I Just Found out I'm Pregnant—What Should I Do Now?

Updated on May 1, 2019
Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin is a mom to two little girls, is not a fan of Popples, and is really, really good at removing crayon from practically any surface.

What Should You Do When You Find out You're Pregnant?

Each time I found out I was pregnant one line would move through my mind over and over and over, This is amazing but now what? I didn't know what to do besides flush the toilet and stare at those two bright pink lines. Was I supposed to call someone? Tell someone, and if so, who? My husband? Yes, I told him. But then what? Pick out baby clothes? Wait. No. Paint the nursery? We didn't have a nursery!

The world began to spin, and I can now say with clarity that it was actually the morning sickness setting in. However, it was also a very real fear, and I believe it's one many expecting mothers experience in those first days after confirming they're pregnant. Here's a bunch of ideas that'll help you get your to-do list in order as you ride out the long, bumpy (hehe) nine-month journey that is growing a human.

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Nutrition & Health

Rethink Your Morning Routine

Did your boss just offer you an afternoon shift? Do you have lessons or classes that can be moved from 8 AM to after lunch? Morning is a sluggish and sleepy time during early pregnancy and becomes more challenging with each passing trimester. If you're able, take time in the morning to wake up, eat a healthy breakfast, and go for a quick walk to ease any nausea before facing the rest of your day.

Make sure to get enough sleep during these months, as sleep deprivation has been associated with longer labor times, increased pain perception and discomfort during labor, and higher cesarean rates.

Stock up on Pregnancy-Friendly Clothes

Chances are you won't need maternity clothes for a while because a baby bump isn't usually visible until you're heading into the second trimester—especially in the first pregnancy. At the same time, bloating is a common pregnancy experience, and wearing your pre-pregnancy favorites like skinny jeans and belted dresses can feel super uncomfortable pressing into your growing uterus.

Now's a good a time to pull out your stash of hoodies, leggings, and sweats from the back of your closet. Once you've taken inventory of what you already own, invest in a few items:

  • A few pairs of durable, non-sheer leggings
  • Several stretchy jersey dresses
  • Tunics
  • Cardigans
  • Supportive shoes (ditch the wedges)
  • Nursing bra (or two)

You'll also be glad to have this comfy wardrobe on hand post-baby when you're on the verge of burning your maternity jeans but are still not ready to go back to your pre-baby outfits.

Drink (More) Water

If you don't already carry water around with you everywhere you go, now's the time to start. Grab a few reusable water bottles so you can refill them throughout the day without paying the price for bottled water. Pregnancy makes moms-to-be extra thirsty, queasy, and dizzy. The need to stay hydrated is more important during pregnancy, as this helps support fetal circulation and, if the water has fluoride, teeth and bone development.

A hit of ice-cold water, while standing in line at the grocery store or waiting at a red light, can be a total lifesaver. Plus, if you decide to breastfeed, it's pretty handy to keep bottles of water around to gulp as you nurse and pump.

Pick Out a Prenatal Vitamin

Two key nutrients for mother and baby during pregnancy are folic acid, which aids in the proper formation of baby's neural tube (where the spinal cord and brain develop), and iron, which is necessary to avoid anemia. However, fickle cravings and food aversions can make it difficult to reach the daily recommended dose of these nutrients through food alone. If you're not craving broccoli and fish every day, taking a prenatal vitamin can help you cover those nutritional gaps in your diet.

What to Look for in a Prenatal Vitamin

  • Folic Acid: This helps prevent neural tube birth defects (brain and spinal cord). The body absorbs folate from supplements more efficiently than from foods that you eat, so consider the healthy foods that are high in folate a supplement to, well, your supplement.
  • Iodine: This is critical for the optimal development of your baby's brain and nervous system. Iodine regulates the baby's metabolism and plays an important role in regulating the mother's thyroid gland.
  • Calcium: A growing baby needs calcium to build strong bones and teeth. It helps the development of a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles. It's good for moms as well, as calcium can also reduce the risk of hypertension and high blood pressure.

Do You Need Iron in a Prenatal?

You'll need all the iron you can get to make extra blood (hemoglobin) for you and your baby during pregnancy. It also helps move oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body and to your baby. A study analyzing the relationship between pregnant women and iron found that the women with iron deficiencies were found to more frequently experience difficulty sleeping and breathing, exhaustion, and fainting. Here's the problem though - for a lot of women, myself included, iron in supplements can make you feel really nauseous and contribute to vomiting in early pregnancy. Puking up your prenatal is almost like not taking one at all.

So, start out with a gummy vitamin like this one and talk to your doctor about what iron rich foods you can incorporate into your diet (like spinach in your morning smoothie and a bean burrito for lunch). Once you're past the morning sickness stage, ditch the gummies and move on to a prenatal that includes iron.

Think About Getting a Blood Test

If you've already taken an at-home pregnancy test (HPT) and it's clearly come up positive, then you may not need a blood test to confirm your pregnancy. Some doctors may require it, but neither of mine ever did.

Two types of blood tests are available on the market:

  • Qualitative Blood Test: This quantifies the exact amount of hCG in the blood.
  • Qualitative hCG Blood Test: Like the urine test, this blood test provides a yes-or-no answer to whether you're pregnant.

What Is hCG?

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin: A hormone produced by the placenta when implantation takes place. Its purpose is to notify the body to maintain the production of high levels of progesterone, which prevents a period from occurring and boosts body temperature.

Disadvantages to Getting a Blood Test:

  • Money: It's more expensive to get a blood test than a urine test. The prices depend on the cost of the doctor's visit and the lab fees.
  • Time: It takes longer to get a result from a blood test than a urine test. However, the former is more accurate than the latter.
  • Place: The test must be done in a doctor’s office.

Shake Up Your Diet

Make Healthy Substitutes

I'm not going to sit here and tell you to eat healthier. Early pregnancy is basically the worst and most unfair time to tell a woman to eat healthier when just eating at all can feel like a chore.

Instead, I will tell you from my own experience to shake it up.

  • If you're craving ice cream, go get that ice cream but grab a green juice while you're staring at the cooler.
  • Switch out your midnight bowl of pre-sweetened cereal for a less sugary option, and throw in some dark chocolate chips for good measure (this pairing works especially well with Kashi cereals and almond milk).
  • Skip the salt. Add a dash of nutritional yeast to that bowl of popcorn before you settle in for an evening of Netflix.

Eating on The Go

When pregnancy hunger strikes, it hits like a wrecking ball and can take you down with little to no warning. This is why I am now going to tell you to do a few things with some authority:

  1. Throw packets of cashews and almonds in your purse before you leave the house.
  2. Stash dried cherries in your glove compartment (unless it's 80°F out—that's a food-borne illness waiting to happen).
  3. Stock up on cans of veggie-fruit juice mixes to grab on your way out the door.

It's a good idea to get used to eating little snacks often if you plan to pump or nurse, as you'll need to eat regularly to maintain your energy.

Avoid Foods That Can Cause Listeria

Also, chat with your OB about what's safe and unsafe to consume during pregnancy, including certain fish, deli meats, and soft cheeses. Or just search online. A warning though: when it comes to questions about your pregnancy, avoid the quagmire that is BabyCenter Birth Boards and head straight for sites like AmericanPregnancy.org for legit advice over the next nine months.

Eat Foods Packed with Healthy Fats (and whatnot)

If you still want to look into general foods that are good to eat, here is a brief list:

  • Lean proteins
  • Healthy fats
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Fresh fruits

If you want to eat foods to supplement the prenatal vitamins, here are a few good options:

Folic Acid

  • Leafy green vegetables (like spinach)
  • Citrus fruits
  • Beans
  • Cereals
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Pasta

Iodine

  • Cranberries
  • Strawberries
  • Potatoes

Calcium

  • Non-fat milk
  • Almonds
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Bok choy

Iron

  • Spinach
  • Legumes
  • Red meat (well-cooked)
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Turkey
  • Dark chocolate

Exercise a Little

There are so many reasons to exercise: good mood, higher-quality sleep, your baby's health, your health, and an easier post-partum recovery. Whether you do ten minutes of YouTube-led prenatal yoga in the morning or pace the sidewalk in front of your apartment before sundown, a little change goes a long way to creating healthy routines.

What are other exercises to try?

  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Blogilates
  • Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day

Get to Bed a Little Earlier

I know everyone says it, but it's the truth: this is the end of the line for you and a solid night's sleep. Once the baby gets here, it will never happen again—at least, not for another four years, give or take. Take advantage of your sleepy state, your momentary independence, and your cozy bed. Tuck yourself in a little earlier each night until that sweet babe arrives.

Look Through Your Household Cleaners

American Pregnancy says that most cleaning products are actually safe to use during your pregnancy but if you're sensitive to smell or just don't feel good about using cleaning products that have strong chemicals in them, opt for a gentler cleaning routine with products from brands like Mrs. Meyers Clean Day or Method.

If you don't mind the smell, you can even use just vinegar and baking soda to clean most surfaces in your home (but hey, the bleach needs to come out if there's raw chicken involved, got it?)

Clean out Your Medicine Cabinet

Make sure that any medications you were taking before pregnancy—including OTC pain relievers, supplements, allergy medications, and digestive aids—are safe to take during pregnancy. Throw away or replace anything that's not. including:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Caffeine
  • Castor oil
  • Aspirin

Get Rid of Clothes That Are Too Small

If any clothes didn't fit you the week you found out you were pregnant, I'm sorry to say they're never going to fit you again. Make room for a looser wardrobe by decluttering garments that are too small or out-of-style. Haul them to your local thrift shop or sell them online to make a little extra cash.

Donate or sell clothes that don't fit you anymore.
Donate or sell clothes that don't fit you anymore. | Source

Friends and Family

Decide When (and to Whom) You're Going to Announce the News

As soon as that test reveals your big fat positive, it can be tempting to go live with the amazingness before you've even zipped your pants.

Hold up.

Who to Tell That You're Pregnant

Now that you know for sure you're pregnant, you'll want to determine who to tell right away and who should wait to hear your big news. Telling your mom and telling your Facebook friends will likely be two different scenarios. Think about who will be directly involved in your pregnancy—your partner, parents, or a close friend—and build your support system by telling those people first.

For those who'll be involved from a distance, waiting until the second or even third trimester can save you from having your belly poked by coworkers before it's even showing and stave off the parade of questions from "What will you name the baby?" to "I have fifteen boxes of baby clothes, when can I drop them off?"

How to Tell People You're Pregnant

How you tell someone is just as important as when you do. I made the rather selfish mistake of telling my brother I was pregnant with my first daughter on Facebook messenger a few days after I found out. Seriously. He's still pretty mad about it, and she's been potty trained for three years now.

  • Make it a point to tell the people most important to baby's life in person when you're ready.
  • For everyone else, use your own discretion about who to call, visit, or message before you announce your pregnancy on social media.

Why You Might Wait to Tell People

Most women decide to announce their pregnancy at the end of the first trimester. This is because the risk of miscarriage drops substantially around the 10-12 week mark. When and how you tell people is really personal, and only you know what will work for you. For me, I tried to hold off on telling most people I was pregnant with my first daughter until I was 10 weeks and had heard her heartbeat. Personally, I just didn't want to have to tell the world if I miscarried.

Another reason you might hold off is if someone you're close with is also celebrating a major life event. With my second, I waited to even talk about my pregnancy openly until I couldn't hide my 20-week bump any longer. Since I had just had a baby a year before and my sister-in-law's due date (with her first baby) was 5 days before mine, I wanted to let her bump shine this time around.

Stock Thank You Cards and Stamps

The gifts will start popping up out of nowhere. Be prepared by keeping a set of cards and stamps on hand so you don't forget to thank them for their thoughtfulness, care, and generosity.

Get Insight into Your Maternal Medical History

If you have the privilege, talk to your mom, maternal grandma or maternal aunts about their pregnancy experiences. This isn't just a bonding experience, it's also important to research your family history of certain pregnancy-related health conditions you may not know about like hyperemesis gravidarum or preeclampsia. Be prepared and take notes in case you need to notify your doctor of possible diseases for which you may be at a higher risk.

Paperwork

Find a Doctor and Figure out Your Health Insurance

Okay, so technically, this is the only thing on this list you really need to do right away, and it's also probably the least fun. The reason it's important to find a doctor immediately is that you'll have a designated office to call if you have the following:

  • Any medical issues or concerns
  • A pre-existing condition that makes your pregnancy high-risk

You can ask them for information even if your first appointment isn't until your second trimester, and it can save you a lot of anxiety.

How to Find a Doctor

  1. Search for pregnancy care providers in your area, including midwives and ob-gyns.
  2. Start with the ones who are most convenient. You can determine this by factoring in their hours, location, hospital proximity, and size (you probably don't want to walk down twelve halls to get to the baby doctor). Call 'em up, ask if they're taking new patients, and find out if they're within your insurance provider network.

How to Get Insurance

If you don't currently have insurance, look into that now. Many employers will allow an exception outside of the enrollment period for a "life event"—pregnancy may be considered one (it should be, anyway).

  • If you can't afford employer-provided insurance and do not qualify as a dependent on your parent's health insurance, look into expanded or emergency Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act in your individual state.
  • It may also help to ask been-there-done-that moms in your area to help walk you through the process of procuring insurance and recommending a doctor who will meet your needs.
  • If none of this works for you, another option is to search for Planned Parenthoods or Pregnancy Care Centers in your area who can help you get the important care you need at the beginning of your pregnancy and provide resources for the coming months.

Write Down Your Contact and Medical Information

As your pregnancy wears on, you'll find yourself spending a lot of time in uncomfortable chairs under the glow of bad waiting room lights, being asked over and over for pertinent information like your social security number, date of last period, emergency contacts, allergies, best phone numbers, and birthday. Believe me, you're going to forget your birthday more than once.

One of the kindest things you can do for yourself as soon as you find out you're pregnant is to record all of your important information.

  1. Type up or clearly jot down your numbers and dates.
  2. Bring it them with you to appointments so you can either pass it over to reception to input themselves or have handy to jog your memory on those very real baby-brain days.

Figure out Your Due Date

Use BabyCenter's due date calculator or something similar to get an idea of when your baby is due. You'll need the date your last official period started to do this.

Why is this information useful? It'll help you plan things like maternity leave, vacations, and whether or not you'll be able to teach that jiu-jitsu class this spring.

Automate as Much of Your Life as Possible

Because it's about to get real crazy. Is pregnancy brain a real thing? Many pregnant women will say that it is, and it appears that the hormonal changes are pinned as the culprit. A study trying to get to the bottom of pregnancy brain found that a group of pregnant women in their third trimester performed worse than the control group of non-pregnant women in tests of verbal memory and processing speed.

If you don't already, utilize online banking, prescription refills, and grocery delivery to make more room in your schedule for things like doctor's appointments, fresh air, and naps.

Download a Fun Pregnancy App

Nothing helps pass the time faster than playing around with due dates, predicting your little one's gender based on weather patterns, arguing with moms halfway across the country, and comparing the size of your growing baby to similar-sized fruit. Ovia and BabyCenter were my two favorites.

Post-Labor Prep

Study Up on The Weird Things Babies Do

The internet is full of bad advice about babies and new parenthood. But this much is true - babies do some crazy things like spit up what seems like 4 gallons of milk if you tilt them the wrong way. While your baby is still going to surprise and terrify you in a multitude of fresh ways no baby book can ever prepare you for, What to Expect is the gold standard for setting you up for as little disaster as possible.

Start Saving a Little Money Each Week

Here's a secret: babies don't ask for anything except food and a fresh diaper. Focus on those things, and everything else will figure itself out over the next few months.

Remember, there are a lot of affordable diapering and feeding options, from breastfeeding to formula. You'll also find resources in place if you have trouble making ends meet on these things and if you don't know where to find them, you can ask your OB at your first appointment. As time goes on, you'll figure out clever ways to find great deals and make room in the budget for your new baby's needs.

Save your change for all of those Target clearance finds in the baby section.
Save your change for all of those Target clearance finds in the baby section. | Source

Write Down Questions and Symptoms

Grab a little notebook or sticky pad and keep it on the coffee table to jot down questions and weird symptoms you might want to ask your doctor about at your first visit. I did this post-birth too for the first year of pediatrician's visits. I was so tired and out-of-it that I was always relieved to have the list to pull out of my diaper bag when "Do you have any questions for me?" part of our visit arrived.

Research Baby Items

Now, don't worry about putting together a nursery or upsizing your home. In reality, your baby is probably going to sleep in your room for the first few months. I don't care what all of those picture-perfect moms say. Research compact cribs or co-sleepers when you feel ready for it, but save the house hunting for after baby's first birthday.

In the meantime, look into products that you've heard other moms recommend so you know what to add to your baby shower registry or to buy in your own time. The sooner you look, the better you'll be able to scoop up items with a good deal or discount. Save that money for other expenses down the line!

Think About Freezer Meals

You don't have to make freezer meals immediately. However, I'd recommend looking into recipes that you enjoy making or have been wanting to try. That way, you can get comfortable whipping them out in large batches and freezing them a month before you're due. When you come back from the birth center you can come home to a well-stocked freezer and eat homemade food!

  • Tip: When you freeze your food, make them as flat as possible. For example, with soup, seal the bag and lay it on its side so that it freezes in a thin rectangle. That way, you can stack more meals together and create a "filing system" of food in your freezer for easy access.

Brainstorm Baby Names

If you already have a name picked out, that's awesome! However, unless you plan to have everything of your baby's monogrammed before he or she gets here, it's unnecessary to have a name picked out this early. I think it can be a fun pastime during the next few months as you await their arrival.

General Health

Check Your Vaccination History

Make sure your vaccination history is up to date. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides the following guidelines for vaccines you should get before, during, and after pregnancy:

A month or more before pregnancy:

  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella

During pregnancy:

  • Tdap vaccine (against whooping cough)

Before or during pregnancy:

  • Flu shot

Ask your doctor before getting vaccinated to get as much information about what you need to ensure the health of your baby.

Be Leery of Litter

Got a cat? If you can't have someone else scoop his litter start wearing gloves when you clean his box. That's because cat feces can contain toxoplasmosis - a toxin that's dangerous during pregnancy.

Prevent Stretch Marks

Begin taking care of your skin now to prevent stretch marks and scarring as much as you can. Stretch marks are those long, narrow stripes that develop on the skin when it's suddenly stretched (like when you're growing a baby).

The best way to defend against this happening to the severest degree is to help your skin maintain its elasticity throughout your pregnancy. The goal is to keep it hydrated and support the collagen and elastin fibers in your skin. The stronger they are, the less likely they are to break and leave stretch marks.

  • To strengthen collagen, eat foods that help form it: vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc, and silica.
  • Drink about two liters of water a day to renew your skin.
  • Use a topically-applied product like cocoa butter or stretch mark-reducing oil to maximize your skin’s elasticity.

Don't be scared! Stretch marks often fade naturally over time even without any treatment. They also don't bring any long-term health risks, so it's just an external thing.

Eat a Slice of Humble Pie

If you're like me (and I'm just going to assume you are at least a little bit like me—if you're not, good for you), you doled out some pretty unwarranted and unsolicited parenting and pregnancy advice before actually becoming pregnant and/or a parent.

Eat it, sister, because everything you thought was so freaking easy is about to come crashing down around you in a kaleidoscope of very humbling karma-filled revelations. Enjoy the ride!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

  • Should I tell my employer right away that I’m pregnant?

    Probably not. When it comes to telling your employer that you’re pregnant, your first instinct might be to share that news ASAP for fear you won’t be able to do your job as well or just because you’re so excited and like to plan. But there are a few good reasons to hold off on telling your boss like:

    - Many women find it more comfortable to wait on sharing their pregnancy until they’re through the first trimester. At this point, you’ve had your first prenatal appointment, heard your baby’s heartbeat and had the initial blood work done.

    - You’re in the middle of a big work project and don’t want the news of your pregnancy to distract from the team synergy.

    - You haven’t told close friends or family yet, and don’t want the news to leak before you get to tell everyone yourself.

    - You legit fear that your manager might hold back hours that you need.

    There’s also some pretty good reasons for telling your boss early on in the pregnancy. This is especially so if your job requires you to do things that are physically challenging during pregnancy or that somehow require you to consume things that are unsafe for a fetus (I mean, maybe you’re a professional wine taster, I don’t know). Another reason some women have to let their employers know earlier than expected is that they suffer from debilitating mornings sickness.

    My best advice? If your test still hasn’t dried, don’t tell anyone. Give yourself a few days to collect your thoughts, come up with a plan that works for you and then move forward in the way that you feel is best for your situation.

  • When I first found out I was pregnant I was pretty excited to join my birth club but found that most women there were snarky, rude and judgemental. Is it just me, or is everyone at BabyCenter cranky and mean?

    No, it’s not just you. Here’s some things to keep in mind about BabyCenter, especially the birth clubs:

    First, not everyone in those birth clubs is unkind or mean spirited. But many of the milder tempered members quickly bore of the Mean Girl drama and after their morning sickness has worn off they’re back in the real world and off the BabyCenter app. This leaves the few members who literally seem to have nothing better to do with their time than to one-up strangers on the internet with tired GIFs. (But seriously, no one who has their real-life priorities straight can find the time/energy to stay up until 3 a.m. on a Friday night arguing circumcision with a bunch of strangers).

    Second, many of the women who are unkind in a virtual echo chamber, whether it be on this particular site or any other mom-based chat board, probably don’t feel they have much of a voice in their real lives, for any number of reasons. Dominating the conversations and overall attitude of a particular board gives them a sense of power they lack in the real world, not unlike those people you follow on Instagram who portray perfect lives in your feed while things fall apart behind the scenes.

    Last, and I do feel kind of lame going here but feel there’s some truth to it - hormones are hard. Pregnant women are both over-sensitive to their feelings and insensitive to the feelings of others. I only feel okay with making this sort of blanket statement because when I was pregnant, I felt comfortable crying because McDonald’s no longer carried my favorite holiday-themed shake while simultaneously blaming the completely powerless worker who had to break the news to me. Not cool, not cool.

© 2017 Kierstin Gunsberg

Comments

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    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Great hub and it should help ease the tensions and apprehensions of a mother who is expecting for the first time.

      I remember my days, when I had the same set of questions in my mind, some thirty three years ago to be precise.

      My mother was the first person I told and she guided me about everything and every care and preparation I needed to make. Of course I told my husband along with her but his also was a first time experience to become a father--Right!

      It is better to take advice from people who are experienced and take care of issues at the crucial stages of pregnancy, if any!

      Thanks for sharing this wonderful and informative hub that will help many!

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