Your pregnancy to-do list Adult admin sorted
Along with the hard physical work of growing a baby, pregnancy brings a welter of admin. Here are a few of the boxes you’ll need to tick, writes Tracey Hawthorne
FIND YOUR CLOSEST CLINIC
On confirming the pregnancy, your first stop is your local municipal health department, most of which have a clinic where pregnant women can go for anteand postnatal care, while bigger centres have independent midwife obstetric units (MOUs) where women are cared for during pregnancy and after the birth of their baby. Unfortunately, the website of the National Department of Health is unhelpful when it comes to locations of clinics, but the private sector has filled this gap. There are 32 Netcare Stork’s Nest mother and baby wellness clinics across the country, situated at Netcare hospitals with maternity facilities: netcare.co.za/Netcare-Storksnest-clinics There’s a Well Baby Clinic in every Dis-Chem store: dischem.co.za/ storelocator Here is a list of clinics and other medical practitioners associated with babies and childbirth: expectantmothersguide.co.za/well-babyclinics/south-africa/
BOOK YOUR BED
You can’t book a bed ahead of time if you’re a patient at a government hospital. When you go into labour, go to your nearest government hospital, taking along your ID and maternal case record (clinic card), which would have been issued on your first visit to the clinic early in your pregnancy. You’ll be assigned a bed in an antenatal ward, give birth in a labour ward and then be moved to the postnatal ward – there are no private wards in government hospitals. When it comes to private hospitals, unless you have a fixed date for a caesarean section, you can’t book a bed either – bed occupancy in any hospital is influenced by emergency or medical admissions that can’t always be planned ahead – but you can notify the hospital of the expected date of delivery. In a private hospital, you can opt for a private room with its own bathroom, or a semi-private room, which usually means sharing a bathroom with one other patient. These obviously cost more.
FIND AND BOOK A BREASTFEEDING CONSULTANT
“Lactation or breastfeeding consultants are breastfeeding specialists who help women who want to breastfeed but are experiencing problems, such as latching difficulties, painful nursing or low milk production,” explains Gautengbased specialist midwife and registered lactation consultant Hettie Grove. Hettie advises that expectant moms attend a breastfeeding class run by a certified lactation consultant; that they find out what the hospital policy is beforehand regarding supplementary feeding (“top-ups”); and that they write up a breastfeeding plan that can be presented at the hospital. Hettie says that word of mouth (the advice of friends) is a good way to find a consultant, or you can go to the Lactation Consultants of Southern Africa website (lacsa.org.za), or try expectantmothersguide.co.za. Some medical aids cover the services of a certified lactation consultant.
REGISTER THE BIRTH
All children born in South Africa must be registered within 30 days of their birth. Some private hospitals offer a service where you fill out all the relevant forms and they take care of this registration process for you. If you need to do it yourself, go to your nearest Department of Home Affairs office, taking your baby’s clinic card or hospital certificate, as well as your and your partner’s ID documents, and your marriage certificate (if applicable). You’ll need to complete Form BI-24. Once the birth has been registered, an unabridged birth certificate is issued free of charge. (Late registrations are possible but come with lots of red tape, so rather register the baby’s birth within the prescribed time limit.) If you’re married to your baby’s father, the baby can be registered under either his surname or both of your surnames jointly. If you’re not married, the baby can be registered under either surname but if you opt for the father’s surname, he will have to acknowledge paternity. For more info: dha.gov.za/index.php/ civic-services/birth-certificates.
FIND A GP OR PAEDIATRICIAN
This is a very personal choice, and the best way to make it is through referrals from other moms. Different people require different things from their medical practitioners, from 24-hour availability and no long queues in waiting rooms, to an obvious enthusiasm for children and a willingness to go the extra mile. Bear in mind that a paediatrician is a specialist in childhood illness, so if your baby was born prematurely, or has any developmental delays or emotional and neurological problems, your paediatrician is the one you have to see. For other “everyday” issues such as upset tummies or sniffles, a GP or the sister at your local clinic will be perfectly capable of helping out – and if the problem is beyond them, they will be quick to refer you to a specialist. Note that in government hospitals, if a paediatrician is needed at or after the birth, the doctor who is on call will be summoned. For private patients, it’s possible to have your own paediatrician consult during or after the birth, but do discuss this with your gynaecologist beforehand.
ADD BABY TO YOUR MEDICAL AID
If you’re a member of a registered medical aid scheme, your newborn will get immediate cover. You’ll have a little leeway to register the baby on the medical aid and submit the necessary paperwork (usually 30 days) but to ensure adequate protection with no exclusions, report the birth to your medical aid provider as soon as possible. (If the baby is to be registered on the father’s medical aid, cover won’t necessarily kick in automatically from the moment of birth – the medical aid will need to be informed ahead of time about the imminent arrival of the baby.) If you aren’t on a medical aid and can afford one, consider signing up – pregnancy, childbirth and babies can be very expensive. Best to sign up before you even get pregnant, to ensure cover for any medical support and pregnancyrelated ailments such as high blood pressure or diabetes. If you’re a typical young South African family struggling to make ends meet, a hospital plan with savings is a costeffective solution – you’ll qualify for unlimited hospital benefits in most cases and still have access to some cash to cover day-to-day healthcare expenses.
REVIEW YOUR INSURANCE AND YOUR WILL
If you have a life and disability policy, you’ll probably need to increase the cover to allow for the upkeep of the new addition to the family – your financial advisor can help you with this. And having a will in place is essential as you’ll need to consider who will take care of your baby if something happens to you, what will happen to your assets, and who will distribute your possessions – a financial trust company, your bank or an attorney can advise you.
LOOK FOR A SCHOOL
Getting your child into a good school, whether government or private, is a worry for many South African parents. Start doing your research even before your baby is born, as some schools have waiting lists that are years long. Make a longlist of schools that you might want to send your child to, then go and visit them and chat to the staff – don’t rely on the school’s reputation, as its ethos, attitude to discipline or teaching methods, among other issues, may not dovetail with yours. Put your child’s name down at the four or five schools you like the best if it’s possible – many schools have a short, specified period (two or three months) during which you can apply for enrolment on your child’s behalf, while some schools print out a limited number of application forms and require these to be fetched, filled in and delivered in person.
IF YOU AREN’T ON A MEDICAL AID AND CAN AFFORD ONE, CONSIDER SIGNING UP – PREGNANCY, CHILDBIRTH AND BABIES CAN BE VERY EXPENSIVE