and I carried out a large study of almost 200 women's experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and mothering post-IVF. We followed the women from early in their pregnancies until their children were 18 months old. These women very kindly shared their experiences by completing questionnaires in early and late pregnancy, and three, eight and eighteen months after childbirth.
Two very different sentiments about antenatal care were expressed in our study:
I Nina, who was 34 and fell pregnant with her first baby after two IVF cycles, said: 'All I want is to feel "normal" again. The whole deal with getting pregnant with IVF
makes it all feel so technical, so now that I'm pregnant I want to see as few medical people as possible and just enjoy the natural process of pregnancy.'
I Sylvia, who was 39 and had experienced two miscarriages before finally having an ongoing pregnancy on her fifth IVF cycle, stated: 'I feel so reassured every time I see my doctor, and best of all is to have a scan where I can see for myself that the baby is alive and growing. After my visits I feel relaxed and happy knowing that all is going well but after a week or so I start to worry about the baby again and count the days until I have my next antenatal visit.'
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Prior to planning pregnancy, you should learn more about the things involved in getting pregnant. It involves carrying a baby inside you for nine months, caring for a child for a number of years, and many more. Consider these things, so that you can properly assess if you are ready for pregnancy. Get all these very important tips about pregnancy that you need to know.