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Frequently Asked Questions

Many of the mostly commonly asked questions....

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Here is some info on the most commonly asked questions. Please remember that this website does not replace a consultation with your Healthcare Professional, may vary according to your individual circumstances and health, and as new research becomes available the advice can alter.

How do I choose a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC)?

In NZ pregnant women are required to choose a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) who coordinates their maternity care. LMC's can be midwives, obstetricians or general practitioners with a diploma in obstetrics. LMC's are contracted through the Ministry of Health to provide a complete maternity service to you.  You can choose your LMC and you are free of any obligation to change LMC at anytime.
In Gisborne we have approx 10 midwives who are LMC's (there are no local GP's or Private Obstetricians who currently offer this service). Maternity care is offered free of charge by midwives if you are a NZ citizen, resident or otherwise have an eligible visa. Scans and blood tests are also free of charge. Prescriptions may have surcharges.

To check your eligibility for free maternity care click here....

How does this all work?

While you will book with one specific midwife who will be your main provider for your midwifery care from antenatal, labour and birth through to 4-6 weeks postnatally, there may be a chance that you will also meet one or all of the midwives from Gisborne Midwifery as we all take regular weekend time off on a rotational basis. This is to ensure that we are able to sustain our profession and all that being on call for 24 hours a day 7 days a week brings with it. There are also times when more than one woman will be in labour at the same time, or your midwife needs rest after attending another woman in her birth, in that scenario, another of our team will assist you. And of course we all have families, friends, pets, holidays, and life situations that sometimes take up our time when you have an antenatal/postnatal appointment or are in labour. Rest assured that if you do not have your booked midwife available on your labour day, or when you need a midwife, that the next midwife will step in seamlessly to advocate for your needs, as we all have the same fundamental philosophy. 

I would like to book Briar to be my midwife?

Hey that's cool you would like me to be your midwife!

While I would love to take on everyone who would like to book with me, it is just not possible! I limit my caseload each month so that I have a balanced work load and can give my very best to the women and babies I am caring for. I also take a mix of people who are having their first baby, have had babies before, low risk and more complex pregnancies. I also block out regular annual leave so I can recharge my love for midwifery regularly with time out.

You can text me on 0278000704 to enquire about booking with me or you can fill out the "request for midwifery booking" form by pressing the button at the top of this page. I would encourage you to enquire early in pregnancy as spaces do fill quickly.
I may ask you a few questions and check I have space available around your due date. If I do then I will confirm a date & time for a booking visit. This normally happens between 8-10 weeks gestation.

Please ensure that your booking contact is within business hours (Mon-Thursday 9-5pm).

How do I know my midwife is safe?

The New Zealand College of Midwives (NZCOM), of which I am an active member, is committed to a high professional standard of care to women and their family/whanau. Midwives all undertake the Standards Review Process every three years as well as regular workshops and study days to ensure that we act with integrity and maintain appropriate levels of competency as set by Midwifery Council.

I have completed a 4 year equivalent Bachelor of Midwifery degree, I hold full current annual practising certificate issued by Midwifery Council, comply with the Standards of Practice, Code of Conduct and the Code of Ethics, and abide by the Midwifery Scope of Practice as stated by NZCOM.

New Zealand College of Midwives 

Midwifery Council  

Health and Disability Commissioner

Where can I birth in Gisborne?

The short answer is wherever you like!!

The longer answer is that in Gisborne the main options are either in our local maternity unit "Puawai Aroha Maternity" based at the hospital or you can choose to birth at home.

I support births in both the maternity unit and at home. If you are interested in homebirth please ask me about it! I am more than happy to discuss it and lend you some books.

Do I need to take a pregnancy supplement?

The Ministry of Health recommends that you have 0.8mg of folic acid one month before conception until the end of week 12 and 150mcg of Iodine throughout pregnancy and to continue while you breast feed. Your midwife or GP can give you a prescription for these supplements or you can buy these at a low cost direct at your local pharmacy. Any other non prescribed supplements that you take in your pregnancy should be discussed with a pharmacist, GP, Midwife or qualified Naturopath. Your midwife or GP may also recommend that you take an iron supplement due to being symptomatic for iron deficiency or because of diagnostic results showing low iron stores. Remember that with any recommendation in your pregnancy the choice to take supplements is entirely yours.

click here for link to MOH info on folic acid and iodine.....

Where do I go for antenatal classes?

Booking an antenatal class is purely optional, however I do notice the increased confidence during labour and birth of those who have attended antenatal classes. Many first and second time parents also find this a useful tool to establish a circle of support from those who are having a baby at the same time. I would recommend that you book early as certain times of year become unavailable very quickly. I would also recommend that you start your first class around 30-32 weeks gestation so the information remains fresh in your mind before the arrival of your baby.

There are two options in Gisborne for Classes:
Kate Harris
Turanaga Health

Do I have to have scans or antenatal screening?

The simple answer is no. The current screening that is on offer to pregnant women is that you can screen in the first trimester for Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21), Edwards Syndrome (Trisomy 18), and Patau Syndrome (Trisomy 13) with a combined Maternal Serum Screen (Mss1) and Nuchal Translucency Ultrasound scan where results are combined with your age and a risk ratio is reported. There is also a second trimester screen for Neural Tube defects(Mss2) available.  The current funding is for either the first trimester screen or the second trimester screen, not both. Remember-this is a screen only- not a diagnostic test. Diagnostic results are obtained by an invasive procedure where either amniotic fluid is removed from around the baby or a small part of the placenta or cord tissue is retrieved, and these procedures come with an increased risk of miscarriage. Talk to your midwife or other healthcare professional about making an informed choice to participate or decline antenatal screening.

New tests are becoming available for non invasive prenatal screening (previously referred to as Non Invasive Prenatal Testing or NIPT). These tests are not publicly funded.
Click here for further info on NIPT and antenatal screening from the NZ Maternal Fetal Medicine Network....

click here for more info on 1st and 2nd trimester screening

What scans are available?

As a midwife I routinely offer 3 scans- an early dating scan to confirm your estimated due date if you are unsure of your dates, a 12 week nuchal translucency scan to go with your Mss1 screening for Down Syndrome, & a 20 week anatomy scan to for check for anything unusual about your baby’s body.

Beyond that I will only offer more scans if I think they are medically indicated.

You DO NOT have to have scans: you can have all of them, some of them or none of them... it is your body and your choice! I am very open to discussions and will support you in whatever you choose.

There are some ultrasound businesses that offer additional scans that you need to pay for such as 4D. I would encourage you to think carefully about these extra scans as they are not medically indicated and use more powerful ultrasound and for a longer period. Ultrasound is known to heat tissues slightly and you can see babies move in response to ultrasound. The long-term consequences of these effects are still unknown. click here for FDA info on ultrasounds....

What foods do I need to avoid?

Being sensible rather than being paranoid is the best way to make a choice around what you should be eating, and remember that as with anything to do with your pregnancy, ultimately the choice will be yours to make. I would, however, recommend that you avoid raw eggs, undercooked meat, unpasteurised dairy products, raw shellfish, and to wash all your vegetables well before consumption. The general rule of thumb is “ if in doubt- leave it out!”.

click here for a link to the food safety in pregnancy guide..

How much weight should I put on?

In pregnancy it is normal to have an increased appetite, however this not an excuse to eat junk food for two!

If you are in a healthy weight range an average of 7-14 kg would not be unrealistic however each woman varies and as long as weight gain is not excessive it is normally not an issue.

Vast weight gain is contraindicated in pregnancy. If you have a high BMI where you are classed as obese or morbidly obese pre pregnancy, you should aim for as little weight gain as possible- in other words reducing your saturated fats, and high GI carbohydrates and high sugar foods, and increase your exercise while pregnant. Most pregnancy issues are complicated by obesity, and morbid obesity makes your pregnancy high risk during labour, birth and the postpartum period.

click here to read the MoH guidelines on healthy weight gain in pregnancy...

click here to calculate your BMI on the The Heart Foundation website...

What if I smoke?

The best thing that you could do for your baby is to become smoke-free. It would be fantastic if you were smoke-free before becoming pregnant, but it is never too late to quit smoking at any stage.  I can provide you with nicotine replacement patches and gum etc or you can call or text the quit line.

txt QUIT to 3111 or call Quitline on 0800 778 778

Can I drink alcohol?

Pregnant women can feel very guilty that they drank alcohol before they knew they were pregnant, especially around the holiday season. Once you have your pregnancy confirmed, you are then informed to make a choice whether to drink alcohol or not. As your midwife, I would recommend that you follow the NZCOM consensus statement around alcohol in pregnancy and avoid any amount of alcohol:
"There is no known safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.  Therefore parents planning a pregnancy and women who are pregnant should be advised not to drink alcohol."

NZCOM Consensus Statements

Can I use herbal preparations or use acupunture?

If you are taking non prescribed herbal supplement's, my advice would be to see a qualified naturopath to determine if this is appropriate for you to continue while you are pregnant. While all herbal/natural solutions are freely available over the counter without prescription, they are a drug and you should inform yourself as much as possible and be very careful taking them while pregnant.

Acupuncture can be a very effective treatment for a range of pregnancy aliments but please make sure that your therapist is qualified to carry out treatment in New Zealand.

Can I travel on a plane?

As it is with anything in your pregnancy, the ultimate choice is always yours to make. Airlines can not legally refuse a pregnant woman as it against human rights, however your insurance might not be valid after a certain gestation so check with your insurance company if you need to disclose your pregnancy. You will also need to consider on where you are travelling to and what that countries medical facilities, hygiene levels or any known diseases you may be exposed to just as you would if you were not pregnant and then make an informed choice that you are happy with. Remember that pregnancy is not an illness however you may (depending on the airline) need to provide a medical certificate stating that you are fit to fly, even on domestic routes, so please check the fine print of your chosen carrier.

With long haul flights, when pregnant there is an increased risk for developing a deep vain thrombosis (DVT). Pressure stockings, in flight exercises, walking around the plane, avoiding crossing your legs and ankles, and drinking plenty of non carbonated water will help to reduce this risk. You must seek immediate medical attention if you experience any calf pain or calf throbbing or shortness of breath.

Can I dye my hair?

As far as Iam aware, there is no research evidence to advise that hair dying is contraindicated in pregnancy. If you are concerned you should consult with a colour technician either at a hair salon, or with the product company. I would recommend however that if you are dying your hair that you use a reputable salon and try to avoid peroxide being in full contact with your scalp. If you are going to give yourself  the “guilt treatment” about dying your hair, then simply avoid it!

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