Discovering you’re pregnant can be a reason to celebrate, but it can also be a time of confusion and uncertainty. Getting to grips with the situation and exploring the implications of having a baby can be overwhelming.
Here are our top tips for what you need to think about when you’re expecting.
1. Confirm you’re pregnant
This may seem unnecessary but some symptoms of pregnancy, such as missing a period or feeling nauseous, can indicate other conditions. Even a positive test result can be false, so it's best to visit your doctor who can give you a blood test to work out if you are pregnant, and how far along you might be.
2. Making a decision
Your doctor can also help you decide if you need to talk to someone about becoming a mum, and help address any concerns you may have about continuing on with the pregnancy. Your situation might be challenging and taking to an expert to get information and work through your options can really help you figure things out.
3. Finding a lead maternity carer (LMC)
Whether it's a midwife, obstetrician or GP, working with an LMC will help your pregnancy go smoothly. Start talking to different LMCs to see who’ll suit you, and also to see who's available – these people can be really busy!
4. Stay healthy and fit
Eating a good diet full of fresh food and exercising regularly will help you feel good and help your baby to grow well. You don't need to eat a lot more than usual but you’ll need to avoid certain foods: your LMC will give you a list of these. If you smoke it's important to quit and if you drink alcohol, reducing or stopping your consumption is a good idea – there is no safe level to drink when you're pregnant. If you need support in quitting any bad habits, your doctor can help.
5. Make a birth plan
These days, women have many choices when it comes to giving birth. Your LMC will guide you on the options and risks involved. And remember, sometimes nature will take its course – babies can have their own ideas on making their entrance to the world!
Usually, there's plenty of time to gather what you'll need for your baby, such as clothing and bedding. You shouldn't need to spend a lot of money and you'll find many people will gladly hand down baby equipment. Remember, babies don't need a lot besides plenty of your time, care and love.
7. Preparing for motherhood
If this is your first pregnancy, or if there have been some years since your last child was born, you can attend parenting classes which offer support, practical advice and skills to ready yourself for parenting. Take your partner, family member or friend along to learn what you need to do.
8. Rest and be kind to yourself
Pregnancy can make you tired – growing a baby is hard work! Rest when you need to, be gentle on yourself and, above all, try to enjoy your pregnancy.