Finding out that you’re going to have a baby is a beautiful experience. It’s also scary, stressful, and depressing. Whether you were trying to conceive, or it was an unplanned pregnancy, you have some decisions to make and this guide will help you. If you’ve recently found out that you’re pregnant and don’t know what to do next, follow the twelve steps outlined below.
What Should I Do Now That I’m Pregnant?
1. Confirm That You’re Actually Pregnant
You don’t want to be the person who announces their pregnancy to the entire world and then finds out it was never true. False-positive pregnancy tests are rare, but it happens. The first step that any possibly expecting mother should take is to visit a doctor or emergency room as soon as possible. Doctors will either use a more reliable urine test, or do a blood test to confirm a pregnancy.
Why a Pregnancy Test Might Be False-Positive
Pregnancy tests are more likely to read negative during an active pregnancy than they are to read positive when a woman is not pregnant. However, there are a few things that can cause an at home pregnancy test to malfunction.
Miscarriage – if you were pregnant but lost the baby, the test would still read positive. This is the most probable cause of a false-positive result.
Medications – many women who’re trying to conceive take hormones to increase the odds of successfully getting pregnant. A pregnancy test will detect hCG hormones and read positive because of them.
Expired Test – all pregnancy tests have an expiration date and when they cross beyond that date, the chemicals will deteriorate. This causes the test to malfunction and can result in untrue readings.
Time – it’s very important that you follow the directions in the package to the letter when using a home test. When a test sits longer than recommended, the urine begins to evaporate. This can result in a phantom line that is often mistaken for a positive result.
2. Decide How You Feel About Being Pregnant
Not everyone wants to have—or plans to have—a baby, and sometimes it happens when we never expected it. There’s no shame in admitting you don’t know how you feel about being pregnant. That’s why it’s a good idea for newly expecting parents to take a couple of days for themselves, to do some soul searching.
Many people believe they’re ready to have children, but quickly learn they were wrong once the baby is born. Unfortunately, most of their options have expired by the time they realize they don’t want the responsibility, and this results in subpar parenting. The sad truth is that the people who really suffer in this situation are the children.
Make sure you’ve really thought about the responsibility that you’re taking on, and if you’re actually ready for it. People who truly do not want to be parents might need to research other options such as adoption.
There are thousands of couples who cannot have children of their own just waiting for a child to love. It’s not a decision that should be made lightly, but if you truly don’t think you want a child, they may be better off with a family who is ready for this lifelong commitment.
3. Support Systems
It’s important to consider your support systems and if you have any in place. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that’s not far from the truth. The first few weeks after bringing a newborn home can be terribly difficult, and having the right people around to help can make all the difference.
If you don’t live close to family or friends, there are other options available. Many states have programs in place to help new families succeed. Locate these resources in your area and sign up for them before the baby is born.
Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. Everyone needs help—especially in the beginning. If you don’t reach out, or allow anyone to assist you, you could get burnt out and will be unable to be your best for your baby.
4. Keep a Journal
Pregnancy can sometimes feel like being inside of a tornado. It’s a whirlwind of emotions, feelings, experiences and things that need to be planned—and done. With so many things running through your mind, it can be tough to organize your thoughts. That’s when a pregnancy journal comes in handy.
Find something durable (you’ll be writing in it a lot) and stylish enough to pass down to your children. Try to write at least a paragraph a day describing how you feel and other memorable aspects of your pregnancy. This is something your child will cherish for years to come so try to write specifically to them whenever possible. Someday they will be able to compare their pregnancy, and reference the journal when they have children of their own.
It’s a good idea to dedicate a section of the book for lists and plans. This will help you keep a check-list of things that you still need to do, or want done a certain way. If you are ever in an emergency situation, or are unable to voice your desires, someone can reference the book for you.
5. Discover the Different Childbirth Options and Make A Birth Plan
Years ago, having a child was pretty straightforward. Today, we are lucky enough to have several birthing options available to choose from. Parents can develop a birthing plan that suits them. It’s important to research these desicions ahead of time so you’ll know what your options are.
6. Find the Best Prenatal Care
A primary physician is not enough anymore. Now that you’re pregnant, you’ll need to find prenatal care. Expecting parents should have an idea about what you would want your birth to look like so you can find an OB/GYN—or other medical provider—who will facilitate those desires.
7. Make Healthier Choices
Living healthier and making good decisions is essential to your baby’s health. You’re not making decisions for one anymore. Everything you do can affect your unborn child.
Eating healthy – women should take time to research what they can and cannot ingest during pregnancy. There’s a handful of things you should avoid during pregnancy while other foods are rich in the nutrients your baby needs.
Smoking – research has linked smoking during pregnancy to complications such as birth defects and premature birth. If you smoke, ask your doctor about quitting options as soon as possible. If your partner smokes, ask them to quit with you or avoid being around them when they are smoking. Even smoke that lingers on a smoker’s clothing can be harmful.
Exercise – finding a routine that works for you and sticking to it is important. Exercise can help women maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy, build muscles that will help during their labor and delivery, and lead to an overall healthier pregnancy.
Prenatal vitamins – even if you take a multivitamin, you need to add prenatal vitamins to your diet each day. They design multivitamins with the needs of an adult in mind, but they don’t supply the things a growing fetus needs. Iron, calcium, and folic acid are all very influential to a baby’s health and development, and prenatals contain extra amounts of these significant vitamins.
8. Ask Your Employer About Maternity Leave
Maternity leave is one of those things that everyone should have available to them, but that’s not always the case. Most employers offer maternity leave in some form but because there are several variations, it can become confusing. There are a few important questions that expecting parents should talk to their employer about ahead of time so they don’t get blindsided later.
- Do they offer maternity leave?
- Is it paid or unpaid leave?
- If it’s paid, do they pay your full income or is it partial?
- How long can you take off?
- When are you allowed to take time off?
- Will it be classified as disability leave?
- Will you be able to return to the same position, schedual, and salary?
- How long after the baby is born can you take your leave? (Some parent are eligible for maternity leave up to a year after the baby is born so partners may alternate when they take it)
- What will happen if you get put on bed rest, or have complications before the baby is born?
- What if you tale
9. Financial Planning
Everyone is aware of the extra expenses that come along with a new baby. However, not everyone is prepared for it when the baby arrives. Medical costs, baby products, diapers, formula and other expenditures add up quickly. If you haven’t planned for everything, you could find yourself in a scary situation.
Some women plan to breastfeed because of the health benefits and to avoid the high price of formula. However, this doesn’t always work as planned. There could be unforeseen circumstances that lead to the inability to breastfeed, and then you’ll be left scrambling to buy formula and accessories.
That’s just one example of hidden expenses that could potential arise when you least expect it. Make sure you plan ahead for everything and plan a budget now that allows you to save for emergencies.
10. Research Baby Products
Getting everything ready for a newborn can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a nightmare. Expecting parents have numerous decisions to make; from picking out the right type of paint for the nursery to choosing a safe car seat, it can be overwhelming.
Researching the different baby products now will give you enough time to make an informed decision without feeling rushed. Make sure you check for recalls, look up the safety data, and read reviews from real people who have used the products.
11. Discover Your Family Tree
Thinking about your ancestry while getting ready for a newborn might seem foolish, but it is extremely important. There could be complications that have presented themselves in the past with other family members and knowing about them ahead of time could help you avoid a tragic situation.
Additionally, when there’s a family history of multiples, it increases the odds you could be pregnant with twins. There are several ways to look into your family tree. You could ask other family members about their experiences, or purchase a subscription from a company that looks for that information.
12. Read Everything You Can Get Your Hands On
Reading is a fantastic way to tap into a wealth of knowledge. Just be careful what you read and use common sense to judge the validity of the sources. Although several people have claimed to have discovered the secret of parenting and pregnancy, there is not a handbook.
There are thousands of tips and pieces of advice that you can gain informative knowledge from, but since every pregnant is different, you may have to pick and choose sections of advice from several sources. That’s why it is important to read a lot.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting, has remained one of the most influential go-to guides for pregnant women for years. It is a must-read for expecting parents, and they have multiple books that cover everything from pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.
13. Pack A Hospital Bag
This is not something you have to worry about during your first trimester, but you could research the best things to pack in your hospital bag.
As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll want to have a bag ready and waiting for you, because you never know when you might have to run out the door in a hurry. This reduces your stress because you’ll have everything you need all in one place, and won’t have to send someone back and forth to grab things for you from home.
Hopefully this list helped you discover what your next steps should be. Finding out that you’re pregnant is scary, but should be a wonderful time for expecting parents. Don’t allow fear to get in your way of enjoying this journey.
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