When you become a first-time mom-to-be, you will feel like an explorer walking in uncharted territory. You might feel overwhelmed and out of sorts. But you are not the first to be pregnant and there are lots of women who can give you the support you need to carry you through!
Often, when pregnancy can feel overwhelming, (especially if you have a limited support system) one of the best ways to take the anxiety away is to get organized! This will help you take control of the situation and feel the most prepared for the big day! We made a list of the 16 things you need to do in your first trimester to get organized and feel in charge!
Congratulations! The best is yet to come!
1. Schedule A Doctors Appointment
Healthy moms have healthy babies. Your doctor needs to make sure you are healthy and that your baby is also growing well and on time. At your doctor’s visit, he or she will rule out ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage, listen and measure the baby’s heartbeat, check to see if you are carrying multiples, and calculate your due date. Your doctor should also take blood and urine samples to check for abnormalities. If you have health concerns or struggle with health issues, they can begin a treatment plan with you to ensure safe delivery. Finding a doctor you like is very important. You need to feel comfortable and safe with them, so take some time to research. Start out by asking friends for OBGYN recommendations and take advantage of Google ratings! You can also ask your local pregnancy resource center, as well.
2. Decide Your Birth Plan
While you don’t have to make a birth plan just yet, it’s helpful and calming to know where you want to give birth. Think about your needs and your style. Do you want to go to the hospital or a birthing center, or do you want a home birth? Do you want to be in a place that can medicate your pain or do you want alternatives to medications like a water birth? Do you want a midwife?
Talking about these things with your partner and having an end goal to work towards will help you feel more at ease as you make a formal birth plan through the rest of the pregnancy.
3. Download a Pregnancy App
For a new time mama, you might have lots of questions and need inspiration. A pregnancy app will update you on the size of your baby, track your pregnancy by the week, and give you resources and ideas for your most commonly asked pregnancy questions like, “what should I name my baby?” or “gender reveal party ideas” or “how to sleep with a bump.” Pregnancy apps also have blogs and chat rooms about how to deal with common pregnancy changes like ligament pain, swelling, morning sickness, and topics like that. Apps are a super helpful resource!
4. Start Taking Your Vitamins
Your body is growing a human being and pulling from your body’s mineral supply to do it! Prenatal vitamins (as well as eating healthy) are extremely important for you to carry full term and recover easily. If you are too nauseated to take a prenatal in your first trimester, don’t sweat it. Try taking it before bed, or ask your doctor for a prenatal with less iron in it (iron is often the culprit for prenatal nausea.) If you just can’t keep it down, don’t worry about it until the morning sickness passes in your second trimester. Often, your doctor will just recommend you take folic acid until you can keep down the vitamins. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have morning sickness and how you are coping with it!
PRO-TIP: don’t forget to take prenatal or a postpartum vitamin after birth as well. They will help you recover, give you energy, help with milk production, and aid in healing. Remember, it can take your body up to two years to hormonally regulate after birth, so taking care of your body will help you feel yourself sooner rather than later.
5. Make An Appointment With Your Local Pregnancy Resource Center
If you are struggling with nerves or have questions or need resources like WIC, locate a pregnancy resource center and make an appointment with an advocate to discuss any and all of your options. Mary’s Pregnancy Resource Center in South Florida offers free pregnancy, birthing, postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting classes, as do most PRC across the country. Women find these classes immensely helpful and report that it gave them confidence as they navigated motherhood. There are many resources for women and children, and if you need them don't try to navigate on your own. Our advocates love to help!
6. Rethink Your Diet
Pregnancy cravings and aversions will begin to dictate your lifestyle from now until the birth. But regardless if you are craving it, you need to cut these foods from your diet:
-deli meat (listeria can grow and cause problems in your pregnancy.)
-fish with high mercury levels like shark or swordfish (try to buy quality seafood when you crave it!)
-raw eggs (no more raw cookie dough!)
-anything that is unpasteurized
For more information on what you should eat when pregnant, check this article out. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-foods-to-eat-when-pregnant#berries Or this one
7. Start Pelvic Floor Exercises
Exercising the pelvic floor is not glamorous, but it is very important. It holds the weight of your belly, and it also has to be strong enough to birth the baby. Start your Kegel exercises now and get a head start on working those muscles. Youtube also has amazing prenatal workouts to get your body ready for birth, just remember to clear it with your doctor first!
To do a kegel: hold your pelvic muscles tight as if you are trying to not pee. Hold tight for three-five seconds, release, then repeat.
8. Decide How And When You Will Announce Your Pregnancy
The general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t announce your pregnancy until week 12 to family and friends in case you are to experience a miscarriage. 85% of miscarriages happen between weeks 1-12. However, if you are a person who needs support, you might want to announce it sooner to your closest friends and family so you have a support group in case you need them. Don’t worry if that feels too long to keep a secret: these first twelve weeks will give you plenty of time to figure out a fun and adorable way of announcing your pregnancy to the world! However, regardless if you tell others or not, it is a good idea to keep an announcement off social media until after week 12.
When do you tell your employer? For most jobs, you are not legally required to tell your employer that you are pregnant. If you want to wait, that is your right to do so. (However, if you work someplace in the government or military where you put your life on the line regularly, you might be required to inform them by a certain time for liability reasons.)
9. Plan Maternity Leave
Once you’ve been to your doctor’s appointment and you have a due date, and after you’ve told your employer, it’s a good idea to plan maternity leave and submit dates to your workplace. Your boss will appreciate the heads up so they have time to calculate work schedules/leave time for the rest of the team.
10. Baby Names
It's never too early to start making lists of baby names. You might like a name now, but after your first trimester you might hate it (thanks, hormones!) Another reason to start a list is that you and your partner might need a full nine months to agree on a name! Now is a perfect time to start writing down names and keep a running list.
11. Research What You’ll Want On Your Register
People throw baby showers and distant relatives will send gifts. So it’s a good idea to start browsing Amazon, Target, Walmart, or pretty much any of your favorite stores to begin a baby registry. Start doing research on what your style is and what your personal needs will be. Do you want a wipe warmer or are you a minimalist? Do you want gender-neutral colors or do you want specific colors? Reading mommy blogs and Amazon reviews are great places to start your research. Often, a product looks like a must-have but it's just a sparkling gadget that will never be used. As you research, you can add the essential products to your baby registry.
12. Don’t Forget To Take Bump Pictures!
Yes, you might not have a bump now, but one day you will look back and compare it to your next baby. A baby bump “journal” is a fun way to connect with your baby and make some memories.
13. Save For Maternity Clothes
Maternity clothes are expensive, and because they are cute you’ll want to buy them all! Even though you probably won’t need them until the second trimester, it’s a good idea to start setting money aside to buy some when you can no longer fit into your favorite jeans.
PRO-TIP: buy maternity clothes second hand at a thrift store or consignment shop. Because women usually only need them for a few months, they often donate very nice clothes which you can get for half the price. However, you will still need to invest in new items like underwear and nursing bras, so saving is still a good idea.
14. Look At Your Budget
Babies are adorable and expensive. Chances are you’ll need to start saving money or cut things out of your lifestyle now that you are a mommy-to-be. Putting money aside will help you:
-afford door dash during the first few sleepless weeks
-a baby sitter so you can catch up on sleep
-copays or other medical expenses your insurance won’t cover
-you won’t get everything you asked for on your registry, and if no one gifted you something important like a car seat, you’ll have to pay for one yourself.
-emergencies (like a stay at the NICU) after birth or medications
-personal care items like pads and pain reliever
In short, you can never know what surprise expenses will arise, but you can save for them! If you want more information on budgeting, check out Dave Ramsey’s guide to surviving the first year with a baby.
15. Sign Up For Childcare
No, it’s not too early to sign up for childcare if you have to go back to work after maternity leave.
In some places, waiting lists can go on for years before your child can enter the building! Also, looking for places near you and going on tours of daycare centers now will save you time when you are busy with a newborn and trying to go back to work.
If you can’t afford childcare, ask your local pregnancy resource center about low-income childcare options in your community.
16. Call Your Insurance
Birth is expensive and it's good to know what your plan covers. Take time to call your insurance and ask them about your plan and all that is covers (and does not cover.) Be sure to ask if breast pumps are included in your plan, what are your copays for lab work and doctor visits, and ask if they cover genetic testing for your unborn baby. If you need further assistance, as your local pregnancy resource center about options to help you financially.
We hope this checklist gives you calm and peace of mind so you are not wandering on your new adventure! There is joy in this journey, so take time to slow down and truly experience each moment and memory.