Think you are pregnant? Congratulations!
You are either elated, excited, shocked, terrified or all of the above. This is normal. There's so much to learn and experience about pregnancy and the new life you are carrying, but we are here to help.
Am I eligible for maternity care?
Pregnancy care is free for New Zealand citizens, women with permanent residency, and those who have a work permit and are able to stay for two years, or who are eligible in another way. Please refer to the Ministry of Health website(external link) for more information on eligibility. If you're unsure if you are eligible for free maternity care, call freephone 0800 686 223.
Finding a lead maternity carer (LMC)
As soon as you find out that you are pregnant, it is important that you select a lead maternity carer (LMC) to care for you during pregnancy, birth and after the baby is born. For more information on what an LMC is, how to find one, and what to expect, visit our page on lead maternity carers.
Why is early pregnancy care important?
It is never too early to start your pregnancy care. Here are some reasons why you should find care early in your pregnancy:
- To confirm you are pregnant and confirm when the baby is due
- To explain the options you have for the pregnancy, caregivers and services
- To review your health, including medical and mental health
- To support you to make healthy lifestyle choices such as quitting smoking, to advise what foods to avoid or enjoy
- To prescribe supplements (such as iron) that can help you and your baby
- To explain screening options for Down Syndrome and other conditions and test for infections you might have that could affect the pregnancy and the baby
- To help with social stresses such as family violence and any other pregnancy concerns
Before your first appointment with your LMC
Before you have you neet with your LMC for the first time, you can prepare for pregnancy and give your baby the best start in life by:
- Taking folic acid and [PDF, 241 KB]iodine supplements [PDF, 241 KB] - Start taking these as soon as you are pregnant if you are not already. They help the baby's brain and spinal cord develop normally. You can get them directly over the counter at your chemist or your doctor can prescribe these.
- Eating well [PDF, 895 KB] - what you eat while pregnant can have long term effects on your baby's health. The best evidence shows that you and your baby are more likely to thrive if you eat a variety of healthy foods. Junk food, dieting or missing meals will not help you or your baby.
- Physical activity - continue your usual level of physical activity. Being fit and feeling healthy is really important for you and your baby.
- Reviewing your medication - some medicines can harm the developing baby. Check with your GP that any prescribed medications you are on are safe in pregnancy.
- Quitting alcohol, smoking & drugs(external link) - Alcohol, smoking and recreational drugs during pregnancy affect the baby's wellbeing. There is no known safe level of alcohol use in pregnancy therefore it is better to avoid alcohol altogether. Recreational drugs can cause babies many problems, including being born drug dependent - these babies need expert management.
Am I eligible for paid parental leave?
The two main payments are:
- Best Start (also called Best Start tax credit), part of the Working for Families package, and
- Paid parental leave (PPL).
For more information, take a look at the IRD information leaflet(external link).