When a woman first finds out that she’s pregnant, she experiences a whirlwind of feelings. For some, sadly, a baby on the way might not be good news. Maybe the baby was unplanned; maybe now isn’t the right time to be adding to the family. Being pregnant can also cause a new mom-to-be to start worrying about everything from being pregnant to going broke. Can we afford this baby? What am I going to do about work? Will we be able to pay for daycare?
Some women may also worry that something might go wrong with their pregnancy. What if I do something wrong? What if something is wrong with the baby? What if I have a miscarriage?
For other women, the news that she is pregnant may be a relief. Maybe after months, or even years, of trying, she’s finally pregnant. Maybe the IVF finally worked. Or maybe her body was working fine all along, and she just needed a little more time. Maybe this is her rainbow baby, and after losing a baby, she’s finally pregnant again.
Or, like many women, maybe she and her partner finally decided it was time to try for a baby. They stopped using birth control and have been hoping she’ll get pregnant. They’ve been trying to conceive for a few months, and every month, she hopes this will be it… Only to find out that it’s not. While there might not be any rush, but they’re still excited to start a family…
So when she does get that positive pregnancy test, here’s what might go through a new mom-to-be’s mind.
The best time to take a pregnancy test is a couple days after your period would normally be due, although some home pregnancy tests claim to be able to detect pregnancy before you even miss a period. Home pregnancy tests detect the amount of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine, but only when it gets to a certain level. If you take a pregnancy test too early, there might not be enough hCG in your system, which would result in a negative pregnancy test.
Some women will stare at the pregnancy test until the time is up. Those two pink lines could appear immediately. Other ladies won’t look until the test has had time to work, and then they’ll take a peek. If you’ve been trying to conceive for awhile, and you finally get a positive pregnancy test, you’re probably going to be ecstatic. The happiness will then give way to a ton of other thoughts…
OMG OMG OMG. I can’t believe it. I’m pregnant! I’m having a baby! There’s a baby in there RIGHT NOW! We did it! OMG! Holy cow! I’m pregnant. ME! PREGNANT!
14 I Have To Tell Him!
The first thing you’ll want to do is tell the daddy-to-be. If the dad knows that you’re planning on taking a pregnancy test and he is there with you when you do it, you won’t have to say anything at all when you get your result! Finding out big news like this together is something the two of you will remember forever.
But if you’re testing on your own, you may find out the news by yourself. You could simply run into the other room and show the new dad-to-be the evidence. But if you’re good at keeping a secret, you might want to give it a day or two to think up a creative way to break the news. Or you might already have something planned. Of course, if you’ve been trying to conceive and have been hoping for this outcome for awhile, just shouting “I’M PREGNANT!” is exciting enough and will definitely get the point across.
13 I Can't Wait To Tell Everybody...
It’s tempting to want to pick up the phone and tell everybody your big news. You might really want to spill the beans if people know that you have been trying to conceive or if you have friends and family members that are constantly asking you when you’re going to have a baby. If you’ve been keeping your attempts at getting pregnant a secret, now you finally have something to talk about!
Some women don’t hold back and tell friends and family that they’re pregnant right away because they want everybody to share in their excitement and happiness. They also don’t want to have to try to hide things or make excuses for things like why they’re gaining weight, why she’s not drinking, or why she doesn’t feel well.
Some women may have a job that makes their work environment unsafe for pregnancy. If that’s the case, you shouldn’t wait to tell your boss about your pregnancy in case you need to make special arrangements for your job.
12 But Maybe I Should Wait...
A lot of women believe that they should wait until they’re at least 12 weeks along to tell anybody that they’re pregnant. Women who’ve experienced previous pregnancy losses or are at high risk for complications may be more likely to hold off on telling everybody the news.
Some women may also choose to hold off on making any announcements until later in the second trimester because they want to find out the results of prenatal testing. Some women may prefer to wait until they have reassurance that the pregnancy is fine and that the baby is healthy.
Lots of women and their partners may choose to tell different people at different times. Some couples may choose to tell close family members right away, but wait awhile until they make the announcement to coworkers and other friends. With this approach, you’re able to get the big news off your chest and you have people to share the excitement with. If something goes wrong, you have a few close family members and friends to support you, without having to explain the situation over and over again. Just be sure that whoever you tell knows and respects your wishes to keep things quiet until you’re ready to go public.
11 But I DO Need To Call My Doctor...
As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, you've got to get busy! One of the very first things you should do is give the doctor a call. Even though you’ve got a positive pregnancy test right there in front of you, some doctors may require you to come into the office for another urine test or a quick blood test to verify your pregnancy.
If you haven’t had your annual appointment yet, the doctor will likely do a complete pelvic exam along with a Pap smear and a breast exam. Blood tests may be done to check for anemia and STDs. The doctor will go over your family history to determine if any other genetic screening is necessary and will probably go over what you can expect throughout your pregnancy and future prenatal visits.
Most women have their first prenatal visit around eight weeks or later. It might be hard to wait that long, but there’s really not much to see before then. The earliest you may be able to see a heartbeat on an ultrasound is around six weeks, but even healthy pregnancies might not result in a visible heartbeat that early. Many doctors wait until the eight-week mark so that the heartbeat will be strong and clear.
10 So THAT'S why...
If you’ve been hoping for a bun in the oven, you might have been symptom spotting all month long - studying your body for any hints or clues that you were pregnant. There are so many different pregnancy symptoms that it’s hard to tell what’s pregnancy related, what’s related to your period, or what’s just a random passing feeling.
In previous months, you might have had what you thought were pregnancy symptoms, only to end up getting your period right on schedule. Now that you know you’re pregnant, It’s interesting to look back and try to figure out if you had any symptoms – or if what you thought were pregnancy symptoms really were.
You can feel early pregnancy symptoms right after implantation, even before you miss a period or get a positive result on a pregnancy test. Some of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy are:
- Implantation cramps and bleeding
- Nausea and vomiting
- Breast tenderness
- Elevated basal body temperature
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty sleeping
9 I Wonder If It's A Boy Or A Girl...
There’s no way to tell this early if it’s going to be a boy or a girl, but you may already find yourself imagining cheering on your boy at his little league games; or you might envision watching your pig-tailed princess playing soccer.
Most women, if they choose to find out, will learn the sex of their baby at their mid-pregnancy ultrasound, which usually takes place somewhere between 16 and 20 weeks. The only problem with finding out via the ultrasound is that the technician might not be able to figure out the gender for sure if she can’t get a clear look at the baby’s genitalia! Hands, feet, or legs may block the view or the baby may be turned in a position where the technician can’t get a good look.
If your doctor suggests that you should have noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) to detect Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities, you could find out the baby’s sex as early as ten weeks. The blood test looks for pieces of the male sex chromosome in the mother’s blood, and can tell if she’s having a boy or a girl.
8 I'm Probably Due...
Quick, get out a calendar. (Or whatever app you’ve been using to track your menstrual cycle and predict ovulation!) Nine months from now is… But wait… When did we conceive?
Very few moms can pinpoint the exact date that they conceived. Even if you only had sex once during your most fertile period of the month, you wouldn’t necessarily conceive right then. Sperm can live for awhile in the fallopian tubes until the egg finally comes along and gets fertilized. So how in the world can you figure out your due date without knowing the exact date of conception?
The answer? Your due date is just an estimate. Most doctors will simply count from the first day of your last period. For women with an average-length menstrual cycle, that day would be about two weeks before conception, which is why pregnancy is said to be 40 weeks. Of course, this method isn’t foolproof, so the date the doctor gives you is just an approximation.
7 I Wonder When...
By the time you figure out you’re pregnant, your baby is likely still the size of a tiny poppy seed or speck of glitter, but he or she will start growing at a rapid pace and pretty soon will actually look like a tiny human.
You might also wonder things like when (if) morning sickness will hit, when you’ll start showing, and when you’ll be able to feel the baby move.
Morning sickness is a misnomer; it can happen at any time of the day. It usually starts around week 6 of your pregnancy, but it can vary from woman to woman. You’re likely to feel queasy when you wake up in the morning because you have an empty stomach; some women, unfortunately, get sick at any time during the day or night. Then there are some women who get lucky and skip morning sickness altogether.
There isn’t a set time when moms-to-be will start showing. Again, every woman is different. Some women may have a flat stomach well into the second trimester, while others may pop in the first trimester. Some women may feel bloated and swollen, but not really feel like they have a baby bump. You can expect to show off your bump somewhere between 12 and 16 weeks. If you’ve been pregnant before, your uterine and abdominal muscles have already stretched, and you might start showing earlier.
You should feel your baby’s first movements, called “quickening” between weeks 16 and 25 of your pregnancy. If it’s your first pregnancy, it might closer to 25 weeks. You’re more likely to feel the baby move around when you’re quietly sitting or lying down. Baby’s kicks and movements may at first feel like butterflies in your stomach, and it might be hard to tell if what you’re feeling is your baby or just your imagination. Don’t worry, eventually you’ll feel kicks, jabs, elbows, and knees!
6 I Should Probably Start Reading...
So what do you need to know? If you’ve been hoping for a baby for awhile, you might have already started reading. But there are a ton of books and websites out there to give you information about pregnancy, your baby’s development, and childbirth – and it’s never too early to get started!
In addition to some of the classic baby bibles, here are just a few suggestions for new moms-to-be:
Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthyIn her book, McCarthy covers annoying pregnancy symptoms that can be embarrassing, but also hilarious. She discusses pregnancy and sex honestly and casually, making reading the book feel like you’re chatting about pregnancy with a close friend.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May GaskinGaskin is a well-known midwife. Her book provides information about labor, birth, and what happens to your body during the process. The book provides lots of information to help you build confidence in yourself and your body as you prepare to meet your new little one.
The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki IovineThe Girlfriend’s Guide is a humorous tell-it-like-it-is book that talks about pregnancy and childbirth in a friendly, casual, non-threatening way. It’s a great book to read for yourself and then pass on to a friend who is expecting!
There are tons of fantastic pregnancy books, but there are just as many not-so-good ones out there as well. If you don’t like what you’re reading, toss it aside and move on. Reading can make you feel a little more prepared about what you’re going to go through, but that baby will be here before you know it, whether you hit the books or not!
5 Maybe I Should Start Looking At Baby Stuff...
OMG… We’re going to need so much stuff. We’re going to need diapers and wipes and a car seat and a stroller. I should look online and see how much this stuff costs. How soon is too soon to start a baby registry?
Getting ready for a newborn is exciting – and a little intimidating. Babies need lots of stuff, and there are so many different options. It might be a good idea to start browsing baby stores and websites, just to get an idea of what’s out there.
Aside from a safe car seat and a crib, your baby will need diapers, something to eat, and medicine, just in case. There are pros and cons to both cloth and disposable diapers, and there’s no real right answer in which you should use. You should pick what you think will work best for your family. In addition to diapers, you’ll need wipes, a diaper bag, and a diaper pail. If you plan on pumping or bottle feeding, you’re going to need a breast pump, milk storage bags or bottles, baby bottles, all of the accessories, and cleaning and sterilization equipment. You’ll need baby toiletry items and medicine. With a newborn, you may choose to use a small bathtub that will fit in the sink or in the tub. You’ll also need mild soap or shampoo and soft washcloths and towels. In addition, it’s a good idea to have baby’s medicine cabinet stocked – just in case. You’ll need a baby thermometer, a nasal bulb and saline drops, infant Tylenol, and a grooming kit with a baby comb, nail clippers, and a nail file.
4 But I Won't Buy Anything Yet...
It can be really tough to resist running out and buying t he first little items for your baby. Those teeny-tiny clothes and socks are adorable, and there might be some things that you want to start buying right away so that you are ready for the day when baby arrives.
There are lots of things that you can probably skip, to save both money AND space. One thing is a changing table. While some nursery furniture sets include a matching changing table, it’s not always practical. For one thing, it can be an expensive piece of furniture, and it will take up a lot of room. And are you really only ever going to change diapers in thebaby’s room, on the changing table? And what about when the baby is too big 9or too squirmy) to be changed on the changing table?
When browsing for decorating ideas for the baby’s room, you’ll probably see lots of adorable crib bedding sets. Although they can pull a room together, a lot of those bedding sets contain items that should not be put in the baby’s crib – crib bumpers, blankets, and pillows. Don’t shell out hundreds of dollars on something that’s not safe for your baby! Just buy some fitted mattress protectors and crib sheets!
You should also probably pass on the wipe warmer. While it might provide you with warm wipes to clean off baby’s buns, it can also dry the wipes out. In addition, warm, damp areas are great places for germs to breed. Yuck!
3 No More Wine For Me!
If you didn’t ditch your bad habits when you were trying to conceive, now is definitely the time to kiss them goodbye! In addition to the booze and cigarettes, get rid of (or at least be very careful with) the following foods:
Taking in high doses of caffeine can increase your risk of miscarriage. Try to switch to decaf, especially during the first trimester when the risk of miscarriage is the highest.
Soft cheeses (like goat cheese, Brie, Camembert, feta, and blue cheese) may be unpasteurized and contaminated with listeria – the bacteria that can trigger food poisoning. Soft cheeses aren’t aged (like cheddar or Parmesan) so the bacteria doesn’t die off naturally.
Deli meats may also become contaminated with listeria if they’re not handled properly. It’s a good idea to heat sliced deli meat until it’s steaming hot to make sure you kill off any bacteria. And when preparing pork, beef, or lamb, make sure it’s cooked to medium or medium-well.
Fish contains mercury, and too much of it can impair fetal brain development. Fish with high levels of mercury are the big ones – shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and albacore tuna. You don’t have to swear off all fish – salmon doesn’t contain as much mercury, and is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids! Whatever fish you’re eating, make sure to avoid anything that’s raw or undercooked.
Eggs are a high-quality source of protein and contain lots important nutrients for pregnancy. However, they do run the risk of being contaminated with salmonella, which can be especially dangerous for pregnant women. Be sure to keep your eggs refrigerated, toss any that have cracked shells, and avoid eating runny eggs. Also try to avoid homemade ice cream, Caesar salad dressing, and raw cookie dough or cake batter. (Sorry!)
2 I Hope Everything's Okay In There
Now that you’ve got a baby on board, you might be worried about him or her. For some women, the thought of carrying a baby for 9 months and having to take better care of themselves can be more than a little daunting. Everything that you do will affect the baby, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re eating right, doing a little exercise, and getting some rest.
The risk of birth defects can be decreased by making sure to get the proper amount of folic acid every day during pregnancy. (It’s a good idea to make sure you start taking a prenatal vitamin with adequate amounts of folic acid when you’re just trying to conceive.) Your risk of delivering a baby with any birth defect can increase with genetics and advanced maternal age. If you’re over 35 or have a family history of birth defects, discuss them with your doctor and talk about getting extra testing.
1 I Hope I Can Do This!
Happy? Definitely. Excited? Yes. Nervous?
It’s okay to be nervous. You’re going to spend three-quarters of a year carrying another human being in your body. Hopefully you’ve got a supportive partner, family, and friends to get you through your pregnancy and to help you bring your baby into the world.
There are other worries that may accompany a woman’s fears of pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. You might be worried about work. You might be worried about your finances. You might be worried about how having a baby will impact your relationship with your partner. You may be concerned that your life will change (and it will!) and that you won’t be able to have fun like you used to. The truth is, the fun will change. You’ll learn to have a good time in a whole new way once your little one arrives. Being pregnant and having a baby doesn’t mean that you don’t get to have date night or that you never get to go out with the girls again… it’ll just involve more planning, and possibly a babysitter!