An obstetrician’s advice for pregnant women.

Pregnant series at home

When it comes to advice about pregnancy and births, who is better informed than the health professionals who personally care for hundreds of pregnant women each year?

Melbourne-based obstetrician, gynaecologist and mum of four, Dr Amber Moore runs a busy private practice in Fitzroy and consults at St Vincent’s Private Hospital and Epworth Freemasons Hospital in Melbourne. Dr Moore has this advice for those considering parenthood.

For those thinking about having a baby, what initial advice comes to mind?

First and foremost is to be as medically prepared as you can be. When patients effectively register their interest with my practice, we send a letter running through a checklist that they need to look at before they get pregnant, which includes the following:

  • Get a general medical check-up.
  • Get a general dental check-up.
  • Make sure your vaccinations are up to date. Get a blood test for viruses such as rubella and chickenpox so you can be vaccinated well in advance of pregnancy.
  • Have a breast check and a pap smear as there’s nothing more stressful than getting pregnant and finding there is an abnormality that needs to be followed up.
  • Start taking folic acid. Normally we recommend women to start taking 0.5 mg folic acid each day, at least one-month preconception.

The second thing is to make sure, from a lifestyle point of view, that you stop drinking too much coffee, stop smoking and check your private health insurance. The other thing to think about is the style of care – do you want an obstetrician, what kind of hospital do you want to deliver in and what kind of birth do you want to have? From my perspective, one of the most important things about seeing a private doctor is the choice it offers you.

What additional advice comes into play once people become pregnant?

Once it’s confirmed, you need to decide if you want to go privately – and if so, book in with an obstetrician as soon as possible and then make sure that you see your GP to get their referral to the chosen obstetrician.

How many women do you look after at one time?

I normally do between 200-300 deliveries each year, so at any one time I have up to 250 patients. It’s probably a good balance because it means you’re doing a lot of deliveries and in obstetrics, some situations don’t happen often and you need to do them often enough to maintain your skill base.

What are the most common patient concerns?

Most women are concerned firstly that there actually is a baby in there, and often don’t believe it until they’ve had their first ultrasound. Secondly, they are always concerned about the risk of miscarriage, especially women in their late 30s or early 40s. A lot of women are also very worried about what they eat and guidelines around exercise.

Is Google a friend or foe?

It amuses me when patients come in and say, I know I shouldn’t have, but I Googled this. I always tell them that it’s ok – the internet is a fantastic way to gain information, but be savvy about what sites you’re looking at. Sometimes, searching online helps people come to me with very direct, informed questions, or potentially worse case scenarios, which I can help put in context.

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