Maybe this first-time pregnancy wasn’t planned. Or you have been trying to conceive so long it’s a shock that the little “plus” sign is showing on that home pregnancy test. But no matter the situation, there are several things you should do right away when you learn you’re pregnant. Certain early pregnancy strategies help mom and the growing fetus stay healthy. Whether you’re embarking on a long-awaited life event or this pregnancy was a total surprise, you’ll still need the same first-time pregnancy tips. Here are five things to do as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed:
Start taking prenatal vitamins
If you were trying to get pregnant, you probably already started taking a prenatal vitamin full of all the stuff that will promote fetal development. But in situations where you weren’t aware you were going to conceive, it’s still great to get going with a prenatal vitamin once you realize you’re pregnant. You can buy vitamins before you even see the gynecologist because there’s nothing in there that’s going to harm you or the baby. (Though you will want to discuss potential drug interactions with your family doctor if you’re taking any other medications.) The best prenatal vitamin will have
–Folic acid (vitamin B9): 400-600 mcg
–Iron: 30 mg
–Iodine: 150 mcg
–Vitamin B6: 2 mg
Call your insurance company
Maybe this isn’t the first group you’d like to reach out to with your news but it’s essential to know what your insurance will cover during pregnancy and delivery. You’ll need to budget carefully for any uncovered expenses and deductible payments, for one thing.
If you don’t currently have insurance coverage, here’s a first-time pregnancy tip that can save you money: Find out all you can about whether Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or policies available via Health Insurance Marketplace might cover some or all of your prenatal care and delivery. Note that CHIP and Medicaid both have different income levels for coverage when you’re pregnant, which might work to your benefit if you’re borderline to qualify for subsidized health care. “Even if you don’t qualify for Medicaid based on income, you should apply. You may qualify for your state’s program, especially if you have children, are pregnant, or have a disability. You can apply for Medicaid any time of year – Medicaid and CHIP do not have Open Enrollment Periods,” Healthcare.gov advised.
Stop drinking alcohol right away
If at all possible, even before you see a doctor, skip the alcohol as soon as you learn you’re pregnant. While anyone suffering from alcohol use disorder or addiction might need lots of extra help with this, it’s important to start immediately. Drinking alcohol while pregnant is linked to a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. It can also lead to birth defects in the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) category. FASD will make your child have difficulties like low IQ, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, and speech and language delays. If skipping all alcohol seems inconvenient, bear in mind that most of these behavioral and intellectual disabilities will last the rest of your child’s life. Pregnancy is over in nine months or less.
Book an appointment with an OB-GYN
Though you can get good results from a home pregnancy test as early as one day after your first missed period, the typical gynecologist won’t see you until you’re six to eight weeks past the first day of your last period. But you will want to see an OB-GYN early on, so go ahead and make an appointment as soon as you’re certain you’re preggers. Don’t have an obstetrician? All the more reason to start immediately. Make sure to check who’s covered by your insurance before trying to get in with a certain OB-GYN or practice. Then solicit recommendations from your own gynecologist and friends who have already experienced the type of pregnancy and delivery you would like to have. You’ll want to have a supportive medical staff behind you whether you’re going the natural childbirth route and want a doula or a midwife or you’re more comfortable with a full-service hospital.
Reaffirm your own value
It’s so easy to focus on the growing life inside and forget the woman who is carrying that baby to birth. But from conception, it’s important to remind yourself of your value and reinforce that feeling with lots of self-care. Ideally, your co-parent, friends, and relatives will also take extra steps to make you feel pampered and secure during this important life’s journey. But the nurturing begins with you. As parenting expert Elly Taylor told The List, “Start to build self-care into your days and weeks. Parenthood is a marathon and good habits now can help you cope with the early chaos and exhaustion of life with a newborn.”
Alas, though it would be so much fun, shopping for the baby is not on the list of first-time pregnancy tips. You will want an approved car seat before returning home from the delivery with your new child. But all those fun purchases, like baby’s first Christmas ornament or a complete Lego collector’s set, they can wait. It’s great to be enthusiastic about the impending birth, but spending time and attention on eating right, working with your medical support system and planning to handle the life changes a baby brings should all rank above buying stuff. As Taylor explained, “Worrying about paying for expensive new purchases can get in the way of just relaxing and getting to know your new little person. So plan to downsize (or at least not upsize) instead. The bigger things can wait until you’ve all settled into being a new family. Besides, all your baby really needs at first is your loving arms.”