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Congratulations! Welcome to Plunket’s Pregnancy and Parenting information and education.
We appreciate that this time can be overwhelming, scary, exciting and a whole range of other emotions all at the same time. This resource is designed to give you information and support as well as assist you in navigating and understanding all of your care options. If you have any further questions, comments or concerns please call or email us at the details below or talk to your Pregnancy or Parenting Educator or you care provider. Parenting classes and support
Plunket provides free classes for parents about pregnancy, labour, birth, child development and parenting from birth until your child starts school.
The Family Services Directory lists family services and support in your area. You can also call on Healthline, PlunketLine or Parent Helpline for advice about your child’s health and development.
PlunketLine: 0800 933 922
Healthline: 0800 611 116
Parent Helpline: 0800 568 856
When accessing any kind of health care in New Zealand you have 10 basic rights that it is your care provider’s duty to meet, these include:
Right 1: the right to be treated with respect
Right 2: the right to freedom from discrimination, coercion, harassment, and exploitation
Right 3: the right to dignity and independence
Right 4: the right to services of an appropriate standard
Right 5: the right to effective communication
Right 6: the right to be fully informed
Right 7: the right to make an informed choice and give informed consent
Right 8: the right to support
Right 9: rights in respect of teaching or research
Right 10: the right to complain
For more information on your rights as a health care consumer or how to go about making a complaint go to the Health and disability commission website or view this short video which explains these rights.
Choose a lead maternity career (LMC)As soon as you know you're pregnant you need to choose a lead maternity carer (LMC) who will provide and coordinate your maternity care during your pregnany, labour, birth and/or postnatal (after care).
- registered midwives
- obstetricians (doctors who specialise in pregnancy and childbirth)
- some family doctors (GP’s) who provide maternity care.
If you're a NZ citizen or permanent resident you'll get free maternity care unless you choose a private obstetrician or private sonographer. For more information on the elegibility criteria for free maternity care click here or call freephone 0800 686 223.
Things your LMC or backup LMC will do:
- take responsibility for your care throughout your pregnancy, labour and the birth, and for you and your baby’s care until six weeks after your baby is born
- provide you with information to help you make choices about your care
- provide you with free maternity care if you are eligible (unless your LMC is a private obstetrician)
- refer you or your baby to a specialist if it becomes necessary
- develop a plan with you for your care, including your labour and the birth
- be with you during your labour and the birth (or visit when needed)
- visit you at the hospital and in your home between five and ten times after your baby is born (more if clinically needed) or arrange for a midwife to provide these visits if your LMC is a doctor
- refer you to your chosen Well Child provider at a time agreed by you. This will usually be between four and six weeks after the birth of your baby
- provide a written note to your GP before discharging you from their care.
Your LMC will also discuss things with you such as:
- whether they will stay involved if you require specialist services
- their contact information for urgent situations
- what they will do to make sure your cultural or spiritual practices are observed or followed
- what education they will provide during pregnancy for labour and birth and for after the birth
- the situations when you will need referral to other midwifery, medical, social and diagnostic services
- smoking cessation
- screening for infectious diseases
- safety in your home.
Contact your LMC if you have concerns about your pregnancy. This may include bleeding, excessive vomiting, if you think your waters have broken, abdominal pain, reduced fetal movements or other illness or concerns. Talk to your doctor or nurse about choosing an LMC, or visit the following links for more information.
Immunisations for whooping cough and influenza (flu)Immunisations help protect you and your baby before and after birth. While you're pregnant, you can get:
- free whooping cough immunisation between 28 and 38 weeks of your pregnancy
- free flu immunisation during the flu season — usually early March to August.
- Talk to your doctor, nurse or LMC about getting immunised.
Antenatal screeningDuring your pregnancy, you will be advised of screening for a number of conditions that may affect you or your baby. You will be provided with information to help you choose whether you would like to have this screening. For more information on all your screening options.
First antenatal blood screenWhen you first see your LMC or GP during pregnancy you will be offered a first antenatal blood screen. This is to test for:
- your blood group and rhesus factor (If you are rhesus negative, ask your GP or LMC to explain what this means.)
- your haemoglobin (iron content in your blood)
- the presence of any antibodies that may be harmful to your baby whether you are immune to rubella
- whether you are a hepatitis B carrier
- whether you have syphilis
- whether you have HIV (see Antenatal HIV screening).
Antenatal HIV screeningIn New Zealand, all pregnant women are offered antenatal HIV screening. If you have HIV, treatment can help keep both you and your baby well. For more information, see the brochure HIV testing in pregnancy (available from your LMC or GP, or at www.healthed.govt.nz) or the National Screening Unit's website.
Antenatal screening for Down syndrome and other conditions
Your LMC or GP will advise you of the availability of antenatal screening for Down syndrome and other conditions. This screening is optional. Choosing whether to have this screening is an important decision. You need to have enough information to make the decision that is right for you. You do not have to have screening and testing if you do not want to.
Click here for more information about screening during pregnancy.
Diagnostic testing, through an amniocentesis or chorionic villous sampling (CVS), will tell you for sure whether your baby has Down syndrome or another screened condition.
For more information, see the brochure Antenatal screening and testing for Down syndrome and other conditions go to the National Screening Unit's website.
Other antenatal blood tests
You will be offered a blood test around 26 to 28 weeks of pregnancy to screen for diabetes in pregnancy. This is called a polycose test. If your polycose level is high, you will be offered a glucose tolerance test that will confirm whether or not you have diabetes in pregnancy. Information is available from your LMC or GP to help you decide whether to have these screening tests.
You can get screening and tests to check the health of you and your baby at different stages of your pregnancy. You may need to pay for scans. Talk to your LMC about what scans and tests you should have.
Keeping healthy in your pregnancy
Keeping healthy throughout your pregnancy includes eating healthy food, getting exercise, getting enough rest, preventing the spread of infection, not smoking or drinking alcohol, and not taking recreational drugs. It also includes maintaining your cultural, spiritual and emotional wellbeing.
See also further information for pregnant women for details of pamphlets that contain information for women who are pregnant or who have just had a baby.
Click here to view a brief video on posture and back care in pregnancy.
Taking care with medicines
Some medicines can harm the developing baby. Only take those medicines that have been recommended by your midwife or your doctor. Always check with them or your pharmacist before taking anything else. X-rays and some local and general anaesthetics (including dental X-rays and anaesthetics) are best avoided during pregnancy.
Smoking during pregnancy affects the baby’s growth and will mean more likelihood of health problems such as:
- a lower birthweight that could be harmful
- an increased risk of cot death, pneumonia, asthma or glue ear
- a risk of miscarrying or having a stillborn baby.
There is no known safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy. If you think you are pregnant or know you are pregnant, it is safer to avoid alcohol altogether.
When you are pregnant, alcohol that you drink is carried by your bloodstream through the placenta to your baby. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause brain damage to your baby, and that damage is permanent. This damage is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) or Fetal Alcohol Effects or (FAE).Click here for more information.
Cannabis and/or other recreational drugs
Using alcohol and/or other recreational drugs such as cannabis can cause special problems to the mother and baby, possibly causing premature birth or a low birthweight. Other drugs sucha s narcotics like heroin may cause the baby to be born drug-dependent and suffer from withdrawal symptoms. Drug-dependent babies will need expert management if they are to survive.
Diet & Nutrition
Eating well and doing moderate physical activity during pregnancy are important for you and your baby. Nutritional needs are higher when you are pregnant. Meeting these needs helps protect the long-term health of both you and your baby. It is important to eat a variety of healthy foods every day from each of the four main food groups:
- vegetables and fruit
- breads and cereals (wholegrain is best)
- milk and milk products (reduced- or low-fat milk is best)
- lean meat, chicken, seafood, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Click here for more information on What to eat for a healthy pregnancy.
The only dietary supplements recommended for all pregnant women are folic acid and iodine. Folic acid is a vitamin that is needed for the formation of blood cells and new tissue. During pregnancy, your need for folic acid is higher. Lack of folic acid has been linked with neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida. The risk of having a child with these birth defects is low but can be reduced by taking a folic acid tablet. Iodie is essential for normal growth and development including brain development. It is particularly important for the baby. Subsidised (reduced cost) folic acid and iodine tablets are available for all women. Discuss them with your LMC. Learn more.
Some foods should be avoided because of the risk of catching listeriosis. Listeria is a common bacterium that can cause food-related illness. In pregnant women, this illness can cause miscarriage and stillbirth or it can cause infection in your baby. You can reduce your risk from listeria by avoiding certain foods and by using safe food practices. For more information on safe food practices, read the pamphlets Avoiding Listeria and Food Safety in Pregnancy.
The list of avoidable foods changes regularly. For an up-to-date list, refer to the Foodsmart website or phone 0800 693 721.
InfectionsSome infections during pregnancy can cause harm to your baby. If you are in contact with someone who has an infectious illness or you are not sure about symptoms, information is available to help you make any decisions about what you should do. Some of these infections include:
- rubella (German measles)
- toxoplasmosis – an infection that pregnant women can get from cat faeces and that can pass through the placenta to the baby human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- hepatitis B
- hepatitis C
- getting the right nutrients
- eating and handling food that is safe for your baby
- not smoking, drinking alcohol or doing drugs
- getting immunised for influenza (flu) and whooping cough
Exercise during Pregnancy
Changes in Pregnancy
For more information on these and other changes you are experiencing during your pregnancy speak to your LMC or click here for more information.
Your developing baby – A brief overview
At seven weeks, the baby is about 8 mm long from head to bottom. The brain is developing, and the heart is beginning to beat. Physical features, such as the ears, eyes, arms and legs, are also developing.
At nine weeks, the baby is about 17 mm long from head to bottom. The face is slowly forming, with the eyes becoming more obvious.There is a mouth and tongue. Hands and feet, with ridges where the fingers and toes will be, are also beginning to develop.
Just 12 weeks after conception, the baby is fully formed. It has all its organs, muscles, limbs and bones. From now on, it will grow and mature. The baby is already moving about, but the movements cannot yet be felt. First-time mothers tend to feel the baby first move at about 20 weeks, while for second-time mothers, the first movements are felt at about 16 weeks.
At 24 weeks, the baby is about 30 cm long and weights 0.6 kg. The baby's skin is thicker and less see-through (transparent), but remains wrinkled because there is no fat underneath. The baby is moving strongly and the eyelids are now separated. Baby starts practising breathing and swallowing movements.
At 28 weeks, the baby is over 38 cm long and is about 0.9 kg in weight. The baby’s skin begins to develop a white greasy covering called vernix, which waterproofs the skin. The baby’s movements can easily be felt at this stage.
At 40 weeks, the baby is 50 cm long and weighs over 3 kg. Over the past four months, the baby has fully developed and the lungs have matured, ready for birth.
Parental leave is leave you can take from work to care for your new child. You'll need to apply for parental leave to your employer, in writing, at least 3 months before your baby is due.
As part of your parental leave, you'll probably be eligible for paid parental leave from the government. Click here for more information.
Working for Families Tax Credits
Working for Families is a payment to help parents with the costs of raising children. It's made up of 4 tax credits — you might be eligible for 1 or more of these if you care for children who are 18 or younger.
Accommodation Supplement is a weekly payment which helps people with their rent, board or the cost of owning a home. For more information click here.
Help with health costs
The Community Services Card can help you and your family with the costs of health care. You'll pay less on some health services and prescriptions simply by showing your card. Click here for more information.
Help with childcare costs
Childcare Subsidy is a payment that helps families with the cost of pre-school childcare. Click here for more information.
For More Information
Get a car seat ready
If you have a car, you’ll need to install a child restraint — like a car seat or an infant capsule — for your baby.
You can rent or buy a restraint. You'll need either an infant capsule, or a car seat that's suitable for newborns. Make sure it fits in your car before you buy or rent it.
If you're buying a second-hand car seat or capsule, check that it:
- has an approved safety standard label
- has an instruction book from the manufacturer
- hasn’t been in a crash
- isn't frayed on the harness straps
- has no rust on any metal parts
- has buckles that click shut properly
- isn't past its expiry date.
Before you leave the hospital, make sure your baby is correctly fitted in the car seat or capsule.
Choose a Well Child Tamariki Ora provider
Well Child Tamariki Ora is a free service of health checks, visits and support for all children under 5.
Before your baby is born select a well child provider who will care for you and your baby until your child turns 5. Your LMC or hospital will organize referral to a well child provider after your baby is born however if you would like to meet with a member of your well child team prior to the birth then talk to your LMC about an early referral or call Plunket line on 0800 933 922.
Plunket is one provider of Well Child Tamariki Ora, but you can choose another provider such as an iwi or Pacific health service. Click here for more information on the Well Child Tamariki Ora service
- Information on health and wellbeing
- Information and resources on pregnancy labour and birth
- Information on midwives and maternity services
- Your rights as a pregnant worker (PDF)
- Women's Health Action
- Kids Health
- Family Doctor
- Pregnancy Support & Counselling Services
- Information on energy efficiency, insultation, curtains etc...
- Information and support after miscarraige
- Support and information for parents of multiples