I Just Found out I'm Pregnant—What Should I Do Now?
The first time I found out I was pregnant I was immediately overcome with the daunting question of, "Well, what in the heck do I do now?!" I had no idea what to do besides flush the toilet and then stare at those two bright pink lines. Was I supposed to call someone? Tell a person, and if so, what person? My husband. Yes, I told him. But then what? Pick out baby clothes? Wait. No. Paint the nursery? OMG, WE DIDN'T HAVE A NURSERY.
The world began to spin, and I can now say with clarity, that it was actually the hyperemesis setting in. But also, it was a very real fear and the confusion that I think a lot of expecting mothers experience in those first days after confirming pregnancy. Here are ten things (plus a few extras!) that'll help you get your sh*t in order as you ride out the very long, bumpy (hehe) nine (more like ten) month journey that is growing a human.
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.
Stock Up on Comfy Clothes
Chances are, you won't need maternity clothes for a while. Since baby is still so low a bump isn't usually visible until you're heading into the second trimester - especially in first pregnancies. Still, bloating is common and wearing your pre-pregnancy favorites like skinny jeans and belted dresses can be super uncomfortable as they press 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 for at-home wear. Once you've taken inventory of what you already own, invest in a few pairs of durable, non-sheer leggings and stretchy jersey dresses, tunics, cardigans, and supportive shoes (ditch the wedges) to wear through your first trimester. You'll be glad to have this comfy wardrobe on hand post-baby when you're on the verge of burning your maternity jeans but still not ready to go back to your pre-baby outfits.
Buy a Few Reusable Water Bottles
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 throughout the day without paying the price for plastic bottled water. Pregnancy makes moms-to-be extra thirsty, queasy, and dizzy and a hit of ice cold water in-line at the grocery store or waiting at a red light is 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.
Decide Who to Tell and When
As soon as that test reveals your big fat positive it can be tempting to Snapchat the amazingness before you've even zipped your pants.
Now that you know for sure you're pregnant you'll want to assess 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 - like your partner, your 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 you tell someone is just as important as when. I made the rather selfish mistake of telling my brother I was pregnant with my first daughter over Facebook messenger a few days after I found out.
Seriously. He's still pretty mad about it and she's been potty trained for a year now. Make it a point to tell the people most important to baby's life in person, as soon as 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.
Do You Really Need a Blood Test?
If you've already taken an at home pregnancy test (HPT) and it's come up very clearly positive, then you may not need a blood test to confirm your pregnancy. Some doctors may require it, but neither of mine ever did.
Find a Doctor (and Get Your Health Insurance Figured Out)
Okay, so technically, this is the only thing on this list you really, really need to do right away and it's also probably the least fun. The reason it's important to find a doctor right away is that if you're having any medical issues or concerns, or have a pre-existing condition that makes your pregnant high-risk you'll have a designated office to call, even if your first appointment isn't until your second trimester.
To start, Google up the pregnancy care providers in your area including midwives and OBGYNs. Start with the ones who are most convenient, factoring in hours, location, and size (hey, some of us don't want to walk down twelve halls to get to the baby doctor) as well as proximity to the hospital you'll be delivering at. Call 'em up and ask if they're taking new patients and if they're within your insurance provider network.
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 and pregnancy may be considered one (it should be, anyway, duh!) 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 talk to other been-there-done-that moms in your area (who aren't judgey-sanctimommies) 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 Google Planned Parenthoods or Pregnancy Care Centers in your area who can help you get the important care you need in the beginning of your pregnancy and provide resources for the coming months.
A Brief List of Things You Just Do Not Need to Do Yet
Alright, take a few deep breaths here, I know things just got kind of stressful. The thing is, for as much as you may need to do right now, there's that much more that you definitely do not need to do right now, like...
- Worry about a nursery or upsizing. In reality, that baby is going to sleep in your room at first anyway. I don't care what all of those perfect moms say. Research compact cribs or cosleepers when you're feeling ready, but save the house hunting for after baby's first birthday.
- Figure out how you're going to afford baby stuff. Here's a secret: babies don't ask for anything except food and a fresh diaper. So just focus on those things and everything else will figure itself out in the next few months. Remember that there's a LOT of affordable diapering and feeding options, from breastfeeding to formula and resources in place if you have trouble making ends meet on these things. 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.
- Find a pediatrician. This is a good task to take on in your last trimester when you're closer to your due date.
- Pick out a name. If you already have one, awesome, but unless you plan to have everything of your baby's monogrammed before he or she gets here, it's totally unnecessary to have a name picked out this early.
Write Down Your Deets
As your pregnancy wears on you'll find yourself spending a lot of time in uncomfortable chairs under the glow of bad waiting room lighting being asked over and over again for pertinent information like your social security number, date of last period, emergency contacts, allergies, best phone numbers, and birth date. And believe me when I tell you that more than once you're going to forget your birth date.
That's why 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.
Type up or clearly jot down your numbers and dates and 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 a due date calculator like the ones found on BabyCenter or CountDownToPregnancy to get an idea of when your baby is due. You'll need the date that your last official period started on to do this.
This info will help you plan things like maternity leave, vacations, or whether or not you'll be able to teach that jiu-jitsu class this spring.
Pick Out a Prenatal Vitamin
Two key nutrients for mother and baby during pregnancy are folic acid which aides 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 recommendations of iron and folic acid through food alone. So if you're not craving broccoli and fish every day of your pregnancy taking a prenatal vitamin will keep you covered.
If you're not already taking one start researching until you find one that fits your needs. Begin with a small bottle so you won't be throwing your money away if a particular brand doesn't work for you. There's tons of options out there, from fruity flavored gummies and chewables to all-natural capsules that can be taken with a glass of milk before bed. If you plan to breastfeed or pump you'll want to continue taking a prenatal post-partum as well.
Shake Up Your Diet
Despite that alluring image of freshly chopped vegetables, I am actually 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 cereal for a less sugary option and throw some dark chocolate chips in for good measure (this pairing works especially well with Kashi cereals and almond milk, omg help yes) and throw a dash of nutritional yeast on that bowl of popcorn before you settle in for an evening of Netflix.
Now, here I am going to tell you to do something with some authority - throw bags of cashews and almonds in your purse before you leave the house. Stash dried cherries in your glove compartment (unless it's 80 degrees out, that's a food-borne illness waiting to happen), and stock up on cans of veggie-fruit juice mixes to grab on your way out the door. When pregnancy hunger hits, it hits like a wrecking ball and can take you down with little to no warning.
And that's just not great.
Plus, 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.
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 Google it. A warning though - when it comes to questions about your pregnancy avoid the quagmire that is BabyCenter Birth Boards and instead head straight for sites like AmericanPregnancy.org for legit advice on the next nine months.
Go to Bed a Little Earlier
I mean seriously, 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, and tuck yourself in a little earlier each night until that sweet babe arrives.
Eight More Things to Do Soon
- Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Make sure that anything you were taking before pregnancy including OTC pain relievers, supplements, allergy meds, and digestive aids are safe to take during pregnancy and pitch or replace anything that's not.
- Stock Up on Thank-You Cards and Stamps The gifts will start popping up out of nowhere. Be prepared.
- Get a Big Tub of Cocoa Butter Lotion and begin taking care of your skin to prevent stretch marks and scarring early on.
- Automate as Much of Your Life as Possible Because it's about to get real cray. If you don't already, utilize online banking, prescription refills, and grocery delivery to make more room in your schedule for things like doctors appointments, fresh air, and naps.
- Get Rid of Clothes That Are Too Small Straight up, if they didn't fit the week before you took that HPT and got your awesome BFP, they're never going to fit again. Make room for a roomier wardrobe by bagging up too small and out-of-style clothes and hauling them to your local thrift shop.
- Take up a little light exercise. There are so many reasons - a better mood, better nights sleep, your baby's health, your health, 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.
- Download a Super Fun Pregnancy App Nothing helps pass the time faster than diddling around with due dates, predicting your little one's gender based on weather patterns, arguing with other moms halfway across the country, and comparing the size of your growing baby to fruit. Ovia and BabyCenter were my two favorites.
- 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 and if you're not, good for you) you doled out some pretty unwarranted and unasked for parenting and pregnancy advice before actually becoming pregnant and/or a parent. LOL! 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.
© 2017 Kierstin Gunsberg