Welcome to your pregnancy! Early pregnancy comes with many questions and concerns, and all the information out there can be overwhelming. This article has compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions and concerns to help you on your exciting journey!
Congratulations! You’re pregnant!
Few things are more exciting and simultaneously as terrifying as finding out you’re pregnant! Even if you were planning and trying to get pregnant, it can still be a shock to discover that it has actually happened. However, once you have confirmed your pregnancy with a home pregnancy kit, there are some essential steps you need to take.
Make health a priority
If you were trying to get pregnant, chances are you’ve already taken steps to get your health in order. If not, once you see that plus sign on a stick, it is time to make your move! Pregnancy takes a toll on your body, so the better your health is, the better you’ll be able to handle all the crazy changes that start happening in the first trimester.
Physical activity should be a part of your weekly routine. If you’ve never worked out before, now is not the time to start a vigorous workout routine - however, walking daily, stretching, and doing yoga are great, gentle ways to keep your body healthy and flexible.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and pregnancy can certainly be an emotional rollercoaster, so consider participating in daily meditation and also tapping into a support group when needed (friends, family, etc). There are many great apps with a wide variety of meditations you can download for instant access on your phone or tablet.
Book an Ob-Gyn appointment
One of the very first things you should do once you’ve taken a home pregnancy test is book an appointment to see your ob-gyn. All pregnant women should make routine pre-natal care a priority to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
Doctor appointments ensure that fetal development is occurring on schedule, and your healthcare provider will be able to monitor important things such as your weight gain, blood pressure, and also determine your due date.
At your first prenatal visit, your doctor will likely advise you to take folic acid and other vitamins. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends pregnant women take folic acid daily; it has been proven to reduce the risk of neural tube defects when taken as part of routine prenatal care.
Your health care provider will also give you the option to perform screening tests at your prenatal visits, including genetic testing and the NIPT blood test. The NIPT blood test is a newer testthat screens for Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities.
Your physician will also answer any questions or concerns you may have about symptoms you’re experiencing and concerns you may have.
Lastly, your ob-gyn will confirm your pregnancy with a blood test, take your medical history, and will ask you the date of your last menstrual period to help estimate your due date.
Double-check your health insurance
It is probably wise to go over your health insurance coverage prior to becoming pregnant, but at the very least, you should get your coverage once you find out the good news!
If your insurance plan covers prenatal care, it should outline what your co-pay is per visit and what your overall out-of-pocket expense should be. You may have a deductible that needs to be met prior to the insurance covering any charges.
It is also possible your insurance will cover only an approved amount of prenatal visits for the first trimester, second trimester, and third trimester.
The cost of having a baby in the United States for an uninsured woman can be as high as $30,000 for a vaginal delivery and $50,000 for a c-section.
If you’re trying to decide what type of insurance to go with, consider an HMO. Although you may be somewhat limited on the doctors you can see, especially if you live in a rural area, the overall costs and premiums tend to be lower.
If you opt for a PPO or HSA plan, be sure to use in-network providers, as this will drastically lower your overall costs.
Plan how to notify people
Once you know you’re pregnant, you may want to shout it from the rooftops and tell everyone you know! Most people wait until several weeks of pregnancy have passed prior to making an announcement, but when you choose to announce will depend on your situation.
If you are experiencing morning sickness, severe heartburn, or bathroom issues such as constipation or frequent urination, you may feel the need to let close co-workers or your boss know, so they understand what is going on.
Pregnancy hormones can make many changes happen quickly in your body, so you may be ready to tell people by the end of the first trimester.
Pregnancy reveals can be a lot of fun and exciting, and social media makes it easier than ever to get the news out. However, no matter how you decide to make the announcement, most people wait until the first few months of pregnancy have passed or in the second trimester before making the big announcement.
Things you need to buy
When you’re pregnant, you will need unique supplies to help with your pregnancy and to plan ahead for your baby’s arrival.
Pregnancy bras will provide extra support and can ease pressure on your back. You may also want to stock up on nursing bras if you will be breastfeeding or, at the very least, pumping breast milk.
Prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements are items you might want to buy in bulk as you should be taking them daily.
As you reach the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, you will probably start showing, and it will be time to purchase some maternity clothes, particularly pants, which will allow more space for your growing belly.
You might also want a pregnancy support pillow to help with sitting and sleeping. As your belly grows, you will find it harder and harder to find a comfortable sleeping position, and a goodsupport pillow will become your best friend.
A comfortable chair or glider is another must-have as you prep for your nursery, and at Nurture&, we have the products that will help you get comfy and cozy both before your baby arrives and when you are ready to cuddle.
Things you should avoid the First Trimester of Pregnancy
When you become pregnant, you may need to make some changes to your diet, routines, and medications.
Alcohol and drugs are a definite no-no during pregnancy. Mayo Clinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health organizations warn against drinking alcohol while pregnant because it causes fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS causes brain damage, affects growth, and can damage major organs, such as the brain, during development.
Pregnant women also need to avoid cigarettes and cigarette smoke in general. Second-hand smoke increases the risk of stillbirth, low birth weight, and other congenital disabilities.
You should also limit caffeine consumption, avoid raw fish such as sushi, and check with your health care provider before taking any medications, even over-the-counter remedies such as Tylenol.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has resources and information available on reducing the risk of birth defects.
One thing that surprises many women is that some doctors recommend you avoid lunch meat! Lunchmeat may have bacteria and potential carcinogens. Some people debate whether or not this rule needs to be followed, so speak with your doctor if you have questions.
Your Baby’s development
Your baby will go through a series of remarkable developments from the beginning of the first trimester right up through the third trimester when they are are born.
One of the first things that will form once you are pregnant is the amniotic sac. The amniotic sac fills with amniotic fluid, which will help protect your baby as they grow.
Fertilization and pregnancy begins about three weeks after the first day of your last period. At week-4, the embryo implants into the uterus, and the outer layer of the embryo will thicken and become the placenta, which provides oxygen and nutrients to your growing baby and removes waste from your baby’s blood.
Roughly one week later, around week-5 of your pregnancy, progesterone, a pregnancy hormone, begins circulating throughout your body.
At only week 6, before you are likely to have even taken a pregnancy test, your baby’s neural tube begins to close. From the neural tube, the spinal cord and brain will develop.
At week 10, your baby’s umbilical cord is visible (a rope-like cord connecting the fetus to the placenta) week 11 is when your baby’s fingernails develop, and at week 12, the end of your first trimester, is when your baby’s genitals form.
Increased blood flow and hormonal changes throughout the first trimester are often intense for most women. Some women experience more mood swings and pregnancy symptoms than others, but the baby’s development follows the same stages for everyone.
The Mayo Clinic has in-depth fetal development outlines on their website if you want a further look.
5 Early pregnancy symptoms
The symptoms of pregnancy vary from woman to woman, but there are five common that many women experience.
1. Morning Sickness
Early pregnancy can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Some women experience constipation, while others have diarrhea. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, and headaches.
It is essential to stay hydrated if you are experiencing morning sickness and to eat healthy foods when you are able to stomach them.
2. Frequent Urination
Due to increased blood flow and progesterone surging through your body, you are likely to have an increased need to urinate. This can be one of the most annoying stages of pregnancy, depending on your job, because a bathroom might not always be close or available.
3. Mood Swings
Pregnancy hormones lead to mood swings similar to those that women experience during PMS. These hormonal changes can be complex for some women, while others take them in stride.
Try to be patient with yourself and take part in some self-care to help level yourself out. Meditation, yoga, and regular light exercises like walking and swimming can help increase your mood!
Fatigue is one of the most common pregnancy symptoms. Fatigue is caused by the hormones coursing through your body and all the work your body is doing to produce a new life.
Anemia can occur during pregnancy, so if you are experiencing severe fatigue, tell your doctor to test your iron levels and check for anemia.
5. Food Cravings or Food Aversions
Very early in your pregnancy, you may begin experiencing food cravings as well as food aversions. In addition, you may notice that certain smells or even the thought of specific foods make you nauseous.
Listen to your body if this is the case, but be sure to give your body healthy fuel. For example, if bananas and apples make you feel like gagging, then switch to oranges and grapes. A balanced diet is an integral part of a healthy pregnancy.
Not only does it affect your weight gain, but what you eat also affects your baby’s overall development.
You are now equipped with the knowledge and know-how to get ready for your first weeks of pregnancy! You know the importance of seeking regular prenatal care, early symptoms to watch for, and how to prepare for the early stages of pregnancy.