Finding out you're pregnant is incredibly exciting, but can also feel overwhelming and a little bit scary. With all the information out there, it can be hard to know where to start. From booking your first doctors appointment to working out what to eat, we can walk you through your very first steps in becoming a parent.
1. Book A GP And Midwife Appointment
The first thing to do when you get a positive result on your pregnancy test is to book an appointment to see your GP. This way you can confirm and register your pregnancy, and start receiving antenatal care, help and guidance from the NHS.
The doctor will do some routine tests including taking a blood and urine sample, weight and height measurements and measure your blood pressure. They will also ask you some questions about your health, existing conditions and medications. It's good to have a note of your last period, as your doctor will also ask about this.
2. Take Folic Acid Tablets
If you haven't been taking folic acid tablets before becoming pregnant, it's a great time to start! In the first 12 weeks that you're pregnant, these are especially important for helping your baby grow and develop. The NHS advises you take 400 micrograms every day, but make sure you check your pack to be sure of what's best for you. You can take other health supplements and vitamins too, like calcium, vitamin D and iron, but most of the time a healthy diet will give you all the other nutrients you and your baby needs.
3. Look At Your Lifestyle
It's advised not to drink alcohol or smoke during pregnancy, so now is the best time to stop both. There are rumours that you can drink small amounts of alcohol without your baby being affected, but there isn't a lot of research out there to prove that's the case, so it's best to avoid it to stay safe. Stopping smoking is important for keeping your baby healthy too - if you're struggling to give up smoking or drinking, you can speak to your doctor and they can offer you some support.
4. Start A Budget
It's not exciting and glamorous, but working out your budgeting is an important first step when you find out you're pregnant. There will be lots of things you'll need to buy in the next few months, and it's a good idea to look at your finances and get an idea of how much is coming in and going out each month to see what you're able to afford. Make a list of things you need to buy and how much they'll cost so you have a good idea of how much you need to save. Have a look on the GOV.UK website to check if you can claim any benefits like tax credits and child benefits to help you.
5. Work Out Your Due Date
You can work out what your baby's due date is if you know which day you ovulated by calculating 40 weeks from that day. If you're not sure, you can work out an estimate from the date of your last period and your average cycle length to work out how many weeks pregnant you are. When you see a midwife, they'll be able to help work out the date, but this may also change when you have your first scan.
6. Manage Your Symptoms
You'll probably hear myths of people who glide through the first months of being pregnant without a care in the world, but unfortunately, that's definitely not everyone's experience of the early months of being pregnant. If morning sickness has made itself a permanent fixture in your morning routine, there are a few tips that might get you feeling better. Using a travel sickness wrist band and staying hydrated can all help make you feel better. Other symptoms that pregnant women often report in early pregnancy include feeling tired, needing to wee more, experiencing mood swings and having stomach cramps. Make sure you get in touch with your doctor if any of these get worrying for you, as there is lots of antenatal care out there to help you.
7. Eat Healthily
Now you're looking after another life, it's a good time to look at your overall health and make sure you're doing what's safe during pregnancy. Working out your BMI is a good idea to check if it might be a risk. A healthy and balanced diet is important for you and your baby to make sure they get the right amount of nutrients to help them grow. Cutting back on sugar and fats and eating a good balance of fruit and vegetables and protein and carbs is best.
There are a few foods and drinks that it's best to avoid, to avoid any unnecessary risks to your baby. Blue cheeses, undercooked meat and raw shellfish should be off the menu, and foods like tuna and oily fish should be limited. It's best to do a bit of your own research to work out the dos and don'ts so you have a clear idea of what's best for your baby.
8. Stay Well-Rested
Your body is doing an amazing thing during pregnancy, so you're likely to be feeling tired out. Minimising stress as much as possible is a good idea, and trying to get early nights at least three times a week will make sure your body is in top shape to be doing the work it needs to do. Resting and relaxing regularly will keep you feeling mentally and physically well, and limit any tension headaches, which can be common at this stage in your pregnancy.
9. Exercise Your Pelvic Floor
Chances are, your pelvic floor hasn't been on your weekly workout checklist recently, but it's about to become the most important muscle in your routine. To strengthen the muscles, squeeze them 15 times for a few seconds each. Keep breathing calmly throughout, and try not to tighten any other muscles. Try to repeat, every day if you can, and you'll find yourself noticing a difference after a few months.
10. Check Your Exercise Routine
It's great to stay fit and look after your health during your pregnancy, and regular exercise can be really good for your baby. You might need to revise your exercise routine and slow it down. If you're not someone who exercises a lot, it's best not to take up lots of new exercise classes - and if you can find pregnancy classes in your local area or on YouTube, these can be great guides to know what works for you. It's best to stop any contact sports like kickboxing or martial arts, where there is a risk you can get hit.
11. Decide Who To Tell
Lots of people choose to wait until after their 13-week scan to break the news of their pregnancy to their friends and family, but it's totally up to you when you want to tell people. If you have a strenuous job, it's important to let your boss know so you aren't at risk, and lots of people choose to tell a few close family members or friends at the beginning of their pregnancy so they can get their support from the earliest days.
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