You’ve gotten your positive pregnancy test! Congratulations! So many feelings set in those first couple weeks—excitement, anticipation, joy, and even some trepidation, fear, nervousness, or being completely overwhelmed. Try to relax, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and our goal is help ease some of that stress for you! There’s no “right” answer here, so inform yourself so you know your option and then follow your instincts. Whatever you decide in the end, know that you can absolutely do this!

So now what? Here’s some first steps to help you get moving in the right direction.

Think about the kind of birth you’d like

What do you know about birth? What opinions or feelings do you have about the kind of care you’d like for yourself and your baby? Some women know right away, but others take time. Educating yourself will be an invaluable tool when it comes time to deliver. Sometimes it’s helpful to talk to your mom, aunts, cousins, sisters and friends but sometimes it will be up to YOU to figure out what is best for you and your baby. And spend some time listening to your intuition.

Read books to prepare

Check out our favorites for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, postpartum and motherhood.

Listen to Birth Stories

Not to toot our own horn but we often hear that this is THE most useful preparation for giving birth. The Birth Hour covers all types of birth stories so you can pick and choose the episodes you want to listen to or binge them all and be prepared for any given scenario.

Decide on a Care Provider

Once you have an idea of how you think you’d like to deliver, make the first appointment with a doctor or midwife. Most care providers will want to see you between 8-11 weeks to be able to hear a heartbeat, confirm your due date, and maybe even do an ultrasound. If you decide to hire an obstetrician, many clinics fill up fast, so even if you are only 4 weeks, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment for a simple interview to see if the OB is a good fit for you.

OB vs. midwife can be a tricky decision. If you want a drug-free birth, a midwife is an excellent option. They tend to deal with low-risk pregnancies (what does it mean to be low-risk), spend lots of time with you during appointments and attend to you during the majority of labor. OBs are good options if you think you’d like pain management, a hospital setting for labor and delivery, or have a higher risk pregnancy.

Remember, nothing is ever set in stone. Just make some choices and start interviewing care providers. If at some point during your pregnancy you feel uneasy about your provider, or the hospital, or the policies, or anything else, it’s completely your prerogative to change your mind—they work for YOU! Advocate for yourself, ask questions (and demand answers until you feel comfortable) and follow your intuition. There are always options, and your safety and peace of mind is the priority and both are integral to a successful birth experience.

first find out pregnant

Buy some prenatal vitamins

That tiny little baby is developing vital organs rapidly right from the get-go. Brain and heart development are specifically important at this stage, and getting enough folic acid in particular can prevent some pretty serious birth defects. By week 8, the fetus structurally has everything that an adult has, even though it’s only 2 inches long. Getting the right vitamins early on helps to ensure proper development. Keep in mind not all vitamins are created equal. A good test is to drop a pill in a cup of water and see if it dissolves. If it does, that means your body will absorb all those important nutrients. If it is still in pill form an hour or two later, get a different brand. These are your new best friends! Start taking those bad boys right away! It’s even a good idea to take these before you get pregnant. Here’s a brand that we love.

Ditch harmful substances

Say “see you later!” to your favorite cocktail. Pregnancy is a vulnerable time and what the mama gets, the baby gets. Excessive alcohol during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome and other nervous system disorders so it’s best to give it up for the next 9 months (although many studies show that the occasional glass of wine is harmless). Just talk to your care provider. The same goes for cigarettes and other drugs. Even second hand smoke can do damage to that vulnerable little baby, so steer clear and talk to your care provider about solutions if you need some help cutting back. Here’s a complete list of things to avoid while pregnant.

Know the basics of nutrition

There are a couple of foods that are off-limits for the next little while, here are the general guidelines.

Things to avoid:
Raw or runny eggs
Fish containing large amounts of mercury like mackerel, shark, swordfish.
Limit white albacore tuna to one weekly serving.
Soft, unpasteurized cheeses like brie, goat cheese, or blue cheese. Pasteurized cheese is ok.
Deli meat, unless it is heated up first.
Limit coffee to 12 oz. per day and tea to 2 cups per day.

In general try to eat well balanced meals from all the major food groups, especially fresh fruits and veggies. Have no fear if morning sickness sabotages your best intentions. Do what you can. Your baby will take what it needs from you. Oh yes! You can get used to that idea. This is just the beginning! It is especially important to get the adequate amount of protein each day and to keep your iron levels up. We recommend this protein powder and this iron supplement.

Do some general lifestyle brainstorming for when the baby is born

Will you continue to work? What is the maternity leave policy at your place of employment? Will you want to potentially take some time off work and what will that entail financially for your household? These kinds of questions can be overwhelming and stressful. Don’t rush into anything at this stage. Just start thinking of possible options and you’ll get a feel for things as time passes and you get used to the idea of a baby coming!

Plan on when to tell your boss

This is a tricky situation and there are countless opinions on what to do. Ultimately there is no right solution, but think about the relationship you have with your boss, and how you anticipate them taking the news. Personally, I am a fan of telling them fairly early on. Your body changes can be unpredictable, especially in the early stages. Morning sickness might be pretty rough, and a boss knowing what’s going on can help if you need a few sick days, or to run out to your car and nap during lunch. Try not to fret too much about this one. There are laws protecting women’s rights, so most bosses are forced to be pretty understanding in this department. Again, follow your intuition and break the news when it feels right to you.

Celebrate!

Go out to a nice restaurant with your significant other or girlfriends. Eat some delicious food (while you can still tolerate it!), talk all about your dreams for your family and for the baby. Go buy a baby outfit or gift for your little one. And one for yourself too. You’re embarking on an exciting, empowering, life-changing journey. Welcome to motherhood!

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Austyn Smith
Austyn Smith is a Mom of 3 (soon to be 4) living in Portland, OR. She loves anything to do with birth and motherhood, and being active in the beautiful pacific northwest.