Welcome to pregnancy! You may feel overwhelmed with all you have to do and think about, but pace yourself — you have nine months! In this first stage, all you really need to do is learn how to take good care of yourself using these simple steps.
Take Stock of Your Feelings
It makes perfect sense to have mixed feelings about this major life event. Allow yourself to feel the full range of emotions. Consider starting a pregnancy journal and taking pictures of your gradually growing bump to help you adjust to pregnancy and manage your anxiety or excitement.
Keep in mind that your partner might be feeling completely different things about this life-changing news. While your excited, they may be a little nervous. While your still digesting the news, they may be over the moon about becoming a parent. Try to respect their feelings and communicate your own. If you're single and going solo in your pregnancy, build a network of friends and family to rely on and celebrate with throughout your pregnancy. There's so much to look forward to!
Call Your Doctor
Call an OB-GYN to schedule your first prenatal visit. Even if you want a home birth, you'll need regular medical care and screenings throughout your pregnancy.
Referrals from friends and relatives, and information from your health insurance plan, might help you choose the right hospital/birthing facility and doctor for you.
Your first prenatal appointment is a lot like a regular physical, plus a few routine blood and urine tests. Most women don't have their first ultrasound scan until around 12 weeks. Talk with your doctor about any vaccines you may need, including a flu shot.
Decide Who to Tell
It's tough not to blurt out your exciting pregnancy news to everyone. But many women choose to wait until 12 weeks to share their news with most people. By that point, the risk of miscarriage falls significantly. Most women also wait until after the first trimester to tell their employer about their pregnancy. But if you need to tell your employer sooner — because of chronic morning sickness, for example — your job should be protected by maternity leave laws.
Plan a Healthy Prenatal Diet
Let's talk food! It's more important than ever to eat a healthy diet full of all the nutrients you and your growing baby need.
While you're technically "eating for two" now, the average woman only needs to take in about 300 more calories a day than usual, according to American Pregnancy. Weight gain guidelines depend on your initial BMI, so talk with your doctor about what is healthy for you.
Keep in mind this list of foods pregnant women should avoid. If you've eaten some of these foods or had a drink in the weeks before you knew you were pregnant, don't worry too much. Just pay attention to the "food rules" from now on.
Get Informed About What to Avoid
In addition to dietary adjustments, you'll need to take extra care to avoid other substances and environmental hazards during your pregnancy, including certain household cleaners, strenuous work, baths or showers that are too hot and certain medications.
Keep these safety tips in mind when caring for cats and other pets to avoid an illness called toxoplasmosis.
It probably goes without saying, but you should be sure to avoid smoking and recreational drugs in addition to limiting your alcohol intake during pregnancy (the CDC says there is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy).
Assess Your Exercise Routine
Finding out you're expecting might inspire you to become a fitness fanatic. After all, exercise helps many pregnant women manage everything from mood swings to excessive weight gain to aches and pains. But moderation and consistency are vital to safe prenatal exercise.
Generally in the first trimester, it's safe to continue whatever exercise routine you had before, as long as it doesn't involve heavy lifting, potential falls, extreme heat or humidity or abdominal twists. Walking and swimming are ideal forms of prenatal exercise for most women. Discuss your exercise routine with your doctor.
Ask an OB-GYN: Exercise
Get expert advice on exercise from Dr. Chloe Zera of Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Learn How to Manage Your Symptoms
Some women float through their first trimester with few or no symptoms. . . . And then there's everyone else. Symptoms like fatigue, nausea, breast soreness, mood swings, frequent urination and constipation are common in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Different women find different ways to handle their symptoms. Some eat small snacks, like crackers, throughout the day to manage nausea. Others find drinking a lot of water helps with fatique...though not o much with peeing!
Talk to other mothers and your doctor to get ideas for easing your symptoms.
Do you constantly feel like you need a nap? Fatigue is one of the most common and challenging symptoms in the first trimester of pregnancy. Your body is working hard to build the placenta — the lifeline for your baby.
Certain foods and habits can affect your energy level, so find out what to do and what to avoid when you're feeling exhausted. Get at least eight hours of sleep a night, if possible, and take cat naps when you can. Also keep in mind that exercise is a surprisingly good energy-booster when you're pregnant.
Pregnancy Exhaustion Exterminators
Tired? We have a checklist of energy-boosters to get over your pregnancy fatigue.
Start Shoppping (for You)
While you probably won't really begin to show until your second trimester, you might find that your pants are getting harder to button and your bras are a bit tighter. Invest in some larger bras and reach for flowing, loose-fitting dresses and tops to hold you over until you need to buy maternity clothes. A hair tie looped around the button and hole of your jeans will work in a pinch!
Try to Relax
It's common for many women in their first trimester to worry about miscarriage or other pregnancy complications. If you have concerns, take the time to understand the signs and symptoms of potential problems, but try not to focus on your fears.
Staying positive is healthiest for you and your baby.
Remember, this is not a sprint. It's a marathon. Nine months is a long time, so don't think you have to be fully prepared for Baby's arrival right away. Take time for some planning and some self-care.