Seeing the pregnancy test come up as positive is a moment we see repeatedly in films and television. It is always a dramatic moment, which propels the plot along and forces the main character into action. It rarely shows how you might in fact feel frozen in the headlights or completely at a loss at what to do next. After all, it marks a major change in your life.
So what should you do first? Absolutely savour the moment! You might want to have a load of Mock-tails with your family, a special dinner with your partner, or just go for a quiet walk by yourself to mull it over.
Over the next few weeks you can start on more practical steps to prepare for your pregnancy and labour. Below you will find the top ten suggestions, though you will find lots of different ideas across the internet and your social group.
These are practical action points that focus on ‘doing’. However, you will find in our other articles we often highlight the importance of ‘being’. It is probably early on in your pregnancy so you have plenty of time to get ready and can also take some time out and relax as your body adapts to having a baby on-board.
1) Start recording
Your body is going to completely change over the next 9 months in a way that you might never see again. First things first, snap a ‘before’ photo so you have a comparison to your third trimester photographs.
You might want to start a scrapbook or special shoebox to store keepsakes in as you take photos, get scan photos and letters or cards from loved ones.
On a more serious note, it is good practice to get in the habit of recording your health whether that is how you normally feel or unusual symptoms. Keeping a simple log that notes how you feel and any physical changes can help you effectively communicate with your GP and pregnancy team. It also means that if an issue occurs it is easy to track any developments that could give a clue to what has happened.
2) Tell a health professional
You will most likely start by going to your GP who will refer you to the relevant services. It may be the first time you are considering how you want to give birth and whether you want to take any kind of alternative route.
It is also completely normal to feel nervous about what lies ahead and there will be support from your health care professionals as well as local groups and internet forums. Your GP will be able to advise you on any health decisions to make or specific lifestyle changes that could benefit the baby.
3) Start reading
In nine months’ time, any attempt to read over the next 18 years will be interrupted by the newest member of the family. Enjoy the opportunity to read while it lasts! Many women report it being helpful to find out how pregnancy changes your body and emotional state. It can help you prepare for the way pregnancy develops and means you know what to expect so you don’t get worried.
Suddenly realising you are a parent-to-be might also mean you want to do some last minute research on looking after the little person who will soon be in your life!
4) Health kick
It is something you have talked about every January but now is the time to bite the bullet and go on a health kick. Remember, it isn’t about losing weight or stopping those ‘guilty habits’. It is about looking after yourself and your child in the best way you can. It might be useful to research sustainable, healthy ways of improving your well-being.
It is common knowledge now to give up smoking and drinking. It is widely recommended that you also work out an exercise routine as it will keep you healthy and may stop problems and pain later in your pregnancy.
There are lots of safe and gentle pregnancy exercises classes, especially yoga, and you can try different ones to find a practice and a social group that you comfortable in. Make sure you consult with your doctor to ensure you choose the right exercises.
Brainstorming names can be one of the most fun and frustrating parts of pregnancy. Don’t underestimate how long it might take you to come to a decision!
You could write a huge list of all the ones you like and then slowly whittle it down to a shortlist. There are also so many websites and books to provide suggestions. Some people like to think about a quality or meaning they want in their child’s name and then explore possibilities. Even if you are not planning on knowing the gender of your child before birth you could have a shortlist for boys and girls or go with gender-neutral names.
No one looks forward to going to the doctors or to doing some budgeting. However, some things have to be done and spending quality time considering your finances during pregnancy can help things run smoothly later on.
Babies are bundles of joy and bring all kinds of priceless aspects to your life. They do, however, bring a fair number of priced requirements too. Children are expensive but by budgeting carefully and getting second hand or display items cheap it doesn’t have to be a choice that breaks the bank.
7) Maternity Rights
Theoretically, we live in a world where your decision to get pregnant shouldn’t impact your career or work life. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Before dancing into work to loudly celebrate your exciting news consider when and how you are going to tell your employer. The colleague who is always a good laugh at work drinks can be very different across a desk and it is best to err on the side of caution.
Be prepared for your meeting by knowing your rights and knowing what you want and need from your employer.
8) Know what to avoid
Many women new to pregnancy might feel overwhelmed by the huge amount of advice on what to avoid. If you do some careful research early on and take it into account as you plan your meals and social life over the coming months it does not have to be onerous.
Some things should be avoided because they might make you ill which could lead to complications or stillbirth. Other things, such as alcohol, are known to seriously affect the development of your child so should be avoided.
The NHS highlight that soft cheeses and pâté can contain listeria, which is a type of bacteria. It is rare but sometimes the bacteria can cause an infection called listeriosis, which even in a mild form can lead to stillbirth or illness in the baby.
Fish, raw eggs, unpasteurised milk and raw meat should also be avoided. The one that can seem very challenging is that caffeine should be limited during pregnancy as high levels can affect your baby. Remember caffeine is added to some soft drinks.
Hopefully, you are a person like me who loves lists so this point won’t feel like a chore. However, whatever your view on lists you will probably agree that they do have a certain ability to lessen anxiety and ensure you do not forget anything important.
The silliness of suggesting in a list that you write a list does not escape me. However, in each one of these points, from the chat with your GP to reading to name picking, you are likely to realise there is so much more than you first realised or, for those on their second pregnancy, just a superb amount to remember.
So avoid stress and last minute expensive or regretted decisions and start making checklists.
10) Research baby products
Finally, let’s finish on a fun one. You’ll need all kinds of new gadgets, gizmos and age-old handy bits and bobs to support you during and after birth. It is amazing to see so much available and it can get a bit overwhelming. Remember, there are things to support every person and every pregnancy so you won’t need them all.
You should also be aware that there is nothing more frustrating than finding out about something that would have been a big help too late. At Snugglebundl, we often get mothers who discover us in their second pregnancy saying how much they wished they had known about Snugglebundl before.
The best thing to do is talk to other parents, your healthcare professionals, research products and read the reviews. Think about what you need and you’ll find some wonderful inventions.
You have probably come away feeling there is even more to do than you originally realised but it is best to have a long list now with lots of time to prepare.
Becoming pregnant might be shown in films a lot because it drives the plot but I like to think it is because it is a massive moment in anyone’s life. You can start all these serious tasks tomorrow. For now, I say start celebrating and enjoy being in the starring role!