Do you know what to do when you find out you’re pregnant? Those two little words have changed my life completely, four times now, in fact.
If you’ve just discovered the big news for yourself, first of all – congratulations are in order!
Finding out you’re expecting can produce a wide range of emotions (thank you, pregnancy hormones) and it can leave you wondering what, exactly, you should do first.
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What To Do When You Find Out You’re Pregnant
If you’ve been anxiously awaiting a positive test, you might feel relief, elation, and the need to tell someone – or maybe anyone!
If the news of a new baby has taken you completely by surprise, you might be in too much shock to even process the information for a few days (or longer)! Trust me, I’ve been there too. 😉
In my work at our local Pregnancy Resource Center, I’ve seen women experience all of these reactions and more.
Read on for a step-by-step guide detailing what to do when you find out you are pregnant.
So, you’re pregnant – now what?
Regardless of your initial reaction to finding out you’re pregnant, once the fog starts to clear, every woman comes to that “I’m pregnant, now what?” moment.
With that said, I want to add: IF you’re having doubts or fears about being pregnant at all, I highly encourage you to contact your local Pregnancy Help Center (find your closest Center here).
The caring staff at these centers can help to guide you through these emotions and give you the support you need- typically at no cost!
And while there’s certainly a lot to think about long-term as you consider the impact of starting or adding to your family, the next few weeks and months are JUST as important as you prepare for a healthy pregnancy and childbirth experience.
So, first things first! But since your head might still be in the clouds (and that’s understandable!), I’m going to make this easy for you!
As a mom of four, I’ve been where you are and I’m taking the time to sit down with you virtually and lay out all the details about what to do if you find out you are pregnant.
This is practical advice, to get you started on a healthy, enjoyable pregnancy journey – and also some tips you possibly haven’t heard before.
*Please note that the information listed in this post does not constitute medical advice from a medical professional. Always consult your doctor with health-related questions and concerns!
Take some time to enjoy this moment (and breathe).
If dad-to-be has already suspected you might be pregnant – or maybe you’ve told him you’re going to take a test, letting him in on the news will probably be your first obvious step!
He may be waiting outside the bathroom door, so don’t leave him hanging out there. 😉
If you’ve kept this news to yourself and Dad isn’t aware of how his world is going to be rocked just yet, I think it’s totally fine to take a little time to think about how you want to tell him.
Maybe you want to keep the news to yourself for a day or so – if you can keep a secret, that is!
I am the type of person who needs to process BIG news by myself for a short amount of time, at least.
With our #4 surprise baby, I think it was two whole days before I was ready to say those words out loud!
Either way, Dad should obviously be the first one to know about this new life you’ve created together.
So maybe you want to plan a special dinner, buy a card with a sweet handwritten message, or plan a scavenger hunt leading up to a gift containing a pair of baby shoes.
There are so many clever ways you could do this!
Think about how you want to tell the siblings, your family and friends.
If you have another child/children, this will be such a memorable moment for them.
And for your family and friends – it can be really hard to contain the news of your impending arrival from the moment that stick turns pink!
I personally think that life should be celebrated, and it’s up to the parents to decide how and when they want to tell their friends and families.
I do caution women, however, to think this through and have a plan for communicating the news.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Have you seen your OB yet? Many women do not realize that the ultrasound, not the pregnancy test, is the medical confirmation of a pregnancy. This will allow you to visualize the heartbeat and have a more accurate due date based on the measurements of the baby (rather than just going by your last menstrual period). At the very least, a blood test from your primary care doctor’s office can confirm your home pregnancy test results.
- Do you have a history of miscarriage? If you do, you know the pain of announcing a pregnancy and then having to let everyone know the heartbreaking news that you’ve lost the baby.
- Even so – you may decide to trust the Lord’s plan for your baby and announce it anyhow, trusting for a healthy pregnancy. Miscarriage is common; sadly, up to 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. However, unless you’ve had several, it does not necessarily increase the risk of a future miscarriage. Some couples decide that by announcing the pregnancy earlier, they can ask friends and family to pray for them as well.
- However, some couples choose to delay the news so that they can wait until a certain point in the pregnancy where they feel more comfortable. For many, that is around the 13-week mark, when the risk of miscarriage decreases significantly.
- If you have a close relationship with extended family, think about how you want to communicate the news to them BEFORE making it Facebook-official.
- If you’re a working mom, have you told your employer yet? It’s a good idea to let your employer know before – or right after – your friends and acquaintances!
Whenever and however you decide to break the exciting news – remember, it’s your decision (and your spouse’s).
You are free to relish in these early days of parenthood (because you ARE a parent now!).
Don’t feel pressured to blast social media with the positive result until you know you’re ready!
Establish OB (or midwife) Care
Even you have an established obstetrician or midwife, it can take several weeks to get an appointment for your first prenatal visit.
So, you want to contact your provider – or find one who will accept your insurance – as soon as possible.
You might think it’s not a big deal to be seen by your OB, especially if you’ve had a few kids already.
I’ve had women tell me that the doctor doesn’t really “do anything” until the ultrasound to look at anatomy and the glucose test, all the “big” stuff.
This could NOT be any further from the truth! Routine medical care is critical to a healthy pregnancy.
By seeing your provider early on, you can become more educated about your baby’s development, learn what you need to do to have a healthy pregnancy as well as identify potential risk factors and how to lessen those risks (or even correct them).
As your provider monitors your pregnancy, you have the opportunity to ask questions of someone who knows your medical history and can provide personalized recommendations that you simply can’t get from Dr. Google or the latest pregnancy app.
Start a Pregnancy Journal
This is something I really wish I had done with each of my pregnancies.
The idea is to keep a record of your thoughts and feelings to chronicle your pregnancy and have as a keepsake to share with your child someday.
Be sure to include photos of yourself at different stages of your pregnancy as you detail your journey!
If you have other children, ask them to write letters or draw pictures for the baby and tuck those away in the journal too.
Buy Prenatal Vitamins and Make Your Health a Priority
If you were planning to be pregnant, you might already be taking prenatals.
If not, you should start now.
Folic acid (or folate, in its natural form) is believed to prevent neural tube defects (such as spina bifida) as well as other birth defects and complications.
During my 4th pregnancy, I did some research on folic acid versus folate and chose to take a multivitamin containing folate instead of the synthetic folic acid.
The main difference is apparently in how the body metabolizes each form and the possible negative side effects of the synthetic version on the mother’s health (this is a little controversial).
However, you should do your own research AND work with your healthcare provider to choose the best vitamin for your individual needs and be sure to let them know if you’re not tolerating your vitamins well.
With that said, if it’s going to be a while before your first visit with an OB, purchase an over-the-counter prenatal vitamin and start taking them now.
Your provider may also recommend a DHA supplement which is meant to support healthy brain development. Talk to your provider about which types of supplements will benefit you the most.
Regardless, supplements cannot substitute for good nutrition; you need both for a healthy pregnancy.
This pregnancy diet guide can help you to think about changes you might want to consider while pregnant and breastfeeding.
Most health care providers also agree that you should limit caffeine intake while pregnant.
The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women consume no more than about a 12-ounce cup of coffee per day.
The effects of caffeine are somewhat inconclusive, although it is known that it passes across the placenta to baby so it’s best to be on the safe side.
Caffeine also is a diuretic which means it will make those trips to the bathroom even MORE frequent, and increase your chances of dehydration.
Drinking plenty of water (eight to ten glasses per day) can help to alleviate many pregnancy-related concerns such as headaches, hemorrhoids, constipation, and swelling.
In addition to diet and supplements, you will of course want to look at other behaviors that could affect a healthy pregnancy. This video shows the extreme danger that smoking while pregnant poses to an unborn baby.
Even legal prescriptions, over-the-counter supplements and other herbal remedies should all be cleared by your doctor before you ever take them during pregnancy.
Exercise has numerous benefits for you and baby during pregnancy. You should discuss with your doctor what types of exercises are safe and beneficial.
Most experts advise low-impact activities, and easing into an exercise routine if you were not very active prior to pregnancy.
Consider a Prenatal Class
I will reiterate that online classes and advice do NOT substitute for quality medical treatment!
Now that we’ve established that fact- there are some GREAT resources online to supplement your education while you’re awaiting your new arrival.
There is one particular class that I recommend which offers a ton of value, especially for first-time parents: the Online Prenatal Course taught by Hillary from Pulling Curls.
Hillary is a labor & delivery nurse who has compiled her years of on-the-job experience into one convenient class.
This course is particularly helpful, in my opinion, for busy parents who work and/or live in a rural area with limited access to an in-person prenatal course.
You can take this course at your own pace, at home and review it as often as you need to before the Big Day arrives!
There is information about every stage of pregnancy and what to expect/what to consider as you prepare for labor and even the first few weeks home with your new baby.
| Read more about the Online Prenatal Class here. |
Your hospital may also offer prenatal courses and/or Lamaze/labor education.
At these classes you typically learn about different pain management techniques, how to know when you’re truly in labor and when you should go to the hospital.
It’s never too soon to start educating yourself on one of the most important events of your life- bringing your baby into the world!
Women who take prenatal courses tend to experience lower levels of anxiety about their childbirth experience, in general.
Do what you can to reduce stress
Many of the things already listed in this article will naturally help to lower your stress level during pregnancy: exercise (including prenatal yoga), good nutrition and education.
The importance of managing stress and anxiety can not be overstated.
If you’re experiencing constant stress-overload, you should consider seeing a therapist to help you manage these symptoms.
Studies have shown that chronic stress can affect not only your physical health but also your baby’s development and could contribute to possible behavioral problems later on.
Pregnancy can be overwhelming for some moms but it doesn’t have to be!
Here are a few additional things you can do:
- Get plenty of sleep. I totally understand that’s easier said than done, but whenever you can take a nap- just do it! Even going to bed one hour earlier can make a big difference in how you feel each day.
- Don’t take on any tasks that are unnecessary. This is a personal decision, but if you’re easily overwhelmed, this may not be the time to take on a new project at work, accept a position with more responsibility, add volunteer duties, travel or make any big life-changing decisions. (Because, um, having a baby is life-altering enough!)
- Either in your pregnancy journal (see above) or a personal journal, take time to record how you’re feeling. Pray for your baby’s health and your own and write down your prayers. Write about the things you’re grateful for and the things you want your child to know someday.
- Delegate duties as much as possible to your spouse or other friends/family who are willing to help. This is great practice for after the baby arrives, when you will need just as much help and rest to survive the “fourth trimester”.
- Realize that tomorrow is a new day and the way you feel today likely will change tomorrow. Pregnancy hormones have a huge effect on your emotions, and just knowing this is a normal part of pregnancy can be helpful.
- Take time to do something you enjoy each day. Relaxing while listening to music for 15 minutes; soaking in the bathtub; taking a walk around the neighborhood; even a little retail therapy can momentarily take your mind off pregnancy-related worries and even ease the aches and pains that come with housing another human for nine months!
Things to keep in mind
Having a baby is one of the greatest blessings I’ve experienced in life.
There are really no words to describe the moment when you see your baby for the very first time, hear his first cries and realize that he’s all yours. Your life will never be the same.
It’s easy to get caught up in all of the little details leading up to your baby’s birth, and honestly reading TOO much and worrying about every piece of advice can make you a little paranoid and overwhelmed!
Just keep in mind that your doctor’s office is only a phone call away and they should be more than willing to address your concerns.
So as you’re preparing for baby, remember that you CAN do this and with the right resources and support, you WILL be an awesome mom!
Nine months will seem like an eternity – particularly the last 3 weeks – but they really do go by faster than you realize right now.
And it’s true that pregnancy is not all glowing skin and cute baby bumps – it can be hard, exhausting and uncertain at times.
Moms who’ve walked in your shoes a few times will vouch for this!
But remember that, like a lot of hard things in life, it’s also 100 percent worth it all.
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