Pregnancy brings with it many emotions. Even if you planned pregnancy for a long time it can be a bit of shock. You are likely to be excited at first, then begin thinking of the big changes ahead.  

The reality will take a little time to get used to as you wonder about the future. It is normal during early pregnancy to feel fatigued and perhaps a little anxious when the hormones start to kick in. It’s a new stage in your life for everyone involved. Adjusting to these big changes takes time, so go easy on yourselves and get support if you need it.  

Who will care for mum-to-be and baby?

Your GP is your first contact to discuss the options. If you do not have a regular doctor, this is a good time to find one. Options may vary depending on where you live – you may need to travel to a bigger centre for the delivery.  

Your GP will be able to refer you to the hospital or an obstetrician. If there are medical conditions that need to be considered, they will pass on this information to the relevant care provider. 

It is important to register with the hospital or obstetrician as soon as you know you are pregnant so that your choices are not limited. 

The Choices App (available on The Raising Children Network) can be very helpful. It has a week to week guide showing pregnancy progress, with useful tips for partners and how they might be involved during the early stages.  

Once you have decided who is going to manage your care, there will be lots of tests to establish the health and wellbeing of mum-to-be and your developing baby. Your midwife or doctor will organise these tests. Being familiar with what will happen can lower any anxiety. More about monitoring and tests.  

For women who have not planned the pregnancy, there may be a level of anxiety about the few glasses of alcohol, cigarettes or prescribed or recreational drugs they may have had at the time of conception. Find out more about smoking, alcohol and drugs during pregnancy.  

Changes in relationships and lifestyle

There can be losses or changes in many relationships as you move from partners to parents. Pregnancy is a time for planning and preparing for your life changes and new role. 

There may be health changes and physical effects from pregnancy. An expectant mother may have less energy and capability to keep up with household management and chores which have previously been agreed on, so it may be useful to discuss changes in household tasks.  

“Nesting” may occur and mothers-to-be may feel the need to be at home and prepare for the baby a little earlier than planned.  

Some practical details to address:  
  • How long you plan to work during your pregnancy  
  • Parental leave and pay entitlements  
  • If returning to work, when and how many hours 
  • Child care options 

Allow enough time to work this out, but remain flexible. You may feel differently once the baby arrives and your lives and priorities change.  

Financial changes

Budgeting and managing on one income, even for a short period, can add financial pressure. Some useful budgeting tools can be found at Moneysmart. 

The arrival of new baby may put financial strain on the family.

Things you may need to budget for:  
  • Setting up nursery and other essential equipment
  • Clothing  
  • Hospital and medical costs   
  • Ongoing costs (such as nappies)  

Often, the working partner will feel worried about their role as a provider, so doing a little research together and finding out about available leave , tax and financial support is recommended.  

Helpful advice and support

There is no shortage of advice around pregnancy and how to care for your baby from family, friends and experts.  

While the internet has enabled us to have access to information at our fingertips, research is telling us that sometimes we want to talk to a real person who has had recent first-hand experience.  

Our own family might help, but many of us are geographically isolated from our families. Talking with friend or meeting up with other parents at workshops or early parenting groups can be helpful.  

Everybody has different feelings and expectations about parenthood. These may be influenced positively or negatively by your own experience of growing up in a family. Sometimes parents choose to parent differently to their own parents and this can sometimes create tension in families.  

Talk to each other, talk to your family, and talk to your friends about your plans for parenting and seek their support.  

Emotional health  

It’s important to care for your emotional health during pregnancy and early parenthood as well as eating well, maintaining a healthy weight gain and getting enough sleep and exercise.

Many parents, both women and men, suffer postnatal depression or anxiety. It is wise to know the signs and symptoms so that you can seek help if you feel concerned. 

If you have had depression, anxiety or other mental illness in the past, you may be at higher risk. Being aware of your history, and making a plan with your GP for getting help is important.  

If you are experiencing family and domestic violence, or if you or your unborn baby are being exposed to harm, you can get help. Further support can be found at Child Protection and Family Support or at Reachout.com  

Want to know more?

Raising Children Network – Week by week guide to pregnancy

Beyond Blue – New fathers and Pregnancy and new parents 

Women and Newborn Health Service – Becoming a parent  

The Raising Children Network – Antenatal depression and postnatal depression in women 

PANDA – Post and Antenatal Depression Association