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What to expect during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a life-changing experience, during which you will notice many physical and emotional changes.

Your doctor or midwife should be your primary source of information, but you can learn more about what happens during pregnancy, common health issues, and services and resources available.

Stages of pregnancy

Pregnancy is usually broken up into 3 stages, known as the first, second and third trimester.

Each trimester lasts about 3 months and has different characteristics.

Prenatal check-ups and tests

Regular check-ups will be part of your pregnancy, and will help identify and reduce any complications. You can also read about:

Another Down syndrome screening option is the non-invasive prenatal testing. This blood test identifies baby DNA in your blood stream. If you have a positive test, it is 98% likely that baby has Down syndrome. A negative test means that your baby has only a 1 in 10000 chance of having Down syndrome.

Non-invasive prenatal testing:

  • doesn't replace routine ultrasound or diagnostic tests (as it won't detected physical or genetic problems like spina bifida or cystic fibrosis)
  • isn't available for all pregnancies (exemptions include triplets, or twin pregnancies where one twin has passed away).

However, it can be a helpful alternative if you don't want to have a specific diagnostic test for Down syndrome.

Currently there is no Medicare rebate for this test, and it is only available from private blood test labs or some public hospitals in special cases. Talk to your obstetrician, GP, midwife, or Genetic Health Queensland for more information about access and availability.

Morning sickness

Morning sickness is the nausea and vomiting caused by the extra hormones your body is producing. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, depression or anxiety.

Despite the name 'morning sickness', it can happen at any time of the day. Some women will experience little or no symptoms of morning sickness, while others will be affected more significantly.

It usually starts in the early stages of pregnancy and usually stops after 3 months, though some women may experience it for longer.

Some women may even have morning sickness for their entire pregnancy.

Learn more about morning sickness and how to manage it.

Health issues

As your body is undergoing so many changes, you may experience some health issues along the way.

Many of these issues are a normal part of pregnancy, but you should talk to your doctor or midwife immediately if you are concerned about yourself or your baby.

You may experience:

  • headaches
  • faintness
  • skin and hair changes
  • constipation
  • stretch marks
  • cramps
  • tiredness or affected sleep.

Some common issues during pregnancy include:

Call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or talk to your doctor about any other health concerns.

Existing health conditions

Health conditions that may affect your pregnancy include:

You should tell your doctor about any medications (including over-the-counter medicines) and herbal or vitamin supplements to ensure they are safe to take during pregnancy.

Immunisations may be recommended to protect you and your baby. Free whooping cough vaccine should be given between 20 and 32 weeks of each pregnancy.

Healthy eating and exercise

To stay healthy, you should eat a healthy diet and do regular moderate-intensity exercise while you are pregnant.

Help and support

13 HEALTH—phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) to speak to a registered nurse. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the cost of a local call.

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline—phone 1800 822 436 to speak with a trained counsellor. The service is free (charges may apply from your mobile).

Women’s Health Queensland—phone (07) 3216 0376 (Brisbane residents) or 1800 017 676 (toll-free outside of Brisbane) to talk to a nurse or midwife.

Post and Antenatal Depression Association (PANDA)—contact PANDA on 1300 726 306 if you or your partner are feeling depressed or anxious during your pregnancy. This confidential service is available from Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm.

MensLine Australia—phone 1300 789 978 if you’re male and have family and relationship concerns. The helpline is available 24 hours a day.

Lifeline—phone 13 11 14 (24 hours a day) if you are experiencing a personal crisis.

More information