Once that pregnancy test comes up positive, it can feel like you need an interpreter and a Masters degree just to understand what will be expected of you over the next nine months and beyond.
You will feel far less overwhelmed in these early stages if you break things down into bite size pieces. Here are a few important first steps to consider:
Start looking after yourself
Sadly, pregnancy tends to mark the end (for nine months at least) of a packet of chips for dinner and counting the walk between the kitchen and the television as exercise. Now is the best time to stop putting off getting active and eating well.
- Find a multi - Get onto a pregnancy multivitamin as soon as possible. Some varieties have been known to cause nausea or other side effects so you may need to try a few before finding the right one. Often the level of iron will play a part so check with your pharmacist.
- Don’t skip meals – Ultimately, your baby will make sure it gets what it needs by taking this from you until those stores are depleted. Listen to what you are craving right now as it will often tell you what you might be lacking. Pick nutrient rich foods as much as possible and divide your three meals a day into six or seven smaller meals to ensure a steady supply for you and the baby.
- Know what to avoid - There are also a lot of foods you will need to start avoiding or being careful with due to the possibility of listeria – bacteria that is generally harmless to adults but can have serious consequences for an unborn baby. Foods such as undercooked eggs and fish, cold meat, soft cheeses such as feta and camembert, soft serve ice cream, pate, smoked salmon, certain types of fish/seafood and food leftovers can all carry listeria.
- Get moving – If you didn’t exercise much before the pregnancy, don’t feel like you have to suddenly morph into an Olympic athlete. In fact, it is important to select the right kind of exercise that is safe in pregnancy – particularly if you are starting from scratch. Regular walking, swimming, including water aerobics, yoga and Pilates are all good options. The best thing is that it’s never too late to get started.
Find the right obstetrician
This is a very personal choice that takes a bit of research and consideration. If you have confirmed you are pregnant with a take home test, your GP will be the next point of call. He or she will further confirm the result with a blood test, estimate a due date based on your most recent cycle and provide you with a referral to an obstetrician should you wish to enter the private healthcare system.
If you don’t already have an obstetrician, before visiting your GP do a bit of early research as you can request your GP refer you to a specific practitioner. Often the best way to do this in the first instance is to determine where you would like to give birth, as individual obstetricians will be associated with one or two specific hospitals.
Beware of Dr Google
From when you first confirm your pregnancy, right through until the birth of your baby, you will doubtless have many questions about the dramatic changes occurring in your body and about how your baby is developing. Most of us are pretty impatient when it comes to information and the web can seem the quickest and easiest way to get answers. However, while there are plenty of good sources of help, be very wary when selecting where to get your info from. Stick with sites by, or linked to, organisations you recognise by reputation, who are well established as healthcare providers and involve healthcare professionals.
Be careful when participating in or reviewing forums with other mothers as some of the answers provided are likely to scare you more than help you. The same goes for well meaning friends and colleagues who will feel the sudden urge to share their most horrific stories with you and provide conflicting advice.
At the end of the day remember that it’s your body and you know what’s best for you. Listen to the advice you are given but make a judgement call based on your own instincts and what feels right for you.