Pregnant, now what?
Yeah, we’ve been there. If you just discovered you’re pregnant, you might want to think about a healthcare provider if you don’t have one already. You’ll likely have your first prenatal visit at around the six to 10 week mark of your pregnancy, depending on when you found out.
Your first visit may include a full physical exam, including breast and pelvic exams, as well as some routine blood and urine tests. You’ll also spend time understanding what to expect during your your first trimester and the rest of your pregnancy. You’ll learn about the types of prenatal visits and tests you’ll have until your baby is born. You should also bring a list of questions to have answered. Not sure what to ask? Peep our handy guide to the 9 questions to ask at your first prenatal appointment.
1. What Lifestyle Changes Should I Make Right Now?
Do you smoke? Not anymore. Aerial trapeze on Sundays? Maybe next year. Depending on your habits pre-pregnancy, you might need to make some adaptations to your life that may seem drastic or not at all.. Either way, it’s all for the benefit of you-know-who.
Here are some things to discuss at the beginning of the pregnancy to avoid possible effects:
- Diet: Your provider will likely tell you that alcohol should be cut out immediately. Depending on your caffeine intake, you’ll need to make some modifications there, too. And, while it depends who you ask, foods like deli meat, unpasteurized cheese and certain fish are all the chopping block. Your doctor will give you a written list of what to avoid and explain why you should do so. They can also give guidance on what kind of foods and drinks to add or increase in your diet.
- Medication: Review with your doctor everything you’re currently taking on the meds front. Both over the counter medications and prescriptions should be looked at as soon as you know you’re pregnant. In tandem with your doctor, you can decide what is safe to keep taking and what needs to be discontinued, and how to do it safely and effectively.
- Sleep habits: If you aren’t getting the recommended amount of sleep each night, consider changing your sleep habits. Your body will be going through a lot of changes in the coming months, so adequate rest is crucial.
- Work environment: Ask if your occupation or work environment might pose any risks. Make sure you aren’t exposed to chemicals or toxins that could be harmful. Work with your care team as well as a safety manager at your job.
- Beauty products: If you’re worried about certain beauty products being safe for your baby during pregnancy, check with your doctor. Hair dye, nail polish or treatments (especially chemicals present in some nail salons), sunless tanning lotions, retinols, serums, and essential oils. Your doctor can help steer you in the right direction for making safe choices where these products are concerned. You can also ask about massages or other spa treatments.
2. What Risks Lie Ahead Given My Health and Genetic History?
Pregnancy is not an injury, and your rockstar bod is built for it. However, pregnancy can still put a lot of stress on your body, especially if you have a preexisting health condition.
Chances are if you continue care with your regular OB/GYN, your doctor will know most of your medical history. But if you’re using a new doctor, make sure they know everything. And it never hurts for a current doctor to go back over and re-check history. Also, if you have specific concerns your doctor does not address, be sure to speak up. Some common conditions that are important to note include depression, seizures, high blood pressure, diabetes, and thyroid issues. Any problems with anesthesia, antibiotics, medication, or surgeries should also be brought to your doctor’s attention.
3. How often do you want to see me?
Talk to your doctor about the number of prenatal appointments you can expect. This will guide you as a baseline for understanding your care and how to build in the time. Start to schedule the appointments regularly and understand that the frequency will increase the further along you get in your pregnancy. The actual number will depend on your individual needs but in general you can expect to see the doctor more near the due date.
4. What vitamins do I need to take?
If you were actively trying to conceive, then you might have been taking a prenatal vitamin before you got pregnant. But if you got pregnant unexpectedly, or weren’t on a prenatal vitamin, your doctor will recommend you start taking one. They will also guide you on what to look for in a vitamin if they do not prescribe one or recommend a specific brand.
5. Can I work out?
We’re all about staying active during pregnancy. Not only does it boost serotonin levels, but if you’re fit while you’re pregnant, you might manage recovery just a little bit better. Many exercise regimens, excluding extreme examples, are safe as long as you feel physically comfortable. However, you should follow your doctor’s instructions on what kind of exercise is appropriate.
6. How do you feel about weight gain?
This conversation is rife with archaic medical standards that we’re not about, but the earlier you have this conversation with your doctor, the better. Why? Because their response will dictate whether or not you’re a fit together. If you’re talking to someone who advises you gain 12 pounds, this might not be the practice for you. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to step foot on the scale at all during your pregnancy, you should say that, too. It’s a loaded issue, to make sure whoever you trust for your care is on your page.
7. What’s up with prenatal testing?
During pregnancy, certain prenatal screenings are required whereas others may be optional. You can expect to have blood work done in the first and second trimester. You can also expect a test to determine whether or not you have gestational diabetes. Genetic testing is also available. What kind of genetic testing you get or if you decide to get it, is a personal decision and you should talk to your doctor about the risks and what certain results might mean, including false positives.
8. What is normal and what should I call you about?
Speak with your doctor about what is considered normal or common to experience, or when you need to call about problems. However, even if you discuss it, always err on the side of caution. Also ask the best way to contact your doctor with ask questions (email, phone, online patient portal) and who you should call in certain situations.
You should also know who to call in case of a medical emergency and where you should go. This might change based on how far along in your pregnancy you are.
9. What should I consider in my birth plan?
It might seem premature to start thinking about your delivery since you’re just at the beginning of your pregnancy, but in reality, the sooner you start talking with your doctor about your options and preferences, the more comfortable you’ll feel when the day gets closer. Some things to discuss with your doctor regarding a birth plan include:
- Birth location: You probably already know which hospital your OB/GYN is affiliated with, but this is still a topic worth discussing. Some people prefer to deliver at birthing centers or at home. If you want to go this route, the sooner your doctor knows, the better so everyone is on the same page.
- Care philosophy: It’s important to know your provider’s views on vaginal labor, C-sections, induced labor, epidurals, delivering without pain medication, etc.
- Who will actually deliver the baby? Will it be the doctor you see for your regular appointments or someone else? As mentioned above, if you’re planning on delivery outside of a hospital, your doctor might not be the one delivering the baby, so midwives or doulas may need to be part of the discussion.