I’m Pregnant – Now What?!
There’s a lot to take in when you find out that you’re going to have a baby. Feelings such as joy, shock, and nervous anticipation are very common. Or you might be struggling to process exactly how you’re feeling, and that’s perfectly fine, too.
Once the initial excitement subsides, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed and underprepared. It’s important to be kind and patient with yourself, and remember that you have plenty of time to figure out the next steps.
If you’re wondering what’s next, here are a few recommendations for where to start after receiving that positive test result. Keep in mind, however, that everyone has a unique pregnancy journey. Most importantly, even as you begin to think about the concrete steps you need to take to get ready for your little one’s arrival, don’t forget to slow down and just enjoy this incredibly special time as you prepare to meet your baby. We’re parents and caregivers too, so trust us when we say, we get it!
Make an appointment with your prenatal healthcare provider
One of the first things to do when you find out you’re pregnant is to make an appointment with your healthcare provider. This may be as simple as calling up your usual doctor, or you might want to look into other options for prenatal care.
During pregnancy, you will be having routine checkups, so it’s important to find someone you feel comfortable with. Be sure to schedule a visit with your doctor, midwife, or OB/GYN – whatever works best for you.
Typically, your first prenatal visit will take place when you’re roughly eight weeks pregnant. This appointment is an excellent chance to ask all the questions you may have about your pregnancy. Try to write them all down, as you may have quite a few questions! It’s also a good time to let your practitioner know about any medications or supplements you are currently taking so that they can advise you whether these are approved for pregnancy.
Start taking a prenatal vitamin
During pregnancy, your body requires higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals. Any multivitamin that is marketed as a prenatal vitamin should contain all that you need, in the correct quantities, but just be sure to check that folic acid is included. Ideally, pregnant women should increase their daily folic acid intake from 400 micrograms to 600 micrograms. Folic acid has a significant role in the development of your baby’s spinal cord and central nervous system, and helps prevent neural tube defects.
On the other hand, most pregnant women shouldn’t take a Vitamin A supplement, because high doses could potentially cause problems with your baby’s development. You should be able to get all the Vitamin A you need from your diet, from foods such as eggs, milk, carrots, and dark, leafy green vegetables. You shouldn’t have to worry about the inclusion of Vitamin A in prenatal vitamins, but it’s always a good idea to check the label to make sure.
Be prepared for pregnancy symptoms
Everyone experiences pregnancy differently, and some women don’t have many pregnancy symptoms at all. Pregnancy involves significant physical changes, though, so it’s natural to experience some challenging symptoms, including nausea, constipation, tiredness, swelling, and sore breasts, as well as frequent trips to the bathroom!
If you are struggling with morning sickness symptoms such as nausea and vomiting in the early weeks of pregnancy, make sure to stay hydrated. Try eating numerous small meals throughout the day, instead of three large meals. Opting for foods that are high in protein but low in fat may also be less upsetting to your stomach.
Unfortunately, it’s entirely possible that the symptoms of morning sickness will persist despite your best efforts, and they can strike at any time of the day. Just try to remember that they won’t last forever. For most women, morning sickness ends once you get into the second trimester. However, if you’re experiencing severe ongoing symptoms, especially past the first trimester, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your prenatal healthcare provider.
Set yourself up for a good night’s sleep
Sleep can be a challenge during pregnancy. This is especially true in the later months, although some women struggle with sleep issues throughout their pregnancies. If you’re having trouble getting a good night's sleep, then a full-body or pregnancy pillow might be worth a try.
It’s typically recommended that pregnant women sleep on their side (ideally the left side) after around 20 weeks, as sleeping on your back causes the weight of the uterus to compress the blood flow of the inferior vena cava. However, there’s no need to panic if you wake up on your back; simply turn over onto your side. Chances are, by the second half of your pregnancy, you’ll find side-sleeping to be the most comfortable position, anyway. Placing a pillow beneath your bump and one between your knees can make for a more comfortable, supported sleep.
Aim for a healthy diet
It’s always good to strive for a healthy diet, and eating nutritious foods is especially vital when you’re pregnant. During pregnancy, your body requires more protein, iron, calcium, and folic acid. You don’t need to go on a specific diet, but make sure you are eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and try to avoid heavily processed, sugary foods. Listen to your body and make sure to drink plenty of water.
If you eat meat, make sure that it is cooked thoroughly, to eliminate the risk of toxoplasmosis. For the same reason, also be careful with cured meats such as salami, prosciutto and chorizo. It’s best to avoid certain types of cheese, such as mold-ripened soft cheeses (Brie, Camembert), soft blue cheeses (Gorgonzola, Danish Blue, Roquefort), and goat’s cheese. These cheeses can be safe to eat if cooked until piping hot, but uncooked there is a risk of an infection called listeriosis.
This is also the time to cut back on caffeine, and, most importantly, to stop smoking and drinking alcohol. However, giving up smoking and alcohol can be a major challenge, so talk to your doctor if you need support with this, or if you have any other concerns about your diet during pregnancy.
Take time for both exercise and rest
When it comes to exercise, it’s generally safe to continue your normal daily physical activity or exercise routine for as long as you feel comfortable doing so, though it’s a good idea to double check with your healthcare provider. Usually, moderate exercise throughout pregnancy is absolutely fine.
If you didn’t exercise before you were pregnant, it’s not recommended to embark on an intense exercise routine that your body isn’t used to. Instead, starting slowly with gentle, low-impact exercise such as walking, swimming or prenatal yoga is a good way to begin building healthy habits that will serve you well during pregnancy and beyond.
Regardless of how active you were before becoming pregnant, it’s best to steer clear of activities in which you could get hit in the abdomen (kickboxing, soccer, ice hockey), as well as those that have a high risk of falling (horseback riding, gymnastics, downhill skiing).
Whichever form of exercise suits you, be sure to listen to your body and rest whenever you feel tired. Many women get tired more easily during pregnancy, so be sure to factor in plenty of sleep and relaxation time.
Figure out how and when you’ll tell people you’re pregnant
How and when you decide to share the news of your pregnancy is totally up to you. You may want to tell close friends and family straight away, although many women decide to wait until after the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage drops signficantly. Some people choose to break the news to close family members by giving them a little keepsake, such as a framed ultrasound photo or a personalized “Grandparent-to-Be” mug.
Besides the excitement of telling your loved ones, there are other considerations to keep in mind, as well. For example, if your job involves strenuous manual labor, or if you work in a health care setting, then it’s important to let your employer know so they can make any adjustments necessary for your safety. This also applies to women who work in a particularly stressful or high-pressure environment. On the other hand, if your job doesn’t carry any specific risks, you may decide to wait a little longer to tell people at work, often to 12 or even 20 weeks.
Depending on your employment situation and work culture, it may be somewhat nerve-wracking to tell your boss that you’re pregnant. Make sure that your boss is the first person at work to hear about your pregnancy, and get prepared before sitting down to discuss the news. Make sure to do this when you have your boss’s undivided attention. If possible, brush up on your company’s policies on flexible working hours and maternity leave. Consider some of the details about how your co-workers can cover for you when you’re gone, and when (and if) you’d like to come back. Above all, present your pregnancy news in a positive light. While you want to be tactful and considerate of the work your boss will need to do to prepare for your absence, you certainly don’t need to apologize. This is wonderful news, after all!
Start thinking about baby feeding options
Deciding how you’re going to feed your baby is an important personal choice to consider before he or she arrives. If breastfeeding is right for you, then consider booking onto a breastfeeding class. These classes can be a great place to learn the basics and ask any questions you have about feeding your baby. It can also be a chance to meet other expecting parents.
There are many well-documented benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby. However, exclusively breastfeeding – or even breastfeeding at all – isn’t everyone’s feeding choice, and that’s perfectly fine, too. A mother’s choice to breastfeed is extremely personal and can be affected by several factors. What’s most important is a happy, well-fed baby. For many families, combination feeding or exclusively formula feeding is the best option. Whatever your situation, remember that you don’t have to justify your decision to anyone. Crucially, the most important thing is for your baby to be fed – however you choose to do it.
Although feeding your baby may seem a long way off if you’ve just found out you’re pregnant, it’s good to be knowledgeable about your baby feeding options and which formulas are out there. And If you do choose to introduce formula at any point, just make sure to have a close look at the ingredients, so that you can ensure you’re feeding your baby a close alternative to breast milk, such as HiPP, Holle, Kendamil Organic, or Lebenswert.
Look after yourself
Hopefully, this article has given you some practical advice about how to embrace the early days of pregnancy.
If nothing else, remember that pregnancy is a period of intense change and that you need to be gentle with yourself. Pregnancy can bring up a whole host of powerful emotions. You may be feeling anxious or overwhelmed about physical changes, adapting to a new lifestyle, and the upcoming responsibilities of having a baby.
Tell those close to you how you are feeling so that you can feel supported. And if you’re worried about your mental health, don’t hesitate to check in with your prenatal healthcare provider to get the help you need. It’s alright not to feel overjoyed all the time when you’re pregnant, and it’s important to realize that you don’t have to struggle with these difficult emotions alone.
Need some extra support? We’re here to help!
Having a community of fellow parents (and parents-to-be) can be incredibly helpful during this exciting yet emotional time, so you might consider joining the HiPP & Holle Formulas Parent Support Community, a supportive and inclusive group of parents and caregivers who love chatting about their parenting journey and experiences. And if you have any questions about your little one’s feeding journey, feel free to get in touch with Little Bundle’s Customer Success Team. Besides being incredibly knowledgeable about infant nutrition, all of our team members are fellow moms and caregivers who have helped thousands of parents get their little ones off to the best possible start in life.