Finding out you’re pregnant – especially for the first time – is super exciting! But you’re probably also wondering about what things you should be doing to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible for you and your growing baby.
It might be that if you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, you’ve already made a few lifestyle changes, but what else could you be doing to keep you and baby well?
When we asked our mums on Facebook what they first thought about doing in terms of health/lifestyle when they found out they were pregnant, Laura G told us: “With my first I got straight on the Pregnacare and became obsessed with getting my 5 a day. Not so much with my second.”
And we reckon those thoughts are fairly standard.
So, here are some of our tips for things to think about doing in those first few days of pregnancy…
1. Take your vitamins – especially folic acid
Top of your list of vitamins to take when you find out you’re pregnant should be folic acid.
Folic acid is really important for helping your baby grow. It’s not a vitamin that stays in your system, and when you’re pregnant it leaves the blood even quicker than when you’re not – so it’s important to top it up daily.
Did you know it’s recommended that you take a daily Vitamin D supplement during pregnancy, too?
You may also decide to take pregnancy vitamin supplement everyday. If you do, look for one that includes calcium and iron. If you’re not sure what you need to get in your diet, speak to your GP.
One vitamin you should avoid taking extra of, by the way, is vitamin A. You should also avoid vitamin A rich foods like liver and liver products. If you’ve eaten some liver/liver pate, while pregnant – don’t worry too much. Just avoid it from now on if you can.
We should add: while folic acid is a particularly good vitamin to take, don’t get too worked up if you haven’t been taking it or miss taking it, like worried forum mum-to-be wannanother:
“I am 11 weeks pregnant and have been taking folic acid prescribed by the doctor since about 5 weeks pregnant but there have been at least 5 days (not in a row) where I have completely forgotten to take it.
“Is this really bad? I do eat Rice Krispies and I believe these have it? On one hand I think surely it’s be fine to miss it sometimes, but on the other hand why do they stress you have to take one pill a day if it wasn’t important?
“Please help!! This is my second baby, with my first I took it religiously but I guess I’ve just got busier with my first child and forget!”
First things first – DON’T panic. If you do forget to take your vitamins, just start taking them again as soon as you remember.
One helpful tip is to have the vitamins you need out where you can see them, or by your toothbrush, rather than in a cupboard so you’ll spot them without thinking and take them every day.
2. Try and cut down on caffeine if you have it
If you’re a caffeine fan, the good news is you can still have your morning cappuccino when you’re pregnant.
Guidelines suggest you shouldn’t have more than 200mg of caffeine a day though, as it has been linked to things like low birth weight.
And remember, other drinks like tea and coke contain it too, as does chocolate – so if you have some or all of these things in a day you might just want to be aware of how much caffeine each has in it, as it will add up.
Quite a few of the mums on our forum were chatting about their caffeine intake – through coffee, tea and sometimes diet coke.
Dinothedrunkenhamster said: “I’ve cut [caffeine] out now because I’ve heard so many things about it, but I didn’t drink that much anyway.
“And the girls at work have been great – they pinched me some decaf from upstairs. I’ve got some fruit tea in as well now, I find a hot drink of dilute pop much nicer anyway.
“But my sister has drank tea and coffee through both her pregnancies and her daughter is fine and her bump is huge at the moment, I don’t think the little lad is having any trouble either.”
It’s not a disaster if you go over the limit every now and then – but if you do have a lot of caffeine, it’s worth cutting down.
Charity Tommy’s has a great calculator you can use to help you check if you’re sticking fairly near to the guidelines.
3. Make a doctor’s appointment
When things have settled down a bit and you’ve had time to take it all in, book yourself in with the doc so that you can get checked over and get the ball rolling on setting up you records, red book etc.
Seeing your GP makes it all that bit more official and helps you remember there’s professional help if you have any worries or symptoms you’re concerned about.
What happens when you see your GP will vary from place to place, but a few mums have been chatting on our forum about the kind of things to expect. Mum Noodle08, for example, says:
“In my area you see the GP first. I found out I was pregnant at 4 weeks saw my GP at 5 weeks and he just talked through a few things like folic acid, and [started] my maternity notes and referred me for my scan and to the midwife.
“Saw the midwife at 10 weeks for booking in. Call your surgery and they will tell you your particular process!”
4. Don’t change your diet drastically without talking to a medical expert
Feel free to up your fruit and veg intake, obviously – but when you’re pregnant probably isn’t the time to make drastic changes to what you eat – at least, not without talking to you doctor first.
There are a few thing you might want to cut out – certain cheeses, liver etc – take a look at our guide on what not to eat in pregnancy.
And if you develop gestational diabetes (don’t worry, it’s only an if) you’ll be given advice on how you can control it with what you eat – take a look at our advice on gestational diabetes here.
If you’re following a weight management plan or a particular diet, make sure you run it past your GP at your first appointment, and get their advice.
In the case of Slimming World, you don’t have to stop if you become pregnant. They work with the RCM to come up with suitable (non-weight loss focussed) plans for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Comments from mums in our forum, who have been chatting about various diet plans they’ve been on while pregnant, seem to suggest they’re still OK to do but when you go to the official meet-ups the emphasis is put on health rather than weight loss.
For example, Emily B says: “I know people who’ve done WW [Weight Watchers] while pregnant, with the emphasis being on healthy eating and maintaining weight, rather than trying to lose it.
“I know that the ladies I knew both followed the diet but weren’t weighed every week at meetings.”
Again, it’s SO important you speak to your GP or another medical professional (not just your consultant at SW or WW) about your pregnancy diet.
5. Promise to be kind to yourself for the next 9 months (and beyond)
You’ll almost certainly find that later on in your pregnancy your body – and what you do with it – feels likes it’s everyone’s concern.
The MFM team has heard from pregnant women who feel judged for all sorts of things while expecting – like drinking a small glass of Prosecco at a party – or even for saying they didn’t want rocket leaves in a cheese and ham toastie (‘no greens?’)!
And if you go by some of the headlines in the major papers you’ll worry that everything you ever did before you got pregnant will have a negative effect on your baby.
But the truth is, most births in the UK go ahead healthily and happily, and so lots of those worries – and the guilt that comes with them – are for nothing.
We like what gr2007 on our forum advises on the issues of smoking and drink – perhaps 2 of the most disapproved things you can do while pregnant:
“I gave up smoking immediately when I found out I was pregnant. It’s tough, but I think for me the guilt would be worse if I had a cigarette!
“The NHS advice says that you should have no more than 2 units of alcohol once or twice a week, although there is of course a school of thought that says you shouldn’t have any alcohol at all.
“I personally have had the occasional glass of wine (it’s amazing how you can make it last for hours!!!).
“My friend has 2 very healthy young children and her treat during pregnancy was either a pint of Magners or a glass of wine every couple of weeks.
“These choices are really personal and I think of you make an informed choice that’s right for you then that’s what’s really important.”
So we think that from the very first moment you find out you’re pregnant, it’s important to decide that you’re going to be kind to yourself for the next 9 months – and try and enjoy this special time.
6. Join an online forum
While you might have a few friends who are in the same stage of pregnancy as you, they’re not always around to chat, and aren’t always experiencing the same issues.
So why not think about joining an online forum – like the MadeForMums one? You’ll find mums on there talking about all sorts of things – airing concerns but also generally bonding and having a laugh.
And while you’re online, if you do have any questions – from ‘Is it OK to have a Brazilian blow dry when you’re pregnant?’ to ‘When should I start thinking about my baby’s name?’ – a quick Google will hopefully give you some down to earth, practical answers.
(Make sure you click on trusted websites to get your info – MadeForMums included.)
We know the journey you’re about to start is super exciting, but it can also bring anxieties and lots of questions with it, too.
The good news is – there is help and sensible guidance out there. So relax and try and enjoy what’s to come.