Let me tell you that you are honestly in one of the best places in Europe, if not in the world, to be embarking on this journey.
Congratulations! You’re expecting a baby!
The benefits, services and care offered to new parents is extensive and you just have to do a little research to make sure that you’re making the most of what is available to you. Here is a little guide to get you started, and this series will cover topics from the very beginning until the moment you see your child off at creche!
Registering with a gynaecologist/obstetrician
The first thing you should do if you haven’t already is to register with a gynaecologist/ obstetrician - bear in mind that in this country you will deliver wherever your doctor is assigned to. In my case, I did a little research and was keen to be delivered by one doctor in particular. That then determined the hospital I would be giving birth at. If you prefer to choose according to your hospital preference, you can do some research about the four hospitals which deliver babies: CHL and Bohler in the city, CHdN in the north, and CHEM in the south.
While some feel no different when they first fall pregnant, many women will experience nausea, fatigue and heartburn amongst many other symptoms during the first trimester and sometimes for longer. Most of these can be treated with home remedies; ginger supplements and ginger tea are great for nausea, whilst heartburn is often relieved by over the counter antacids. For most women these symptoms will subside by your 2nd trimester and you will be feeling full of energy and your appetite should pick up. If however, your nausea or any other symptom is severe or you find that you can’t keep food down, it’s important to call your doctor and let them know; they have medication that could help you but it also could be a sign of hyperemesis or feeling too lethargic could be caused by hypothyroidism.
The first visit
Provided you had a positive pregnancy test, your first visit is around the second and third month of the pregnancy. Although there is so much excitement initially that you expect the ball to start rolling right away, they do need you to be at least a couple of weeks further along to be able to see heart activity in the ultrasound. It’s useful to make sure that you write down the first day of your last menstruation as this will help to calculate your due date. You might want to start taking some pregnancy vitamins to keep your vitamin levels up, you can purchase prenatal vitamins over the counter at any pharmacy or just be sure to take folic acid and vitamin D on a regular basis during this period.
According to superstitions and traditions, a lot of couples choose not to share the pregnancy with anyone until they reach 12 weeks. I was very much of this camp and had been told for years by my grandmother that it’s important to keep it a secret to keep the baby safe…Later on, however, a friend shared with me the importance of sharing your news with close friends and family so that if anything were to happen one would be well supported and those around you would be well informed. In hindsight, I think this is so important, more important than suspicions, a good and supportive network around you is crucial to your well-being during the journey of pregnancy and parenthood so don’t be afraid to share if you think that this will serve you better!
Understandably, you will be feeling very impatient and anxious at this time, some doctors will scan you earlier but do be aware that most of the time this is not protocol and you should register and make an appointment at the suggested date.
Important tests are then done at 12-14 weeks of your pregnancy, the T1 ultrasound can tell if there are any malformations as well as determine a more definite length of your pregnancy. You will also be invited to do the NIPT test, which is also reimbursed by CNS, and there is a blood test which screens for Down Syndrome.
Congratulations! Great work, now just put your feet up for the next 9 months, your job here is done.
Just kidding. Believe it or not there is actually a lot that you could be doing despite not being the one to carry the baby and although you may not feel physically different (some of you will, look up ‘phantom pregnancy’ for some great theories), there’s no doubt that you’re going through a lot too.
The best way you can support this pregnancy is to support your partner. Help to do the research and offer suggestions for any pregnancy symptoms and do some research about the process, it’s always nice to find things out for yourself, it will certainly make you feel more integral to the journey. The prenatal classes offered by hospitals are open to men and women so please do attend if you can, and if the ones offered by the hospital are at inconvenient times for you, you can also choose to have private classes here or here, for instance.
It might also be worth mentioning that there is a sort of urban myth that the best creches in Luxembourg have rather crazy waiting lists, and there is some truth to this as some even want you to sign up in your first trimester. So if you do have your heart set on a public one, it may be a good idea to start your research and even enquire about the application now.
The full series
You can find Marina's recommendations and steps that you should remember to take before, during, and after delivery in the five parts of this series:
The first trimester
The second trimester
The third trimester
The "fourth trimester"
Childcare and beyond