So, I’m Pregnant – Now What? (The 12 Things To Do Right Away)

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Two of my close friends announced their pregnancies this week – yay!

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I get when I hear about a new pregnancy. I can see myself finding out all over again: shaking that pee stick in the air at 6:30am on a work day, jumping around like a maniac, and driving to work on cloud nine… And then, that “woah” feeling settling in:

Holy crap… I’m pregnant.

Like… for real.

There’s a baby in me. Growing.

My friends’ pregnancies (and the conversations I had with both of them this week) made me realize that I never wrote a post about the first few days of pregnancy and what comes after that “OMG” moment (I did, however, write about the 5 things I wish I’d known before I got pregnant.)

Because let’s be honest here: if this is your first pregnancy, you have no idea what you’re supposed to do. You google silly things, ask your mom a lot of questions, harass your ob/gyn… So let’s make this a little easier on you. Here are the first 12 things you should do (after dancing around your living room with that pee stick, of course. That’s just a must.)

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 I can’t emphasize how helpful this was for me when I first found out I was pregnant. Check out my post about fertility/pregnancy apps here.) Ovia and The Bump were my favorites because they were well-designed and had some really valuable information about risky medications and foods to avoid while pregnant. They also send you a weekly reminder of what is going on inside your belly and what size your baby currently is… based on different fruits and veggies. So cute! We looked forward to it every week.

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Figure out when your baby is due and when you feel comfortable announcing his/her arrival to the world. My recommendation is to wait until after 12 weeks, which is technically the end of the first trimester (read about my first trimester must-haves here!). After that point, the risk of a miscarriage drops significantly. Check out Pinterest for some announcement inspiration… Have fun with it! Here was ours:

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If you smoke, now is the time to quit (hopefully permanently!) Same goes for alcohol (although you will one day get to enjoy that glass of red wine again, don’t you worry!) I also stopped drinking coffee, bought all natural/organic makeup, creams, and bath products, and made sure to eat only organic as well. It hit me all at once: I wanted nothing bad to come in contact with my growing baby. Not just food, but everything I used or applied daily to my skin.

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Pick a prenatal vitamin that you like and feel comfortable sticking with for a while (I’m still taking mine because of breastfeeding! I did, however, switch to an iron-free prenatal after I gave birth. It is actually harmful to take too much iron if you are not iron deficient…) Fish oil capsules are amazing for you during pregnancy (and even if you’re not pregnant!), but unfortunately, most doctors do not emphasize this enough to expecting mothers.

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This is important just so you don’t have to stress about it last minute. You’ll have tons of forms to fill out to get maternity leave, and many of them should be started ahead of time. I was lucky enough to give birth in the summer, and as a teacher, there’s no better time. However, do keep in mind that you only get 6 weeks off for maternity leave (which is complete bullsh*t. Sorry, but it is), a little longer if you get a C-section. Plan accordingly.

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This is a big one, guys, for me at least. I’ve written about this many times… I loved my OB, but – surprise – met with another OB at the practice at 32 weeks pregnant and hated him. It was awful. I ended up leaving the practice and reaching out to a midwife group 8 weeks from my due date. Best decision I ever made, but oh how I wish I’d done it sooner. Don’t be like me, guys. Ask to meet with ALL OB’s at your practice early on. You’ll feel good knowing you’re comfortable delivering your baby with all of them, or, in my case, have ample time to switch if necessary. In my case, I wouldn’t change my birth experience for the world (For some information about midwives, here. About my decision to give birth naturally, here. And here.)

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I lathered my bump twice a day, after each shower, and was lucky enough to not get a single stretch mark. Keep in mind that your whole body is changing, so spread the love: thighs, butt, breasts… They are all at risk for stretch marks as well! My favorites were raw shea butter (from Whole Foods) and Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter.

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I took a photo every Saturday against the same door in our apartment, wearing the same outfit (grey tank top and black leggings), in the same position. This was so fun for me and my husband to do because we could really tell how much Liam was growing, week to week. I also made a time lapse video of my belly after I gave birth. So fun. Keep in mind that you are going to go on a physical/emotional journey… Remember to brace yourself for the changes, keep an open mind, and let your body do what it has to do – It’s all meant to be.

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Don’t lie to me, now. You’ve had a list in your mind since you were 5 years old playing with your Barbie dolls (I know I did.) Boy names, though? A little harder than I thought. Come up with 5 names for each gender, then middle names, and play around with them. Say them out loud, along with your last name, to see if you like the ring. If you’re bilingual or have foreign relatives, make sure the name is pronounceable in that language, at the very least.

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This is the fun (and very overwhelming) part. My number 1 suggestion: Go on Pinterest and type “registry list” in the search bar. You’ll get some amazing advice and a great list to start from. I did my registry on Amazon because it is much cheaper than Babies R’ Us and Buy Buy Baby and I would’ve felt weird telling people to buy my baby things that I know are cheaper elsewhere. You’re going to feel overwhelmed putting it together, but think of the essentials. Clothing? You’ll get a ton of baby clothes regardless, so no need to spend too much time adding cute onesies. Think bottles, sterilizer, changing pad, diapers (lots of them in sizes 1-4), a jumper, baby carrier, pack and play, bath tub, rock n’ play, high chair, Crane humidifier…

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I did so much research while I was pregnant. I read a lot of books. But above all, I am grateful for the amazing birth class I took with my husband (led by Katherine Anderson, in Dobbs Ferry) and for the confidence she gave me to make my own choices. If you are interested in a natural birth, research birth classes that aren’t hospital-based (they’re more basic and less about empowered natural birth experiences. In most cases, they won’t let you know your rights as a mother, either.) It is also essential for you to watch “The Business of Being Born”, one of the best videos I ever watched about childbirth. Not too graphic, I promise, and oh so worth it. Read my review here.

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This is such an exciting time in your life. Don’t let the stress take over. Don’t pity yourself because of the symptoms you’re experiencing. Enjoy the process as much as you can. Let your friends and family help with the big stuff. Enjoy not having to suck your belly in, people being courteous to you at the supermarket, and everyone asking you questions about your precious baby on the way. Near the end of your pregnancy, don’t complain about the lack of sleep; it will only get worse with a newborn baby! So enjoy it while it lasts, be stress free, and send positive energy your baby’s way…


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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

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