From the moment the pregnancy test's pink line shows up, a woman's entire life changes. She's going to be a mom, and there is no more awesome moment where things turn on their heads. With the impending arrival, a woman has an awesome responsibility to take care of herself and her baby, and she and her hormones are already beginning to take her on an unforgettable ride.
When she learns she will be a mother, a woman's entire identity changes, and so does many of her choices. She can't sleep the same way, eat the same way, behave the same way or even travel the same way. If she has certain habits, they need to end right away for the health of the baby. And her morning coffee and sandwich for lunch have to go, along with the drinks she enjoys with dinner. There are so many ways that a woman's life has to change right away — from sun up to sun down — and if the changes are delayed only by a few weeks, it could pose a health risk for the baby. At this point, most women haven't seen the doctor, so it's hard to know what to do — we have a guide to help.
Here are 15 changes women might have to make when the pregnancy stick turns pink.
15 No More Sandwiches For Lunch
Just about everything changes when you get pregnant, including what you can have for lunch. It will no longer be as easy as slapping a couple of slices of ham between two slices of bread and adding your favorite condiment, even if you are really craving a ham and cheese croissant with mustard. Those slices of deli meat could be bad news for a pregnant woman, so moms-to-be will have to change their ways when they pack their lunch bag each day.
The danger in deli meats is the possibility of listeria. It's an illness that comes from a bacterium that can be found in the meat and other foods.
Most people don't get sick when they are exposed to it, but pregnant women have weakened immune systems, so they could get violently ill. And getting so sick in pregnancy can be really harmful to the baby. The good news is that heat can kill the bacteria, so a toasted sandwich might be safe. And women can still involve chicken salad or a cheese sandwich, as long as it's not soft cheese. Her lunch may not be the same, but there are plenty of options to make it just as tasty.
14 Stop Puffing Cold Turkey
For some women, this one might not be an issue at all. Thanks to education campaigns over the past few decades, there are a lot more nonsmokers in the world these days. But there are still a lot of smokers as well. Sure, a lot of us survived when our own mothers smoked during pregnancy, but research has revealed that the babies of smokers are a lot more likely to suffer from birth defects. The baby is more likely to be of low birth weight, which means that it could struggle with health from birth. And there are more dangers for the mom's health during the delivery as well. Many of the birth defects occur when the baby is developing in the first trimester, so it's important that a woman who smokes quits cold turkey as soon as the stick turns pink.
There are a lot of people these days who think that e-cigs are more healthy than cigarettes, but we want to warn moms-to-be that they are still very dangerous for the baby. E-cigarettes typically have fewer harmful substances in them than traditional cigarettes, but they still contain nicotine, which is addictive and which is still a health danger for a developing fetus. Many e-cigs also contain flavorings that contain chemicals that could harm the baby. It's not a good idea to smoke e-cigs when you are pregnant, so a mom-to-be needs to quit any forms of smoking as soon as she can.
13 Skipping #ThirstyThursday
There are a lot of things that adults do that aren't great for children, even when they are still in the womb. While there are some questions about it, most doctors and researchers agree that drinking while pregnant is harmful, so women should decline a glass of wine on their next girls' night and every other occasion as well. Alcohol can pass along to the baby through the placenta, and while a mother's body might be able to quickly metabolize the substance, a fetus's little body can't handle it.
Many women are concerned about anything they consumed before they took a positive pregnancy test, and while the baby has already developed a great deal at that point, the baby is usually OK as long as the mom stops soon. By the third week of gestation (fifth week of pregnancy technically), the baby's brain is starting to develop, and that is usually the point where the line has turned pink. It's important to stop partaking from that moment on. While some research has concluded that an occasional glass of wine may not harm the baby, most doctors think it is safer to just stick to water and skip #WineWednesday for at least nine months.
12 Talk To The Doctor About Meds
It may go without saying for many women that they should stop taking illicit, illegal substances the moment the pregnancy test turns pink — really, it's dangerous if it doesn't happen before the baby is conceived. But some women may not know that their prescribed medication could also pose a problem to the baby while they are pregnant, so as soon as they know about the baby, they need to talk to their doctor about whether or not they need to switch their prescription right away.
Most medications are not tested on pregnant women, so doctors and researchers don't always know whether a drug could cause a serious birth defect. But there are a number that cause concerns. In addition, the health of the mother is a big factor in determining the medications. For example, a woman who has cancer or heart disease might need to continue to take life-saving medication to survive to carry a pregnancy to term — but also women who have conditions such as diabetes or asthma also might need medications to live. There are a number of mental health medications that might pose risks for the baby, but the doctor would need to weigh those risks with the risk for the mother not having her condition treated. It's a sticky situation, so that is why it is important to talk to the doctor right away. Better yet, if a woman wants to try to get pregnant, she should consult with her doctor even before the line turns pink.
11 Start Taking Vitamins
While some women may have to give up their routine medications while pregnant, that doesn't mean that there won't be pills to take each morning (or night, if they prefer). From the point when the pregnancy test turns positive — or even beforehand if a woman is trying to conceive — she should start taking prenatal vitamins to supplement a nutritional diet. It's a really critical part of being healthy during pregnancy, and it can make a huge impact on the baby's development.
Prenatal vitamins can have a range of different vitamins and minerals that are good for a baby's development, including iron, calcium and Vitamin D, which plays an important role in building healthy bones.
But one of the biggest things that moms-to-be should pay attention to is their folate intake. According to research, taking folate or folic acid is the No. 1 way to prevent neural tube defects in the baby. The neural tube becomes the spinal column, and there is a possibility that the tube may not closer properly, causing the baby to be paralyzed or even die at birth. And the tube forms within the first few weeks of pregnancy, so it's important that the vitamin supplements begin right away.
10 Pack Snacks In the Purse
Pregnancy can change a lot about how a woman eats, as we've already mentioned. But it doesn't just mean that a woman has to take some things away from the diet. She also might need to snack in a way that she has never had to before. Even women who eat snacks every day won't understand the importance of having a little snack ready at any time. She'll have to start packing a granola bag in her purse in case she needs it right away.
It's not about the hunger, although pregnancy from the very beginning can cause hunger to come on quickly and intensely.
The baby seems to take every bit of nutrients from the mom when she eats, so she definitely needs to add more calories to her diet (although it's really only about 200 more calories or so that she will need in the first trimester).
The snacks, though, are mostly to help prevent morning sickness. The nausea can sometimes be dissipated if the mom-to-be has a little bit of food in her stomach. For some women, that can mean putting a breakfast bar by her bed at night so she can grab a quick bite before she even brushes her teeth. It might be enough to keep her from running to the toilet to throw up, although she's still likely going to need to sprint because of the sudden urge to urinate that comes in the first trimester as well. Snacks might be a woman's savior from morning sickness, which can start not long after she learns she is pregnant. So it's not a bad idea to pack the purse as soon as the pink line appears.
9 Ditch The Heels
There are some women who live in high heels. They love the way they look and the height that they allow the woman to fake, and they have dozens of pairs to choose from in their closet. But when you are pregnant, there is nothing like a pair of flats. Don't let all those pregnant celebrities fool you, many moms-to-be should ditch the heels just about from the moment the pregnancy test turns pink.
Many women are familiar with the problems that come late in pregnancy, when a big ol' belly makes it hard to walk without waddling and when moms-to-be often have severe swelling that can make it uncomfortable to wear anything other than flip flops. But the truth is that high heels can be a problem from the very beginning of pregnancy.
The hormones that rush in during the first trimester can make it harder for a woman to balance, and she might also feel light-headed at times. Her center of gravity can change daily, which means that heels could make her vulnerable to falls.
Stilletos are definitely dangerous, although some women can tolerate chunky heels better for a little while. It might be better to keep a pair of flats in the purse in case she needs to switch at a moment's notice.
8 Make Your Partner Change The Cat Litter
The daily routine definitely changes for women with they are pregnant, and that includes their cleaning routine. For pet owners, it can be a big deal, and right from the start, a woman needs to stop changing the cat litter, which means her partner needs to do it. The cat isn't the problem, but their feces can pose a real threat to the mom and the baby, so it needs to be someone else's chore to clean up.
The problem is a protozoan that can be found in the feces. Normally, it's pretty harmless, but the mom-to-be's weakened immune system can cause her to contract it and get toxoplasmosis.
She may never get sick, but according to PetMD, toxoplasmosis can cross the placenta and infect the baby, and there is a risk for birth defects or death.
It's unlikely, but it's very dangerous, so it's best if someone else takes over the task. If a woman is pregnant and lives alone or her partner travels for work or something, she may not have the ability to have someone else help out. If so, PetMD recommends that she wear gloves and thoroughly wash her hands afterward. She should also keep the cats indoors and not feed them raw meat.
7 Start Napping
Most people give up napping sometime around 6 years old. They may enjoy the occasional Sunday afternoon nap, but most of the time, once you become an adult your days are filled with responsibilities and it's hard to find a moment to take a break. Some women have a hard time binge watching because they need to clean the kitchen or start dinner. Sleep is important for all of us to maintain our health, both physically and mentally, and that becomes even more true when a woman is pregnant.
It starts from the very beginning of pregnancy — maybe even before the pregnancy test shows that pink line. The hormones that surge in early pregnancy take away a lot of a woman's energy, and the body is using all of the available energy from the food that a woman consumes as fast as she digests it for the process of forming the baby's organs and such.
A woman has probably never felt as tired as she will when she is in her first trimester, and she may find that she has to take a nap as soon as she gets home from work or she won't be able to make it through the day.
Naps can really help her push through to survive the first trimester. After that, she may find that she has more energy in the second trimester, but it gets pretty bad again in the third trimester. Napping during pregnancy can help her body be prepared for the small snatches of sleep she can find after the birth, so it might be a good idea to make it a part of her daily routine.
6 Exercise More Or Differently
Some women think getting pregnant gives them a reason to eat all they want without worrying about exercise. But no matter how much a woman's body takes shape, it's still important for her to get some exercise.
In fact, most doctors recommend that women get started on an exercise program as soon as the pregnancy test turns pink.
Labor and delivery is hard on the morning, and many doctors think that a woman who is in shape will deal better with the process. Some cardio every day can make a big difference — and Kegel exercises are also a major thing that is needed to prepare for the process of pushing out the baby. Women who are already avid about exercising may feel the need to slow down a bit because of the exhaustion that happens in the first trimester, and that is just fine. Most of the time, workouts are perfectly fine and even a good idea during pregnancy, although doctors may have warnings for women who have complications such as placenta or cervix issues. Talk to the doctor about the best advice for your situation, but get moving soon so you are as healthy as possible for the baby.
5 Avoid Food Aversions
In the first trimester, smells and tastes can be like a mine field for a pregnant woman. Within weeks of conception — sometimes before the pregnancy test turns pink and sometimes within a week after — a mom-to-be might find that they have some pretty severe food aversions. It's not a matter of not wanting to eat something; it's more like the mere mention of or smell of a certain food could send a woman running for the toilet or the trash can. There are times when she isn't even aware of the problem until everything is making its way back up her throat.
Many women expect to have cravings when they are pregnant — and they hope that their cravings are for something like ice cream and cupcakes. But alongside the desire to eat something sweet or salty comes really strong feelings against certain foods.
For some women, the thought of cooking a chicken for their family can cause them to hurl. A big part of the first trimester involves avoiding the aversions that could cause a woman to get sick.
No one wants to spend months in the bathroom worried about losing their lunch, but it can happen if she isn't careful about the smells and tastes around her.
4 Cut Out The Coffee
Another terrible no-no for pregnant women is caffeine. While it might seem like a natural element that helps you get through the morning , it's actually an addictive and somewhat troublesome stimulant that could have the potential of harming the baby during its development. That's why doctors stress the need to cut out the coffee for the health of the baby. It's so hard to imagine the morning without a cup of joe, but it has to be done when you are with child.
Caffeine comes in many forms. It's in tea and chocolate and soft drinks, although it's usually in greatest concentration in coffee. It's definitely something that adults tend to be addicted to — much more so than drugs or alcohol — so it can be incredibly hard for a woman to learn she has to give up her morning coffee.
It's OK to have the equivalent of one cup a day, but that makes the daily Starbucks run more difficult, since espresso and other specialty drinks can quickly tip the balance.
Unfortunately, cutting down on caffeine can cause moms-to-be to suffer from headaches. It's no walk in the park, but it's all about giving the best start to the baby from the moment the pregnancy test turns pink.
3 Rethink Vacations
Have we said it enough? When you get pregnant everything changes — and that includes vacations. Even though people love to have babymoons these days, that doesn't mean that traveling is easy when you are pregnant. In fact, from the moment that a pregnancy test shows positive, a woman might need to start rethinking her vacations. And there is a lot to consider, including whether you would really enjoy being out by the pool with a puke bucket.
First of all, we want to mention that there are some things that women can't do when pregnant. High on the list are roller coasters, so any vacation that involves a theme park or fair might not be a good idea. Also, water sports, skiing and things that risk a big fall should be ruled out. On top of that, traveling is an issue in and of itself.
If you are planning a vacation several months out, take note that some airlines don't let a woman on board in her third trimester for fear that she will deliver on board.
And international travel isn't always a great idea at that point because an early delivery could be really costly with out-of-network hospital costs. In addition, flying and even travel by car can be more difficult because of the risk of blood clots during pregnancy. It's important to talk to the doctor about the pros and cons and any other considerations for vacations, and if you are planning ahead of time, it might be worth a chat pretty much as soon as you learn you are pregnant.
2 Pillow Talk
Getting through the day isn't so easy during the first trimester of pregnancy, but for many women its not so easy to get through the night as well. Sleeping can be very uncomfortable, and that start out within weeks of conception. While the concerns are greater a little later on in pregnancy, doctors encourage women to start right away to sleep on their side.
Stomach sleeping is especially a bad idea for a pregnant woman, since the girls can get tender right from the get-go — and by the second trimester, the baby bump is protruding, and the baby could be harmed by the pressure of sleeping on the stomach. Sleeping on the back is also not ideal, since the uterus can give pressure on the vena cava, which can cut off the blood supply and make a woman wake up in the middle of the night feeling short of breath and dizzy.
The best position is on the side with the knees bent. Many women find it more comfortable, right from the beginning, to use pillows between the knees and under the back.
Eventually she'll want one to cradle her baby bump, and when heartburn is at its worst, she might want to use pillows to prop herself up. Pillows can be a good investment for a pregnant woman, and that can start as soon as the pregnancy test is positive. It's just one last change that happens for a mom-to-be right from the beginning of her pregnancy.
1 Put The Mary Jane Down
We've talked a lot about the things that people ingest and how they could impact the pregnancy. The same is true for Mary Jane. Even though more and more states have opened the door for pot, making it legal either for medicinal purposes or for recreational use, it's still a substance that has a lot of questions for many. Some people use pot to help with mental health issues like anxiety, and we've already discussed the need to talk to the doctor about any medications when you are pregnant — this is no different.
There hasn't been a lot of research about the impact of green on a growing fetus, but at this point, a lot of doctors believe that green does more harm than good for moms-to-be and their babies. Smoking green could have an impact on the baby's brain development, and it could lead to premature birth, as well as stillbirth, according to the March of Dimes. Because green has been known to help with nausea for cancer patients going through chemotherapy, researchers have found an uptick in women who smoke pot to try to help with morning sickness. But the research shows that it isn't a good idea. The research may reveal something different later on, but for now, it appears that it's not a good option for women who are having a baby from the very beginning of the pregnancy.