The early weeks of pregnancy are filled with a variety of emotions: excitement, joy, fear, overwhelm, and so much more. The first thing to know is that there is no perfect way to be a parent, and the decisions that you make during your pregnancy are the first decisions you’ll make as a parent. The most important thing to do is get informed, know your options, and trust your instinct.
We’ve compiled some suggestions for the first steps you’ll want to take when you discover that you’re pregnant
What kind of birth would you like?
You have a variety of options here. Would you rather have a hospital birth or birth center birth? Would you prefer to birth at home? Do you want the most hands-on provider available, or would you like to be left alone for the most part? Do you want pain management? If so, what type are you most interested in? Delayed cord clamping? Water birth?
Lots of people know ahead of time what type of birth experience they want, others need time to decide, and some people are totally fluid and take a whatever happens, happens approach. Choosing your provider can be a little less overwhelming if you know this ahead of time.
Choosing a care provider.
You can use the answers from the above questions to help you determine which providers you’re interested in. Midwives (out of hospital and in hospital) deal with low-risk pregnancies. If you choose someone that turns out to not be your perfect fit, you do have the option of switching providers at any point in pregnancy.
Fun fact: studies are showing that integrating midwifery care can and will improve birth outcomes. Check out this article!
Ditch the teratogens.
Alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs, and some pharmaceuticals can be unsafe for pregnancy. Be sure to discuss this with your care provider to formulate a plan for helping you quit, if you need to.
Check your nutrition.
There are a few foods that are considered “no foods” during pregnancy. Your provider will give you a list, but the list typically includes these: raw fish, undercooked eggs, mercury-heavy fish, excessive caffeine consumption, etc.
Be sure you’re eating a balanced diet as often as possible. Eat the rainbow. This can be difficult with morning sickness, so don’t stress about it. Smoothies are wonderful and watermelon is super helpful for combating that early queasiness. Eat lean protein, complex carbs like sweet potatoes and oats, healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil, and lots of fresh vegetables and fruit.
Hire your doula.
We know that the statistics support doula support. You can find a ton of information about how a doula can make a great addition to your birth team at Evidence Based Birth.
- 39% decrease in the risk of a cesarean
- 15% increase in the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal delivery
- 10% decrease in the use of pharmaceutical pain management
- Shorter labor
- 38% reduction in low 5 minute APGAR score for baby
- 31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with your birth experience
ACOG and WHO both encourage families to utilize a doula to reduce interventions during labor and birth. You can find ACOG’s statement here and a quick Google search will bring up WHO’s Safe Birth Checklist which includes: “Encourage birth companion to be present at birth.”
Most doulas offer complimentary consultations, and you can contact us to schedule yours today!
What is your maternity leave policy at work? If you’re planning to return to work, are you going to pump while you’re away from baby? What accommodations does your workplace have available for pumping? Will you want to know the gender? Are you going to attend a comprehensive birth education class? Placenta encapsulation? What products do you really need for a baby? Consider hiring a nursery planning specialist. Will you want postpartum support from a professional? Postpartum doulas, newborn care specialists, and infant feeding consultants are all incredibly helpful! Schedule a birth planning session with a local doula, or your doula if you’ve hired one.
You have a lot of choices to make in the coming months, but it doesn’t need to be scary and overwhelming. You’re going to be a parent, and that’s the most rewarding job in the world. You’ve got this.