I'm Pregnant, Now What?
Congrats! This post is for you if you've recently found out you're pregnant. You're likely feeling a cascade of emotions- excitement, fear, joy, worry, anticipation, confusion, or perhaps even feeling quite ill and tired. Anything or more is completely expected and normal right now. You've just found out some huge news!
As doulas we typically haven't met our clients yet at this point. Unless they are friends or repeat clients. That doesn't mean newly pregnant women can't benefit from the emotional and informational support of a doula. Right from the start parents are faced with choices and decisions- and your parenting journey begins.
So, you might be wondering- what should I do first?
First you want to take inventory of your life style. Was this planned or unplanned? Do you need to make modifications to your diet or lifestyle? Yes-cutting out alcohol, eating foods that are safe for pregnancy, taking prenatal vitamins, making sure to stay plenty hydrated, and getting adequate rest. You may find yourself falling asleep for a nap as soon as you get home. Try to continue exercise in your routine as tolerated, walking and swimming are excellent low impact exercises.
Second, start researching care providers. This part is SO important. Your care provider is going to guide you through your pregnancy and birth. Things you'll want to start considering, even though the birth itself feels so far away- do you want to deliver in a hospital, birth center or at home? Are you most aligned with the care of an OB or a Midwife? Are there any medical conditions you need to consider? Schedule your first appointment for 8 weeks. Some providers, especially in NYC book up far in advance.
The third thing you'll want to consider is if you plan to do any genetic testing. This is performed via a blood test in the first trimester. Things to consider: family history, what you'd do in the event the test did reveal potential genetic issues, cost and if insurance covers the test for you. Insurance typically covers genetic testing for women 35 and older. One exciting thing that is detected by the genetic screen is the baby's biological sex- which time wise is quite sooner than the typical 20 week anatomy scan. So if you're eager to know what you're having, the genetic test can tell you.
Start planning your maternity leave- it feels like a long way off, but pre-planning will go a long way when your baby is here. If you're self employed and haven't stated saving for maternity leave, you'll want to start. If you are employed you'll want to check with your company to see what's included in your benefits package and if you qualify for FMLA, or disability pay. This is sadly only 6 weeks of coverage on disability, and 12 weeks of unpaid leave through FMLA. If you feel the US should provide paid parental leave, please call your elected official and voice your concerns!!
This list will help you walk into your pregnancy on sturdy ground. If you're not able to do everything it's ok- the most important thing is you take good care of yourself and receive regular prenatal care.