What to Do When You Find out You're Pregnant
The plus sign. The two lines. The very clear “Pregnant.”
Holy moly, this is happening, and you likely have a lot of emotions about it.
Let us be the first to say congratulations!
But what now? First, take a deep breath. Then start tackling this to-do list:
Find a practitioner
You’re probably immediately eager to confirm the results of that plastic stick, but most practitioners won’t want to see you for a few weeks. At Hygge Birth and Baby, we schedule appointments as early as six weeks and can confirm your pregnancy by ultrasound as early as seven weeks. There is a lot of education that goes into those early appointments so plan for an hour so that you can get all of your questions answered. If you have yet to decide what approach you want to take with your prenatal care (which is totally fine!), think about what kind of birth you are seeking. Delivery may seem like it’s eons away at this point, but you should give some thought to what kind of experience you want come your due date, because your prenatal care will likely be provided by the doctor or midwife who eventually presides over your birth (and in large practices, you might not ever meet the provider that is at your delivery). If you’re dreaming of a natural birth (or a water birth) with a midwife, it’s a good time to get to know local birth centers -- including Hygge. We recommend coming in for a tour so you can meet our team and get to know our community -- our midwives can provide all of your prenatal care, from your first confirmation appointment through your postpartum check-up. And as a bonus, we can help support you through the common discomforts of pregnancy (ahem, morning sickness) via our practitioners, who provide prenatal acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, and more. These practitioners are available to everyone, by the way, even if you are not delivering your baby here. If you have started your care somewhere other than Hygge, it’s easy to switch -- just give us a shout when you’re ready to take a tour.
Calculate how far along you are
When you call to make your first appointment, your midwife or doctor will ask you the first date of your last period. Conveniently, that’s the start of the first week of your pregnancy. Count weeks from there to get your gestational age. And yes, this means you were not actually pregnant during your first “week+” of pregnancy -- you likely didn’t conceive until a couple of weeks later.
Take a first trimester class -- at Hygge, it’s free
Let’s face it -- the first trimester can be a bit of a drag. Your breasts hurt. You’re exhausted -- so exhausted that you sometimes wonder how you’ll make it through the day. And starting in week six or so, a majority of women begin to experience some sort of morning sickness -- for which you can’t even take your normal battery of medications. Compounding this discomfort is the fact that you’re likely still trying to hide that you’re pregnant -- possibly even from your closest relatives and friends. Our first trimester class gives you tools to tackle common first trimester maladies, a glimpse of what’s to come, as well as community support to get through the rough patches. Best yet -- it’s free. (And it’s also available to couples who are trying to conceive, so you can learn what to expect.) Want more? Check out our other class offerings.
Load up on prenatal vitamins and more
Press an OB or midwife about prenatal vitamins, and she might tell you that you should have been taking these supplements for six months before you conceive (some doctors might even tell you that all women of child-bearing age should be taking those suckers regularly). But if you haven’t yet heard this advice, fret not. Start now, and continue the regimen throughout your pregnancy. Supplements come in gummy and tablet form. The tablets tend to pack more vitamins like B12 and calcium, but since most of them also contain iron, they can also be a little harder on the stomach -- something you might resent acutely if and when morning sickness hits around week six. Plus, unless your practitioner says you need the iron boost, you’re probably okay going without it. Look for a high quality vitamin made with extracts from real foods -- key nutrients are 400 micrograms of folic acid, and 500 to 2000 mg of DHA (if they don’t contain DHA, you can buy a DHA supplement). We’re fans of Momma and Baby Whole Foods tablets and the Smarty Pants Prenatal Complete for gummies. Speaking of supplements, at Hygge, we highly recommend a daily probiotic. The good ones are in the refrigerated section.
Cut out the booze, ibuprofen, and deli meat
When you call to set up your first appointment with your practitioner, he or she will likely give you a run-down of what food, drink, and medicine you should start avoiding. Booze is an obvious one (though if you went on a bender just days before learning you were expecting, don’t freak -- that’s unlikely to cause any issue unless you continue to drink heavily). Less obvious are some painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen (buh-bye, Advil and Aleve), Pepto Bismol (stock up on the Tums, which are fine), and some allergy medications, and you should talk to your provider about prescriptions, too. And while rules around most foods are somewhat more nebulous, you should be actively avoiding foods that might possibly contain listeria, since your risk of contracting that illness is slightly elevated (and more dangerous in the first trimester) -- which is why most care providers will put the kibosh on deli meats, unpasteurized cheeses, and smoked salmon.
Keep up or start an exercise routine
If you’re not already in the throes of exhaustion, it’s likely that you will be soon. But it’s helpful to continue or begin an exercise routine and keep it up throughout your pregnancy, unless your provider tells you otherwise. Active women can keep their regular routines through at least their first trimester (although don’t be surprised if things start getting harder as the weeks progress). If you’ve been less than motivated for awhile, start gently, with walking, cycling, or swimming. Don’t neglect the various local classes for expecting mothers -- Hygge occasionally offers prenatal fitness classes (check out our class page for upcoming offerings). Other local options: Belly Bliss offers a variety of prenatal fitness options, while the Mama ‘Hood keeps a regular schedule of prenatal yoga classes. Pilates and yoga can be particularly good for childbirth preparation -- just look for teachers trained in prenatal adjustments, like the Pilates for Mommies offering at Firehaus Pilates, or the Prenatal Goddess Flow yoga class at the Freyja Project.
Check your mental health
Pregnancy can be an emotional roller coaster -- thank all that hormonal change and the challenges of adjusting to a new reality -- and can provoke depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. And while postpartum depression is finally getting some mainstream air time, it’s less public that these challenges can come on at any time during your journey into motherhood. It’s best to tackle these illnesses head-on -- speak with your provider about changes in your mental health, including feeling blue or listless, excessive worrying, or any thoughts of self-harm, so you can get the treatment you need. At Hygge, Megan Palsgrove, our Family Services Coordinator, can help, and can also connect you with community services uniquely tailored to your circumstances. Most of all, give yourself grace that you are entering a new frontier -- for many women, pregnancy is not the best time of their lives, as they would want people to think. Enter each day with appreciation for what your body is going through and know that not every day will be the same.