Whether you’ve unceremoniously peed on a stick, had a range of blood tests or are still waiting to conceive, the expectations around, well, expecting can look different for everyone. No matter how your journey has evolved, though, when you find out that you are pregnant, a whole range of emotions will pour down on you. Joy, fear, panic, excitement, paralysis, thankfulness … Most women land eventually on “now what?” Having a plan or knowing what steps to take next helps take some of the unknown and anxiety away from those first few days, weeks or even months after conception.
Pause and take a breath
Once you find out you are pregnant, you may be swamped with a torrent of emotions. For some, these are positive feelings of joy and excitement, while others can experience fear or sadness. Many mothers or couples face a mixture of all of these. It is our suggestion, then, that your first step after a positive pregnancy test be to take a deep breath and pause. Everything else can come later, but taking a few moments to focus on what you are feeling can help you decide what to do next.
Contact your OB/GYN or search for a care provider
The next, most important, step is to contact your OB/GYN to set up an appointment. Different offices use varying protocols in how they manage newly pregnant patients. You may have to wait for an appointment, but it depends on how far along you think you are, based on the date of your last menstrual period. If you’ve been considering switching to a different doctor, now is the time to do it. Research a bit and talk to other mothers about their birthing experiences. IF you’re not certain, it’s ok to ask for a consultation; most doctors will oblige. Once you have an appointment, you will have various blood tests (the first of many) and maybe an ultrasound, if far enough along, where you will get to see your little one for the first time!
Focus on your health
Now that you’re pregnant, it’s important to focus a lot on your own health and nutrition, as this directly impacts the baby growing inside you. Track your symptoms to make sure you’re aware of the changes in your body. This is also helpful in case you notice any changes in your symptoms; tell your doctor immediately. Focus more on your nutrition as well. Your doctor will prescribe a prenatal vitamin that you should always take with food to prevent extra nausea. Most women experience nausea, at least for the first trimester, so try to eat smaller meals throughout the day and drink plenty of water.
In general, eating a balanced diet with plenty of protein and healthy fats is optimal. Avoiding foods that can be harmful to your baby such as undercooked meats, excessive caffeine and unpasteurized dairy is also recommended. Once you have your diet in check, make sure to stay active and get plenty of rest. It is important to have both, as the more active you are, the more likely you are to avoid the more common aches and pains of pregnancy. Resting can keep you from becoming overworked and can keep your mental health in check as well.
Although this checklist isn’t exhaustive, it is best to start simple, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed. Many times, a partner may be feeling a range of emotions as well, and giving them some things to do will help them prepare their own mind for parenthood. Take time to breathe and relax, attend all of your prenatal appointments and take care of your own health to ensure that your baby has the best start in life!