The first weeks and months of pregnancy are exciting, and exhausting! Our to-do list will help you to get your pregnancy off to a great start. You can tick off each item on the list, or just use it as a guide. Do whatever feels right for you.
1. Arrange your first appointment with your midwife
Once you have told your GP or midwifery clinic that you are pregnant, you will need to book your first appointment with a midwife.
The timing of your first official antenatal appointment, called your booking appointment, depends on where you live. You should have your booking appointment by the time you are between 10 weeks and 12 weeks pregnant.
Your booking appointment may last up to two hours. During the appointment, your midwife will:
- Ask about your medical history and your lifestyle.
- Give you information about how to look after yourself during pregnancy, such as how to eat healthily and exercise safely.
- Take your blood pressure.
- Measure your height and ask you to weigh yourself. Your midwife will use these measurements to calculate your body mass index.
2. Take a daily folic acid supplement
Start taking a daily folic acid supplement straight away. Folic acid is an essential nutrient that protects your baby against brain and spinal cord problems such as spina bifida.
You need a 400 microgram (mcg) supplement of folic acid (vitamin B9). You can buy these over the counter from pharmacies or supermarkets.
As well as folic acid, you’ll need to take a supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D every day. You can take a pregnancy multivitamin, but it’s no substitute for eating a balanced diet.
3. Check before taking medicines
You need to be careful about taking medicines, even over-the-counter ones. They may be harmful to your unborn baby.
That’s not to say you can’t have a remedy if you’re unwell. But to be on the safe side, check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist before taking medicine.
4. If you smoke, try to quit
If you smoke during pregnancy, apart from the dangers to your health, you’re more at risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. The smoke you inhale can affect how your unborn baby grows, resulting in him having a low birth weight.
If you need help to give up, talk to your midwife or doctor. They’ll be able to put you in touch with your local stop-smoking support scheme. You can also call the free and confidential NHS Pregnancy smoking helpline on 0800 169 9169.
5. Cut out alcohol
There is no way to know for sure how much alcohol is safe during pregnancy. That’s why most experts advise you to cut out alcohol completely while you’re expecting.
If you do decide to drink alcohol while you are pregnant, try to wait until after the first trimester. During the first 12 weeks, alcohol is associated with a higher risk of miscarriage. Even after this, don’t drink more than one or two units of alcohol, once or twice a week.
6. Cut down on caffeine
You can still enjoy a cup of coffee during your pregnancy. But you should limit yourself to 200mg of caffeine a day, which is two cups of instant coffee or one cup of brewed coffee.
If you regularly have more than 200mg of caffeine a day during your pregnancy, it could increase your risk of miscarriage.
This 200mg limit includes all sources of caffeine, so as well as coffee you’ll need to count teas (including green tea), cola, energy drinks and chocolate.
7. Learn what to eat and what not to eat
A healthy, balanced diet will make sure that you get all the nutrients you and your developing baby need. Check out our having-a-baby diet and get yourself into good eating habits at this stage in your pregnancy.
Bear in mind that you don’t need extra calories in your first trimester. You’ll need to avoid certain foods in pregnancy, because they might contain bacteria, parasites or toxins that could harm your baby. This includes some cheeses and unpasteurised dairy products, raw or undercooked eggs, liver and pate, and raw shellfish.
8. Get relief from pregnancy sickness
Most mums-to-be suffer from sickness during their first trimester. To ease your nausea, eat little and often. Try to work out which foods suit you and which make you feel more queasy.
Snacking on plain biscuits, crackers or breadsticks may help. Your sickness should ease between 12 weeks and 14 weeks.
If you are vomiting many times a day and are unable to keep anything down, contact your doctor or midwife as soon as possible. You may have severe morning sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
9. Learn the danger signs
There are some pregnancy symptoms that you should never ignore. As your uterus grows you may feel mild cramps in your tummy and the odd twinge. Always check with your midwife if you are experiencing cramps, just in case.
If you have cramps with bleeding, seek medical help immediately. Your GP, midwife, or your hospital’s early pregnancy unit (EPU) are there to help you.
10. Get as much rest as you can
It is common to feel tired or even exhausted during the first trimester. This is because your body is getting used to rapidly changing hormone levels. Get as much rest as you can, although this can be hard if you’re working.
Try to get to bed early at least one night a week. Even if you can’t sleep until much later, relaxing with a book or soft music will help you to unwind. Turn off your phone and forget about work. Once your baby arrives, sleep will be so precious. So enjoy it while you can.
11. Get ready to see your baby
In most cases, where there are no problems, your first ultrasound scan will be your dating scan. This scan takes place between 10 weeks and 13 weeks plus six days of pregnancy.
During your dating scan, the sonographer will put gel on your tummy and move a hand-held device, called a transducer, over your skin. You’ll then be able to see your baby. The sonographer will check your baby’s heartbeat and tell you when your baby is due.
12. Decide when to announce your pregnancy
Some women spill the beans to friends, family, and colleagues right away. Others wait until they’re in their second trimester. By your second trimester, your bump becomes more obvious and the risk of miscarriage falls dramatically.
But if you’re experiencing complications, or if your job is strenuous or potentially dangerous, you may need to reveal you’re pregnant sooner.
13. Do gentle exercise
Regular gentle exercise can help you to cope with the physical and mental demands of being pregnant. You’ll also find it easier to manage your weight gain if you stay active.
14. Do chores safely
Be cautious when using household chemicals and cleaning products. Wear gloves and avoid direct contact with products that have strong fumes and strong warning labels. When you’re cleaning, keep your windows open and try not to use products in aerosol cans.
Think about whether being pregnant will affect your job, especially if you work with x-rays or chemicals, or have a strenuous job.
15. Start doing pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises can help to protect you from leaking urine while you’re pregnant and after your baby is born. If you haven’t been shown how to do pelvic floor exercises during your antenatal appointments, ask your midwife about them at your next visit.
By starting now you will get into good habits for the remainder of your pregnancy.
16. Book your antenatal classes
Try to book your antenatal classes early. Some courses get booked up very quickly because they are in high demand. Antenatal course provision can vary from area to area. It’s worth finding out early in your pregnancy what is available and how soon you need to book.
17. Get your partner involved
Most mums-to-be experience symptoms early on in their pregnancies. This daily physical reminder of pregnancy helps you to bond with your baby from the start. It’s not so straightforward for dads. Read more about how you can help your partner to bond with your baby.
18. Buy a maternity bra
Your full, tender breasts can be one of the first signs of pregnancy. You may outgrow your usual bra between about eight weeks and 10 weeks of pregnancy.
As your breasts fill out, you’ll find a good maternity bra keeps you comfortable and well-supported in the coming months.
19. Have sex if you’re in the mood
In your first trimester, you may feel too tired, sick or stressed to have sex. But if you’ve not had any complications, there’s no reason why you and your partner can’t enjoy sex throughout your pregnancy.
20. Have a massage
If you’re suffering from pregnancy headaches or backache, or just need help relaxing, treat yourself to a pregnancy massage. If that’s not possible, ask your partner to slowly rub your back, shoulders and head, relieving the tension.
21. Budget for your baby
Think about how you’ll handle the cost of having a baby. Consider making some budget adjustments now. This will help you to save for expensive items such as a cot and a pushchair.
Credit: Baby Center