Having a baby is a miracle.
Having a baby is one of the most amazing, most trying, most frightening, most enlightening, most magical moments in a woman’s life. Your family, body, and mentality will all change when you get pregnant. Trust me; I’ve been there five times! But, it isn’t about how many children you have, whether the child is adopted, conceived naturally or through in vitro fertilization, when a baby comes into your life, it’s a miracle.
And with this miracle comes many, many changes. So, here is the pregnancy guide for new moms.
Pregnancy Guide for New Moms
The Pregnancy Test
Whether you’ve been trying to get pregnant or not, taking a pregnancy test can be an anxious time. Pregnancy tests can be purchased at almost any grocery store and pharmacy. The pregnancy test was developed to react to a hormone called HCG or human chorionic gonadotropin. This hormone is produced only when you are pregnant. There are many pregnancy tests out there. Some of our favorites include First Response Early Response, ClearBlue Plus, and ClinicalGuard® HCG Pregnancy Test Strips. No matter what test you take, if you get a positive or you are having trouble with the test, the next step is to head to your OBGYN or Family Practitioner.
Early Doctor Appointments
By the time you take your pregnancy test, you have already been pregnant for about 4 weeks. Some early symptoms include a missed period, nausea, or tender breasts. If you’ve been trying to conceive, these early symptoms of pregnancy can be exciting and sometimes challenging. Generally you will have your first doctor’s appointment about 8 weeks after your last period. This early appointment will likely be your longest. During this visit, you will be asked a lot of questions about your health, sexual history, and family background. Don’t hesitate to ask your own questions! Write down all the things you want to know beforehand so you don’t have to think of questions on the spot.
You will also need to get some testing down. These tests will help your doctor to get to know you and to rule out any complications that might arise in the future. Your healthcare provider will also go over medications you can have while pregnant along with other lifestyle changes that should happen now that you are expecting. This includes smoking, alcohol, certain foods, travel limitations and environmental hazards (to name a few).
Doctor vs. Midwife
This is a good time to decide if you’d rather see a doctor or a midwife. Both options have their benefits. For now it’s good to know the difference. Midwives help women during all stages of pregnancy, from their appointments to birth and beyond. Generally, women tend to use a midwife when there is a desire for less medical intervention. A midwife is a healthcare professional with varying levels of training. It is not recommend to use a midwife if there are complications with your pregnancy. If you are not sure if you’d like to use a midwife or a doctor, please contact your family practitioner or OBGYN to help decide what is best for your family.
Your changing symptoms
As you progress through your pregnancy, you symptoms will change. From severe morning sickness, to a lovely pregnancy glow and back to nausea- you can expect your pregnancy to be a rollercoaster of changes. Remember that there is no “everyone and every time” when it comes to pregnancy. Each one is different and unique.
Your body – Your baby’s body
In the first the months, your first trimester, you can expect to experience symptoms such as frequent urination, nausea (also called morning sickness), fatigue, food aversions or cravings, heartburn or constipation. Your body is changing as a new life is growing inside of you. Between the first and third month your baby will grow tremendously! By the end of your first trimester, your baby is between 2-4 inches long. Your baby now has arms, legs and tiny little feet.
As you move onto the second trimester, you will generally start to feel some relief from your symptoms. In other cases, symptoms like leg cramps and heartburn can be normal. By this time you are starting to show, more-so if this isn’t your first pregnancy. Your little one is growing too and by the end of your second trimester your baby is about a foot long and almost 2 pounds! You should feel your baby’s movements in the second trimester.
By the third trimester, many of your earlier symptoms may return. You will start to experience Braxton Hicks or early contractions. Some women also get short of breath as the baby grows larger. Heartburn may increase and frequent urination is common as your body accommodates your growing baby. As you approach your due date, your baby will shift positions (head down) in preparation for birth. Your baby, if full term, will be about 18 inches long and about 7 pounds.
Moderate exercise, in healthy pregnancy, is generally considered okay. A good way of thinking is that if you were physically active before your pregnancy, it should be ok to continue. It’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself during this time. Exercise is a good part of pregnancy and can have some benefits as well, including increasing your energy, reduces some of your pregnancy symptoms such as constipation and backaches, and can even assist in the delivery of the baby. It’s important to discuss with your doctor or midwife any changes in your exercise routine before they happen.
It’s highly likely that your diet will change during your pregnancy. You will fluctuate between eating more, not being able to eat enough, and loving food combinations that don’t make sense, or hating food you always loved. Remember that what you eat the baby eats too. Often your absurd cravings are the baby’s way of asking for more. A good rule during your pregnancy is to eat a balanced diet including a combination of proteins, carbohydrate, fats, dairy and fluids to name a few.
Pregnant women should avoid things like raw seafood (good bye sushi), soft cheeses (no more feta),and raw sprouts.
Water is a vital part of good nutrition. Continue to, or start to, drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. If you live somewhere warm or are pregnant in the summertime you should increase your fluids.
Hospital Bag and birth plan
As you enter the third trimester, many women start to nest. This is a time when you may feel an urge to clean the house or prepare the baby’s room. This is the perfect time to prepare your hospital bag and discuss with your doctor your birth plan. Every woman’s hospital bag varies. A few good things to have in there may include chapstick, hair bands, glasses (if you need them), music, a change of clothes for afterwards, cell phone charger, camera, your baby’s homecoming outfit and blanket, and your birth plan. Each family has a different birth plan. It is important to be flexible! Things don’t always work out as you expect them too and establishing what is really important with your healthcare provider is important. Vocalize this early in your appointments but also be realistic. Plans change and every experience is different. You may want music now, but once in the delivery room the extra sound may irritate you.
The Big Day
The day has finally come. For some this means your water broke (don’t worry, this only occurs in several many cases), for others it was a scheduled induction, but no matter how it happens, today is the day. There are three stages of labor. During the first stage of labor, your cervix will shorten and open. Your will feel contractions that help your cervix to dilate. It’s important to remember that what is happening to your body is completely normal. This phase of labor will last anywhere from a few hours to more than a day. Each woman is different and each subsequent pregnancy is different. If this is your first baby, many hospitals will not admit you until you are about 4 centimeters dilated.
During the second stage of labor your baby will descend down your vaginal canal and your baby will be born. This is the pushing phase. This stage can generally last anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours. The key here is to remember your breathing.
The final stage is the delivery of the placenta. At this point, most new moms are doting over their baby with early skin to skin contact that the delivery of the placenta is quite easy.
If you have a caesarean section (C-Section), your stages of labor may vary. Some women do not enter active labor, while others may begin with a normal vaginal birth, but end up needing a c-section. Many women have c-section and there is no “better” way to have a baby. Generally the recovery time after a c-section can be a bit longer.
After you have delivered your baby vaginally, you will be cleaned up and given pads and cold packs to help with the pain. Your nurse will regularly massage your contracting uterus to help it return to its normal size. Many hospitals practice “rooming in”, which is where the baby will stay in the room with you. Hospitals often have lactations consultants to help you and your new baby get the hang of breastfeeding. Your post-delivery stay in the hospital can vary based on the hospital and your number of children. Make the most of your stay and ask as many questions as you want. The nurses and doctors are there to help you get adjusted to the new family life.
This is by far not a complete pregnancy guide for new moms, but I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about what you have to look forward to. There are many changes about to happen to your family and your body and mind. The best way to prepare for these changes is to ask questions, make connection and learn more! Here at The Expecting Mamas Network we want to be a support system for you. Got questions? Need some ideas? Looking for your tribe? Look no further! We’re here from conception and beyond.
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Pregnancy Guide for New Moms
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Writer, mother, travelista. Experiencing life one day at a time.