Things to Do When You Find Out
Finding out you're pregnant can be incredibly overwhelming, and a lot of people are in a haze, unsure of exactly where to begin. This list is by no means exhaustive, but maybe it can help give you a jumping off point once your head stops spinning & you can breathe again. :)
You can see more of my pregnancy journey here, and a bumpdate is coming very shortly!
1. Prenatal vitamins
God bless you if you can deal with the giant horse pills. I've never had problems swallowing pills before, but I gave those prenatals a shot and they were not compatible with my morning sickness! I've since switched over to these gummy vitamins from Walgreens (they're the generic for Vitafusion if you don't have a Walgreens nearby) and that has helped me a lot. They can still exacerbate nausea, so I would recommend taking them before bed when you have some food in your tummy rather than in the morning when the nausea is likely worse.
2. Decide how to tell your partner, and other close family & friends
I gave you a peek at how I told Ricky in my Secret's Out! post, but we also did some cutesy things for our parents & siblings. It's totally up to you if you want to keep things simple, but I enjoyed having a little mini "reveal" for each set of our closest people.
For my parents, I sent this Willow Tree figurine and then let them know that I had "accidentally" sent a package to their address instead of mine. I called on the day it arrived and told them it was breakable and asked them to open it to make sure it had arrived safely. :)
For Ricky's parents, we had them over for dinner the week after his dad's birthday, saying that we had one more little gift. I used a box of Sugar Babies and a sharpie so that it said "We're Having A...Sugarbaby!" It took a second, but their expressions were pretty priceless.
My sister was in Alaska, so I told her with a "best auntie ever" mug via FaceTime, and each of Ricky's siblings got a bottle of wine with "the best siblings get promoted to aunt & uncle" wine labels that I made on my computer.
3. Decide how & when to make the info public
For us, this meant scheduling a photo shoot with our awesome friends at Jeff Cloud Photography well in advance so that we could get on their calendar in time for them to edit & send us the image to use in our social media posts (as well as our announcement here on the blog). Again, you might decide to do something much simpler, that you can do yourself at home. Maybe you're not posting to the public at all, and people will just have to guess as you begin to show! You do you, babe.
4. Alter your exercise routine & diet--elminate risky behaviors like smoking & drinking. Also check your medications to see if you should stop taking any.
For me, this involved cutting out Diet Dr Pepper. I had one can on each of the first 3 days after I found out, and then I cut it completely. Even though it was probably harder than it should have been (#addicted), it's such a simple life choice to make that makes a big difference for your baby. Most websites & doctors say pregnant women can have up to 200mg per day, but I knew I would want to push that limit so I just went cold turkey. Interestingly, a little bit of caffeine can actually help if you have persistent headaches or migraines during pregnancy, and along with acetaminophen is one of the only remedies approved so we'll see if the headaches I'm having keep up or get worse before we make that call.
On the exercise front, you should be able to keep up about the same level of activity that you were at prior to pregnancy but it's always good to double check with your doctor. Specific exercises that tone your core, such as crunches, should be discontinued as well as ones that require you to lie on your back, as that can lower your blood pressure too much in the later months of pregnancy. Unless you're a high risk pregnancy, walking & jogging are highly recommended and will actually help you have good muscle strength for delivery. Again, check with your doctor (or midwife) to get her specific recommendations for you!
5. Calculate your due date
The due date is generally calculated to be 40 weeks after the start date of your last period before pregnancy. Fortunately, I've been using the Period Diary app on my phone for the last couple of years, so I had that date on hand. Otherwise I'd never remember! Keep in mind that your due date is approximate--the doctor may change it based on your ultrasounds later on. But it gives you a good idea of how long you'll be cooking a little human!
6. Make a doctor's appointment
I would recommend doing this within a couple of days of finding out that you're pregnant, since the doctor's office will likely be booked out a few weeks in advance. Do some research on who you'd like to see (or even if you're going the OB route--some people choose to see midwives throughout their pregnancy instead) and then get on their calendar ASAP. Most doctors only see so many patients due in any given month, so there is a chance you would need a backup option. Getting on the calendar early helps avoid that. We were fortunate enough to have had lots of babies born around us in the last couple of years, and so we had a good idea of who we wanted to see before we even got pregnant. So far, we love her! If you're in the Lincoln area and want a recommendation, shoot me an email at email@example.com and I'd be happy to let you know.
7. Take a before or early pregnancy photo
This will be so fun to look back on in a few months to see how far you've come. You're creating a person! It's pretty awesome. Normally I wouldn't be excited about gaining weight, but now I'm almost looking forward to it. (A reasonable amount, hopefully!)
8. Start a pregnancy journal
Again, this will be a keepsake that you'll love looking at later on. Include details of how you're feeling, any pregnancy milestones, cravings, prayers for your baby, how you tell friends & family, their reactions, stupid stuff people say to you (and that list will be a doozy)....anything and everything.
9. Keep a to do list & a list of questions for your doctor
A lot of websites have great pregnancy to-do lists by month or by trimester. I like keeping those lists printed out and in a planner along with to-dos that I've come up with as well that are more specific to our situation. Keeping a list of questions is really helpful because at the end of a pre-natal appointment where you've received a ton of info, it can be tough to remember what questions or concerns you were meaning to bring up.
10. Look up symptoms & any tips on how to deal with them
I tell you what, I'm about ready to do anything to help me deal with nausea. The biggest thing for me seems to be to eat well and often, in small portions every few hours. I still get sick, but it's definitely worse if I've let my stomach get too empty. Meat hasn't sounded appealing to me very often during the first trimester, and if you're normally a meat eater and going through the same thing, it's important to concentrate on getting other sources of protein and iron into your diet. To combat the nausea, I've even started keeping crackers or dry cereal on my nightstand and munching on them when I wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom--it helps so that I'm not going 9 hours without putting anything in my belly. There's lots of tips out there for nausea and other even less fun symptoms, but remember to take them with a grain of salt--there's no one "proven" way that works for any of them.
11. Start thinking about birth classes and getting educated on some of the less clear cut topics regarding babies & parenting. I recommend not just going off your friends' advice--look at some medical journals and peer reviewed articles as well. These topics can include things like vaccinating, medication during birth, circumcision, and breastfeeding. Read up on the different schools of thought and make decisions for your family based on the evidence. It's up to you how much you want to share about those decisions with friends and family, but don't feel like others have a right to know or to weigh in on your choice. Know that even parents who think totally opposite of you are just trying to do what's best for their babies, just like you are!
12. Start a savings plan
Birth is pricey, y'all. We calculated how much our birth costs would be (make sure to count your OB's cost as well as the hospital costs) and then started setting money aside monthly to meet that amount. We've put it all into a savings account until we need it so we don't forget or accidentally spend it in our checking account, which helps have a clear idea of where we're at. Plan on spending more than what your doctor quotes you--they're going off the basic, vaginal delivery with no complications, but we all know we can't plan what exactly will happen with birth so it's very possible for those costs to rise. Ask how much extra things like C-sections, delivery assistants, etc will cost and plan to save for at least some of those.
13. Check out your insurance info regarding birth
Find out what your insurance policy regarding maternity and infant care is. Make sure that understand how much you are responsible for, and also how to change your plan to include your little one after the birth. Insurance companies are also required to provide you with a breast pump (although they vary widely about what kind they will provide) so make sure to contact your carrier and get that info before buying one for yourself. I also plan to call our provider and ask about items that may not be covered by the insurance even after the deductible and co-insurance amounts have been met--some carriers don't cover things if they're determined "non medically necessary" like epidurals or skin-to-skin contact. It's good to know up front which costs are covered and which ones aren't so you can plan your budget accordingly.
14. Drink a ton of water!
It seems like for every pregnancy ailment, the recommended course of action includes drinking a lot of water. Many people don't drink the recommended 64 ounces anyway, and it's even more important when you're pregnant. Your blood volume will increase by 50% during pregnancy, water intake reduces constipation, it helps get nourishment to baby, it helps prevent bloating from salt, etc. etc. etc. Plus, if you're having a lot of morning sickness (like I am) you're not keeping all of that water down, so you need to be extra sure to keep hydrated. Luckily less Diet Dr Pepper = more room for water. I do try to drink a little less close to bedtime since I'm already waking up twice in the night, but I keep a bottle on the nightstand and drink a fair amount right when I wake up in the morning.
15. Add some baby apps to your phone & pick up a pregnancy book or two.
I have BabyBump, What to Expect, the Bump & BabyCenter all on my phone. I don't think having four is necessary, but they do send out little articles & reminders that are helpful--plus the classic "What fruit is the size of your baby this week?" notices which are fun weekly updates on baby's progress.
I also have the classic What to Expect When You're Expecting and the Bump Pregnancy Planner & Journal in print form, which I enjoy making notes in and reading before bed as I'm winding down to sleep.
If you're a brand or company and would like to do a collaborative post, review, or advertisement, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.