What to do if you’ve just found out you’re pregnant
Your guide to everything you need to know about prenatal care, preparing for a baby, and what to expect in the early stages of pregnancy.
Finding out you’re pregnant can bring about a range of emotions, whether it was planned or not, it’s completely normal to feel anxious or scared about this news. The internet can be a useful, yet daunting place when it comes to seeking advice, whilst every parenting journey is unique, there are a number of steps you can take at the very beginning to help ease you into the next 9 months.
Contact Your GP or Midwife as Soon as Possible
You should contact your GP or Midwife as soon as possible after finding out you’re pregnant. They’ll be able to provide you with all of the necessary information on the pregnancy care available in your local area. If you’re not already registered with a doctor, you can check where your nearest GP services are, or your nearest Maternity services.
It’s important to find a doctor or midwife that you trust and feel comfortable with. In most cases, you can expect to see your obstetrician or midwife once per month until week 28, twice per month from weeks 28 to 36 and weekly from week 36 to birth.
Expect your first midwife appointment to last around 90 minutes. Your midwife will ask for some personal details such as information about your medical history, will take a blood screening and provide further information about important steps you should be taking. During this appointment your midwife will also assign you with a booking appointment (usually taking place between the 8th and 12th week of pregnancy).
It’s important that you don’t miss any of your antenatal appointments - the tests, scans and checks will ensure you and your baby are properly looked after and healthy.
First Trimester Symptoms
At the start of your pregnancy, you might begin to notice a number of changes to your body - this can include tiredness, sore breasts or a change in appetite. Whilst not everyone experiences all of these symptoms, they are perfectly normal changes. It is also very common that you may start to feel sick or be sick. Whilst this is commonly known as morning sickness, it can, unfortunately, strike at any time of the day. Morning sickness usually begins around week 6 and can last until the end of your first trimester. Whilst there is sadly no one tested way to handle morning sickness, there are a number of recommended tips for reducing and handling the effects.
Habits to break during early pregnancy
There are a number of key steps you can take to maximise your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
Stop Drinking Alcohol
Experts still remain unsure over exactly how much (if any) alcohol is safe to consume whilst you’re pregnant. As a result, it’s recommended to stop all alcohol consumption throughout the pregnancy to protect you and your baby.
It’s important to stop smoking whilst you’re pregnant to protect your baby, clearing harmful gases and damaging chemicals from your body. If you struggle with smoking, the NHS has a free helpline to offer help, support and advice.
Whilst most foods and drinks are safe to consume during pregnancy, there are some that you’re recommended to avoid or reduce. This includes caffeine, certain fish, eggs, meat and milk or cheese.
Habits to pickup during early pregnancy
There are a number of easy steps and actions which you can implement to help both you and your baby thrive:
Taking it easy
Pregnancy can be incredibly tiring and stressful - it is important to look out for yourself and take the time to relax.
Perfect your diet
Throughout your pregnancy, it is important that you are eating balanced meals containing the necessary vitamins and minerals to help provide your baby with the right amount of nutrients to grow and develop.
There’s evidence that suggests active people are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour. However, don’t exhaust yourself, as a general rule you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise when pregnant. If you become breathless as you talk, then you're probably exercising too strenuously.
Understand you’re not alone during your pregnancy
Regardless of your current circumstances, it can feel like it is just you (and your baby) experiencing this, which can feel quite isolating at times. However, there is a whole network of people to support you. Of course, your first port of call is your GP or midwife for health-related questions. However, do remember antenatal care is also there for more general questions. In addition, NCT groups in your area can connect you closer to other parents going through the same process as you.
Pregnancy can be an emotional journey. Sometimes this can be because of your own feelings surrounding the pregnancy, other times it can be due to your hormonal imbalance. Bottling up your feelings will only increase your anxiety, therefore, it’s essential that you communicate your concerns or worries with family members, friends or a trusted person in your life.
Informing your employer that you’re pregnant
You’re legally obligated to tell your employer at least 15 weeks before your expected week of childbirth in order to qualify for maternity leave. Remember, it is against the law for an employer to discriminate against you because of your pregnancy status - pregnant employees benefit from four additional employment rights. This includes entitlement to paid time off for antenatal care and appointments throughout your pregnancy.
Final Thoughts From Kinhub
Whilst pregnancy can be an extremely joyful and exciting time, it can also cause a lot of anxiety, with the overload of information and recommendations often incredibly daunting. Remember, pregnancy is a huge change and is likely to take some toll on your day-to-day life. It’s just as important to protect your mental health throughout your pregnancy as your physical health. Every journey is different. If you can, always try and talk about your feelings to a friend, family member or medical professional. Remember, try to stop comparing yourself and your journey to others - everyone’s experience with pregnancy is unique.