Antenatal care

Antenatal classes help to prepare you labour, birth and after the birth.

Antenatal classes can also be a great opportunity to meet other parents-to-be. They can be especially helpful for first time parents by providing information about:

  • the process of labour and birth
  • birthing positions and relaxation and breathing techniques
  • pain relief options
  • medical procedures and interventions that may be necessary
  • changes that you will experience after you have had the baby
  • practical tips on caring for your newborn baby
  • postnatal contraception
  • breast feeding

Antenatal tests

Women are recommended to have initial blood testing for:

  • Blood group and Rhesus type
  • Screening the urine for infection
  • Blood count and iron stores
  • Checks for past and current infections are routine for all women in Australia (these include hepatitis, syphilis, HIV, rubella)

Other tests include:

  • Nuchal test for trisomy 21 (Down’s syndrome) and other rarer trisomies (T18, T13). Blood test and ultrasound between 11-14 weeks. This screening test will determine if the pregnancy is at low risk or high risk for these trisomies. The test is not a diagnosis, so if a high risk level is found, further teats will be required to check if this does indicate whether or not a specific trisomy is present
  • Morphology scan 18-20 weeks: checking for structural problems that may have occurred during the baby’s development. This ultrasound also checks if the placenta (after-birth) is sitting low in the womb. If the placenta is too low then another ultrasound examination is recommended at 32-34 weeks to check that the placenta is clear from the lower part of the uterus. Most of the time the placenta moves up as the uterus grows. A persistently low lying placenta (placenta praevia) can lead to bleeding and obstruction for a vaginal delivery and a Caesarean section may be recommended
  • Non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT): this test is optional that may be done on the mother’s blood from 10 weeks of pregnancy. It may also be recommended if the nuchal screening test shows the pregnancy to be at high risk of a fetal chromosome change (aneuploidy). The test uses DNA from the fetus that circulates in the mother’s blood. Like the nuchal test, it checks for the more common fetal aneuploidies: trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), trisomy 18 (Edward Syndrome), trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome) and monosomy X (Turner Syndrome). This test is not medicare rebateable and as such can be quite expensive.