Finding out you’re pregnant is one of the most joyful moments of your life—for about 15 seconds and then the panic sets in as you start to think about all the things you need to do, learn, buy and give up when you realize you’re having a baby!
I’m going to be responsible for a person! I’m going to gain 1,000 pounds, a baby is going to be soooo expensive! What should I eat? What can’t I eat? What can I do? What can’t I do? Did you know you can’t stand on your head? Who knew!?
If you’re like me, when you found out you were pregnant you may have realized that you don’t know anything. Starting with the fact that I had no idea that you don’t see your doctor until you reach 7 weeks. When you’ve missed your period, most doctors offices consider you 4 weeks (even though it’s really two, they date the pregnancy back to your last period. Makes no sense but voila, that’s how it’s done.)
After calling my doctor and finding out that newly pregnant women don’t come in for another 3 weeks, I felt totally lost and out in the cold left to google my life away. I couldn’t believe that we were going to base our pregnancy news on one (okay three) stick tests from the pharmacy.
I insisted on having my doctor call me back despite the office seeming extremely irritated–they reiterated they would tell me everything I needed to know at my first appointment—but for me I was like what the heck am I supposed to do until then? Drink wine, eat sushi and stand on my head (all no-nos of course)?
So this is what I’ve learned that I wish I knew the day I found out that I was pregnant. This is what I learned after much research and after my first appointment with my doctor (though of course seek your own personal medical advice). This is just my advice for where to begin! I put my first trimester tips into this handy little video and also wrote out the tips in the article below! So take your pick! (Please excuse references to Smartypanties.com, I had a few different ideas and changed my mind 🙂
Start Taking a Prenatal Vitamin
If you aren’t doing this yet you need to get on a prenatal vitamin. You need to ensure you’re getting proper nutrition. Your doctor will prescribe you one that they think is best for you. Ask for one that’s covered by insurance if possible (otherwise they can be over $1/pill like mine). My doctor said it’s actually a myth that you need a prescription. He said an over-the-counter one is just as good but do what your doctor tells you! Oh and don’t be surprised to learn that your entire system slows down once you’re pregnant–meaning you will probably not go to the bathroom very often anymore. It’s thanks to your slowing system but also thanks to the iron supplements in your prenatal. So, to avoid getting any issues, talk to your doctor about possibly taking a supplement like Colace to keep things moving alone he
Say See Ya To Cocktails
My first instinct was to think we should celebrate with a glass of bubbly—oh wait, can’t do that anymore! So my sister brought over a bottle of sparkling cider. My hormones were already going wild–I thought this was the nicest gesture that had ever been done. Ever. Cue tears.
Don’t freak out if you drank before you learned you were pregnant. We asked our doctor about this since the night of our conception was one for the books. He set all of our worries to rest, as did another doctor I spoke to about the same thing (I’m a lawyer second opinions are what we do). Both doctors said that as long as you stop drinking immediately after finding out you are pregnant that you should be okay. I’m not a doctor but something about the embryo not being attached yet to your body. This super scary announcement came out during my pregnancy that women who have any chance of getting pregnant should stop drinking, which my doctor had disagreed with. Of course, I’m not a college party animal anymore, my drinking is limited to happy hours and wine at dinner so don’t take anything to the extreme. When you try to get pregnant, you should aim to be very healthy–eat well, workout, you know everything in moderation.
Oh and it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be smoking, right? It’s not 1950 so you know that already? And second-hand smoke counts too. So tell your loved ones to refrain from lighting up in your presence.
Decide on your Doctor
Make sure that your doctor accepts your insurance. I can’t stress this enough. Unless you’re Oprah-rich! My original doctor sadly was not a covered doctor under my healthcare plan. However, my insurance does allow for you to see doctors out of network, you just have to pay some out of pocket costs. All I had been seeing her for was my annual check-ups so I was able to cover the extra costs, which wasn’t much. No big deal–I’ll do the same for the pregnancy, it’s pretty standard–or so I thought.
After much investigation into this matter, I determined it was going to cost a fortune. My insurance plan, claims to cover 80% of out of network costs after I reach a deductible. However, there are about a million asterisks I didn’t know about! They cover 80% of what they consider “reasonable and customary.” So what does that mean? Well, in my case, my doctor charged a total fee of $11,000 for pre-natal care, the delivery and post-partum visits (they lump it all together). My insurance said they would cover 80% of $2,100 and some change. My doctor is not fancy, she does not charge outside of the reasonable rates for my zipcode, she doesn’t deliver in a fancy hospital so how could this be? Basically, the insurance company was using a Medicare rate as “reasonable and customary,” which is nothing short of a scam. So they would have paid for less than $2,000 out of $11,000 (and that’s assuming all goes well and there were no extra charges). And PS, who that is on Medicaid (old people) is getting pregnant?!
So I had to switch providers—not what you want to be doing when you are hormonal and want the best for your unborn baby. The pressure of finding a doctor you’ll like is scary when insurance is involved. My best advice is to ask around (not so easy when you’re keeping a secret of your pregnancy).
If you do choose to go out of network, I highly recommend getting an estimate before you deliver so you aren’t hit with an enormous bill at the end. Special shout out to CIGNA who never called me back with my estimate. Thanks guys!
What Can You Eat During Pregnancy
There are the basics—no undercooked foods—meats, seafood, eggs, etc. No unpasteurized dairy, which may contain harmful bacteria that can cause bad problems you don’t want to deal with. I used the list compiled by the Mayo Clinic and googled almost anything the first couple weeks before I ingested it. There are some things that you aren’t supposed to eat–like bean sprouts and radishes–that I had no idea could be an issue. Apparently they have a high risk of listeria contamination. At my first appointment my doctor went over this with me in detail and gave me an extensive list, which apparently had I known better, I could have picked up before my appointment. Live and learn. So just ask your doctor for a list if you are worried before your appointment. They may even be able to email you one.
Keep Up a Healthy Lifestyle
While you may want to kick your feet up and retire from your workout routine, it’s more important now than ever to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that exercising throughout the pregnancy gives a better chance that you’ll have a more comfortable pregnancy, birth and post-natal recovery. I’m told it’s also good for swelling—keeps the blood flowing. So keep exercising but don’t overdo it. Ask your doctor for details but mine told me that during the first trimester, I could pretty much do what I had been doing before I got pregnant–the rule he said was that I must be able to hold a conversation while doing the cardio. Low impact aerobics are what most doctors recommend–walking, swimming or cycling. But again find out from your doctor what’s best for you. I was able to run early in the first trimester but be mindful of your body and what feels safe.
Download a Pregnancy App
I like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” it’s nice because they give you some tips, updates and tells you how big your baby is in terms of fruit! I like the videos because they’re informative–the host is a little bizarre but I am trying to get past that. I also like “The Bump”–it’s interface is a little nicer to look at. Oh and also Pregnancy Plus is a good one.
Starting at the beginning, take photos every week to document the process!
Put the Credit Card Down
There is absolutely no reason to purchase anything at the beginning of your pregnancy. If your nesting instincts are making you bananas start pinning things you like to save for later.
Don’t Tell Anyone You’re Pregnant Until the Second Trimester
I hated this so much. I hate lying to people and keeping secrets. Especially when I was so excited and also when I felt like throwing up I wanted to complain and I couldn’t. The fetus is at its most vulnerable until 12 weeks. It’s just a safer bet to keep it to yourself and close family so that if something goes awry you don’t need to send another post via FB letting the world know something happened. Plus, any decisions you need to make, should be kept between you and your husband.
Before Your First Appointment
You’re finally going to see the doctor right? Well you must have loads of questions! Write them all down as you think of them in the weeks before your appointment so you don’t forget them. The first appointment is a barrage of information, I promise you if your questions are not written down, there will be things you will forget—and OBGYN’s (at least in New York) are not easy to get on the phone in between appointments unless it’s important.
Research your family tree before your appointment. Find out from your parents (and your husband’s) about genetic disorders (Down syndrome, Sick-Cell, etc.). Your doctor will ask about these. It’s also a good idea to check up on your vaccination history. They will tell you to get a flu shot (most likely) if you haven’t already had one. And the TDAP is another they’ll be asking you about.
Check in with you Human Resources Department
Find out what your office’s maternity leave policy is. This can help you plan for the future.
You may have heard of hiring a baby nurse, someone who comes and lives with you for two weeks round the clock. They essentially teach you how to take care of your baby. After watching several friends go through the first few weeks solo, I decided a baby nurse is definitely for me. The best way to find one is through word of mouth from friends and family. If you live in a city like New York you may be surprised to learn that you need to book one months in advance…the day we told friends at 12 weeks we asked around and called the next day. You may also be surprised to learn that your baby nurse will want to interview you. Yep, they can be quite selective of who they choose to work with. So start the search early.
Day Care Wait Lists
And while you’re at it, if you’re planning to go back to work and you’re not sure whether you are going to hire a nanny or use day care, you should know that you need to be on a waitlist ASAP. As in some type-A people get on the lists before they even find out they’re pregnant. Yeah, it’s kinda intense. But if you live in the city, you gotta do what you gotta do. So go do you tours and get on the waitlists ASAP. Some can be pretty substantial so getting on a few will help ensure you have a few options.
Relax! And Take it Slow
Try not to worry about every little thing. I was a crazy person when I found out the news. Every week I took a pregnancy test to prove it was real and still in there. Yeah, I’m nuts. What will be will be—and worrying about every possible scenario certainly isn’t productive. Don’t feel the need to digest every baby book–at least not yet. I took a step back. There were so many things to worry about, I decided to limit myself to one at a time. I was so worried that I would get to my first appointment and they’d find out there wasn’t a heartbeat, then what about genetic disorders, then what about down syndrome test, where is the baby going to fit in our tiny apartment, how will we baby proof, where will we keep the stroller? You see? So instead, I now allow myself to only thing about the next obstacle ahead.
Enjoy the Moment!
I am told this is a very special time in my life (I remind myself of that in between waves of nausea). Put yourself first and enjoy your last few months as just the two of you.
Note: This post is about my opinion. Please consult with a doctor as I have no medical experience. Others may disagree and that’s all okay. Pregnancy is all about your personal, unique journey.
Katie is a luxury lifestyle expert. She runs luxury lifestyle sites, KatieLara.com and Smartypanties.com. But she's not only a luxury lifestyle blogger, she's also a freelance writer for The Huffington Post, Fodor's, Forbes, Pursuitist, Just Luxe and She Knows. She's also a professional photographer and her photos often appear alongside her writing.