I’m pregnant! Now what?

pregnancy first trimester to do list

Ten weeks ago I was that gal – waiting nervously with pee stick in hand to find out if life was about to change forever.

Positive.

Nothing can prepare you for the shock / elation / disbelief / terror that that little blue line evokes – even if, like me, you were planning to start a family.

The first thing I did was laugh. The next thing I did was make a cuppa.

And then the questions started. And the Googling. Oh god the Googling.

I’ve never done this before and like a lot of people, hubby and I were not planning on telling anyone I was pregnant until we knew for sure that the baby was fine.

So I’ve got to figure this all out on my own somehow, I thought.

And I did. Somehow. But it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t smooth sailing.

The NHS website has a pretty inclusive pregnancy to-do list but I found that the reality of my introduction to antenatal care fell a little short of what I’d expected and that pregnancy advice is free flowing, contradictory and bloody confusing.

So this post is designed to help other newly pregnant gals prepare themselves for what they should and could be planning, booking and expecting from the first trimester.

My first trimester To-Do List

take the right Vitamins

There is an abundance of information out there on what you should and shouldn’t be taking from pre-pregancy, throughout the first trimester and beyond.

I fell victim to the vitamin trap and panic bought several types based on my own online research and before seeking professional advice.

The vitamins I purchased and didn’t use include:

  • Magnesium Citrate – a doctor or midwife may prescribe this but only if you have constipation.
  • Vitamin D3 (high strength) – pregnant women should not take more than 400 IU of vitamin D per day. The ones I was (ill) advised to buy contained ten times this amount.
  • Calcium & Vitamin D – I used this for a little while but the vitamin D levels were lower than the recommended dosage.
  • Omega 3 Fish Oil – I didn’t take these supplements because I eat fish in my diet and the extra supplements were deemed unnecessary by my midwife.

After attempting to DIY my way through the vitamin jungle I settled on the pricey but UK Department of Health and Royal College of Midwives approved Pregnacare range.

What to take and when

I took the Pregnacare before conception supplements which include vital micronutrients such as zinc – which contributes to normal fertility – and the right amount of folic acid you should be taking even before you conceive.

When I found out I was pregnant I then switched to the Pregnacare original range which is suitable to take throughout all of pregnancy.

I tried my hardest to avoid spending more on brands like Pregnacare by buying cheaper alternatives, individually, but ultimately I spent more because of confusion around recommended dosage and what was really essential.

My midwife has since provided me with Active Iron supplements which are gentle ‘non-constipating’ supplements to support iron levels throughout pregnancy. I am not iron deficient and my midwife approved these so I’d confidently recommend them to anyone.

So that’s all I take. Pregnacare original and Active Iron. Both midwife approved.

Booking your first antenatal appointment

The NHS website states that: “You can book an appointment with your GP or directly with your midwife as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.”

In my experience, you must request a ‘booking appointment’ with a midwife when you contact your GP surgery. You will need to see a midwife not a doctor.

At this first appointment, you will likely be asked:

  • the first day of your last period – this is to work out an initial due date
  • what vitamins and supplements you are taking
  • if you have any health issues
  • which hospital you would like to book with
  • if you have considered / would be interested in antenatal screening

Of course, this is an opportunity for you to ask questions too. You may wish to ask:

  • which vitamins and supplements may be uniquely right for you
  • about diet
  • options to go private
  • about different hospitals near to you
  • about options for an early scan if you have any concerns or are just looking for a reassurance scan

Make sure that you are organised for this appointment and write down any nagging questions prior to the visit. It may be your only opportunity for reassurance and one-to-one advice for a couple of months – at least until your 12 week scan.

Ask the midwife to schedule in your booking bloods if this isn’t offered to you. It wasn’t offered to me and caused unnecessary stress in those early weeks as most hospitals will want booking bloods to have been completed by the time you arrive for your 12 week scan.

You can find out more about my experience with my first antenatal appointment and why I chose to invest in Private Midwives here.

download a pregnancy app

Pregnancy apps are a great way to ensure that you feel connected to your growing baby – especially in the early weeks. In my experience, it’s easy to forget you’re growing a tiny human because there’s no bump, no movement and life just kind of goes on.

Hubby and I have loved checking in to see how baby is developing at 8, 9, 10 etc weeks. It’s crazy to know when heartbeats start and when eyelids form and when baby can start to taste the foods you eat.

I downloaded Pregnancy+ as soon as I discovered I was pregnant and it’s been fab. Oh, and it’s completely free.

The app counts how many days and weeks pregnant you are, and shows a digital image of how your baby looks at each stage.

In addition, you’ll be given a weekly lowdown on your baby’s development, what your body might be doing, health and tips, and information for your partner to help him feel involved and understand what is happening in your body.

You can compare your baby’s size by fruit – I’m currently harbouring an avocado at 15 weeks – and a helpful timeline let’s you see week by week when tests and scans are due, and lists out cute milestones such as when you might feel your first kick and when the baby will be able to recognise your voice.

There are tons of other features, information and guides available – all totally free. I’ve tried out a few other pregnancy apps and Pregnancy+ is definitely my favourite.

Bounty is another popular one that many of my mum friends have tried, tested and approved.

listen to your body

This is an important one.

If, like me, you’re fortunate enough to dodge morning sickness in the first trimester, it can be tempting to continue doing everything you usually do…

And that’s completely fine! As long as you feel ok.

There were many times I felt exhausted but wanted to ‘power through’ and still go to the gym or go for that long walk on holiday in the blistering heat. I regretted powering through every time. Id often end up with stomach cramps, headaches, breathlessness and would just feel generally knackered and rubbish.

It wasn’t worth it.

I had to learn to listen to my body and do something I wasn’t very good at… rest. I had to just sit and do nothing if my body said no. It was hard at first but after downloading a few great books it became easier. Couple with a slice of cake and a cuppa and you’ll soon come around to this whole ‘rest’ malarkey.

Start reading

In my experience, there are two camps when it comes to ‘pregnancy knowledge’.

One camp reads everything, asks every question and wants to know all there is to know about pregnancy, birth and beyond. And the other camp wants none of it. They’ll turn up on the day and hand themselves over to the professionals.

I’m a member of the former camp, and have been reading anything I can get my hands on since I discovered that blue line all those weeks ago.

Here’s my recommended reading list to get you started:

The Positive Birth Book – an absolute must read from well respected author and founder of The Positive Birth Movement, Milli Hill. I devoured this book and read parts aloud to hubby on holiday, and it completely changed the way we had both thought about birth. I came away feeling empowered and excited about how birth could be. A real game changer.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – a fantastic and empowering book from America’s leading midwife. A little heavier than The Positive Birth Book so perhaps one to dip in and out of if you’re short of time.

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know – I’m about half way through this one (which was recommended on The High Low podcast) and it definitely provides food for thought with regards to how science and studies do / don’t support the many things we’re told to do and not do; take and not take; eat and not eat, during pregnancy.

Men, Love & Birth: The book about being present at birth your pregnant lover wants you to read – this one was recommended to me by my midwife. Hubby is yet to read but the reviews are great and my midwife says its the best book out there for expectant fathers.

Book a flu jab

If you’re going to be pregnant at any point between October and February you’ll be offered a free flu jab.

It’s entirely up to you as to whether or not you would like to have the flu jab. Your GP can advise you of the benefits and risks but I’d prefer not to wait for weeks and weeks, so I conducted my own research online and would recommend you visit the NHS website’s flu jab guide.

If, like me, you think the flu jab is absolutely worth having, you can usually get it done sooner at a local pharmacy rather than wait for a GP appointment.

Here’s to a winter without a runny nose!

Have an early scan – if you want

I was offered an early scan because my midwife told me that there wasn’t much difference between 8 and 12 weeks in terms of what the ultrasound checks for.

An early scan is called a ‘viability scan’ and is really just to determine whether there’s one baby or more in there, and to check for a heartbeat.

I had my first scan at eight weeks and it was wonderful. The baby looked like a jelly baby and the heartbeat was clearly visible. But by week 12 I felt like I was missing out – I wanted another scan to see little arms and legs, and to make sure that everything was ok.

Note: if you’re opting for traditional chromosomal screening on the NHS, you will have to have a nuchal translucency scan at around twelve weeks. This is why the first scan usually takes place at twelve weeks. However, if you’re opting for the Harmony test, a nuchal trans scan isn’t necessary, which is why you might be offered (or can ask for) an earlier scan.

The moral of the story is, do what is right for you.

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