Thursday, April 2, 2009
Am I Pregnant?
In a span of 1 month, two migrant friends asked me what I did when I first found out that I was pregnant. They were asking about whether I went to a private OB or a public OB, how much were the fees, etc. They are new mothers-to-be and have also been in Australia for around two years now. I gladly responded to their queries, reminiscing how I went about the entire experience. I thought I better share it here and be of help to other new migrant mums out there. When I missed my monthly period, I did not bother checking a pregnancy kit. I initially thought my body was just adjusting to the cold weather and I was just stressed over the job hunt and it would soon come once I started with my new job in a week. In addition, I don’t feel anything different. No morning sickness and craving that they were talking about. Three weeks after missing my period and enjoying my new work, husband prompted me to consult with the doctor. Doctor Hunt Not aware of the Australian processes, I got a phone directory, looked for an obstetrician and rang a private OB clinic. To my surprise, I was informed to go to my General Practitioner (GP) for a referral. As I did not have a GP yet, I insisted that I already knew that I needed to see an obstetrician. But, still the receptionist pointed out that it is the policy – I need a referral letter. Few days later, I again consulted the phone directory to look for a GP. I was still in the dark of the Australian health system so I called each clinic near town to look for a GP. About three medical clinics no longer accept new patients on a regular basis. That was a big shock. I wondered how come these things happen in a developed country such as Australia. I tried my luck again and rang Geelong Women’s Clinic, a private clinic just a few blocks from work. The receptionist were nice enough to squeeze me in one of the doctor’s schedule as they have a policy for new patients to book at least 1.5 months in advance. I told them my case and they booked me for an earlier schedule. But, still I had to wait for 3 long weeks. While waiting, I had a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables especially cauliflower and broccoli. I did not have any alcohol and coffee in my system. Had lots of milk (breakfast, dinner and sometimes lunch) and 3-4 litres of water as I had difficulty with having a pee. It felt like I was having a urinary tract infection, which according to my readings is easily contracted by pregnant women during the first trimester. Having lots of water took away the pain of peeing. Otherwise, I would have needed medication to remove the infection. But, this should be consulted with the GP. GP Consultation My doctor’s appointment came and I explained to her my case. The first thing she asked me was if I already tried checking the pregnancy kit, which I did not do. So, she asked me to do the test in the clinic and it was confirmed! There was neither physical check nor blood test. She discussed with me whether I would like to be referred to a private OB or to the public hospital’s ante-natal clinic. I told her that I am a new migrant and a paying patient and my medical insurance will not reimburse any obstetrics-related claims yet as there is a 12 month waiting period. To help me decide, she then asked her assistants to call the clinics and hospitals and check the prices for me – consultation, hospital bed, delivery fees of both public and private OB. The doctor gave me scripts requesting for blood test done at Pathology Care to check haemoglobin level, blood group, German measles immunity and Rhesus factor and the ultrasound to check the baby’s measurement, due date, heartbeat, placenta, and baby’s condition at Lake Imaging during the following weeks. I was not given any antibiotics for my pee problem as the water therapy worked well but was advised to take any pregnancy vitamins available at the chemist. After about 10-15 minutes of discussion and consultation, the clinic charged me $60. The First Tests Upon arrival at work, I rang both Path Care and Lake Imaging to arrange an appointment. With Path Care, I was informed I could just pop in as they are serving on a first come, first serve basis. But, with Lake Imaging, I needed to wait for 3 weeks for an available slot and should come with full bladder, which means I had to drink 500-1000ml two hours before the schedule and hold it. It was difficult since I cannot control my pee starting week 10. It felt like the baby was pushing it. In fact, I was not able to hold it for the ultrasound appointment and we needed to re-schedule it, which was already on my 15th week. By then, the technician was able to see that I might be having a boy and it can be confirmed on my week 20-21 ultrasound. Going Public or Private All the results were forwarded to my GP and everything were going okay. The GP gave me the price comparison of public and private hospital. Basing on the hospital bed fees ($700 per day) and consultation fees ($70 per visit), I initially decided to see a private OB. However, upon learning from the private OB’s receptionist that the doctor charges $3000 for normal delivery and may be more if there’ll be complications, the practical side of me thought twice as that would be a substantial out of pocket cost. I rang my GP’s assistant and requested for a new referral to the public hospital’s ante-natal clinic, which would charge $1000 for the delivery fee even if I would have a C-section – the sure $2000 difference could already buy a lot of baby stuff. My GP’s clinic faxed the referral letter straight to the ante-natal clinic of the public hospital and I booked my first appointment after a few days. Ante-Natal Clinic I waited for 3 weeks for my appointment with the midwife at the ante-natal clinic. She explained to us my options of care and suggested that since I had no complications so far, I can have a combined care of the midwives and the hospital’s OB. We readily said yes as the midwives seemed so competent, loving and caring. A student nurse was also introduced to us and asked if she could monitor and accompany me throughout my pregnancy. Because of my love for learning, I said yes and accommodated her. It was a plus factor since she was there during doctor’s visit when my husband could not come. In essence The first 20 weeks of my pregnancy was an emotional rollercoaster ride. I just migrated and we just got married. There was joy, excitement, doubt, fear and frustration (over the medical process). But, overall we maintained optimism on what the future would bring for our bundle of joy and our starting family. I was sure the angels and the stars conspired when we had Kimi.