If you suspect you are pregnant or you have had a positive result from an over-the-counter pregnancy test, the first thing to do is go see your GP to confirm the pregnancy and have a check-up (and by the way, congratulations!).
If your pregnancy is considered to be low risk (meaning that there is little risk of health problems for mum or baby) then looking at GP Shared Care is certainly something to consider. GP Shared Care essentially means that during your pregnancy, you will see the same GP (or midwife) for most of your pregnancy visits, along with a few trips to the hospital for some tests and scans.
According to some of the patients that attend our surgery, one of the best benefits of Shared Care during their pregnancies is that they receive their maternity care from their GP, who is not only familiar to them, but someone who they feel comfortable with and trust. It is hard to place a value on the trusting doctor/patient relationship, especially at a time in a woman’s life when they are experiencing the many emotions and vulnerabilities that go hand in hand with pregnancy.
Another wonderful benefit of using Shared Care is that the GP who has cared for you throughout your pregnancy continues to look after you and your baby in the weeks and months after birth. Whatever your concern and no matter how small you think it may be, it’s important to know that you can reach out to your GP. Even if your concern turns out to be totally normal and there is no action that needs to be taken for baby, at least you will have some peace of mind from speaking to your doctor. Go with your gut and always sing out if you feel like something isn’t quite right.
It’s really important to make sure that you are feeling mentally fit and well throughout your pregnancy and after the birth of your baby. GP’s are trained to support and monitor your mental health – they are a great support person to turn to if you are experiencing any emotional difficulties.
Even though this may be the last thing on your mind as you get to grips with having a newborn in the house (!), your GP is there to discuss your choices around contraception after having your baby.
If you would like to discuss the option of Shared Care with your GP, it’s best to book an appointment early on to see if your GP offers this service. Alternatively, if you really like the idea of Shared Care but do not already have a GP you are comfortable with, you can call your chosen maternity hospital and ask for a list of local healthcare professionals who have existing arrangements in place.
An example of your Shared Care antenatal appointments would look similar to the following:
(Source: Royal Women’s Hospital in Parkville)