Finding out you're pregnant is one of the most joyful moments of your life--for about 15 seconds and then the panic sets in as you start to realize all the things you need to do, learn, buy and give up when you realize you're having a baby!
I'm going to be responsible for a person! I'm going to gain 1,000 pounds! A baby is going to be soooo expensive! What should I eat? What can't I eat? What can I do? What can't I do? Did you know you can't stand on your head? Wheels. Start. Spinning.
If you're like me, when you found out you were pregnant you may have realized that you don't know anything. Starting with the fact that I had no idea that you don't see your doctor until you reach 7 weeks. When you've missed your period, most doctors offices consider you 4 weeks (even though it's really two, they date the pregnancy back to your last period. Makes no sense but voila, that's how it's done.)
After calling my doctor and finding out that newly pregnant women don't come in for another 3 weeks, I felt totally lost and out in the cold left to google my life away. I couldn't believe that we were going to base our pregnancy news on one (okay three) stick tests from the pharmacy.
I insisted on having my doctor call me back despite the office seeming extremely irritated--they reiterated they would tell me everything I needed to know at my first appointment--but for me I was like what the heck am I supposed to do until then? Drink wine, eat sushi and stand on my head?
So I compiled everything I've learned that I wish I knew the day I found out that I was pregnant. This is what I have learned after much research and after meeting with my doctor (though of course seek your own personal medical advice). This is just some advice for where to begin! There is also this handy little video if you prefer to sit back and just listen.
Start Taking a Prenatal Vitamin
If you aren't doing this yet you need to get on a prenatal vitamin. You need to ensure you're getting proper nutrition. Your doctor will prescribe you one that they think is best for you. Ask for one that's covered by insurance if possible (otherwise they can be over $1/pill like mine). My doctor said it's actually a myth that you need a prescription. He said an over-the-counter one is just as good but do what your doctor tells you to. Oh and don't be surprised to learn that your entire system slows down once you're pregnant--meaning you will probably not go to the bathroom very often. This is also thanks to the iron supplements in your prenatal. So, to avoid getting any bathroom-related issues, talk to your doctor about possibly taking a supplement like Colace to keep things moving along...
Say See Ya To Cocktails
My first instinct was to think we should celebrate with a glass of bubbly--but wait, can't do that anymore! So my sister brought over a bottle of sparkling cider. My hormones were already going wild--I thought this was the nicest gesture that had ever been made. Ever. Cue tears.
Also worth mentioning, don't freak out if you drank before you learned you were pregnant. Our doctor set all of our worries to rest, as did another doctor I spoke to about the same thing (I'm a lawyer second opinions are what I do). Both doctors said that as long as you stop drinking immediately after finding out you are pregnant that you should be fine. That said, when you try to get pregnant, you should aim to be very healthy--eat well, workout, you know all the un-fun stuff. And it goes without saying that you shouldn't be smoking, right? It's not 1950 so you know that already? And second-hand smoke counts too. So tell your loved ones to refrain from lighting up in your presence.
Decide on your Doctor
Make sure that your doctor accepts your insurance. I can't stress this enough. Unless you're Oprah-rich! My original doctor sadly was not a covered doctor under my healthcare plan. However, my insurance does allow for you to see doctors out of network, you just have to pay some out of pocket costs. I figured all good, right? I'll just be responsible for a small part.
After much investigation into this matter, I determined it was going to cost a fortune. My insurance plan claims to cover 80% of out of network costs after I reach a deductible. However, there are about a million disclaimers to this. The insurance company only covers 80% of what they consider "reasonable and customary." So what does that mean? Basically that they can pick any number and say that is reasonable. In my case, my doctor charged a total fee of $11,000 for pre-natal care, the delivery and post-partum visits (they lump it all together). My insurance said they would cover 80% of $2,100 and some change. My doctor is not fancy, she does not charge outside of the reasonable rates for my zipcode, she doesn't deliver in a fancy hospital so how could this be? The insurance company was using a Medicare rate as "reasonable and customary," which is nothing short of a scam. Who on Medicare is getting pregnant I ask? So they would have paid for less than $2,000 out of $11,000 (and that's assuming all goes well and there were no extra charges).
So for these reasons, I chose to switch providers--not what you want to be doing when you are hormonal. The pressure of finding a doctor you'll like is scary when insurance is involved. My best advice is to ask around (not so easy when you're keeping your pregnancy secret).
If you do choose to go out of network, I highly recommend getting an estimate before you deliver so you aren't hit with an enormous bill at the end.
What Can You Eat
There are the basics--no undercooked foods--meats, seafood, eggs, etc. No unpasteurized dairy, which may contain harmful bacteria that can cause bad problems you don't want to deal with. I used the list compiled by the
and googled almost anything the first couple weeks before I ingested it. There are some things that are good to avoid--like bean sprouts and radishes--that I had no idea could be an issue. Apparently they have a high risk of listeria contamination. At my first appointment my doctor went over this with me in detail and gave me an extensive list, which apparently had I known better, I could have picked up before my appointment. Live and learn. So just ask your doctor for a list if you are worried before your appointment. They may even be able to email you one.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
While you may want to kick your feet up and retire from your workout routine, it's more important now than ever to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that exercising throughout the pregnancy is associated with a more comfortable pregnancy, birth and post-natal recovery. I'm told it's also good for swelling--keeps the blood flowing. So keep exercising but don't overdo it. Ask your doctor for details but mine told me that during the first trimester, I could pretty much do what I had been doing before I got pregnant--the rule he said was that I must be able to hold a conversation while doing the cardio. Low impact aerobics are what most doctors recommend--walking, swimming or cycling. But again find out from your doctor what's best for you. I was able to run early in the first trimester but be mindful of your body and what feels safe. I found some great videos on YouTube with trainers doing Prenatal workouts for mommy-to-be. They have been super for me and I love that I can do them at home when I feel up to it. My favorite trainer so far is
. She breaks her channel down by trimester so it's easy to find quick workouts just right for you. She is kind of hardcore, which is what I like but if you're into lower impact workouts there's someone else out there for you!
Download a Pregnancy App
I like "
What to Expect When You're Expecting
" it's nice because they give you some tips, updates and tells you how big your baby is in terms of fruit! I like the videos because they're informative--the host is a little odd but I am trying to get past that. I also like "
--it's interface is a little nicer to look at. Oh and also Pregnancy Plus is a good one. And it's free for the first few weeks.
Starting at the beginning, take photos every week to document the process!
Put the Credit Card Down
There is absolutely no reason to purchase anything at the beginning of your pregnancy. If your nesting instincts are making you bananas start pinning things you like to save for later.
Shh! Till the Second Trimester
I hate lying to people and keeping secrets. Especially when I was so excited...and also when I felt like throwing up and wanted to complain to the world. The fetus is at its most vulnerable until 12 weeks. It's just a safer bet to keep it to yourself and close family so that if something goes awry you don't need to send another post via FB letting the world know something happened. Plus, any decisions you need to make, should be kept between you and your husband.
Clean Up Your Beauty Routine
I don't want to freak you out but there are so many scary ingredients in our everyday beauty products and household items. If you haven't heard of the Environmental Working Group, I suggest visiting its website and checking out their search function. You can check for your favorite products and see what level of toxicity they have. You may be surprised to find how many of them have poor ratings. That's why I made the switch when I found out I was pregnant to healthy makeup and personal care products. My favorites are
. Sally B's Skin Yummies was recently certified as EWG Verified as avoiding unhealthy ingredients. Sally B's Skin Yummies are free of bismuth, parabens, formaldehyde, lead (you'd be terrified to know how often this is in beauty products), synthetic colors, fragrances, nano particles, etc. Oh and I would definitely consider switching to an ammonia-free hair dye (or taking a break if you can stand it) and I would also switch to a healthier nail polish. Many conventional polishes contain "the big three" chemicals--dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, and formaldehyde. DBP was deemed to potentially cause developmental and reproductive issues by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The European Union also banned DBP from cosmetics so I wouldn't mess around with it or any of them. While most big brands have eliminated these three (OPI, Essie among them) not all brands have. Plus, there are tons of other nasties out there. I love
nail polishes, which are "5-Free!" That means they don't contain "the big three" or formaldehyde resin and camphor. Plus Deborah Lippman's new polish brushes are wonderful and give a perfect smooth finish--so you can do your nails yourself and avoid all the harmful fumes at the nail salon.
Before Your First Appointment
You're finally going to see the doctor right? Well you must have loads of questions! Write them all down as you think of them in the weeks before your appointment so you don't forget them. The first appointment is a barrage of information, I promise you if your questions are not written down, there will be things you will forget--and OBGYN's (at least in New York) are not easy to get on the phone in between appointments unless it's important.
Research your family tree before your appointment. Find out from your parents (and your husband's) about genetic disorders that run in the family. Your doctor will likely ask about these. It's also a good idea to check up on your vaccination history. They will tell you to get a flu shot (most likely) if you haven't already had one. And the TDAP one as well.
Check in with Human Resources
Find out what your office's maternity leave policy is. This can help you plan for the future.
You may have heard of hiring a baby nurse, someone who comes and lives with you for two weeks round the clock. They essentially teach you how to take care of your baby. After watching several friends go through the first few weeks solo, I decided a baby nurse is definitely for me. The best way to find one is through word of mouth from friends and family. If you live in a city like New York you may be surprised to learn that you need to book one months in advance...the day we told friends at 12 weeks we asked around and called the next day. You may also be surprised to learn that your baby nurse will want to interview you. Yep, they can be quite selective of who they choose to work with. So start the search early.
Day Care Wait Lists
And while you're at it, if you're planning to go back to work and you're not sure whether you are going to hire a nanny or use day care, you should know that you probably need to be on a waitlist ASAP. As in some type-A people get on the lists before they even find out they're pregnant. Yeah, it can be kinda intense. So go do you tours and get on the waitlists. Some can be pretty substantial so getting on a few will help ensure you have a few options.
Relax! And Take it Slow
Try not to worry about every little thing. I was a crazy person when I found out the news. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that what will be will be--and worrying about every possible scenario certainly isn't productive--in fact it may be counterproductive. Don't feel the need to digest every baby book--at least not yet. I took a step back. There were so many things to worry about, I decided to limit myself to one at a time. I was so worried that I would get to my first appointment and they'd find out there wasn't a heartbeat, then what about genetic disorders, then what about down syndrome test, where is the baby going to fit in our tiny apartment, how will we baby proof, where will we keep the stroller? You see? So instead, I now allow myself to only thing about the next obstacle ahead. And trust me, that's enough!
Enjoy the Moment!
I am told this is a very special time in my life (I remind myself of that in between waves of nausea). Put yourself first and enjoy your last few months as just the two of you.
Note: Please consult with a doctor as I am not a medical professional. Pregnancy is all about your personal, unique journey.
Travelingpanties.com is embarking on the trip of a lifetime--a journey to motherhood! Join her as she quests for all the best things life has to offer.