Learning you’re pregnant is a life-changing moment that can come with a fair share of surging emotions: joy, anxiety, surprise, panic, and sometimes a bonus of confusion over what to do next. Whether you got the results you wanted or not, you’ll probably have a million thoughts running through your mind, making it hard to think critically or determine the next step to take. Don’t worry; you have 40 weeks to get all the answers, so take each day at a time.
Once you’ve had time to process, here are five things you should do next to feel informed and prepared throughout your pregnancy journey:
1. Contact Your Doctor or Midwife
Once you find out you’re pregnant, it’s best to confirm it with an expert. If you already have a midwife or doctor in mind, contact them to make an appointment. If you don’t have any preferred healthcare expert, ask friends or family for recommendations, or search for a healthcare facility near you. The first prenatal visit typically happens around the eighth week of pregnancy. But if you have pre-existing conditions, had previous miscarriages, or are experiencing severe pain or other uncommon symptoms, it’s best you see your doctor sooner.
As you prepare to see your doctor, you can choose to get prenatal care from either a midwife or an obstetrician. However, the decision between the two largely depends on what you expect during pregnancy and delivery. If you may have a high-risk pregnancy or are set on an epidural, then seeking obstetric care is probably the best choice. Obstetricians deal with everything related to pregnancy, from prenatal care to delivery and postnatal care. If you’re high-risk or experience complications during pregnancy, obstetricians can recognize and treat the complications, including ectopic pregnancies, fetal distress, placenta issues, and preeclampsia. They are also prepared for delivery through cesarean section if need be.
2. Choose Who to Tell and When
Who you choose to tell and when is a personal choice. But if you’ve been trying for a child, you’ll probably become excited and want to tell someone immediately, whether your partner, a friend or a family member. Most people wait until 13 weeks to break the news because that’s when the risk of miscarriage reduces significantly, but there are no rules. You choose when and if to spill the beans. Thus, if you want to keep the pregnancy a secret for some time, that’s okay. That said, most people find it comforting to make the news public, even if they aren’t sure if they want to keep the pregnancy. Talking to someone is an ideal way to manage your emotions, whether you feel excited, confused, or scared.
3. Adopt Healthy Habits
Probably, you already know that you should not smoke or drink alcohol during pregnancy. However, there are several other ways you will need to get your body in great shape for a healthy pregnancy. If you have not started taking prenatal vitamins, it’s time to start. As your baby develops, it’ll need iron to make red blood cells, calcium to form bones, folic acid to prevent neural tube issues, and other essential nutrients. And the baby will get all these from your body, so you should ensure your body doesn’t become depleted. When it comes to your diet, a pregnancy diet isn’t very different from a typical healthy diet. Incorporate fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains into your diet. However, there are certain foods you should avoid, like deli salads, refrigerated smoked seafood, and unpasteurized cheeses, as they can host listeria, a bacteria that can put your baby at risk.
4. Know What’s In Store for You and the Baby
No two pregnancies are similar, so knowing what to expect in the next nine months is crucial. Although not everyone experiences morning sickness, experts estimate that about 80% of women do. Please note that it doesn’t only strike in the morning; it can affect you anytime, day or night. For most people, morning sickness usually starts around the sixth week of pregnancy and ends at the end of the first trimester. But for some, it can last longer. You’re also bound to have some common early pregnancy symptoms, including cramping and spotting, nausea, acne, mood swings, sore breasts, regular urination, food cravings, headaches, and more. Also, you’ll likely feel exhausted, thanks to an increase in progesterone, which peaks between eight and 12 weeks and then diminishes over time.
5. Stay Active With Exercise
It’s healthy to work out during pregnancy but be sure to do it safely. If you have a normal BMI, you should strive to gain about 25-30 pounds during the pregnancy. If you’re overweight or underweight, the recommended weight gain should vary by about 10 to five pounds, respectively. Exercising during pregnancy helps you manage your weight and prepares your body for the added strain of carrying and delivering the baby. It also helps build the stamina needed after childbirth. If you’re a regular, you can consider carrying on with your routine exercise for as long as possible. But if you want to begin working out due to pregnancy, start with low-impact options, such as swimming, walking, and yoga.
Now that you know what to do after becoming pregnant, you can feel more empowered and less panicked. You have the time, so take it easy and be kind to yourself. Prioritize your well-being, and all other things will fall into place.