I’ll never forget the day I found out I was pregnant with my first child.
As soon as I saw that little blue cross my heart started pounding and the tears began to flow – my life was about to change forever.
Suddenly, nine months seemed like such a short time. There was so much to do!
Whether you were caught by surprise or you have spent months or even years trying to get pregnant, now that it is finally here and reality has hit, it’s time to get busy!
Here are the top 10 things you need to do after seeing a positive pregnancy test.
1. Tell Your Significant Other
I am terrible at keeping secrets so with each of my three pregnancies, my husband knew I was pregnant the moment I did.
But if you haven’t told your significant other that you may be pregnant, he should be the first to know – after all, it’s his baby, too!
Surprise him by leaving the pregnancy test on the bathroom counter, buy him a card, or get him a great gift.
But don’t let it stop there – be sure to include him on all of your planning and preparations.
Keep him informed about doctor visits, registry items, and more.
He may not experience the morning sickness and a growing belly, but this child is growing in his heart just as much as it is growing in yours.
2. Make Your First Prenatal Appointment
Most doctors or midwives will want to see you at around eight weeks after your last menstrual period.
Your first appointment is usually your longest, especially if this is your first pregnancy or your first time to see this doctor or midwife (more about choosing doctors next).
They will want to spend some time talking about your medical history, including any previous pregnancies or miscarriages, illnesses or family history, medications, allergies, and more.
Your doctor will also perform a physical exam and send you to get labs drawn to test your blood type, iron levels, and more.
Be sure to ask what tests are being run as labs can be quite expensive. Some labs may be required while others are optional.
Remember, you are not committed to deliver with this doctor so if you don’t feel like he/she is a good fit, there is plenty of time to find a new doctor or midwife.
3. Make a Choice: Doctor or Midwife?
If you aren’t 100% sold on your doctor, you have the freedom to choose a new one or deliver with a midwife at a hospital or birthing center.
Be sure to check with your insurance so you understand what they cover and which providers are in-network.
Once you know what your options are, read reviews, and talk to friends or family who have recently had a baby.
Especially if this is your first baby, you’ll want to talk to a variety of people as each person may have a different perspective based on their own goals and priorities.
🤓Expert Tip: Many doctors have a personal website with information about their medical background, education, and overall philosophy. You can also read reviews online from websites such as Health Grades, Share Care, or Vitals.
Hospitals and birthing centers will often allow you to tour the maternity ward and nursery so you can see for yourself what your birthing experience may be like.
Some women like the perceived safety of a hospital environment, while others prefer the warm and intimate environment that a birthing center offers. You may even decide to do a home birth!
Ask for a breakdown of costs and compare.
Even with great insurance, hospitals will usually end up costing you much more than a birthing center.
You won’t have a lot of time for an introductory visit so come prepared with three or four questions that are most important to you.
If a natural delivery is important to you, you may want to ask under what circumstances your doctor performs cesareans, or how long they will allow labor to progress naturally before intervening.
4. Read About Pregnancy and Childbirth
Knowledge is power, right?
Well-meaning friends and family will give you a never-ending stream of unsolicited advice, but that doesn’t always mean that it is right, or right for you.
Even doctors may approach pregnancy and childbirth differently, so it’s important to devour as much information as you can, as soon as you can.
What to Expect
What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a classic for new moms.
The simple month-by-month format means you really only need to read a chapter a month, maybe two if you want to read ahead to see what is coming up next.
The author covers all of the basics such as…
- how your body is changing,
- how the baby is developing,
- warning signs to look out for,
- what to expect at your appointments,
- labor and delivery,
- and more.
It’s the encyclopedia of pregnancy and beyond.
Labor and Delivery
If you are hoping for a natural labor and delivery, my doctor recommended Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way during my first pregnancy and the knowledge and confidence it gave me is the reason why I have been able to deliver three babies naturally, despite some unique circumstances in my first delivery.
Read this book early in the pregnancy so you have plenty of time to talk with your doctor and partner about what you are learning and get feedback.
The book has exercises for you to do with your husband to prepare for delivery and it is ideal if you read it together as it encourages strong participation from your partner (or mother or sister – whoever will be in the delivery room with you).
Even if this is not your first pregnancy, there is so much you can learn from the Bradley Way.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you exclusively breastfeed your infant for the first six months and continue to breastfeed for at least a year, while the World Health Organization recommends that you continue to breastfeed for two years.
For something so natural that women have been doing for literally thousands of years, you would think it should be quite simple.
In reality, breastfeeding can be extremely difficult for some mothers and the source of stress and anxiety during the first few weeks of your baby’s life.
Prepare yourself by reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding prior to your due date.
Don’t wait until after the baby is born because you need this information the moment the doctor places your newborn on your chest.
Ask your partner to read it as well and get his support.
He’ll need to encourage you through dry, bleeding nipples, sleepless nights, mastitis and milk supply challenges.
Not that every mother experiences all of these (though I’ve yet to meet one who hasn’t had the sleepless nights!) but if you do, you’ll want a compassionate partner ready to come to your aid and remind you why you are doing this in the first place.
Everything in Between
While the internet is a profound reservoir of information, be careful not to let yourself sink into the black abyss of worst-case scenarios by googling every little ache or pain during your pregnancy.
If you are healthy and your doctor has not declared you high-risk, you have very little to worry about.
A good book (like What to Expect When You’re Expecting) will inform you of the red-flags you need to look out for without scaring you into an anxiety attack.
Avoid reading message boards and horror story blogs about terrible birth experiences. You don’t need that kind of stress in your life right now.
If you are truly concerned about something that you are experiencing, don’t google – just call your doctor.
5. Plan the Announcement
For our first pregnancy, we scheduled a session with a professional photographer to take some fun pictures to surprise our parents and the next holiday gathering.
Telling my mom was a moment I’ll never forget – as soon as she saw the picture of me holding the ultrasound she gasped in surprise, then the waterworks began. We cry a lot in my family.
If you’re going the professional photographer route, schedule an appointment as soon as possible so your photographer will have time to edit the images and have them ready when you need them.
Most grandparents love to display photos of their Pride and Joy on the walls of their living room, so you can never go wrong with a sweet ultrasound photo frame. Hopefully, it will be the first of many framed photos you’ll give them.
If you’re looking for something a bit more creative and surprising than photos, these pregnancy scratch-off cards look like real lottery tickets, but instead of revealing a cash price, they announce your pregnancy in a way that is fun and unpredictable.
6. Manage Your Morning Sickness
Eat Small & Frequent Meals
If you eat too much you’ll find yourself running to the bathroom soon after the meal, but an empty stomach can make you feel even worse.
Eat healthy foods that are easy on the stomach before you become ravenously hungry. Foods like whole-grain toast, almonds, and apples usually satisfy without upsetting your stomach.
Many women even keep a bottle of water and some crackers next to their bed so they can eat something as soon as they wake up.
Keep a Food Diary
Whether you write it in your journal or just make a quick note on your phone, keeping track of what you ate and how you felt soon after will help you to notice patterns.
While eggs are usually my breakfast of choice, I found that for the first three months I couldn’t tolerate them.
Instead, granola became my new go-to breakfast until the morning sickness phase passed.
Each pregnancy may differ so even if this is not your first pregnancy, you may find that foods you craved last time are suddenly disgusting.
Eat Cold Meals
Cooking typically brings out strong smells in your food so you may find that for a little while, cold meals like salads, sandwiches, and smoothies are a better choice.
Ginger is Your Friend
Gingerroot contains several chemicals that are known to ease nausea, so eat or drink something with ginger each time you begin to feel sick.
This Happy Tummy ginger and mint tea is a great way to start your morning, or get yourself some crystallized ginger to nibble on each time you feel a new wave of nausea coming your way.
I generally avoid soda and carbonated beverages but I found that a small glass of ginger ale worked like magic to ease my morning sickness.
If you can’t stand the taste of ginger, you can also try a ginger capsule so you can experience the benefits of ginger without the taste.
7. Make a Budget
This isn’t the most exciting item on the list, but it is certainly one of the most important.
Furniture, diapers, clothes, doctor’s appointments, baby gear, and more can add up quickly and even if you have generous family and friends who will throw you a great baby shower, you will never run out of things to buy for as long as you are a parent (the rest of your life!).
Whether or not you are still paying off debt from school loans, a new car, or even just your mortgage, Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover is a book you need to read – yesterday!
This is a book that you and your spouse need to read together.
Dave will teach you how to make a budget, get out of debt and once you’re out of debt, save for the future including your child’s college expenses.
If you don’t have your financial game together before the baby comes, you’ll be faced with a rude awakening once those hospital bills start rolling in.
It’s important that you are both invested (pun intended) with your financial plan.
Poorly managed finances and the conflict that arises from them are a leading cause of divorce in the United States.
So right now, before the baby comes (and the added stress of sleep deprivation), read this book and make a financial plan. It’s not as hard as you think it is, but you have to take the first step.
8. Make a Registry
If this is your first child, then you’ll be starting from scratch.
Here are my top five essentials that every baby registry should include:
Every parent needs a portable crib for trips to the grandparents, vacations, or even just an afternoon spent at a friend’s house.
This Graco Pack ‘n Play comes fully loaded with a bassinet, bouncer, and changing station.
If you’re really on a budget, this Pack ‘n Play can easily serve as your baby’s full-time bed, or you can reserve it for travel only.
Rock ‘n Play
The Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play serves as a place to sleep or hang out and comes in handy during the first three months or so when your little one is less inclined to sleep on a flat surface.
The gentle incline helps with reflux and the vibration and rocking features will help your newborn sleep for longer increments, something for which you will be very thankful.
New parents often tip-toe around their sleeping babies, trying not to wake them, but did you know that the womb is actually far from quiet?
For the past nine months, your baby has been surrounded by the sound of your beating heart, digestion, and other outside noises.
A sound machine will help them feel like home as well as block out any random noises like screaming siblings or barking dogs.
It’s important for your baby to have a safe place for tummy time, visual stimulation, and to practice their motor skills batting at hanging toys.
The activity mat is an important part of your baby’s development for the first six months or until they become mobile.
My Brest Friend
If you are planning on breastfeeding, you need a good nursing pillow. And if you find out later that you’re expecting twins, you may need a special nursing pillow for tandem nursing.
My Brest Friend may have a cheesy name, but it really will be your best friend for nursing during the first six months or longer.
This pillow has a wrap-around design with lumbar support (you’ll thank me later) and is the perfect shape to keep baby in position while nursing.
After my first son was born, the lactation consultant saw me struggling with my other nursing pillow and recommended this one to me. I’ve used it for all three children and recommend it to every new mother I meet.
9. Focus on Your Health
In addition, you will also need a prenatal vitamin supplement with extra folic acid and iron.
Folic acid is important for the development of your baby’s spinal cord and brain, and iron is needed for all of the extra blood that begins flowing through your body soon after becoming pregnant.
As soon as you see that positive pregnancy test, start taking a prenatal vitamin, even before you go to the doctor.
If you are already in the habit of exercising, continue with your regular exercise program until either your doctor tells you to make a change, or you experience discomfort.
Some women are able to run marathons or continue with their CrossFit program, squatting twice their body weight. Other women may need to slow down a bit, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up exercise completely.
If you haven’t been exercising frequently prior to becoming pregnant, now is not the time to start something intense like CrossFit, but you should make regular, low-impact exercise a part of your daily routine.
Walking, swimming, yoga, Pilates, or stationary cycling are great for beginners.
It’s important to incorporate exercise that will strengthen your core and pelvic floor muscles, like bridges, planks, or hip tilts.
A fit pregnancy will facilitate a more successful natural delivery and a faster recovery, even if you end up having a caesarean.
Concerning your diet, focus on lean proteins, healthy fats from plant sources (such as avocado, nuts, or olive oil), whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Limit fish with a high mercury content (such as tuna or swordfish) and avoid raw sushi or rare steaks.
Enjoy all of the cheese that you want, so long as it has been pasteurized and be sure to cook deli meats before eating.
In addition to eating nutritious food with a variety of vitamins and minerals, it’s important to avoid foods that have a higher risk of bacteria or parasites.
It’s not necessary to “eat for two” but you will need to increase your calorie consumption by about 300 to 500 calories per day.
Sleep and Rest
Growing a baby takes a lot of work and your body is working overtime, so make sure you get plenty of rest. Go to bed early and spend your weekends sleeping in whenever possible.
Not only does the extra rest help your body stay strong and energized, but your immune system is directing all of its energy to protecting your baby, so you need the extra sleep to avoid illness.
Finally, check any medications you may take regularly to find out if you can continue them while pregnant and when in doubt, call your doctor.
Avoid alcohol (even in small amounts) for the next nine months and for as long as you breastfeed and if you smoke, it’s time to call it quits.
Smoking is not only hazardous to your health but extremely dangerous to your baby both in and out of the womb.
10. Check Your Benefits
Health insurance will often reimburse breast pumps, prenatal vitamins, lactation consultant visits, and more.
You’ll also need to make sure to add your newborn to your insurance policy within 30 days of birth.
Make sure you know what your rights are both before and after the baby is born.
Did you know that in many states employers are required to allow a nursing mother time to pump apart from lunch and other regularly scheduled break times?
Look up policies for your specific employer and on both state and federal levels.
Remember, information is power.
Wrapping Up the Things to Do After Finding Out You’re Pregnant
Congratulations, Mama. Your little one will be here before you know it.
Get started on this list early and by the time your baby arrives, you’ll be as ready as you could be.
Your life is about to change and you’ll never be the same again – you’ll be even better.