Whether you’ve been desiring this baby, or the pregnancy came as a surprise, as long as you intend to have an enjoyable pregnancy (well, as enjoyable as pregnancy can be!), and give birth to a healthy baby, there are things you need to get started with as soon as possible:
1. Start taking your prenatal vitamins immediately.
Your child will be using up what your body has, so you need to replenish or your body will suffer. If you’ve been trying to conceive, you may have been on a combination of vitamins, or at least on folic acid. Otherwise, once you see a doctor you’ll be given calcium, iron, and folic acid. However, even before you start seeing an OB/GYN you can and should start taking folic acid immediately. Doctors advise women who are planning to get pregnant to start taking folic acid supplements about 3 to 6 months before conception; not just when you get pregnant. Taking your folic acid before and early on in pregnancy can reduce the risk of brain and spine birth defects by up to 70 percent.
2. Keep quiet.
As exciting as finding out you’re pregnant may be, it’s best to keep your good news to yourselves, and close family members for now. Miscarriages are common in the first three months – nature’s way of dealing with pregnancies that will not develop properly – so while you definitely hope for the best, you don’t want to have to start explaining to everybody that you had a miscarriage. After the first 3 months, the rate of miscarriage drops all the way down to 10%. Great time for announcements!
3. Start moisturizing now.
Slather cocoa butter or shea butter all over your body every day, and start right away. I first learnt this from Oluchi Onweagba Orlandi over a decade ago when she gave an interview after her first baby. Focus especially on your tummy and buttocks. You might still have stretch marks, but nowhere near as bad as it would be without this intense moisturizing.
How are you feeling every day, physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally? What things are you learning? What have you observed? Apart from the memories you will have to look back on decades later, it will also help you document important facts about how your body behaved at certain times, how you remedied issues that came up, and other such things that might prove helpful in subsequent pregnancies.
5. Take pictures of yourself.
Although I don’t agree that a picture is worth a thousand words (there are so many things a picture cannot tell you especially when it comes to what a pregnant woman is thinking and feeling), pictures certainly have their own value. The importance of creating memories in life cannot be overemphasized. You’re growing a little human inside you for 40 weeks. Apart from your growing belly, your body may change in other ways, some temporary (your nose could take over your entire face until after delivery) and some more permanent (you may never return to your old dress size again). The experience is definitely worth documenting visually, so start with a “before picture” as soon as you find out.
I’m not suggesting you hit the gym or engage in any strenuous exercise. There are specific exercises like pelvic floor exercises, which can help speed up your delivery once you are in labour. Maintaining an active lifestyle will help you stay strong and vigorous, which is what you really need for an easier, faster delivery. So stay fit and healthy.
7. Start maternity shopping.
Your clothes will soon become a little (or a lot) tighter, and you want to stay as comfortable as possible all through your pregnancy. Maternity dresses, maternity jeans, maternity shorts and even corporate wear can be found in shops online and offline. Don’t forget your bras.
Congratulations, beautiful mama. You rock!