Are you pregnant and wondering what comes next? What you should do, and if your feelings are normal?
I remember that feeling well — being so excited about seeing that positive pregnancy test. And that excitement morphing into trying to figure out the logistics of what I needed to do next. As a pregnant woman, you’re going to have a lot of hurdles to jump through, and your emotions will be all over the map.
This month-by-month checklist can let you know what’s coming next and if what you’re feeling is normal. We’ll break this checklist into three trimesters, and each trimester will include a section for every month. At the end of each month, we’ll give you a sentence to fill in so you always remember these special moments.
You made it! Whether you were actively trying to get pregnant or it’s a total surprise to you, buckle up because this next three-month period could get bumpy. If you’re lucky though, it could also be smooth sailing.
You could feel sick or perfectly fine. And you could feel the same emotionally, or it can hit you hard. It varies from woman to woman. Keep in mind, it’s only three months — you can do it!
- Tell your partner the news if he wasn’t there when you took your pregnancy test.
- Begin taking prenatal vitamins if you haven’t already. You need more essential nutrients now, including iron, folic acid, calcium, and vitamin D (1).
- Stock up on ginger ale and saltine crackers because you could feel the urge to puke at any time, thanks to morning sickness.
- Try to drink eight or more glasses of water a day to stay hydrated.
- Begin limiting your caffeine to no more than 200 milligrams per day (2).
- Schedule your first prenatal appointment and ask on the phone about any medications you may want to stop taking. Although your provider may not see you until you are 8 to 10 weeks, you can set it up now to ensure you get in when the time comes.
- Figure out your due date, by recalling when the first day of your last period was. Subtract three months and add 7 days from the first day of your last menstrual period.
- Take a picture if you want to see how your body changes month by month.
- If you’re a smoker, try to quit immediately.
- Clean up that diet by including a lot of fruits and vegetables. And cut out foods you shouldn’t eat while pregnant, like unpasteurized cheeses, deli meat, and fish containing mercury (3).
- Try to get some exercise — shoot for at least 30 minutes four or five days a week. Even easy exercises like walking will be good for your body and mind.
- Stop changing the kitty litter — that should be your partner’s job now. It could lead to toxoplasmosis, which would be dangerous to your baby (4).
- Start avoiding hot baths and hot tubs because it isn’t good for your baby.
- Go to your first prenatal appointment. Make sure to mention any prior health concerns you’ve had and write up questions ahead of time so you don’t forget anything.
- Look for pregnancy apps if you’re a technology lover. It can help you stay on top of everything you’ll have to do for the rest of your pregnancy.
- If you need support from other pregnant women, sign up for an online club.
- Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep. Shoot for at least 8 hours of shut-eye a night and take naps when you need them.
- Figure out what maternity care your health insurance covers. That will help with your birth plan.
- If morning sickness has you down, eat small meals or snacks that are bland like crackers, bananas, and rice.
- Tell your family and friends about your pregnancy if you haven’t already.
- Grab some Tums at the store to have on hand in case you get a sudden heartburn attack.
- Buy some maternity clothes. You’ll be needing them soon if you don’t by now.
- Make a list of everything you’ll need for your baby. Then, draw up a budget for what you can afford to buy and prioritize your list to make sure the essentials are covered.
- Talk to your boss about how much time you can take off after delivery.
- Start rubbing your stomach, thighs, and hips with cream or lotion to ward off stretch marks.
- Stop lying flat on your back when sleeping or exercising. You should avoid that now until after delivery.
- Schedule a cleaning with your dentist. While pregnant, your gums may be irritated and inflamed.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling extra emotional lately. Pregnancy hormones can do that to you.
The Second Trimester
This trimester can be the easiest of the three in many ways. If you felt sick during the first trimester, it will usually subside by the time this one rolls around. And you’re not feeling as big, sore, and awkward as you will in the third trimester.
You can use all that energy you’re feeling now to prepare for things once your baby gets here.
- Start looking at baby names. Make a list of your favorites to share with your partner.
- Begin organizing the nursery while you still have energy.
- Create your baby shower registry. Put a wide range of items on the list to work with every budget.
- Try not to worry about the possibility of a miscarriage as much now. Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester.
- Ask your partner if they want to know the baby’s gender. Most women, if they want to know, learn the gender between 16 and 20 weeks.
- Look for childbirth classes you can sign up for.
- Buy a pregnancy pillow to make sure you’re more comfortable while you’re sleeping. And remember — you shouldn’t be sleeping on your back anymore!
- Make sure you tell your doctor not to reveal your baby’s gender if you want it to be a surprise.
- Decide where you want to give birth, whether it’s at a birthing center, hospital, or your own home. Make sure you’re fully educated about all your options and the upsides and downsides to each one.
- Scrapbook your baby’s ultrasound picture. First, send it to all the friends and family you want to share it with.
- Decide if you want your baby to sleep in your room for the first few months or stay in their nursery at nights.
- Relax a little bit — at the end of this month, your baby could survive if born that early. Babies have a 40 percent survival rate when born at 24 weeks (5).
- Purchase your nursery furniture and put it together in case you deliver early.
- If your feet have started swelling, consider going up a half size on your shoes to make your feet more comfortable.
- Start organizing your home. You won’t have much time for that sort of thing after baby arrives or even when you’re feeling too big in the final month or two of pregnancy.
- Between 26 and 28 weeks, you will take a test for gestational diabetes. If you test positive, you’ll need to make dietary changes, get a little more exercise to lower your blood sugar, and possibly take insulin.
- Your healthcare provider will also check your blood count to ensure your platelet and iron levels are safe.
- Examine your daycare options if you are going to go back to work after having your baby.
- You and your partner might want to take a long weekend or mini-vacation. You’ll have to stay close to your doctor in the third trimester.
- Hire a doula if you want to use one during labor.
The main event is almost here! You are in the home stretch, and soon you’ll be holding your beautiful newborn in your arms for the first time.
You’ve made it so far, but there’s still a lot to be done this trimester. You’ll have more frequent doctor’s trips and your growing belly will lead to new aches and pains. Be sure to baby yourself a bit more than usual — it’ll be your last chance to do so for a while.
- Pack your hospital bag in case you go into early delivery. Don’t forget some slippers or socks — you don’t want your bare feet on those germy floors.
- Put your birth plan in writing. Don’t count on your partner remembering everything if you’re unable to make decisions or vocalize what you want.
- Take care of your pre-registration if you’re going with a hospital or birthing center birth.
- Find a pediatrician for your baby. Ask for recommendations from your friends and make sure your insurance covers them.
- Get everything set up in your nursery. You’ll want to do as little as possible in the last two months.
- If you’re having multiples, get ready for an early delivery. The majority of twins arrive up to a month early.
- Consider removing your wedding ring if you wear one. Your fingers may be super swollen at times so it can be uncomfortable.
- Make sure to keep counting your baby’s movements. You’ll want to feel a minimum of 10 movements every two hours or so.
- Have fun at your baby shower and remember to get some help carrying all those gifts to your car at the end of the party.
- Up your fiber intake to try to ward off hemorrhoids and the constipation that iron in your prenatal vitamins can cause.
- Brush up on how to tell if you’re in premature labor. Signs can include contractions, lower backache, pressure in your pelvic area, a feeling of menstrual cramps, and diarrhea.
- Begin making a list of workplace duties someone will have to do for you while you’re on maternity leave.
- Figure out who will stay with your children or take care of your animals or plants while you’re in the hospital.
- Install your baby’s car seat in case you deliver early.
- Wash all your baby’s sheets, blankets, and clothes. That will make them less likely to irritate their skin.
- Make sure any Family and Medical Leave Act or short-term disability forms you need for work are completed and turned in.
- Buy any last minute baby items you didn’t receive from your shower or you don’t already have.
- Put your swollen legs up and enjoy some time watching television or reading a book.
- Enjoy as many quiet dinners with your partner as you can.
- Take a day to do fun things you might not get a chance to do for a while, such as getting a haircut, lunch with friends, or taking in a movie.
- Make your thank-you notes for your baby shower gifts.
- Get some freezer meals prepared and stock up on non-perishable snacks.
- Let your loved ones know if you want private time at the hospital before they visit.
- Choose your baby’s name from the list you and your partner compiled.
- Time your contractions and head to the hospital when your doctor says it’s time.