Find a lead maternity carer (LMC)
Your LMC will support you during your pregnancy, labour and the first few weeks after your baby is born.
See our downloadable list of midwives in Wellington, Porirua and Kapiti or you can contact us for more information.
You can also read more about how to find a midwife here.
Folic acid and iodine
Start taking folic acid and iodine. These are essential nutrients for you and your baby.
Folic acid helps the body to make new cells. Folic acid is important because it can help to prevent birth defects of a baby’s brain and spine, such as spina bifida. Spina bifida can cause walking, bladder and bowel problems.
Take a folic acid tablet (0.8 milligram [mg]) every day for 4 weeks (1 month) before you might become pregnant through to 12 weeks after becoming pregnant.
If you find out that you are pregnant and you haven’t been taking a folic acid tablet, start taking tablets straight away. Keep taking them until the 12th week of your pregnancy.
You can buy folic acid tablets from pharmacies (or at a lower cost when prescribed by your midwife, medical practitioner or nurse practitioner - talk to them to find out more.)
Iodine helps the body to grow and develop, especially the brain. Because babies get iodine from their mothers, pregnant and breastfeeding women need more iodine.
During pregnancy and while breastfeeding, choose foods that are high in iodine and take an iodine tablet every day. Foods that are high in iodine are well cooked seafood, milk, eggs, some cereals and bread.
Take one 0.150 milligram (mg)/150 micrograms (mcg or μg) iodine-only tablet every day when pregnant and breastfeeding. You can buy iodine tablets at pharmacies (or at a lower cost when prescribed by your midwife, medical practitioner or nurse practitioner - talk to them to find out more.)
Vitamin D is needed for strong bones and joints as well as healthy muscle and nerve activity. If you don’t have enough vitamin D during pregnancy, your baby may be born with low vitamin D levels. This can affect how your baby develops.
The sun is the main source of vitamin D. Small amounts of vitamin D can also be found in foods such as oily fish (tuna, sardines and salmon), eggs and some margarines, milks and yoghurts.
Some time in the sun is recommended so that your body can make vitamin D. Try to get outside before 10 am or after 4 pm between September and April, and around the middle of the day between May and August. The lighter your skin, the less time you need to be in the sun to make enough vitamin D. Don’t get sunburnt!
Some people have low levels of vitamin D – called vitamin D deficiency. If you have darker skin, spend most of your time inside, have liver or kidney disease or are taking certain medicines (eg, anticonvulsants), you are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. If you live south of Nelson-Marlborough in winter, you’re also more likely to have low vitamin D levels in late winter and early spring.
If you are worried that you don’t get enough vitamin D, or you have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, talk to your midwife, medical practitioner or nurse practitioner.
Read more about this at https://www.healthed.govt.nz/resource/folic-acid-and-spina-bifidaiodine-and-iodine-deficiency.
Make a decision about screening tests
A number of screening tests are offered for women and their babies. It is your choice whether to have these done or not. The first tests should happen in the first 10 to 14 weeks of your pregnancy.
Antenatal blood tests
Seven different tests are currently offered. These are usually carried out at the same time so you only have one set of blood taken. These tests are:
- blood group and rhesus factor
- full blood count
- Hepatitis B
- Diabetes - HbA1c
For further information about any of your antenatal blood tests please talk to your Lead Maternity Carer (LMC).
Download a flyer about antenatal blood tests from the National Screening Unit. (PDF)
HIV testing in pregnancy
Pregnant women should be offered an HIV test along with their first antenatal blood tests. Women have the option to decline the test.Most pregnant women with HIV are unaware they have the infection; an HIV test is the only way to tell. HIV virus can be passed onto others, including your unborn baby. Treatment in pregnancy reduces the risk of the HIV virus being passed to the baby from 30% to less than 1%.
Further information can be found in the Ministry of Health leaflets which can be downloaded from the links below.
Downloads for HIV Testing in Pregnancy Leaflets - Ministry of Health:
Diabetes testing is offered twice in pregnancy: as part of the first antenatal blood test and again when you are 24 to 28 weeks pregnant. Read more about diabetes testing during pregnancy on the Ministry of Health
Screening for Down syndrome and other conditions
Antenatal screening for Down syndrome and other conditions can be done either before 14 weeks or between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. Read more about this on the National Screening Unit website.
Give your baby the best possible start
Avoid smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs.
You may find the following resources useful:
Eat well and stay active
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.
Immunisations for pregnant women - whooping cough and influenza.
Immunisation against influenza and whooping cough during pregnancy is recommended by the Ministry of Health, and free. Talk to your doctor or practice nurse, or your midwife to find out how to protect you and your child.
Mothers pass some of their immunity along to their babies during pregnancy. This provides some protection to newborn babies during the first few weeks of life until they are able to be immunized.
Find out more at http://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/immunisation/immunisation-pregnant-women.
Zika virus is mainly transmitted by mosquitoes and may be present in any country that has the mosquitoes able to spread it. To date, the virus has been found in parts of Africa, southern Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas.
Rare instances of sexual transmission (mainly male to sex partner) have also been documented.
Pregnant women who become infected with Zika can transmit the disease to their unborn babies, with potentially serious consequences. Reports from several countries, including Brazil, indicate an increase in severe birth defects (microcephaly in particular) in babies whose mothers were infected while pregnant.