Well if no one has said it yet, let me be the first to say, congratulations! You’re likely here because you have a positive pregnancy test and are wondering, now what?
Maybe you’ve spent months waiting for this moment, or maybe it was more of a happy surprise. However it happened, let’s make sure you get this pregnancy started off on the right foot.
When I had a positive pregnancy test, I had a million questions running through my head. What can I eat while pregnant? Should I keep exercising during the first trimester? When do I go to the doctor for my first pregnancy? How can I start preparing for baby now? Who should I tell about my pregnancy?
Let’s take a look at all of these things and more to get you on the right track for a healthy and safe pregnancy. We’ll figure out exactly what to do now that you have a positive pregnancy test.
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Was My Pregnancy Test Definitely Positive?
It can be a little bit hard to wrap your head around. One minute you don’t know if you’re pregnant or not, and then you pee on a stick and BAM– pregnant.
You don’t necessarily feel any different now, and your mind starts racing, is this real? A positive pregnancy test, wow!
The bottom line, if your home pregnancy test indicated a positive result, you are pregnant, no matter how faint the lines. In fact, home urine pregnancy tests are over 99% effective. Blood tests are even more accurate.
Positive Pregnancy Test Pictures
Any of the tests below indicate a positive pregnancy test. If the test line is there, no matter how faint, along with the control line, your test is positive.
What to do after finding out you’re pregnant
- Prenatal Vitamins and Fish Oil
- Check insurance coverage
- Research providers and hospitals
- Make your first appointment
1. If you aren’t already, get on Prenatal Vitamins right away
Hopefully, you have been taking prenatal supplements while trying to conceive, but if you haven’t don’t stress it, just get on one ASAP.
Why are prenatal pills so important? Folic Acid is very important for your developing baby, and studies show this is particularly true in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Nutrient deficiencies in utero are actually linked to a lot of diseases and neuro-abnormalities later in life, specifically autism.
Fish Oils too!
Make sure you are also getting DHA, which is now found in most prenatal vitamins. Recent studies are showing that DHA is crucial for baby’s brain development while in utero and also after they are born.
Consider taking a high-quality fish oil supplement, an excellent source of DHA, in addition to your prenatal vitamins. You should continue taking these after baby is born too to ensure that your breastmilk is full of DHA to continue to support baby’s brain development in the first year.
2. Look into your prenatal, labor and delivery insurance coverage
This isn’t something to wait on. In fact, before even making a call to schedule your first appointment, which we’ll talk about below, I want you to do your research!
If you and your husband have different insurance plans, which was the case for me when I got pregnant, research both. Find out who’s coverage is more complete or in the network of the hospital and provider you think you’d like to use.
By figuring this out early, you may be able to switch to your partner’s if it makes the most sense when open-enrollment comes around. Sure, there is the off-chance that you won’t be able to catch it. But by looking into these things right away your odds are better should you want to make a switch.
A good friend of mine waited until a few weeks before delivery and realized that her birth would have had ZERO co-pay had she switched to her husband’s insurance. Unfortunately, she had missed open-enrollment by two months and had no option to switch.
Check if you can allocate pre-tax health care dollars from your paycheck (flex spending account)
This is another thing that you should investigate. Many jobs offer flex spending accounts which allow pre-tax dollars to be taken out of your paycheck and put into a special healthcare spending account. The trouble is, you can often only enroll in these programs at specific times in the year.
This is a great program to take advantage of at any time in your life, but if you know you are going to be spending a specific amount on co-pays for prenatal office visits and birth this year, why not ensure that money is taken out of your paycheck pre-tax?
3. Research provider options and begin to think about where this baby is going to be born
Before you pick up the phone to make an appointment with your routine OB/GYN, do a little research. Start to envision your birth and what kind of care you’d like to receive.
Doctor or Midwife?
Look into the possibility of delivering with a certified nurse midwife (CNM) instead of a doctor. They are known for providing excellent medical care while also emphasizing the patient’s mental health, well-being, and following their wishes.
Midwives are known to avoid unnecessary tests and treatments. In fact, women under the care of midwives are less likely to have a cesarean, an episiotomy and other interventions than women receiving care from doctors.
What Hospital or Birth Center Should You Choose?
Check out different birth options in your area. Is there more than one hospital? You’ll want to make sure the provider you decide on delivers at your top hospital choice.
I didn’t realize just how many factors should go into choosing where to give birth.
You should look at:
- Hospital statistics
- Rates of various interventions
- Breastfeeding success rates and supports
- What level or nursery or NICU they provide
- How many providers are on during a given shift
- What kind of amenities do they offer to you and your partner
4. I Just Found Out I’m Pregnant, When Should I Go to the Doctor?
Now that you know how to find the perfect provider and hospital for your big day, let’s get back to where we were. You just found out you’re pregnant, when should you go to the doctor?
Generally, you will go in for your first appointment around 8 weeks from your last missed period. It’s a good idea to make a call right away and the receptionist will be able to help you with scheduling. You can also ask to be in touch with nurses about any specific questions you may have.
What Should I Avoid Now That I’m Pregnant?
I remember asking this at my first prenatal appointment and the midwife’s answer stuck with me throughout my entire pregnancy. She emphasized that pregnancy (for the most part) is unlike any other routine medical care, because you are not ill.
While of course it is important to be cautious and follow basic guidelines, your body was built to make and deliver a baby! It knows what to do and outside of a few guidelines, listen to your body, feed it well, stay hydrated, and let it rest when it needs it and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy pregnancy.
The big caveat here are following those basic guidelines, because no risk is worth it when it comes to your unborn baby. So let’s look at what to avoid.
What Foods and Beverages Should I Avoid Now That I’m Pregnant?
- Raw meat, seafood, shellfish
- Deli meat
- Raw eggs
- Fish with high mercury levels
- Imported soft cheeses
- Unpasteurized milk
- Unwashed fruits and veggies
1. Raw Meat and Raw Seafood and Shellfish
This is because of potential exposure to coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis and salmonella.
What is Toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is a blood infection that is caused by parasites found in animal feces, particularly those of cats. The parasite can also be found on raw meats. While relatively rare, it can have terrible effects on your unborn child.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, “when the mother gets infected between weeks 10-24, the risk for severe problems in the newborn is about 5-6%.” These problems include low birth weight, premature birth, mental retardation, abnormal head size, brain calcification and more.
What is Salmonella and why is it risky during pregnancy?
Salmonella is caused when you ingest bacteria that is present on raw or undercooked foods. It is often the root of what is commonly known as “food poisoning”.
Unfortunately, you can’t really do anything to treat it, it just needs to run its course which usually involves:
While a healthy person contracting salmonella isn’t exactly fun, it’s something a healthy body can typically handle. But while you are pregnant you are at higher risk for
- Extreme Dehydration
- Bacteremia (bacteria in the bloodstream)
- Meningitis caused from bacteremia
- Reactive arthritis
If there is any possibility that you are infected with this at any point in your pregnancy, call your provider right away for monitored care.
Better yet, avoid it completely by not taking any risks with eating raw or undercooked foods!
2. Deli Meats
The general guideline when it comes to deli meats is to avoid them due to possible listeria contamination. Listeria is linked to miscarriage because of its ability to cross the placenta and infect the baby with blood poisoning.
This is something you should talk with your provider about. Many sources agree that it may be okay to eat deli meats, as long as you first heat them until steaming to kill possible bacteria.
3. Some Cooked Fish due to Mercury
Eating fish during pregnancy can actually be an excellent way to increase your consumption of DHA through diet, but you want to be educated about which fish to eat. Some fish are known to contain high levels of mercury.
Why is Mercury consumption particularly bad during pregnancy? Mercury is a heavy metal and has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage.
Not all fish needs to be avoided. Some examples of fish that typically contain high mercury levels are, shark, swordfish, king shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. It’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid these completely.
You can find more information about fish and mercury from the American Pregnancy Association in the resources at the end of this article.
4. Raw Eggs
This is also due to possible salmonella contraction. Keep in mind that beyond avoiding dipping your finger in the batter while baking, raw eggs are sometimes used in:
- Homemade dressings
- Ice cream
- Hollandaise sauce
5. Soft Cheeses
Specifically, this is for imported cheese made with unpasteurized milk. These should be avoided due to possible listeria contamination.
If the soft cheese is unimported and made with pasteurized milk it is safe to eat.
6. Unpasteurized Milk
Again, it can contain listeria which is linked to miscarriage.
According to the APA, no amount of alcohol is safe to consume during pregnancy. Exposure to alcohol in utero can cause serious developmental delays and, depending on timing and frequency of exposure, can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome.
If you drank alcohol before you knew you were pregnant, stop right away. Everything is likely fine. But, it is a good idea to talk over your alcohol use before you knew and any other concerns on this topic with your provider at your first appointment.
8. Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables
Be sure to get your veggies clean before consumption! This is because of possible exposure to toxoplasmosis which can be present in soil.
Washed fruits and vegetables are, of course, a safe and a healthy addition to your pregnancy diet.
I’m so tired? What about caffeine while pregnant?
Most studies show that moderate caffeine intake during pregnancy is perfectly fine, but the American Pregnancy Association does mention some links between caffeine and miscarriage.
If you have a history of miscarriage it may be best to avoid caffeine during the first trimester, but this is something you should discuss specifically with your provider and may not be necessary.
The general rule of thumb is to keep caffeine consumption under 200 mg. This is around one 12 oz cup of coffee. Tea on the other hand, has a range of 25-48 mg of caffeine per cup depending on the type and strength.
When I was pregnant, I had a cup of coffee in the morning and would use green tea as an afternoon pick me up because it had much less caffeine.
Can I continue Exercising While Pregnant?
The short answer is yes. Exercise during pregnancy will help you have more energy, a more moderate and paced weight gain, and maybe even a faster recovery from childbirth.
If you already exercised regularly before becoming pregnant
If you were already an avid or regular exerciser before pregnancy, you can continue with your typical exercise routine. Just be sure to listen to your body. If you are feeling tired faster or uncomfortable in any way, scale back or replace your exercise routine with something different.
If you didn’t previously exercise but want to start
If you didn’t exercise previously, pregnancy can be a great time to incorporate movement into your routine. Low-impact exercises are great.
Some exercises to try while pregnant:
- Brisk walking
- Elliptical machines
- Low-impact aerobics (just be sure to let the instructor know you are pregnant)
- Yoga (again, check-in with the instructor if it isn’t specifically a prenatal class)
When might it not be safe to exercise while pregnant?
If your pregnancy is high risk, or you have a history or miscarriage or premature births, it may be best to avoid exercise.
Before starting or continuing any exercise plans, discuss your unique situation with your prenatal provider.
What Other Things Should be Avoided?
Avoid Cat litter while pregnant
Cat litter should be avoided because of risk of contracting toxoplasmosis, a parasite, while rare, can cause serious birth defects. Read about what toxoplasmosis is above under the foods to avoid heading.
Many people who live with a cat have developed immunity to toxoplasmosis, but there is no way to know for sure. Pregnancy gives you a great excuse to make your partner in charge of the kitty litter for a while.
How can I prevent toxoplasmosis if I own a cat:
According to the APA:
- Avoid exposures to cat feces; get someone else to change the kitty litter
- Keep cats off counters
- Do not give your cat raw meat
- Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with your cat or contact with raw meat
Your provider will ask you if you have a cat at your first prenatal appointment, and this is why. If for some reason they do not ask this, make sure you bring it up and discuss actions you can take.
It is important to check all of your medications as soon as you know you are pregnant. Any medications that do not clearly indicate that they are safe during pregnancy should be discussed with your provider.
Avoid Hot Tubs and Saunas While Pregnant
Research shows that an elevated body temperature, especially during the first trimester, can lead to birth defects. Talk this over with your provider, but a warm bath is usually considered safe and can feel so good as your pregnancy progresses! Just avoid hot tubs and saunas where the temperature is kept very high.
Quit Smoking and Avoid Second-Hand Smoke
Exposure to smoke, even second hand could lead to miscarriage, premature delivery, low birth weight, developmental delays as baby grows and SIDS.
What are the Early Signs of Pregnancy?
All women experience pregnancy symptoms at different times and degrees, but there are those hallmark symptoms that affect most women. Many of these can start as early as 2-8 weeks after conception. In one study, over 59% of women reported having at least one early pregnancy symptom by week 5.
When it comes to pregnancy symptoms, it makes sense to group them by trimesters, because things change a lot over the course of the next 40 weeks.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms
The 10 most common early pregnancy symptoms are:
- Sore breasts
- Light cramping
- Missed period
- Heightened sense of smell
- Moring sickness
- Food aversions
- Food cravings
First Signs of Pregnancy
Chances are that you will experience one of these symptoms. While a missed period is what we think of as the “first symptom” only 29% of women report that as their first symptom. Many women experience other symptoms before they even have the chance to miss their period.
For me, sore breasts and a heightened sense of smell were symptoms I experienced before I even missed my period. The heightened sense of smell caught me completely off guard.
I even remember talking to my husband and describing my new sense of smell like a “super power”. It was so bizarre, and annoying, because it also linked to my gag reflex without a hitch :/
Early Pregnancy Remedies
The two early pregnancy symptoms that can be the most challenging to live with throughout your first trimester tend to be fatigue and morning sickness. Try to listen to your body the best you can. Growing a tiny human is a lot of work!
There is no shame in taking naps, hitting the hay by 8pm, or skipping your normal workouts if you’re feeling exhausted. At work, when napping isn’t possible, see if you can take a short brisk walk (think 10 minutes), or walk up and down the stairs a few times. Sometimes a little physical activity can go a long way in giving you a pick-me-up.
Morning sickness plagues most women in the first trimester, and can strike at any time of the day. Create a morning sickness survival kit with things like crackers, mint gum, ginger candies, bars, and cold water.
How do I figure out my due date?
To figure out your due date you first need to know the first day of your last menstrual cycle. From that date you add 280 days (40 weeks). This date is your due date!
Remember that your due date is only an estimate. In first pregnancies especially, it is not uncommon for baby to be a bit late. And any point after 37 weeks is considered full term. Just don’t get too hyped over the actual date, it’s best to plan for +/- 10 days.
When Should I tell people about my pregnancy?
Choosing when and how to tell people your big news isn’t something to take lightly. Many couples choose to wait to share their news publicly until week 14, because this is when the likelihood of miscarriage drops off significantly.
Anyone you share your news with before this point, should be someone you’d feel equally comfortable talking about a potential miscarriage with.
One idea if you’re absolutely bursting the seams to share, is to choose someone who you know and trust but isn’t necessarily involved in most of your social circles and family. This will let you share the news and celebrate with someone outside of yourselves. It’ll be another person to confide in before the 14 week mark, and might even make it easier to get to that point.
Emphasize to others when you share your news that it is YOUR news to share and spread. Being explicit about this will ensure that you are the ones who get to tell everyone you are expecting.
How can I get my partner involved throughout my pregnancy?
As the birthing mama, you will feel this instant connection to your baby growing inside of you. It can be more challenging for dad to feel this bond, especially before you even look pregnant or he can feel the kicks.
As soon as you have a positive pregnancy test, celebrate! Try to make it special right away. Chances are you took the test in the morning. Call out of work, or say you’ll be late and go out to breakfast to celebrate. Enjoy the great news and let it sink in. Talk about all of the things you’re excited about.
Plan some fun date nights throughout your pregnancy to help keep dad involved and bonded with baby all along the way. Aim for two ‘expecting’ date nights in each trimester in addition to any other dates you might regularly do.
You Can Start Preparing Right Away!
Ah! I’m so excited for you <3 the journey into motherhood is the best. Let’s make sure that you are beyond prepared by the time baby arrives, together.
Your First Trimester Checklist Should Include:
- The Basics (prenatal vitamin, what to avoid)
- Look into insurance coverage
- Choosing a Provider and Hospital
- Scheduling your first appointment
- Learning about prenatal testing
- Deciding if you want to find out the gender
- Deciding if and when you want to share the news
- Looking into Maternity Leave and Working on your Budget
- Investing in quality clothes that will work throughout pregnancy and beyond
- Setting yourself up for healthy and nutritious eating through meal prepping
Does this list already seem daunting? It shouldn’t be! Check out our Expecting section so you can start preparing.
We’re so excited to share this special time with you 😊
How did you feel when you saw your positive pregnancy test?! How about your partner? Comment below!
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Fish and Mercury Levels: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/mercury-levels-in-fish/
Exercise during pregnancy: https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/exercise-during-pregnancy#1