Why read: If you found out you’re pregnant you know there’re a lot of things you need to do as part of your pregnancy care. This is a detailed guide as to what you need to do as soon as you see that positive pregnancy test. This post may contain affiliate links.
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“I’m Pregnant!” – you’ve just said to yourself and your own voice echoed somewhere inside your head.
“What do I do now?” – you ask yourself next.
Is this a long-awaited pregnancy and you’re now jumping around like a kangaroo with tears of happiness running down your face? Or have the pregnancy taken you completely by surprise?
Either way, you need some time to process this life-changing situation.
That’s right! Your life will be completely different from this point onward.
Surprise or not surprise – believe me, one day you’ll look back and realize this was one of the happiest days of your life.
And while you’ll have 9 months to fully process this information and duly prepare for your little one’s arrival, there are some things that you should not put off and do right away when you first find out you’re pregnant.
1. Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins
If your pregnancy is unplanned and you aren’t already taking prenatal vitamins, this is the first thing that you need to do. So just drop everything and run to your local pharmacy to get your prenatal vitamins.
This is extremely important!
Major birth defects of the baby’s brain or spine occur very early in pregnancy (3-4 weeks after conception). Before most women even know they are pregnant!
And because half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges all women of childbearing age to take 400 mcg of folic acid every day. Folic acid helps to prevent major birth defects of a baby’s spine (spina bifida) and brain (anencephaly).
This is of course in addition to consuming a healthy diet rich in folate.
There are so many prenatal vitamins to choose from. If you’re lost in the variety, your ob/gyn is the best person to help you with this.
The brand I liked and took throughout my pregnancy was Prenatal One by Rainbow Light.
You should note, though, that most prenatal vitamins don’t contain enough omega-3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA – which are also essential for the baby’s brain and eye tissue development. So this is another supplement that you should consider taking after discussing with your doctor.
And lastly, don’t forget about calcium. Your baby will need calcium to grow bones and teeth. And while calcium is extremely important for pregnant women, prenatal vitamins don’t contain enough. And that’s because a high dose of calcium inhibits the absorption of iron.
If you decide to take calcium as a supplement you should take it at least 2 hours apart from taking your prenatal vitamins.
But, honestly, the best way to get enough calcium when pregnant is just to stock up your fridge and pantry with calcium-rich foods (yogurt, kefir, dairy products, almond milk, tofu, calcium-fortified juices, nuts) and snack on those throughout the day. You should have at least 3 servings of calcium-rich foods every day and again don’t forget to eat those 2 hours apart from your prenatal vitamins.
2. Schedule Your First Prenatal Appointment
If you just found out you’re pregnant you might be wondering when you should consult a doctor to confirm your pregnancy.
In the US you can schedule a visit with an obstetrician when you’re at least 8 weeks pregnant.
I remember I was really freaked out about this. 8 weeks, WHAT??? I wanted to see a doctor as soon as I found out I was pregnant (around 4 weeks). I had so many questions to ask. But no ob/gyn would see me that early in my pregnancy.
So take this time to do some research, ask around your friends or local Facebook mom groups to find the right prenatal care provider for yourself. You want it to be a good match as your and your baby’s health will depend on how good of a care you receive.
But don’t take too much time with this. It might take weeks before you could get an appointment with the obstetrician you choose – or the one you already know. So make a call and schedule your first prenatal visit as soon as possible.
And don’t hesitate to change your doctor midway if you feel that something is just not right. You want to be fully relaxed and confident in your obstetrician to make the right medical decisions for you and with you throughout your pregnancy and during delivery.
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3. Start Healthy Pregnancy Diet and Exercising
After you begin to take your prenatal vitamins you’re off to a good start. But that is not enough to grow a healthy human being inside of you.
That’s right, honey, no one told you pregnancy is all roses. But, believe me, at the end of the 9 months when you get to hold your baby and wonder how on earth you’ve lived your life without this precious bundle of joy – it would all be worth it.
So just suck it up, go to your fridge and pantry and get rid of all your favorite junk food!
If you’re not eating healthy already, start a healthy meal plan today!
But first things first!
Besides junk food, there are certain foods that you need to forget about. And by “forget” I mean erase from your memory completely because you can’t have them AT ALL for the time you’re pregnant and nursing.
Ask your ob/gyn for a complete list of all the foods you can’t have but here are the most common (I know! Sushi is on the list too!! 🙁 )
- Sushi and any raw or undercooked fish, or other seafood. No raw oysters either.
- This goes to raw or undercooked meat as well. So say good-bye to your favorite rare steak.
- Raw eggs – you get the idea: you can’t eat any meat, poultry, fish that is raw. Always check your desert as it might be made of raw egg whites or yolks.
- Fish high in mercury – fresh tuna, king mackerel, swordfish, to name a few – is also a big NO. Always check mercury content before eating certain fish.
- Unpasteurized dairy products – milk and cheese. Soft cheese like brie and blue cheese are not advisable either.
- Processed junk food
So is there anything that you can eat, you might wonder?
For a healthy and balanced diet, you should have daily equal amounts of four food categories – grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables, plus dairy (or non-dairy calcium-rich foods).
Just follow USDA’s healthy eating program called MyPlate and you’ll be golden!
And don’t forget that a healthy lifestyle includes some type of exercise too.
You don’t have to get too hung up on this or overdo or stress out. All I did throughout my pregnancy is just took long walks (mostly with my husband). That was the easiest and most pleasant exercise that I’ve ever done.
So just choose whatever you like – prenatal yoga, light running, walking, stretching, whatever is considered safe during pregnancy – and stick with it.
4. Say No to Everything that Can Harm Your Baby
Remember I told you above that whether you want it or not your life will now be completely different. One of the first things to do is stop anything and everything that can have even the slightest risk to the growing baby inside you. Above all, these preventative measures will also help you avoid miscarriage.
- Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs are big bold NOs.
And while some argue that occasional drinking and smoking can’t harm the baby much these is completely not true! According to medical researchers “there is no amount of alcohol that is considered safe” for pregnant women.
And while there is no medical evidence how much harm can one glass of wine do, why take the risk? So when having the temptation, just think of it this way: would you give wine to your newborn baby?
You wouldn’t, right?
And always remember that drinking alcohol or smoking during pregnancy may lead to serious complications, can affect the growth and development of your unborn baby, increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, etc.
So just play it safe and cut out alcohol and cigarettes altogether.
Drink lots of freshly made smoothies and juices instead!
Cut Down on Caffeine
While less than 200mg of caffeine a day – one cup of coffee – is considered safe during pregnancy you should be aware that caffeine is also present in tea, green tea, chocolate, soda drinks like coca-cola.
All of this should be counted toward your daily limit.
Switching to decaf coffee while pregnant and breastfeeding might be the best solution. That’s what I did myself, anyway.
Check Your Medications
If you’re taking any regular medicine check if it’s safe to continue it during pregnancy. If unsure, stop taking those until you consult with your obstetrician.
You might need safer alternatives. So do not assume anything and talk with your doctor. And never take any over-the-counter pills unless you get an OK from your doctor. And by “doctor”, I mean your prenatal care provider and not Dr. Google. This is too serious to take risks.
Avoid heavy lifting and heavy physical work be it at home or your workplace as soon as possible. If your work involves extensive physical labor that can harm your baby, you should talk to your employer early on and find alternative solutions.
Nothing is more important than taking good care of yourself and your baby. So don’t delay with this and try to get help if needed.
I think there is no need to say that amusement park rides and dangerous fall-risk sports must also be ruled out of your pregnant life.
Hot Baths and Tubs
Soaking your aching body in a tub when you’re expecting can be very shooting. But remember that the water should be lukewarm. It’s not safe – and can lead to birth defects – to get into a hot tub that can raise your body temperature above 101°F.
Skip scented bubbles, oils and salts when taking a bath too. And go with more natural alternatives like chamomile or lavender.
You have a big vacation coming! Both your hubby and you have been looking forward to all the margaritas on that tropical island.
And while it might be safe for you to travel – but just have fruity frozen cocktails instead of margaritas – again this is something you should check with your doctor. Based on how your pregnancy is developing, only your obstetrician can give you OK for airplane travel.
Plus, there are certain countries infected by Zika virus that are not considered safe destinations for pregnant women or even their partners. So whenever you have travel plans talk to your obstetrician and check CDC’s interactive map for Zika virus recommendations.
5. Switch to Natural Skin Care and Makeup Alternatives
Unfortunately, cosmetics and personal care products aren’t as regulated in the US as in Europe. So many products that we use every day contain toxic chemicals that can become very harmful during pregnancy.
This means women in the States need to do their own research to find safe and more natural skincare and makeup lines. We don’t even get a warning by prenatal care providers as to what is considered unsafe during pregnancy.
And this is unacceptable because there are popular skincare products like those containing Retinol that are harmful during pregnancy.
Scientific research shows that excessive use of vitamin A – not only as a supplement but on our skin – can lead to birth defects. So when expecting you need to avoid ingredients that derive from vitamin A – retinol, retin-A, retinoic acid, and tazaratene.
There are so many other ingredients that you need to avoid too. Among those are parabens that are found in shampoos and soaps.
I know all this might become overwhelming so here are some simple rules to follow:
- Avoid products with long ingredient lists, there might be lots of chemicals hidden.
- Don’t blindly trust the word “natural”. Often when you look at the list of ingredients they are not very natural after all.
- Look at the Environmental Work Group website to check how safe the product is. EWG’s specialists do scientific tests on many skincare products and rate the ingredients based on their safety.
- Choose products that are free of parabens, fragrance, and perfume.
6. If not already Start Using Sunscreen Every Day
One (of some) unpleasant side effects of being pregnant is that our skin becomes more sensitive to the sun. Sun exposure might result in melasma or pregnancy mask – a brown discoloration that appears in patches on the face and sometimes other areas.
I myself wasn’t experienced enough to wear sunscreen every day during my pregnancy. As a result, I now have to deal with a couple of pigments on my face.
In short, the truth is: It is EXTREMELY difficult to get rid of pigmentation. For some, this might even become permanent.
That’s why being in the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is a strict NO for pregnant women.
But whether in shade or in the sun, do your skin a favor and always wear sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours. And don’t forget to apply the sunscreen not only on your face but neck, chest and other areas exposed to the sun.
Again, it’s very important to choose the right (more importantly, safe!) sunscreen.
When pregnant, look for mineral or physical sunscreens (with zinc oxide as an active ingredient) as opposed to chemical ones. Physical sunscreens stay on the skin and are not absorbed.
Obviously, you do not want any chemicals entering your body and harming your growing baby. Plus it’s very important for the sunscreen to have both UVA and UVB protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
Check out EltaMD’s Mineral-Based Sunscreens and lip balms here and choose the one that suits the best for your skin type. They have both tinted and untinted options.
I recommend this EltaMD Physical Tinted Sunscreen for pregnant women as it is perfect for extra-sensitive skin.
7. Apply Stretch Marks Oil Early On
When it comes to skin, prevention is key!
Because, it’s been scientifically proven that, unfortunately, no topical creams or lotions – despite what they claim – can reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
The recent research on stretch marks conducted by the University of Michigan and published in the British Journal of Dermatology suggests that it makes more sense to focus on preserving the elastic fibers of our skin rather than repair the already damaged ones.
Therefore, it’s important to apply oils and creams early on and everywhere: your belly, breasts, thighs, butt. You don’t know where you can get skin breakage so keep your skin constantly and fully moisturized.
Like with everything else, you need to be careful with what you choose though. Most of those belly butters and creams are ineffective and contain ingredients that are not safe for your growing baby.
I used Mother’s Special Blend oil during my pregnancy as soon as I learned I was pregnant. And I haven’t developed any stretch marks. I checked numerous belly butters, creams, oils and Mother’s Special Blend oil ranks among the safest by EWG.
Pregnant or not pregnant, Nature’s best gift to us women is Shea butter. If you aren’t already using it on your skin, you really should! Just make sure you buy the raw unrefined one and rub it onto slightly dump skin until full absorption. This is another effective and safe way to prevent stretch marks.
8. Download a Pregnancy App
A good pregnancy app is a fun way to track your pregnancy and get a daily guide on your baby’s development and growth.
Download a couple of apps, play around with them and see which one you like.
My personal favorite was “What to Expect”. When you put in your baby’s due date it starts giving you personalized daily updates. Everything from your baby’s growth to what to expect at your prenatal appointments – lots of tips and helpful easy-to-read information.
Another pregnancy app that is very popular and user-friendly is Ovia. It has some additional fun features like you can track your baby’s size not only compared to fruits and veggies but choose some other fun ways, like bakery, cute animals, etc.
9. Stop Freaking Out
A lot of women start to freak out when they find out they’re pregnant. The reasons can vary.
I was one of them too.
My husband and I went to Universal Studios the month I got pregnant. I took rides on the craziest rollercoasters. That was of course before I knew I was pregnant. I was freaking out afterward thinking that this could’ve hurt my baby in some way.
But here’s a thing, for a lot of women their pregnancy is unplanned (or even if it’s planned) so many get pregnant while being drunk, or eat food that is not safe or ride rollercoasters like me.
Freaking out about the things that had been done before knowing you were pregnant won’t help in any way.
So DON’T stress out. And in general, stop stressing out about anything. Studies have shown that stress can affect your baby’s development and contribute to behavioral problems later on.
From now on, you and your baby is what’s most important.
So take good care of yourself: eat healthy, exercise, sleep a lot and let others stress out about things that are mundane.
You’re now the happiest person on Earth! You’re going to have a baby!
When you come across a stressful situation just remember about this and smile.
One Last Thing
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