You took the at-home test and after waiting “two to five” prickly minutes, you were met by a pair of little pink lines. Now that your heart-rate has returned to a more normal pace, you’re wondering what you’re supposed to do next.
There is no specific road map for these early weeks, but the list below will help to ensure that you and the little one in your womb get off to the healthiest start together. Many of these suggestions will also allow you to be proactive in making the best decisions for your family later on.
Find A Care Provider
Prenatal care is an important part of any healthy pregnancy and you will probably want to find a care provider and schedule your first prenatal appointment. The big question is:
Which kind of care provider would be the best fit for you?
Obstetricians practice in a hospital setting and usually offer a more medical model of care. They are skilled surgeons and are experts in high risk pregnancies and births requiring medical intervention.
Midwives specialize in low-risk pregnancy and birth. Some work in a hospital setting and others in birthing centers. In the case of homebirth midwives, they travel to the homes of the families whose births they attend. Their care tends to be more personalized and generally involves less medical intervention than standard obstetric care, but this is not always the case. Each care provider brings his or her own personality and philosophy of birth to the table, whether midwife or obstetrician. Read more about the Midwives Model of Care.
Although you still have lots of time to research and decide on a the birth setting that’s right for you, choosing a care provider and a place of birth go hand in hand, as not all care providers practice in all settings. You may choose to give birth in a hospital, birthing center, or even in some cases, at home.
If you choose a provider early on and realize afterward that you would prefer a different style of care or birth, it is entirely possible to change your care provider further down the road.
Start taking a quality prenatal vitamin
*Please note I am not a medical care provider. As such, please do not consider the following advice a prescription for any supplement. Each woman should consult with her own care provider before taking any supplement.*
Many women experience gastric upset (constipation and/or nausea) with synthetic brands of prenatal vitamins. The best prenatal vitamins are food based. Food based vitamins contain enzymes, phytonutrients, and other factors, making them much more absorbable.
The brands that I have used successfully and recommend are:
- New Chapter Perfect Prenatal
- Rainbow Light
- Baby & Me
- If you are looking for an iron supplement, my favorite is Floradix with Iron, which is a low dose, herbal iron supplement. It doesn’t have the difficult side effects of synthetic iron supplements and is very well absorbed by the body. I had great success improving my iron levels with Floradix during pregnancy.
Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Once you realize you’re pregnant, your choices and lifestyle cease to be just about you. Many women find this a very empowering time, where they suddenly have new resolve and motivation to improve their health.
Making healthy food choices is a wonderful way to start taking care of your baby and yourself right away. Read this info-packed post from Mama Natural on diet and pregnancy (and by diet we mean everything you’re eating, not a plan to lose weight!)
Take steps to reduce stress. This will look different for each of you as you know the areas of your life that cause you the most anxiety. If you need help to do so, then now is the time to reach out! Gentle exercise is a great stress reliever and just getting some fresh air every day can improve your mood and well-being.
If you smoke, there will never be a more compelling reason to quit and there are many resources to help you.
Likewise, alcohol and drug abuse are not compatible with pregnancy. RACSB is a valuable resource in our community, they can help with drug or alcohol abuse issues.
Learn About Your Options
Although your birth is still months away, it is never too early to start learning about your options! When it comes to pregnancy and birth, the adage “Knowledge is power,” rings true as ever.
When I work with women planning for birth, I encourage them to create a short list of things that are most important to them for their births, as early on as possible. What this does, is give them something to come back to when decisions come up along the way. When weighing the options available to her, she can stay as close to her initial desires as possible. If she later realizes that some of those things on her list are not attainable, she will be able to make the next best decision without regret, while staying true to her own values.
The famous birth anthropologist Sheila Kitzinger studied women’s experiences of birth. She spoke often of the need for women to make the big decisions about their care. How you give birth is far less important to your overall satisfaction at the end of the day, than the fact that you got to make the big decisions about what could and could not be done to your body.
Learn as much as you can between now and the day your little one enters the world and you will give yourself the gift of being able to make the important decisions.
We have a wide selection of birth and pregnancy books in our Amazon store. I recommend you get reading!
It is also a wise investment to take a childbirth preperation class. For a list of available classes in our area, check out the directory.
Join A Community
Come on and join our facebook group! The discussion is always lively and fun and topics are very relevant to this stage of life. Questions (even the ones you think are “dumb”) are always welcome and you will find lots of support from both birth professionals and other mothers!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have specific questions! You can comment below, or contact me directly.