CONGRATS! YOU’RE PREGNANT, NOW WHAT?
Congratulations! You just found out you are pregnant, and are probably wondering “what now?” It’s so hard to navigate what needs to be done in the first trimester, but try and take it easy. Nine months will go by really fast–but it also gives you ample time to take care of everything. (Believe it or not!)
With my first, our pregnancy was somewhat a surprise. Obviously unprotected sex can’t really be a surprise when it ends in pregnancy. All I can say is…use protection EVERY TIME if you don’t want a surprise. Haha. It only takes one time! Either way, having Monkey ended up being the very best thing that ever happened to us, so it did work out in the end.
There are some essential things you need to do when pregnant. We are just going to talk about some of the things you need to do right after finding out that you are pregnant–it’s better to take things one step at a time. Start writing down all of the essential baby products (we actually have a printable for that), and relax a little. Life will get a lot crazier once your little’s arrives.
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RESEARCH MATERNITY CARE OPTIONS
You may be wondering when you are supposed to go in for your first appointment? This may vary a bit based on your area, but most clinics want to see you when you are six weeks pregnant. When you call to make an appointment, the receptionist can help you calculate when this approximately is.
Do you want a midwife or an OB/GYN?
The main difference between a midwife and an OB/GYN is that an OB/GYN takes more of a medical approach, whereas a midwife is more holistic. They are both capable of delivering your baby, as long as you don’t experience any serious complications.
OB/GYN’s deal with high-risk pregnancies, so if you have a pre-existing issue such as high blood pressure or diabetes, it’s likely you will need to use an OB/GYN. If you do not have any preexisting conditions and decide to use a midwife, be aware that if you develop preeclampsia or another serious condition your care will likely be transferred to an OB/GYN.
Midwives are becoming more popular, and are statistically linked to better birth outcomes. More new mothers are opting for natural pregnancies and deliveries, and they tend to like the connection that is often built with a midwife. According to the College of Nurse Midwives, 12.1% of births were attended by a midwife in 2014–this is an amazing increase of 11 percent from 2005.
An OB/GYN is still the more popular choice, as OB’s are capable of performing advanced procedures. Keep in mind they are also more likely to perform medical interventions.
It’s totally a personal choice, but if you are hoping for a more natural experience-consider a midwife. If you want an epidural and the hospital experience, an OB/GYN is probably right for you.
CHOOSE A PROVIDER
Once you have narrowed it down to either a midwife or an OB/GYN, you need to make sure you can find a doctor that meshes well with you and your expectations.
When I was researching providers for my baby, I knew a couple of things. First, I wanted a doctor. Second, I wanted it to be a woman. Third–I wanted her to have loads of impressive experience. I found someone who fit the bill, and she became our OB/GYN.
Once we got to know her a little, we learned she was kind of terse, talked fast, and didn’t give a lot of opportunity for a conversation. We just weren’t super comfortable talking to her about our thoughts and concerns. We opted to keep using her, and my pregnancy/birth experience was ok.
Yours should be BETTER than okay, so make sure that you feel like you can connect to your provider. If you start seeing someone and you just don’t mesh well– then switch! The first trimester gives you plenty of time to look at other options.
DECREASE YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE
I know this can be rough! I am a coffee-fanatic, and I cried when I had maxed out my caffeine intake for the day at noon. I have some good news. You don’t have to eliminate it altogether, you just need to decrease it.
The March of Dimes states that until there is more evidence, pregnant women should not consume more than 200 mg a day. That’s about a 12oz cup of coffee, although I may have accidentally exceeded my limit on those really tough days. Nobody is perfect.
CALCULATE HOW FAR ALONG YOU ARE AND YOUR DUE DATE
Well, this part is super exciting–although it’s woefully inaccurate sometimes. Luckily, your doctor should be able to give you a more accurate due-date at your first appointment.
To calculate your due-date at home, you need to know the FIRST day of your LAST menstrual period (this calculation assumes you have a regular 28-day cycle.) After this, you need to calculate what forty weeks is from that date and ta-da! You have figured it out!
If you don’t want to do that ridiculous math by hand, you can always use a pregnancy due date calculator.
Related: Pregnancy Myths
STOP EATING CERTAIN FOODS
Certain foods are known to be harmful during pregnancy. Some of these include
- SANDWICH MEAT: Processed meat can be exposed to various kinds of bacteria and parasites while it’s being processed or stored, so it’s a no-go for pregnancy. The ONLY time processed foods like this (including hotdogs too btw) CAN be eaten is if they are reheated and steaming-hot.
- RAW SHELLFISH: This list of things includes raw oysters, clams, and scallops. Raw or undercooked shellfish is responsible for the majority of sea-borne illnesses, so you definitely want to cut this out. If your shellfish is FULLY cooked, you can be assured that most bacteria or other dangerous organism is cooked out.
- SUSHI: Sorry, mom, no sushi for the next while. Interestingly, there is some controversial information out there regarding the safety of raw fish. Some experts are now saying that the risk of parasites and bacteria from raw fish are very low–so definitely contact your OB/GYN and get their opinion on it. Keep in mind some sushi options don’t contain raw fish, but you want to be sure there is no chance of cross-contamination. If you choose to eat cooked sushi, be sure that it is not made from a fish that is typically high in mercury.
- FISH THAT CONTAIN MERCURY: Some fish have a higher amount of mercury contamination. These include shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish. Tuna also can contain high amounts of mercury; however, the canned chunk light tuna usually has less mercury. Eat canned tuna in moderation.
- UNDERCOOKED MEAT: Avoid rare steak, and opt for something well-done. If the idea of well-done steak appalls you, opt for a burger instead. You are at risk for toxoplasmosis and salmonella which can be dangerous for your baby. Remember, your immune system is weaker than usual while it’s trying to build a human, so you will be more susceptible to becoming sick.
- RAW EGGS: Honestly, I don’t imagine very many women go around eating raw eggs, but maybe it’s a thing in some countries. There has been some recent information that states that raw eggs may not be as risky to pregnant women as we once thought. The Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food noted in 2016 that the risk of Salmonella from UK produced eggs that follow their safety standards is very low. This means they are deemed safe for young children and the elderly. Consult with your OB/GYN if you feel an inkling to eat that delicious cookie dough.
- RAW SPROUTS: Raw sprouts can contain salmonella, and it can’t just be washed off. Avoid them unless they are fully cooked.
- UNPASTURIZED MILK, JUICE, AND CHEESE: Unpasteurized food and drink items can potentially carry foodborne illnesses. Some of these cheeses include feta, brie, and blue cheese. Check your dairy and juice before purchasing to make sure it has been pasteurized.
- UNWASHED PRODUCE: Unwashed produce can carry bacteria and parasites, not to mention whatever chemicals were likely sprayed on your food product. Just wash your produce before using it.
- ALCOHOL: Celebrate your great news with a glass of sparkling juice instead of alcohol. There is not a proven amount of alcohol that is known to be safe, so it’s better to abstain completely. There have been some reports that a minimal amount drank sporadically will probably not harm your baby, but most sources still recommend against drinking at all during your pregnancy.
CHECK THE SAFETY OF YOUR MEDICATION
There are plenty of over the counter medication that is perfectly safe for you, but not for your growing babe. If you take any prescription medication, call your OB/GYN (before your appointment if the medication is pretty important), and check to see if it’s safe for pregnancy.
Until you know for sure, the safest option for your baby is to discontinue use until you can talk to your doctor. Be wary of what you read online, as plenty of people present anecdotal information as factual. Some of the more common medications that not recommended for pregnancy include
|Aspirin||Bayer, Excedrin Migraine||NOT recommended||Tylenol|
|Ibuprofen||Motrin, Advil||Not for use in 1st or 3rd trimester, use with caution in 2nd trimester||Tylenol|
|Bismuch Subsalicylate||Pepto Bismol, Kaopectate||Not for use after 20 weeks, use with caution before 20 weeks||Immodium|
|Phenylephrine and Pseudoephedrine||Advil Cold & Sinus, Claritin-D, Sudafed||Not recommended for use in 1st trimester, use with caution in 2nd and 3rd trimester||Claritin, Zyrtec, Benadryl|
|Naproxen||Aleve||Not recommended for use in 1st or 3rd trimester, use with caution in 2nd trimester||Tylenol|
Take a picture of yourself, and start documenting your pregnancy NOW. It is so much fun to look back years later and see your progression. Buy a Pregnancy Keepsake Journal and write everything down. I SO wish I would have done this. You won’t regret documenting it, and your kids will have fun looking through it someday.
START TAKING A PRENATAL
Start taking a prenatal vitamin now. It can be challenging to know what to look for in a prenatal as there are a ridiculous amount of options on the market. The most important things you want in a prenatal include DHA, Folic Acid, Calcium, Iron, and Vitamin D. It would be ideal to get a prenatal vitamin that also contains Vitamin A, C, E, zinc, iodine, and copper.
Your doctor may recommend something a little different for your situation, but until you can get into the doctor start taking something now. Make sure that you purchase a well-known brand, and buy the best you can for your budget.
Remember, vitamins are categorized as dietary supplements. This means that the FDA DOES NOT regulate these products. They do require manufacturers to evaluate their products, but they do not HAVE to prove the effectiveness or purity to the FDA.
These MegaFood prenatal vitamins are highly rated–but this also means they are pretty pricey. This brand is the only prenatal vitamin on our list with an independent seal of approval by National Sanitation Foundation International, which is a reputable third party company that verifies supplements meet high quality and safety standards.
There are cheaper options that are good quality, just be wary and do your research.
START YOUR BABY ITEM LIST
Luckily, we have a super comprehensive list of everything you need for a new baby. This step can be somewhat overwhelming because of the ridiculous amount of options you have.
Talk to your friends who already have kids and find out what they felt was necessary or nice to have. Research some of the top baby products that you can consider adding to your baby registry.
STOP CLEANING YOUR CAT’S LITTER BOX
This was one of my favorite “perks” of pregnancy, although I am sure it was one of my husband’s least favorite. Please don’t be the jerk that gets rid of your cat because you are pregnant–this is TOTALLY unnecessary. Cat poop has a minimal potential to carry Toxoplasma gondii, but it takes 48 hours for it to become infective. Also, cats that become infected with this parasite only shed it in their feces for a few days.
Again–this risk is pretty minimal. You are more likely to become infected with the parasite because of food you eat, NOT your cat. If you clean out the box every day and wear gloves, you should be fine. If you have someone else in the household, make them do it for the term of your pregnancy as this is the safest option (plus it gives you a break).
TALK TO YOUR BOSS
Whether or not you should talk to your boss right away kind of depends on your relationship with them. Keep in mind that you are at a higher risk for miscarriage in the first trimester, so some people choose to wait a few weeks before mentioning anything.
I told my boss the moment I found out, as I had a hazardous job that included taking x-rays and being around anesthesia. If you have job duties that may be dangerous for a fetus, don’t wait. Otherwise, decide carefully based on your situation.
TELL YOUR MOM
Okay, it doesn’t really have to be your mom. But tell SOMEONE! It totally makes sense to wait until the miscarriage risk goes down to tell the whole world, but engage with your support system about it. I added this tip because it seems like a lot of women try to take on too much by themselves. Holding in and hiding your emotions is toxic, and it’s not good for anyone.
DOWNLOAD A PREGNANCY APP
Download a free pregnancy app. I loved using mine to track how my baby was growing week by week, plus most apps include a fun comparison of your baby’s size to a random object. The specific app I used compared my baby’s size to strange animals, which was one of the highlights of my week.
STARTING THINKING ABOUT YOUR BIRTHING EXPERIENCE
Okay, so it’s a little early to be writing out a birth plan or doing a hospital tour. However, most of us wait until the third trimester to get vital stuff done that could and should have been done sooner. Where a birthing class can wait a while, it’s worth starting to think about now so that you aren’t doing it the last minute. I would definitely recommend checking out this online labor and delivery course that’s written by a nurse who WORKS in labor and delivery.
Again, not essential right now–but you do need to start thinking about it.
Smoking is not good for you or your unborn baby. Don’t beat yourself up about it–it’s HARD! If you are struggling with quitting smoking, talk to your doctor about your options.
SAVE A LITTLE MONEY
Start saving money now. We all know that babies are expensive. Be prepared that it’s unlikely that your insurance will pay for your entire pregnancy and childbirth, and saving money now can help with the additional bills that you will be dealing with once baby is here. Consider opening a flexible spending account for your medical stuff. You will save on your taxes, and I can almost guarantee it won’t go to waste!
Maybe this pregnancy was a surprise, or perhaps you have been trying for months. Pregnancy is something to celebrate, so take a moment and be present with yourself. Let go of the worry and anxiety for a minute. Read some darling baby girl quotes or baby boy quotes and let yourself be happy for you!
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