What do I do now?!?
You took the test. It’s positive! Now what? If you’re anything like most mothers, a million things run through your mind when you find out you’re pregnant. We put together a simple list of the first steps after the big news.
Choose Your Obstetrician
When choosing your OB/GYN, consider what is most important to you first. Perhaps you would prefer a doctor at a certain hospital, a doctor who has a low rate of cesarean deliveries or a doctor with good bedside manner. Be sure to speak with your partner about what qualities you prefer in a doctor.
Once you know what qualities you’re looking for in your OB/GYN, do your research. Read reviews online and ask your friends and family for recommendations. While researching doctors, research the hospitals as well. Is the hospital close to where you live? Does it offer a NICU in case of complications? Will they accept your insurance?
When you have narrowed down your search, set up a time to meet with a few doctors. Bring a list of questions to ask, so you don’t forget anything. If you have a chronic illness, you will want to find an obstetrician who has experience dealing with possible complications that could arise. Pay attention to the doctor’s demeanor while meeting with you. That will be a great indicator of whether this doctor’s personality will work with yours. Also, take note of the nursing and office staff. You will be spending the next nine months with this staff at your appointments, so make sure they are accommodating and friendly.
The most important factor is that you feel compatible with your obstetrician. You want to feel comfortable asking questions and trust that your doctor will make the right calls regarding your pregnancy and delivery. When in doubt, listen to your gut to make the final choice. If for some reason you don’t like the obstetrician you initially choose, you always can change to a new doctor.
Begin Taking Prenatal Vitamins
According to the American Pregnancy Association, “During pregnancy, a woman’s daily intake requirements for certain nutrients, such as folic acid (folate), calcium and iron will increase. Vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium and folic acid are vital for proper fetal growth, development and healthy adult living.” Prenatal vitamins help both you and your baby get the nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy. Many doctors recommend taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as you begin trying to conceive. Speak with your health care provider to find the right prenatal vitamin for you.
Decide When to Share the News
Have a conversation with your partner about when and with whom to share the pregnancy news. Many women keep the news a secret until they’ve reached their second trimester, when the risk of miscarriage is lower. Others prefer to spill the beans immediately. Abby Baker, a mother of two from Columbia, MO, chose to tell her friends and family immediately. “We didn’t keep it to ourselves, but only told close friends and family so we had their support,” she says. “We made that decision because we would want them to also know if something didn’t go right.”
Evaluate Your Lifestyle
Are you a smoker? Now is the time to quit. Do you enjoy a cocktail or two regularly? Now that you’re pregnant, trade out the cocktails for “mocktails.” What about your diet? Are you eating healthy to ensure your baby receives all the nutrients he needs? Do you need to cut back on all that coffee or soda you drink?
“The first thing I did when I found out I was pregnant was think about my diet and how I needed to eat to help the little baby in my belly,” says Lonna McCourt, mother of two from Oregon, MO. Now is the time to reevaluate your lifestyle to see what might need to be changed while you’re pregnant. For example, you should avoid undercooked meat like sushi or deli meat, which can harbor harmful bacteria. You also will want to check with your doctor to make sure all of your current medications are safe to continue while pregnant. Your health care provider also will be able to provide you with a list of things to avoid and add to your everyday lifestyle while expecting.
Do Your Homework
If this is your first pregnancy, you will want to read up on the changes that are taking place in your body. by Heidi Murkoff is the longest running New York Times best seller ever and is read by 93 percent of women who read pregnancy books. Grab a copy and follow along as your baby grows from conception to delivery.
Many apps are available to download too, including the What to Expect Pregnancy & Baby Tracker, Pregnancy + and the Bump-Pregnancy Countdown. These apps show your baby’s weekly growth through 3D images, videos and articles. They also give tips for easing morning sickness and other pregnancy symptoms you are likely to experience. You even can connect with mothers who have due dates near yours!
This is an exciting time in your life. Don’t forget to sit back, relax and enjoy every minute of it! Go out and splurge on that adorable outfit for the baby or pick up a cute new maternity top. Take some time to yourself to feel the joy that pregnancy can bring to you and your family!
Important Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Obstetrician
- If you aren’t there to deliver my baby, who will be in your place?
- What is your c-section rate?
- What percentage of your patients are high risk?
- How do you suggest coping with pain during labor?
- At what point in pregnancy would you suggest inducing labor?
- What is your after-hours contact policy?
- Will you agree to respect my wishes throughout the process?
Regan Lyons is a freelance writer who lives in St. Joseph, MO, with her husband and 4-year-old daughter.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.