Month after month of unhappy faces, single lines, and not-pregnant responses… When you finally see a smiley face, a double line, and/or (likely and, because most of us take about 20 tests to make sure it’s right) a pregnant message, you almost pass out. After the excitement, shock, and joy subside, anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty set in. What do I do now? And while we may not be on your speed dial, we can share with you a few of the pointers we point out to those that are!
First things first, take a deep breath. There is a lot that will happen over the next nine months, and you want to try and remain as calm as possible. (Good energy is transferred through the placenta!) After a few good, deep breaths, a bunch of OMGs this might actually be happening, and a call to your plus one (or best friend), the next step is to purchase a prenatal vitamin (if you aren’t already on one). Generic or brand, it really doesn’t matter. You just want to make sure that your body is chock full of nutrients and essentials to start nurturing that little one. If you haven’t already been taking one, there is no need to stress. You have not caused any damage or done any harm.
Additionally, if you have had a few cocktails, colored your hair, or partook in any activities that are off limits during pregnancy, don’t sweat it. The first weeks between ovulation and early pregnancy are what we OB/GYNS call the “all-or-none” interval. Your actions will either have absolutely no impact on the pregnancy, or they will result in a non-pregnancy/miscarriage type of situation. Simply stated, there will be no long-term effects on the fetus!
While the “all or none” gives you a get-out-of-jail-free card, you do want to start to alter your habits. Hang up your love of unpasteurized cheeses, your obsession with tuna (that one was hard for us, too!), and your passion for cold cuts. While you can still eat cheese, tuna, and cold cuts, the quantity needs to be reduced and the way they are cooked slightly altered. For example, cold cuts should be warmed before eating.
But don’t obsess about what you are eating in those first few weeks. Nausea is at its peak during this time, and whatever you can keep down is all you and your baby needs. Don’t stress if only grilled cheese, bagels with butter, and saltines are all that you are craving. Your lack of greens, veggies, and fruits won’t harm your little one. Your tastes will change shortly, and you can stock up on good things at that time.
It’s also a good idea to buy yourself a water bottle and make sure you are constantly sipping. The changes in blood volume that occur during pregnancy can make you dehydrated pretty quickly. To avoid that “Oh no, I am going to pass out” feeling, drink lots of fluid. And while we are on the drinking subject, it’s totally cool to continue with caffeine. A cup or two a day is definitely not a no-no. Furthermore, the occasional glass of wine, flute of champagne, or bottle of beer is not a big deal. While there is no safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy, a few drinks (over the nine months, not one day!) is certainly not going to do any damage.
From food, we transition to fitness. For all of you die-hards out there, pregnancy does not mean you have to hit pause on your fitness habits. Exercise in pregnancy is totally okay. You may need to tailor your exercises and taper the intensity, but staying active is A-ok. With that being said, the only things we are not fans of are the activities performed in 100 degree-plus heat (e.g., hot yoga). That temperature is not only going to seriously dehydrate you but also may not be so good for your baby’s developing organs. It is always a good idea to let your exercise instructor know that you are expecting. Most studios/fitness clubs have done a good job at training their teachers on how to modify and be mindful of moms to be.
After food and fitness, most women usually want to know about sex and personal grooming. Here’s the deal: sex is okay. Unless you start bleeding, there is really no reason to go on pelvic rest (aka- no sex). If bleeding should occur, we usually recommend resting (no sex, no exercise, and nothing in the vagina) until you are blood free for about 48 hours. After that, it is okay to give it another go. Most bleeding after sex is from the cervix or from the development of a tiny blood clot around the placenta, neither of which routinely cause a miscarriage.
In terms of personal grooming, continue pushing forward: bikini waxes, manicures, pedicures, facials, and massages are all good. Hair coloring is the only questionable practice on the list. We usually suggest sharing your news with your colorist and asking him or her to switch to a more suitable dye for pregnancy.
And finally, we arrive at family (a.k.a. whom should you tell and when). The telling part is totally up to you. While we always recommend that our patients share their news whenever and with whomever, remember that a positive test does not equal a baby. You may not want your 300+ Facebook friends to know that you just peed on a stick and saw a smiley face. However, you probably do want to tell your parents your sister and your BFF should anything go wrong and you need support. In general, most women wait until the one-third mark (about 12–13 weeks) before telling their employer and their Instagram. But bottom line is that this is a personal decision. Do what is right for you.
Make friends with a good Internet source (like Truly, MD!), buy a good book, and make sure you like your OB. He or she will serve as a guide during the next several months. You want to be comfortable and confident with your baby team. If someone or something is not working for you, kick them off, quickly! Your OB/GYN is like the coach of this team, so if you are not jiving with the coach, start looking for another team captain. This game is a big deal. These nine months, even for those of us who are not pregnancy lovers, are sort of sacred. There are only so many times in women’s life that they will be pregnant. So relish the good stuff—the first time you hear your baby’s heartbeat, the first time you feel movement, the first time you see your baby on the ultrasound, and the first time you hold your baby. You are in for a lot of firsts. Let us be the first to say congratulations on your pregnancy!