Expecting a baby can be an exciting time. It can also be an event surrounded by turmoil, happiness, stress and worry - possibly all at the same time. Not to mention, this time can be filled with many implied and unwritten rules that busy-bodies will be sure to fill expectant parents in on the first chance they get.
Before becoming caught in the whirlwind surrounding pregnancy and what others say should and should not be done, remember to take a deep breath and remember that this experience is the new parents’ and no one else’s. Sure there are guidelines to follow that a prospective mom or dad can get from their doctor or midwife but everything else is highly personal and fair game.
Anyone newly pregnant or fresh on the scene of parenting will soon learn that both these situations can be a futile endeavour in relentless second guessing. Certain decisions and actions related to either pregnancy or parenting may prove more provocative and controversial than others. Despite the fact that more often than not, it’s no one’s business other than the parents’ involved.
Before becoming completely overwhelmed by this whole pregnancy thing, expectant moms should relax, put their swollen feet up and let us at Baby Gaga take one more thing off their overflowing plate. Please keep in mind that this is simply a checklist to get started and not an explicit list of instructions. Continue reading for a list of 15 things to do ASAP following a positive pregnancy test.
15 Pee Like A Racehorse
So she’s peed on the stick and the results are back - positive . . . maybe? DIY at-home pregnancy tests are generally up to 97% accurate but only if directions are followed to a precise tee. Designed to detect a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG for short) in a woman’s urine, the test works best first thing in the morning. This is because as liquid is ingested throughout the day, urine dilutes and hCG levels will not be at their most concentrated
Many women worry when the pregnancy line shows up only faintly. This can occur for a number of reasons including:
- The pregnancy is extremely early.
- She read the results either too soon or too late. If left too long, urine can evaporate and leave a misleading residue behind.
- A chemical pregnancy has occurred which means there was implantation but then a miscarriage took place.
Uncertainty is one of the worst feelings in existence. A woman’s best bet is to retest first thing in the morning or wait a few days for more conclusive hCG production before retesting. Or else head to the doctor in order to undergo a definitive blood test.
14 Blab The Word
Once a woman discovers she’s pregnant, ideally her partner should be the next to know. Keep in mind that even when planned, pregnancy news can often result in a flurry of mixed emotions. It may take a bit of time for the news to sink in so allow some adjustment time.
However, a woman knows her partner best (hopefully) and if they have an appreciation for creativity, there are a ton of out-of-the-ordinary ways she can surprise them with the news. She can hide a personalized fortune inside a cookie; create a one-of-a-kind jigsaw puzzle that spells it out; hand-craft a specially made t-shirt or greeting card spilling the beans; or even gift wrap (or just strategically place) the positive pregnancy test.
This baby bump is half theirs and the moment of discovery may be one of the most poignant in their lives so give it the cachet it deserves.
13 Butt Out
According to a Michigan area OBGYN, Dr. Robert Welch, it would be a simpler fix for a mom-to-be to suffer from a serious illness such as diabetes or high blood pressure than to smoke. He’s quoted in a Baby Center article as saying: “I can control those conditions with medications. But when a pregnant woman smokes, nothing can protect her baby from danger.”
In the eyes of most pregnancy experts, smoking is considered to be a top cause of a baby’s health defects. Complications resulting from smoking while pregnant include: premature birth, low birth weight and late-term miscarriage. It makes sense as cigarette smoke consists of over 4000 toxic chemicals including cyanide, lead and other cancer-causing compounds. These substances end up in a new mom’s blood stream which is the baby’s sole source of oxygen and nutrients.
These poisons basically choke an unborn baby and can have devastating results on a baby’s growth and development. Babies born to a smoking mother are at an increased risk of suffering from heart defects, asthma, learning disorders, behavioral issues as well as low I.Q.
12 Whip Out A Calendar
Even though a due date is pretty much a fancy way of saying “estimated date of arrival”, it’s always nice for a couple to have a ballpark idea about when life will change forever. There may be major events on the horizon such as weddings and vacation plans that will require some minor adjustments.
In order to calculate her due date, add 280 days (40 weeks) to the first day of her last menstrual period. Or subtract three months from the first day of her last period and then add an additional seven days - and that should be the magic date in the following year.
For women with irregular menstrual cycles, never fear. Other ways to calculate a due date include: by uterus size (determined by doctor or midwife), by early ultrasound if necessary and by reaching certain pregnancy milestones such as fetal heartbeat detection (between nine and 12 weeks).
As a pregnancy progresses, don’t be alarmed if a healthcare provider adjusts a pending due date accordingly. Something else worth noting is that only five percent of newborns tend to be born on their due dates.
11 Commence Jubilation
There a lot of great ways for the expectant couple to celebrate the news before it becomes obvious. And remember, celebrating doesn’t have to wane after the glow wears off - it can and should continue throughout the entire nine months.
Go camera crazy - get a few flat belly shots, one of the positive pregnancy stick and one of the happy couple toasting (with non-alcoholic bubbly of course) this new little life they have created. This photo album will soon be the perfect testament of welcome and love to a baby who hasn’t even been born yet.
For more adventurous couples, here are a few additional celebratory ideas:
- Get a plaster mold made of her pregnancy belly. There are DIY belly-casting kits available for sale or private artisans and some doulas who offer this service as well.
- Decorate the bump with henna designs or specially designed non-toxic skin paint. Go with something seasonal like a watermelon or football design.
- Schedule some professional portraits with baby bump as the star.
- Keep a pregnancy journal. It'll be a great way to one day go back in time and will also make an amazing gift for said baby when he/she is all grown up.
10 What's Up Doc?
It’s essential to start pregnancy out on the right foot so even for women out there who don’t regularly visit their doctor, consider turning over a new leaf once baby’s on board. The first prenatal visit tends to be the longest and most involved - the rest will most likely be quick checkups as long as everything is progressing as it should.
Here’s what any new mom can anticipate from her first prenatal checkup:
- Urine and blood tests as well as Pap smear.
- Calculation or confirmation of due date.
- A conversation about healthy eating, exercise and taking of prenatal vitamins.
Her healthcare provider may also require information about her menstrual cycle, any symptoms experienced, gynaecological issues from her past (including STIs), details regarding prior pregnancies, any medications she takes and family medical history such as allergies and chronic conditions. This is also a great time for the happy couple to address any questions or concerns they may have. Bring a list so nothing is overlooked!
9 Dietary Calibrations
A positive pregnancy test does not give a woman tacit permission to pig out. In fact, it should encourage her to do the opposite. Now that there’s a bun in her oven, she should take the time to tweak her diet to ensure she is not only nourishing herself but also giving that little bun the best start in life.
There is a lot of information out there about the amount of fruit, veggies, grains, protein and dairy a preggo should be ingesting on a daily basis. Suffice it to say that balance and variety are the Coles Notes of healthy eating.
Foods to avoid while pregnant can be a hot button topic - and this list is constantly changing. It may be best for a mom-to-be to have a conversation with her doctor or midwife as they will know best. Again - it’s difficult to go astray if a woman employs her good judgement to remain vigilant against bacteria and viruses.
A few more tips include: ensuring food is properly cooked (especially meat, poultry and eggs), laying off raw fish and seafood, passing on seafood high in mercury, abstaining from anything unpasteurized and being diligent in washing fruits and veggies.
8 Bottom's Down
When it comes to drinking alcohol during pregnancy, there is a lot of misleading and downright confusing information floating around. While some doctors claim a glass of wine now and again is fine, other experts whole-heartedly disagree.
This gray area exists because most research surrounding drinking during pregnancy only concerns excessive alcohol consumption. As a result, the possible risks associated with light to moderate drinking during pregnancy remain unclear. There are other factors at play too such as a particular woman’s tolerance level and rate of metabolism.
This is why it may be best to play things safe and curb all alcohol consumption until after the little whipper snapper is born. Otherwise, there is some risk of the baby suffering from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. This term is used to describe a variety of debilitating conditions ranging from mild to much more serious. They can include issues like: speech and language difficulties, learning disabilities, mental health issues and even facial abnormalities.
7 Financial Fine-Tuning
It’s never too early to start taking steps to prepare for leaner times. As tiny and cute as newborns are, they tend to be expensive buggers. If a couple anticipates some belt-tightening after the baby arrives, it only makes sense to start budgeting beforehand. That way, one more item gets knocked off the to-do list before time and energy become precious commodities.
As soon as that test comes back positive, take these budgeting guidelines to heart:
- Open a savings account to start socking money away for baby's arrival.
- Figure out exactly what amount of money comes in and goes out each month.
- Take stock of and work to prioritize debts.
- Prepare an estimated list of baby expenses per month. Talk to other new parents in order to get a better idea about necessities and inessential extras.
- Research tax credit and child benefit eligibility.
- It may make sense to cut back on luxury items (at least temporarily) such as vacations, gym memberships and eating out.
6 Names On The Brain
It’s no exaggeration to state that naming a baby is one of the most difficult decisions a person can face. Once in a family way, expectant parents will be on high alert - taking note of names heard during conversations and from tv and movies. They may even find themselves actually reading scrolling credits following the end of a program just for the selection of names offered up.
If it seems like the decision to name this child is going to be a long and arduous one, then start the brainstorming sessions early on. Keep track of any and all names being bounced around - as some may lose their luster while previously discounted ones may start to grow in likability.
In any case, a couple should choose a name they love, that is meaningful to them both, that sounds nice to the ear while remaining mindful of initials. For example, if a person’s last name is Davidson, they may want to rethink calling their son Victor.
5 Don't Delay The Dental
Pregnancy can definitely do a number on a woman’s teeth and gums which is why it is important for her to continue with her regular dental care. It is common for gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) to flare up during pregnancy thanks to fluctuating hormones. As well, preggos are prone to cavities and tooth decay. This is sometimes due to nausea and the increased acid exposure on tooth enamel.
Even if a woman is suffering from extreme oral tenderness, a more sensitive gag reflex or run-of-the-mill pregnancy exhaustion, she should take pains to keep up with her regular dental routines at home and also head to her dentist for a once-over as well.
It may seem insignificant but it really isn’t. Poor dental habits can actually be harmful during pregnancy and may lead to premature delivery, intrauterine growth issues, gestational diabetes and even preeclampsia.
4 Fill The Gap
While healthy eating is always encouraged during pregnancy, taking a prenatal vitamin is a surefire way to make certain all nutritional gaps are covered. The nutrients contained (typically folic acid, iron, iodine and calcium) are always beneficial to a new mom and her growing fetus.
Folic acid helps in the prevention of a baby being born with neural tube defects which affect the brain and spinal cord. Because these defects develop within the first 28 days following conception (before a woman may even have an inkling that she’s pregnant), it makes sense to take a daily dose of folic acid if even considering trying for a baby.
Calcium supplements help a pregnant woman maintain her bone density as well as her teeth. That little vampire growing inside her has no qualms about sucking calcium straight from the source if need be. Iodine is crucial in keeping a pregnant woman’s thyroid functioning properly. As well, lacking in iodine can sometimes lead to birth defects as well as miscarriage or stillbirth. Iron is beneficial to the blood for both mother and baby, ensuring oxygen gets to where it's needed.
As long as her healthcare provider gives a thumbs up, there’s really nothing stopping a preggo and partner from enjoying one last hurrah before life changes forever. One suggestion: many experts agree that the second trimester is the most ideal for travelling. At this point in time, symptoms like nausea and fatigue tend to fade and a woman has a good grasp on how she feels and what she can handle.
A few tips to remain cognizant of while immersed in baby-moon planning:
- Do the best to work around prenatal checkups - they are important.
- Plan for worst case scenarios and ensure the location has access to quality medical facilities and care.
- Make sure health and travel insurance are up to snuff.
- Consider a relaxing getaway as opposed to a busy, sight-seeing trip.
Most importantly, a pregnant woman should trust her gut, play it safe and enjoy herself. And if for whatever reason, a baby-moon just doesn’t happen - don’t despair. It’s not impossible to travel with a baby.
2 Window-Shop Away
Ask a group of pregnant women or new moms when is best to start shopping for baby essentials, and chances are you’ll get a mixed bag of responses. Some will say it’s never too early to stock up on diapers, onesies and blankets, especially if they are on sale. While others may be more tentative or superstitious and prefer to wait until the pregnancy has progressed a bit further before shelling out any money. Still others may take an organized approach and prefer to wait until they know the baby’s gender before making a purchase.
That said, there’s a fine line between preparing oneself and going overboard. The fact of the matter is a mom-to-be won’t know what size diaper her baby needs until they arrive. And if a baby shower is in the works, perhaps consider waiting to fill in the baby essentials gap until afterward.
Window-shopping for baby may prove a productive past time. It’s the perfect way for new parents to garner ideas and research about what they need and want and how much it will cost . . . without spending a dime.
1 Brace For It
An expectant parent can read every book written on the subject, talk to new parents till they’re blue in the face and attempt to glean every tidbit of knowledge they can from all of it. But there is literally nothing that can completely prepare a new parent for the rollercoaster ride ahead. They just can’t know it till they’re in it.
Until then, here are a few additional points to help smooth out the bumps:
- Empty the contents of kitchen drawers directly onto countertops.
- Head to the family room and ensure couch cushions, blankets, knick knacks are strewn about in random fashion on the floor. Do the same in the bedroom.
- Jam the washing machine full and have it running constantly.
- Set the alarm clock for every two hours throughout the night.
- Pour drips of sour milk on all clothing.
- Set all televisions in the house to Caillou.
- Once in the car, pop in Raffi's greatest hits. Listen to it until it becomes enjoyable.
- Babysit a baby, preferably overnight. After they are safely returned to their parents' care, magnify the experience by 100 and make peace with the fact that soon there will be no handing the kid back to anyone else!