Trying for a baby? Just found out you’re pregnant? Congrats! I’m so excited for you. My pregnancy had a lot of ups and downs but I cherish the memories of growing a tiny life inside me. Finding out you’re pregnant can be pretty overwhelming with a lot of questions like “What do I do now?!” I had absolutely no clue when I found out I was pregnant what I was meant to do next, so having a handy to do list can be very helpful.
Here are 10 things you can start doing the moment you find out you’re pregnant, think of this as a first trimester to do list!
1. Tell your partner and embrace that moment with them.
I didn’t do anything special to tell my husband. Firstly, I can’t keep a secret, so planning a special announcement for him would be pointless as I’d blurt it out about 3 seconds into the day, but I’ve seen some lovely special announcements, cards, onesies and gifts for telling your partner. I think the important bit is just to share that moment with them. I wasn’t thinking about surprises as I was just in complete shock, so I walked out of the loo and thrust my big fat positive stick at him. The conversation went something like this “Ahhh!” “Ahh?!” “Is this?” “Are you?” “What?” “Ahh!”
2. Book an appointment with the midwife.
You’ve probably got lots of questions. To see the midwife just go to your local GP and tell them you’re pregnant. They will put you on the referral list and a midwife will contact you for an appointment. They’ll also give you a big medical history form which you fill in and take to your booking appointment, where you’ll go over all your history, double check your potential due date, take your blood pressure, weigh and measure you for your BMI and take your blood pressure and get the ball rolling for the appointment for your first ultrasound.
If you know your approximate due date based on your last period you can let the receptionist know how far along you are. The midwife usually likes to see you by 8-10 weeks, to get you booked in for your dating scan around 12-14 weeks. Because I have PCOS and don’t ovulate regularly and got pregnant without having a period for 6 months (yes really!) I just told them I had no idea as I didn’t have regular periods, and they booked me in as soon as an appointment was available.
If you have any serious concerns, have medical conditions, are taking prescription medication, want to stop smoking and so on you can also book an appointment with the GP to see them before the midwife.
3. Start taking your pre-natal vitamins.
The NHS has a very useful page on vitamins, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy. You need 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid a day ideally from before you’re pregnant (trying to conceive) until 12 weeks pregnant. Because the midwife may not see you until you’re 8-10 weeks pregnant, you may not have been taking it and not even realize, so it’s best to get on that as soon as possible. You can buy folic acid from any chemist, Boots, Supermarkets or have it delivered next day on Amazon.
In addition, pregnant and breastfeeding women are recommended to take 10mcg of Vitamin D a day. We do naturally produce Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but taking a supplement gives you a guarantee that you’re meeting that minimum and is especially important for the winter when there’s not much sun around.
The other important vitamins are Vitamin C, Iron and Calcium, but you need to avoid Vitamin A supplements. Rather than worry too much about all the different vitamins you need, you can buy a multivitamin specifically designed to take during pregnancy. I took Pregnacare throughout my pregnancy so that’s the one I would personally recommend.
4. Stop drinking, smoking and check your caffeine intake.
Smoking whilst pregnant – There are a lot of potential side effects for smoking whilst pregnant. The NHS has resources specifically to help you quit smoking and to quit whilst pregnant too. Nicotine Replacement Therapy is available for pregnant women. Book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible if you need help quitting whilst pregnant. You can also call the NHS Smokefree helpline and may be able to get a fast appointment with a stop smoking advisor in your area. It’s open 9am-8pm Monday to Friday, and 11am-4pm at weekends on 0300 123 1044.
Drinking whilst pregnant – According to the NHS, the current guidelines are the safest approach is not to drink at all during pregnancy to minimize any potential risks. Alcohol use can have serious effects on your unborn child, so if you’re dependent on alcohol and are going to struggle to cut it out, book an appointment with a GP immediately. You can get same-day emergency appointments at most GP’s around the country and I think this situation would qualify. Your GP is a judgement free zone and simply wants to help you and your child be as healthy as possible.
Caffeine whilst pregnant – The current NHS guideline is to limit your caffeine intake to under 200mg a day. For reference one mug of instant coffee has 100mg, whilst filter coffee has 140mg. A cup of tea has 75mg, a can of cake 40mg and an enery drink can have anywhere from 80 – 160mg. Chocolate has caffeine in it too! With 25mg in a 50g bar of dark chocolate and 10mg in a 50g bar of milk chocolate. Whilst you don’t have to completely cut out that cup of tea or coffee in the morning, there are a lot of people who have an intake far higher than 200mg per day and may need to cut back. I switched to decaff tea and coffee because sometimes I can drink 4-5 cups of tea in a day which would put me well over the limit!
5. Check your medication.
Even if you’re using an over the counter medication, it might not be safe for pregnancy. So before you take anything, whether it’s using a cream or taking some painkillers or an anti-allergy medication, double check the label for use in pregnancy. Any pharmacist should be able to confirm whether it’s safe to use or offer you an alternative and then once you speak to the midwife you can get a better idea. If you’re on any prescription medications at all, you should book an appointment with the GP to discuss them.
6. Start planning how / when you’re going to announce it.
If getting pregnant means lifestyle changes such as cutting out smoking and booze or switching to decaff coffee, the odds are someone is going to notice. People are very nosy! It’s good to have a plan with your partner for when you guys are going to announce it and whether you plan to make a big announcement or a small one, tell family first or just let everyone know on social media. The highest risk of miscarriage is in the first trimester, so a lot of people wait until the second trimester, as then you’ll also have an ultrasound to show people and a proper due date too.
Because my pregnancy was very high risk, I personally only told my best friend, my mum and my parents-in-law until 20 weeks and we’d had the full anatomy scan. Whatever you decide is fine, but it’s definitely something you want to have a think and chat about so you’re both on the same page.
7. Write a journal and take photos.
Personally I find writing very therapeutic (as if you couldn’t tell from my blog!) and I think that pregnancy is such an incredible experience that comes with a lot of emotional ups and downs too. By writing down your thoughts, you’ll both help you in the moment to process them and give you something to look back on and remember. Taking photos is very similar. I’m not the type to post a bump photo on Instagram every week (if you are, that sounds like fun!) but having some photos to remember my growing tummy by has been very precious.
8. Research Baby Products
There are 6 billion and two baby products available right now. Fact* (*not fact, complete guesswork). You don’t need most of them. In fact, you need very few of them, but those that you do need will be important to you. Baby needs food, warmth, safety and sleep. Mama needs to be comfortable and happy. Whilst those are the basics, there’s actually a lot to think about even in the simplest of categories. I never knew that my most used item would actually end up being my Tommee Tippee Machine, even though I’d planned to breastfeed!
You’ve got plenty of time here so don’t panic about it, but as a Type A planner, my personality is definitely to dive into the research pool.
9. Do pelvic floor exercises.
You might think that pelvic floor exercises are the sort of thing you need to do after pregnancy, but the truth is that they strengthen the pelvic floor muscles which are used every day. The earlier you start working on these, the strong they will be throughout your pregnancy. Your pelvic floor will take a lot of strain at the end of pregnancy with the weight of the baby and amniotic fluid bearing down, but even early on your bladder will be one of the first organs to get squished to make way for a bit more space. Pregnant women have to pee ALL THE TIME so it’s really handy to have some good strong pelvic floor muscles for that!
At the maternity ward in the hospital every bathroom door had reminders on the back to keep doing these exercises after birth as it’s really important to lower your risk of experience incontinent post baby. There are real benefits to starting these exercises the moment you find out you’re pregnant. According to the NHS, a strong pelvic floor can also result in better sex and stronger orgasms, so you know.. you might want to start doing them whether pregnant or not!
Follow these simple pelvic floor steps:
1. Identify your pelvic floor muscles by imagining you’re trying to stop yourself urinating mid-stream. Don’t actually practice them whilst peeing though as stopping the flow of urine can be harmful to your bladder!
2. Squeeze those muscles for a few seconds and release.
3. Repeat that ten times!
And that’s it. You can do that every day and there are apps that will remind you and help you count them too. It’s a really easy exercise to do as you can do it sitting at your desk at work, in the car or riding the bus, at the dinner table with your in-laws – no one else will know you’re doing them!
10. Embrace naps!
Finally, I think you should start to embrace naps as early as possible. I was absolutely exhausted in the first trimester but kept thinking it couldn’t possibly just be the baby. He was tiny! What I didn’t realize back then is the tremendous drain on your bodies resources pregnancy is. Growing a human being is very intensive and if you feel tired, take a nap. This might mean some lifestyle adjustments, but make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep so you can grow that little one without being constantly exhausted.