Inside: The 15 most important things you should do as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, from a mom of three.
15 Things to Do When You Find Out You’re Pregnant
After multiple pregnancies, I’ve gotten to know a lot about the process — the good, the awkward, the uncomfortable, and the exciting.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that every pregnancy is different. However, there are certain things that are always the same, like how important it is to take care of yourself.
Note: I’ve included ad links to products that were essential in helping me get through all my pregnancies; read my disclosure policy here.
Whether this is your first baby, or your fifth, these are 15 things you should do as soon as you find out you’re pregnant:
1. Start Taking a Prenatal Vitamin
If you’re not already, start taking a prenatal vitamin. This will supplement your diet and ensure that your growing baby (and you!) get the nutrients you need.
A regular multivitamin is better than none at all, but prenatal vitamins are specifically designed to provide the right nutrients during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins can help ease symptoms of morning sickness (thanks to Vitamin B6) and more importantly, prevent certain birth defects (look for folate).
A word of caution: taking your vitamins on an empty stomach may cause nausea. I always take my prenatal vitamins with a meal or before bed (if I’m asleep I’m less likely to feel sick).
I absolutely love SmartyPants Prenatal Complete Gummy Vitamins because they taste amazing, and they’re spread out in smaller doses so they never made me feel nauseous. (The girls love their kids gummy vitamins too!)
If you’re not yet expecting, but hoping to conceive, go ahead and start taking your prenatal vitamins now. Also, you don’t need to stop taking them immediately after you give birth. A prenatal vitamin is still beneficial during your recovery and especially if you are breastfeeding.
2. Schedule Your First Prenatal Visit
The second person to tell (after your partner or spouse) that you’re pregnant…your doctor!
Sometimes it can take a couple weeks to get an appointment, so you’ll want to put your name on the list as soon as possible.
During your first prenatal visit, your doctor or midwife will confirm your pregnancy (just to be 100% sure). They will also likely run a few blood tests to check your hormone levels and see if everything is tracking normally. You might even get to take a peek at the baby with a quick ultrasound (depending on how far along you are at the time).
If all looks well, you’ll likely return for your next visit in a month or so. Any unusual numbers might prompt an earlier second visit to take another look.
3. Make Sleep a Priority
I know, I know — there are a lot of things that get in the way of a full night’s sleep. Kids, work, stress, you name it!
However, sleep is crucial during pregnancy to keep you healthy, and make sure that you’ve got enough energy to grow a baby and function during the day.
I also found that on nights when I didn’t get enough sleep, I felt terrible the next day! Making sleep a priority (and taking naps when possible) helped tremendously with my morning sickness.
Related: 10 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Morning Sickness (these are what worked for me!)
4. Re-examine your Exercise Routine
Exercise is helpful throughout pregnancy to relieve stress, manage weight gain, maintain flexibility, and promote better sleep. Regular physical exercise may also lower the risk of gestational diabetes and increase your stamina for labor (source).
However, there are some exercises that you should skip while you’re pregnant, as they can be uncomfortable or even dangerous.
Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy:
- High-impact aerobics
- Hot yoga
- Challenging workouts that you didn’t practice before your were pregnant
- Skiing or other activities with a high risk of falling
- Trampolining or activities with a lot of bouncing
- Contact sports
I used to take hot yoga, but extreme temperatures can be dangerous for a developing baby, especially during the first trimester. Instead, I switched to a warm class, which is still a great workout, but at a moderate temperature.
Excellent Exercises for Expecting Moms:
- Prenatal yoga
- Low-impact aerobics
Important: Talk to your doctor or midwife before starting any new fitness routine and if you’ve had any prior pregnancy complications.
5. Start Your Birth Plan…NOW
Your birth plan sets the course for your pregnancy. If you’re hoping for a home birth, your preparations will be different than for a hospital birth.
With my first pregnancy, I didn’t create a birth plan at all. Big mistake!!
Things didn’t go exactly how I hoped and I ended up at the mercy of a strange doctor and a strange hospital. And that is NOT how you want labor to go.
You better believe this time around I’m making a plan!
Related: Why Every Mom Should Plan for a C-Section (it’s not what you think!)
6. Check Your Insurance
Dealing with insurance is the worst.
Unfortunately, it’s a necessity, as childbirth is more expensive in the United States than any other developed country in the world. (By more than double!)
To avoid any unpleasant (and costly) surprises, call your insurer NOW to see what’s covered on your plan. Ask about:
- In-network providers
- Which facilities in your area are available
- Specific services that are covered
- What happens in case of an emergency
- Will your baby automatically be covered on your plan
- Your expected financial responsibility (deductibles, co-pays, out-of-pocket maximums are all key terms to know)
- Anything else you can think of!!
The more you know in advance, the better prepared you’ll be to manage and anticipate your pregnancy and childbirth expenses.
7. Let Your Employer Know
You have rights when you’re pregnant! By that I mean you have rights in the workplace.
Most importantly, your employer is NOT allowed to fire or discriminate against you if they find out that you’re pregnant.
It can be scary telling you’re employer (at least it was for me), because you may be worried about how they will react. However, the first trimester can be especially difficult, and your employer will be much more understanding if they know why you’re not feeling 100%.
While not required to by law, your employer may also make special accommodations to keep you both comfortable and productive. One of the nice things my boss did for me during my previous pregnancy was to bring a couch into my office. That way when my rib pain became intense, I could stretch out and rest for a few minutes.
Want to know more about your rights during pregnancy? Click here to read an excellent article on Parents.com that breaks it down.
8. Decide When to Tell Family & Friends
This is a very personal decision, and every couple handles it differently.
Some couples decide to wait until after the first trimester to go public with the news, as the risk of miscarriage decreases dramatically during the second trimester.
Others choose to spread the word right away.
I miscarried my first pregnancy in the first trimester, before we really told anyone outside close family. This meant that I suffered one of the hardest things in my life while no one knew what was happening.
For my last two pregnancies, I told people much sooner. I figured that if anything were to go wrong, it would be easier to heal with the support of family and friends.
If you have older children, you’ll also want to think about when to let them in on the surprise. With my last pregnancy, our oldest daughter was four at the time, so we waited to tell her until I was showing and it made more sense to her. This time around we told the girls right away — we were too excited to wait!
Again, deciding when to tell is a very personal decision, but it’s one you’ll want to think about right away to make sure that you and your partner/spouse are on the same page.
9. Start thinking about names
During my last pregnancy, we picked a name easily. One day we were talking as a family and it just happened!
With this baby, we spent almost five months tossing around hundreds of names before we found “the one.” Whew!
I’ve known couples who debated names until almost the day their baby was born. Better to get started right away so you have plenty of time!
10. Fix your sleeping situation
During my previous pregnancy, I spent the first few months terribly uncomfortable sleeping on an old mattress. Finally I said “enough” and went out and purchased a new one. I wish I had done that right from the start and I could have saved myself weeks of tossing and turning!
I still love that mattress, and I’ve slept better this pregnancy. Though this time around it was my pillows that needed an upgrade!
If it is within your budget, make sure your bed is as comfortable and supportive as possible. Not only will you be gaining weight and putting more pressure on your mattress, but your shape will be changing too.
If your budget is limited, the addition of an inexpensive memory foam mattress topper (like this one) can still make a huge difference!
Sleep is SO SO important during pregnancy (see #3) and a good bed is worth the splurge.
11. Start a maternity wardrobe
With my first pregnancy, I didn’t buy any maternity clothes until over halfway through. By that point, I was miserable because my expanding waistline was being constricted by pants made for normal people.
Don’t torture yourself like I did because you think “maternity” clothes are all ugly and frumpy. There are so many cute boutiques online and you can find some great deals (in case you’re like me and hate spending money on a temporary wardrobe).
Black maternity leggings are my go-to piece because I can wear them over and over and no one really notices!
Another tip: You might think a maternity wardrobe is a waste because you’ll be back in your regular clothes after birth. If that happens to you, then you’re one of the extremely lucky ones! Most of us mamas end up wearing our maternity clothes for a few months after birth as our bodies slowly shed the baby weight.
So that “nine month” wardrobe might actually last you a year and a half, or more! (No judgement here…maternity yoga pants are super comfortable!) Plus, if you’re planning for multiple children, you can always box them up for next time.
12. Pay Attention to Your Body
Pregnancy causes a LOT of changes, and some of them can feel pretty weird. So what’s normal and what’s cause for concern?
Honestly, I’ve found that my body and instinct has been the best indicator for me.
With my miscarriage, I experienced light spotting early on. Some books and sources will say that this can be normal (it’s true that spotting may turn out to be benign), however, I just knew something was wrong.
I listened to my body and scheduled an appointment with my midwife right away. She was able to prepare me for the possibility that I was miscarrying.
While it’s ok to research online or ask a friend to see what’s “normal,” when in doubt always ask your doctor or midwife.
Your body will also let you know when you need to adjust your daily habits. For example:
- If you’re feeling stomach discomfort, you might want to take a closer look at your diet. I started eating gluten free during my first pregnancy and it relieved so many digestive symptoms!
- Extreme fatigue may be your body signaling that you need to rest more, whether it be going to sleep a little earlier or taking a midday catnap.
- Aches and pains might be your bodies way of telling you to “slow down.” I know that when I’m on the go or pushing it physically, my body lets me know when I’ve pushed a little too hard. (Keep in mind that any severe pains or cramping should be reported to your doctor or midwife ASAP).
13. Take Lots of Photos
This is something I wish I had done a better job of during my first pregnancy!
There are probably about 10 photos of me pregnant in TOTAL for that entire 10 months! (And I took ZERO photos during the first two weeks after I gave birth.
You’ll never regret taking too many photos (I promise!) but you will regret if you didn’t take enough.
14. Start Stocking Up Now
Diapers, wipes, and baby supplies are expensive!
That’s why we always start stocking up right away.
You might decide to wait until after the first trimester to buy baby products (when the risk for miscarriage goes down). However, I’d definitely start stockpiling diapers, wipes, and onesies by the second trimester!
See what else I figured out after my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants first pregnancy: Rookie Parent Mistakes to Avoid with a Second Pregnancy
15. Don’t Stress Yourself Out
Easier said than done for sure, but stress is detrimental to your health (pregnant or not). Try to minimize it as much as possible!
Whether it’s a hot mug of calming pregnancy tea or a prenatal massage, treat yourself regular to relaxation. Growing a baby is hard work…you deserve it!
Also, try to avoid reading too much about pregnancy complications and childbirth mishaps — both in books and online. While it’s ok to be aware of possibilities, focusing on negative outcomes will likely only serve to freak you out.
Take care of yourself mama, and focus on the positive!
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My Pregnancy Essentials
These are items that I loved and use during all my pregnancies! I hope they’ll help you too!
- SmartyPants Prenatal Complete Gummy Vitamins – My absolute favorite vitamins out of the many I’ve tried.
- Memory Foam Mattress Topper – If a new mattress isn’t in the budget, a mattress topper can still make a world of difference!
- Boppy Pregnancy Pillow – I have four different Boppy pillows, both for pregnancy and breastfeeding. Can you tell that I love them?!
- Preggie Pop Drops – Through all my pregnancies I experienced awful morning sickness. Preggie Pop Drops taste fantastic and temporarily take your mind off the nausea.
- Pea in the Pod Secret Fit Belly Maternity Leggings – I loved these leggings so much that I bought three pairs and I wore them pretty much every single day!
Disclaimer: This post is based on my own personal experience; I am not a medical professional. Always consult your doctor or midwife with specific pregnancy-related questions.