Just found out you’re pregnant?
First of all, congratulations Mama! Whether those two little pink lines were met with joy, shock, tears, fear, disbelief (or a combination) your mind is wondering what now?
(P.S. Don’t worry—you’re not the only one who’s ever had their first thoughts be “Oh SH!t” when they find out they’re expecting. It doesn’t make you a bad mom. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to love this baby. Trust me—I’ve been there.”
When I was pregnant with my first, I googled pregnancy to-do lists, wanting to be prepared and tackle everything I could as quick as I could. I soon found out that would prove to be not only impossible, but also, these lists had enough things on them to make pregnancy be a full-time job.
Oh, did I mention? My husband and I had just moved back to the States from teaching overseas and were going to be driving 1400 miles across the country to move our life from our small hometown in Wisconsin to eastern Washington state—where we knew no one.
Yikes. To say the least.
We were busy already, and now add a whole ‘nother level of “things to do” to our ever-growing list?!
On top of that, it was July and my husband’s new job’s health insurance wasn’t going to kick in until September. Our previous teaching job’s health insurance had ended in June.
Cue the panic attacks.
So I’d like to pass on my newly found wisdom to other mamas. I wish I had had someone to tell me what I really needed to focus on, and what really didn’t matter.
In today’s day and age, we have a problem called information overload. You Google “best diapers” and you’ll get 322 million results. And who knows if the first 10 websites listed are really the best answers or are they just hitting Google’s magical algorithm more than the others?
And many would argue that diapers aren’t all that important. They’re just poop-catchers, right? (Well, actually, I would—they’re something that is literally next to your babies bodies 24/7 for the first two years of their life.) But there are things that are a more important priority to prepare for during your pregnancy.
So here it goes.
I’ve split it up by trimesters because when you think about it, what other to-do lists do you have that last TEN months? Let’s not get overwhelmed worrying about stuff that doesn’t need to be done for 7 more months.
First Trimester (weeks 1-13)
Even if this pregnancy is “unplanned” (like roughly 50% of pregnancies are), let yourself have a little bit of fun. Go out for a meal, ice cream, somewhere with free breadsticks—have the carb cravings hit yet?
Dream a little bit. Think about names. Write down questions you have; fears too! Talk with your partner (after you tell them the news!) or your best friend. Call your mom and ask her what her pregnancies were like.
2. Call your health insurance
Having babies is not all rainbows and ponies. (Sorry.)
Most of the time, having a baby is expensive. There are ways to minimize these costs, but right now would be a great time to start contributing more money to your emergency fund, or even setting up a new budget just for baby. (Here I go over my entire hospital bill of my first delivery).
First of all, you’ll want to do some research and think about who you want taking care of you during your pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. An OB-GYN or a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) are the most common choices in the U.S.
You’ll want to think about where you want to give birth.
- Hospital? Most likely you’ll be advised to deliver at a hospital if you are considered a “high-risk pregnancy” which could be anything from a heart condition to a predisposition to premature labor.
- Birth centers are a fairly new option. These are generally staffed by CNM’s and have a focus on non-medicated births. They are typically much more “homier” than hospitals, but the disadvantage is that they don’t have access to everything that a hospital does: epidurals, Cesarean sections, etc.
- Home births are an option that is increasingly popular. In countries other than the U.S., (even ones with a lower mother/infant mortality rate) homebirths are even more common. For low-risk pregnancies, giving birth at home allows mom to labor in the comfort of her home, siblings to be more present, and mom and baby don’t have to endure the car-ride home 48ish hours later.
You’ll want to ask about your provider network, coverage for prenatal care, labor and delivery, deductibles, copays, coverage for ultrasound/diagnostic labs, among other things.
From there, you can look up/contact the providers in your network and come with a list of questions with what you’re looking for.
Ask the awkward questions like “What percentage of your patients had Caesaren sections performed in the last year?” or “What is your view on non-medicated labor?”
Your birth story is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Make it a priority to find a provider and place that align with your values.
In my opinion, I was extremely blessed to have a team of CNM’s at a local hospital that was certified as “baby friendly.” The CNM’s ran a small group prenatal class after each of our appointments that went over everything from thinking through your birthing fears, to sharing parental duties with your partner, and common causes and types of labor and delivery interventions.
Once you’ve found your provider, schedule your first prenatal appointment–typically between 8-12 weeks. Your provider may want to see you around 10 weeks if there’s a discrepancy in your due date (ie: irregular menstrual cycles) as they may want to run an early ultrasound to accurately date your pregnancy by measuring how big your baby is.
3. Start budgeting for baby
Even if you catch your baby at home by yourself, for free, (referred to as free birthing) babies are still kinda expensive. They require some basic things: a place to sleep, something to eat (even breastfeeding can incur expenses such as a breast pump and bottles).
Even more expensive is the next decision you and your partner will be making: childcare.
If mom/dad is staying at home with baby, they’ll most likely be leaving their place of employment or perhaps working part-time from home. Little ones are a full-time job + then some.
If baby will be taken care of someone else, who? A grandparent? An in-home nanny? An in-home daycare? A daycare center?
Although childcare is not inexpensive, you do have at least 8-9 months to start saving money and budget accordingly.
4. Take care of yourself!
Throughout your pregnancy, in order to stay healthy, there are number of things to keep in mind, but mostly, they are things that everyone should be focused on:
- Drink enough water. Divide your weight in half, and drink that many ounces of liquids.
- Limit caffeine to 200mg per day. (Yes, you can still have one cup of coffee!)
- Frequent, small meals. It’ll help keep your blood sugar steady which can stave off nausea. Craving carbs is normal, but try to make sure at least the majority of your carbohydrates are wholegrain.
- Exercise when you have time and energy. Find a physical activity that you enjoy if you haven’t already. Don’t jump right into a vigorous exercise routine if up until this point you’ve been more of a couch potato, but at the very least, walking is great cardiovascular activity that can help you maintain a healthy weight throughout your pregnancy and beyond.
Here’s the prenatal exercise program I’ve been enjoying.
- Make sure your exercise routine includes a warm up for your muscles and stretching!
- Start taking a prenatal vitamin if you are not already. Here’s what I take.
Click on over for your next simple to-list for your second trimester!