You found out you’re pregnant - hooray! Now what's next?
Read on for some helpful tips on what you’ll need during your pregnancy.
First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy!
We are SO excited for you in this incredible, yet challenging, journey you are on.
We understand that you might not always feel amazing (and sometimes you might feel downright awful), but we know that you are doing an amazing job growing a tiny little human inside of you. That’s no easy task!
So before we begin, take a deep breath, tell yourself (out loud) that you are doing a great job, and then keep reading for some helpful tips on what you need during pregnancy.
What are we talking about today?
In this blog, we are going to talk about what you need during pregnancy.
First off, let’s talk about health - both yours and your baby’s.
During pregnancy, it is especially important to make your health a priority.
You can do this by:
- Consulting a healthcare provider
- Taking a prenatal vitamin
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Staying hydrated
- Exercising regularly (with your healthcare provider’s approval)
- Sleeping as much as you can
- Understanding what to avoid or limit during pregnancy (e.g. caffeine, alcohol, high-risk activities, etc.)
#1. A Healthy Pregnancy and a Healthy Baby
After that initial excitement of the good news wears off a little, you might start to feel overwhelmed with a million questions.
Can I exercise during pregnancy? When is my baby due? Do I need to take any new vitamins? Should I stop anything I’m currently doing?
One of the first steps after finding out you’re pregnant is to find a healthcare provider. Here are some options you can choose from:
- Family doctors
- Nurse practitioners
Family doctors, as it sounds, are medical doctors who specialize in caring for the entire family - including babies.
Nurse practitioners are “registered nurses with extra training who work as part of a family medicine team.”
Obstetricians specialize in caring for expectant parents and the birth of babies.
Midwives specialize in helping with the birth, caring for low-risk expectant parents and offering postpartum care for up to 6 weeks after your baby is born.
You might be wondering, “How do I choose which healthcare provider to go with?”
These are some questions you might ask yourself when making your choice.
- “Where will my baby be born? Your baby may be born in a hospital, in a birth centre, in your home or in a midwife-run birth centre depending upon if a family doctor, obstetrician or midwife is providing your care.
- Will the health care provider I choose be at the birth? If not, who will?
- What decisions will I have to make during pregnancy and labour, and how will they be made? Some tests and procedures will depend on your situation and your health care provider.
- What support will I have after my baby is born, like for breastfeeding?
- Are there any charges for services that Alberta Health Care does not cover?”
What are the first signs of pregnancy?
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant, you are likely hyper-aware of any new symptom you might be experiencing and constantly asking whether what you are feeling is due to being pregnant.
Here are some of the early pregnancy symptoms you can watch out for:
- A missed period
- Breast changes (tender, swollen)
- Frequent urination
Even though these symptoms can be indicators of pregnancy, they can also be unrelated, so it’s important that you contact your healthcare provider if you suspect you are pregnant.
#2. Nutrition in Pregnancy
Upon finding out you are pregnant, you may be wondering how it will affect what you should or shouldn’t eat.
These are some of the key nutrients you and your baby need for a healthy pregnancy (according to the ACOG):
Having enough calcium helps to build strong teeth and bones. Some sources of calcium include: yogurt, cheese, milk, and sardines. The recommended amount of calcium during pregnancy is 1000 milligrams (mg) a day.
Iron is crucial in pregnancy as it “helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to your baby.” The recommended amount in pregnancy is 27mg daily and can be found in sources such as: dried beans, peas, lean red meat, and iron-fortified cereals.
During pregnancy, you need 770 micrograms of vitamin A daily. It is necessary for healthy eyesight, skin, and bone growth and can be found in foods such as: dark, leafy greens, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
During pregnancy, you need 85 mg of vitamin C daily. Vitamin C promotes healthy teeth, gums, and bones, as well as the absorption of iron. Broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries and citrus fruit are some great sources.
During pregnancy, you need 600 international units (IUs) daily of vitamin D. It helps your body absorb calcium, which helps build your baby’s bones and teeth. Some good sources of vitamin d are: fortified milk, exposure to sunlight, and fatty fish, such as salmon.
During pregnancy, you need 1.9 mg daily of vitamin B6. This vitamin can be found in foods such as: liver, pork, beef, bananas, and whole grain cereals. Vitamin B6 helps your body use fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and also helps in the formation of red blood cells.
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products, such as: meat, fish, milk, poultry, and liver. Vitamin B12 “helps form red blood cells and maintains your nervous system” and you need 2.6 micrograms daily during pregnancy.
Folate (Folic Acid)
Prior to pregnancy, you need at least 400 micrograms of folate daily and during pregnancy doctors recommend you get 600 micrograms daily.
Folate is a B vitamin that reduces the risk of neural tube defects (a birth defect of the brain and spinal cord) and is also important in the production of blood and protein. Folate is found in legumes (beans, peas, lentils), nuts, orange juice, liver and green, leafy vegetables.
During pregnancy, it’s also important to make sure you are drinking enough water.
#3. Can I exercise during pregnancy?
The short answer… YES!
Here’s what you need to know:
- First, check with your healthcare provider to discuss exercise during pregnancy and what activities you can safely perform.
- Once you’ve done this, the ACOG* reassures us that “if you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it is safe to continue or start regular physical activity” and it will “not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery.”
#4. Maternity Clothing
As you progress throughout your first trimester, you will likely notice that your old clothes don’t fit quite as well as they used to.
Some women find that their pants can even feel tight within a few days of receiving a positive pregnancy test.
This is why it’s so important to invest in good quality maternity clothing.
Here is a list of maternity clothing suggestions:
- Maternity leggings or pants - you will want to invest in at least a couple of pairs of maternity pants (you never know when you might have to do an awkward pregnancy squat and rip one pair open - I know I did!).
- *Pro Tip: I personally recommend investing in maternity leggings as they will stretch and grow better with you than maternity jeans, which can sometimes feel restrictive or uncomfortable.
- 2-3 New maternity bras - your breasts will likely grow at least one size during pregnancy, and you will need a supportive maternity bra to help you feel comfortable and supported.
- *Pro Tip: You can buy maternity bras that also double as nursing bras if you plan to breastfeed. It will save you time AND money in the long run! If you plan to breastfeed, your breasts may grow another size yet, so you may need a larger size for after pregnancy.
- Maternity tops (e.g. maternity tanks, t-shirts, long sleeve shirts or hoodies) - You might be able to get away with your current wardrobe for a few weeks or months, but eventually your baby belly will outgrow even your largest and stretchiest of tops. This is when you will need to invest in some quality maternity tops. Think about which season you will need these in (e.g. summer vs. winter) to make sure you are getting what you need.
- *Pro Tip: You can save time AND money by purchasing maternity tops that double as nursing tops later on if you plan to breastfeed. Trust me, this will make your life MUCH easier!
Remember, buying comfortable maternity clothing is an investment – as your belly and body grow and change, you will need to have some new items that help you feel comfortable and supported. Pregnancy comes with its challenges, but not having the right kind of clothing doesn’t have to be one of them!
#5. Other Maternity Accessories…
These are some other items you might find useful to have during pregnancy:
- A body pillow - many women swear by the body pillow. It can help you to feel more comfortable and supported while you sleep.
- A good moisturizer - this will be especially helpful as your baby belly grows and stretches and the stretched skin becomes itchy. By moisturizing, you can help minimize the itching and potentially the stretch marks as well.
- *Note: make sure you choose a moisturizer that is safe for both you and baby.
- A belly support band - some women like wearing these to support their pelvis and possibly improve their balance.
- A pregnancy photo shoot - if you want to capture this beautiful time of your life, make sure you book someone ahead of time so you can be sure to get the photos you are hoping for.
Note: It’s important to check that you are using safe beauty and skincare products, as well as safe cleaning products during pregnancy. Some products contain chemicals that could be harmful to you or your baby.
#6. Pregnancy Education
Pregnancy is a new time where you can feel overwhelmed by all of the changes in your body and by all of the new things there are to learn.
This is why it’s so important to ask for help and learn from others.
Here are some great ways to learn during pregnancy:
- By reading pregnancy books
- By taking prenatal classes
- From your local hospital - do a tour if you are giving birth there, and ask for any relevant resources they might have
- By talking to your doctor (or healthcare provider) - ask them for any information, handouts or classes that they know of that could be useful to you during pregnancy
- By writing in a pregnancy journal - it can be fun to look back at what you wrote once baby is here and you can reminisce. It can also be helpful to look back at what you wrote if you are pregnant again in the future or even if you need to tell the doctor what symptoms you’ve been experiencing.
Thanks so much for joining us today. We hope you have found this article helpful in some way!
Feel free to share this with a friend who might also find it helpful :)
Kelsey & the Be Active Maternity Team