Your GP is likely to be the first health professional you visit during your pregnancy.

They may be consulted to confirm your suspicions or to begin charting your passage through to childbirth and beyond.

GPs are blessed with a multitude of connections within the medical field.

They can refer you to an obstetrician and other relevant professionals throughout your pregnancy as required.

If you live in a remote area where these specialists are difficult to access, your GP may play an even greater role in your pregnancy.

Some GPs may also offer “shared care” where they will cover some of your routine appointments normally undertaken by obstetricians.

Think of your GP as your one stop shop for all your basic medical needs.

There are many you may encounter during your pregnancy.

These may range from initial symptoms of morning sickness, through to pregnancy-related conditions such as gestational diabetes.

Your GP can also provide post-natal support across a wide spectrum of issues including post-natal depression.

Here is a closer look at how a GP can help you during your pregnancy.

Confirmation of pregnancy

Your GP can confirm your pregnancy through a simple urine or blood test.

These tests detect the presence of a special hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG.

This hormone is only present during pregnancy and appears when a fertilised egg implants in the uterus.

It is usually detectable in blood two to three days earlier than in urine.

If a positive result is confirmed, your GP can begin providing you with information about prenatal care and talk to you about your options for pregnancy care and birthing.

This includes your preference to give birth in a public or private hospital, or at home if there are no obvious risk factors.

Antenatal care

GPs can provide comprehensive antenatal care including regular check-ups to monitor your health as well as the health of the baby.

They can offer you advice on nutrition and in particular what foods to avoid.

They can also advise you about what lifestyle adjustments are necessary to support a healthy pregnancy.

These are particularly relevant if you are a drinker, smoker or not in the normal weight range.

Your GP can also chart an exercise program that will benefit both you and your baby.

Referral to obstetrician or midwife

If you don’t yet have one in mind, your GP can refer you to a suitable obstetrician or midwife.

They will be guided by your own personal preferences as well as any risk factors for your pregnancy which may demand the guidance of an obstetrician.

Midwives are trained professionals who care for you during pregnancy, labour and birth.

Obstetricians have additional training in reproductive health enabling them to manage high-risk pregnancies and births including Caesarians.

If you are a public patient with a low-risk pregnancy, you may only see an obstetrician rarely.

Screening tests and ultrasounds

GPs can arrange for prenatal screening tests and ultrasounds to assess the health and development of your baby.

These will include tests for genetic conditions, screening for gestational diabetes and routine ultrasounds to monitor fetal growth and development.

These tests check for the baby’s heartbeat and by as early as 14 weeks may reveal the baby’s sex.

Management of pregnancy-related conditions

There are a number of conditions which may present during pregnancy and your GP should be your first reference point.

They can provide advice, treatment and management of many common conditions.

They include:

  • Morning sickness
  • High blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Iron-deficiency anaemia
  • Infections
  • Depression and anxiety 

Mental health support

Pregnancy can be a challenging time for a lot of women, especially first pregnancies.

These may be complicated by the fear of the unknown, the relationship with the father, family support and financial support.

Further complicating all of this are the myriad of hormones racing through a woman’s body as it changes and prepares to give birth.

Many women experience mood changes and mental health challenges such as depression or anxiety at this time.

GPs can provide emotional support as well as counselling and referrals to mental health professionals if required.

Preparation for labour and birth

Consult with your GP about your birth plan as well as your options for pain management during labour.

Talk to them about any other questions you have about childbirth.

Your GP can also connect you with prenatal classes or support groups in your area.

Postpartum care

Your GP should continue to be the first health professional you visit for care and support after you give birth.

This includes all postpartum check-ups for you and your baby.

They can offer advice on breastfeeding, contraception and future family planning.

They can also help manage any physical or emotional changes you experience after birth including the risks of postnatal depression.

If you haven’t already made a booking for another reason, it is a good idea to visit your GP six weeks after giving birth.

Book an appointment

There are many specialists and allied health professionals whom you may visit before and after giving birth.

But you can do no better than making your trusted GP the “chief-of-staff” of your pregnancy.

They should be your first port of call and be used to coordinate all of your healthcare needs during one of the most special but also important times in your life.

Your GP can handle many of your general health check-ups during your pregnancy.

They will work in tandem with your midwife and/or obstetrician to ensure you receive the best possible care at all times.

Many of our highly skilled and trained doctors working from AHA take a special interest in women’s health, antenatal and pregnancy care.

They make ideal choices to manage your entire pregnancy healthcare program and will make you and your baby their top priority.

They will also remain on hand to assist you with all of your postnatal challenges and concerns. 

Book an appointment here today at either our Seaford Road Day and Night Clinic or our Seaford Meadows Day and Night Clinic.