You noticed some early pregnancy signs and received a positive result on an at-home pregnancy test—congratulations! Your journey to motherhood has begun. The excitement and initial shock of finding out you’re pregnant can be overwhelming, and you may not know where to start.
Start with these things to promote the best care for both you and your baby’s development! Everything else will follow naturally.
Take Prenatal Vitamins
Most doctors recommend that you start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as you know you’re pregnant. These nutrients are essential to your baby’s healthy development, especially in the first four weeks. That seems early, but your body is going through a lot already, and your baby needs all the nutrients they can get.
Almost all drugstores and supermarkets, as well as health food and some online shops, will have these important vitamins for a healthy pregnancy and the development of your unborn baby. You’ll find that the majority of these stores will have them combined in one prenatal vitamin for an affordable price.
Omega-3 DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a naturally occurring lipid in the brain proven to be fundamental for healthy brain performance, which is why it’s a staple ingredient in almost all prenatal vitamins. More specifically, Omega-3 DHA vitamins will support your baby’s visual and cognitive growth.
Taking a prenatal vitamin containing the B vitamin folic acid (also known as a folate supplement) is crucial during the first trimester of your pregnancy. The recommended dose of at least 400 milligrams of a folic acid supplement during the first trimester has proven to increase the prevention of prenatal anemia and neural tube defects, which impact your baby’s development and brain health.
Consult Your Healthcare Provider
After receiving a positive pregnancy test result at home, it’s time to visit your doctor or midwife as soon as possible. Your physician will confirm your pregnancy and explore options for providing you and your baby with the best of care. Your healthcare provider will likely confirm the pregnancy by checking your hCG levels with blood tests and a repeat urine test.
Obstetricians often prefer to schedule prenatal appointments after at least eight weeks of gestation. However, if your initial appointment with your doctor or midwife raises cause for concern or an earlier intervention, your OB-GYN will likely decide to schedule sooner.
Contact Your Insurance Company
The sooner you find out what’s covered for you in prenatal care and delivery by your insurance company—and what’s not—the better prepared you’ll be for all the expenses coming your way.
Pregnancy is expensive, but knowing what you’ll get help with and what you won’t help you start budgeting right away. Figure out what portion of your hospital bills they’ll pay for, including prescribed medical tests. Also, double-check that your OB-GYN is in your network.
At some point during your pregnancy, you’ll want to look for a pediatrician in your network that aligns with your health and wellness goals for your baby’s development after they’re born.
Schedule Your First Prenatal Appointment
It’0s important to schedule a prenatal visit with an obstetrician for around six to eight weeks into your pregnancy after your last period. Most gynecologists won’t see you before then—but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the ball rolling.
Go ahead and schedule your appointment. This is also a great time to get some initial recommendations for you during the first six weeks over the phone.
Don’t already have an OB-GYN, or you’re looking for a new one now that you’re pregnant? Do some research!
The internet is a treasure trove for checking out the obstetrician offices in your area. You can usually see how others review them online and what their payment options look like, and sometimes you can check out their website to see what procedures their office tends to follow.
You can also connect with other pregnant women and mothers that you know or through online and in-person support groups to get their opinion and advice on the obstetricians they have visited.
Your First Prenatal Care Visit
So, what exactly happens at your first visit with the OB-GYN for prenatal care?
Typically, your obstetrician will perform an ultrasound to reconfirm your pregnancy and see the progress of your baby’s growth and development so far. This is when they can calculate how far along you truly are and your approximate due date.
They’re also likely to order a round of blood testing and will review your and your partner’s medical history.
Based on the testing and information gathered, your physician will discuss what the rest of your pregnancy should look like when you should come back for a visit, delivery options, and further advice on what to do for you and your baby’s best care.
Be sure to prepare beforehand for the many questions you’ll want to ask, and don’t be shy to ask questions as they arise during your appointment.
When You’re Ready—Tell Your Friends and Family!
Some new mothers are so excited to be pregnant that they start typing their social media announcements the moment they get a positive pregnancy test. Most women wait until after their first trimester to share the joy of their pregnancy, though, when the risk of miscarriage has decreased.
Even if you aren’t ready to shout your baby news from the rooftops, telling a close family member or friend can take a lot of the stress off of you. Having someone to confide in about your pregnancy—maybe even someone who’s been pregnant before—other than your doctor can be a great stress reliever.
Arrange Your Maternity Leave
Most women wait until the end of their first trimester to share baby news at work. Making sure everything is working and going smoothly is a perfectly reasonable explanation for waiting! Waiting doesn’t mean you can’t feel out what your company’s maternity leave policy is like.
If you don’t have access to an employee handbook or direct access to policies, you can email HR and ask about the policy. Your conversations with HR are confidential, so don’t worry about the news spreading before you’re ready.
Be Prepared For Change
Your hormones are going through all kinds of changes right now, even this early on in your pregnancy. It’s hard to tell—especially at the beginning—when your blood sugar may suddenly drop. Start carrying water with you everywhere, and keep a few snacks in your bag, like almonds or fruit, just in case you start feeling woozy.
Adjust Your Lifestyle Habits
While you’re pregnant, you’ll need to make some adjustments to your usual lifestyle for your baby’s growth and healthy development. That means it’s time to quit a lot of things you love, although we promise it’ll be worth it. Your baby will thank you! And you’ll probably thank yourself, too.
Evaluate Your Diet
You’ll need to make some important adjustments to your regular diet and nutrition during pregnancy. What you eat and drink (and the foods you should avoid) while you’re pregnant majorly contribute to the nutrients your baby will need to grow strong and healthy.
Recommended Diet and Nutrients
A balanced, safe diet is one of the most important aspects of your lifestyle that needs an upgrade while you’re pregnant. Although you’ll miss out on some of your old favorites, you don’t have to stick to bland, unfulfilling foods at all!
There are plenty of options that are tasty, nutritious, and safe for you and your baby, such as:
- Legumes, such as peanuts, peas, and lentils, are rich in protein, folate, and other nutrients
- Whole grains rich in iron and folic acid that you can find in certain cereals and bread
- Fruits and vegetables contain essential complex carbohydrates
- Lean meats for extra protein
- Pasteurized dairy
Foods to Avoid
It’s time to cut out the cheese, sushi, lunch meats, and junk food. That’s right: some of your favorites can pose a risk to your baby’s development and health.
Here are a few of the “no-no’s” when it comes to your pregnancy diet:
- Raw or undercooked sprouts, fish (including sushi), eggs, and meats
- Unpasteurized dairy and juices
- Lunch/deli meats
- Unwashed produce
- Cooked or raw fish containing high mercury levels
Smoking cigarettes, vaping e-juice, or consuming any other substances containing nicotine during pregnancy can cause developmental harm or delay to your unborn baby’s lungs and brain. Maternal smoking is also linked to birth defects, low birth weight, miscarriage, and numerous other risks.
Stop Drinking Alcohol
Consuming wine, beer, or any other types of alcoholic drinks during your pregnancy increases the likelihood of birth defects, such as low birth weight, miscarriage, premature delivery, and other severe risks to your baby’s growth and development.
There should be no exceptions to this; for your baby’s safety, you must limit your alcohol consumption during pregnancy to none.
Cut Back on Caffeine
Coffees, chocolates, teas, and sodas—you need to cut all forms of caffeine consumption down to a total of 200 milligrams while you’re pregnant. Caffeine crosses the placenta and metabolizes at a much slower rate than what your body is used to.
Check Your Beauty Products
Some makeup contains phthalates, which are chemicals that could be harmful to your baby’s growth, development, and overall health. Go through your makeup bag and check the ingredient labels—you may have to find some replacements.
Certain hair dyes and styling products contain ammonia and should be avoided while you’re pregnant. If you can’t give up on touch-ups, ask your hairstylist about some pregnancy-safe options that leave out the chemicals that could harm your growing baby.
Try Out Pregnancy-Safe Excercise
From swimming to prenatal yoga, pregnancy-friendly exercise can offer many benefits for your mood, energy, and your baby’s health. Before you create a new pregnancy-safe workout plan or continue your usual routine, discuss prenatal exercise with your healthcare physician or obstetrician.
Plan For a Healthy Pregnancy and Parenting
Most women with motherhood experience will tell you that it’s much harder to raise (and carry) a baby than it looks. Luckily some options will help bring you up to speed as much as possible while you’re still pregnant.
Check out a pregnancy book from your local library or book store. The internet is also a great resource for finding free information on pregnancy, prenatal care, infant care parenting, and delivery planning—you name it, and there’s sure to be plenty of guidance material to suit your wellness and parenting preferences.
Enroll in Pregnancy and Parenting Classes
Some parents have more experience, but newly pregnant, first-time parents are in unfamiliar territory. New parent classes are often a staple in this case, as they’re a great way to prepare for your baby by teaching you and your spouse/partner vital lessons in parenthood, infant care, emergency preparedness like baby CPR and first aid, and delivery support.
You can usually look online, ask friends and family members who are mothers, or call your OB-GYN’s office to find a class near you.
Document Precious Memories
These next nine months will certainly fly by, so be sure to take the time to document the process! Journal about your feelings and your experiences, and take pictures of your growing belly and anything else during your pregnancy that you think you’d enjoy looking back on.
Make a To-Do List
Whatever path you choose to take with your pregnancy, you have much preparation ahead before your unborn baby arrives. This page offers many tips and a good idea of the basics, but each mother, baby, and pregnancy is unique.
Here’s an idea of some additional things you might want to add to your pregnancy ‘to-do list,’ but again, every mother should plan their pregnancy and delivery according to their unique needs and preferences:
#1 Pick up the essentials you’ll need or add them to a registry (like diapers, wipes, baby clothes, bottles, a crib, a car seat, etc.).
#2 Arrange plans for delivering your baby with your doctor or midwife. Most women plan to have their baby in a medical center or hospital for professional clinical care, amenities for certain precautions, and supervised care from nurses.
- Others enjoy the familiar comfort and natural experience of home birth with a licensed midwife.
- Also, decide if you want to invite anyone to your delivery for encouragement, such as a doula, spouse/partner, family member, or friend.
#4 Plan a baby shower (or find someone to do it for you!).
#5 Determine whether you’d like to bottle feed (formula or using a breast pump), breastfeed, or both.
- Like many of the post-delivery plans you may choose to make, your decision on this matter is subject to change based on what your body and baby need.
#6 Prepare your hospital bag: get everything you need, ready to go!
Newly Pregnant? We’ve Got You
Our maternal medical care team in the Women and Children’s Pavilion at RMC in Anniston welcomes more than 2,000 newborns each year. We have a team of specially trained OB Nurses, board-certified physicians, and top-of-the-line labor, delivery, and recovery care systems.
For all the pregnancy advice and support you need, contact Regional Medical Center today!