By Tara M. Bloom
Congratulations, mom-to-be! You've just found out you're pregnant. That small line on the pregnancy test means big adjustments in your life. Ready or not, everything is about to change -- for the better, of course.
If you're experiencing pregnancy for the first time, you might be yo-yo-ing between moments of heart-bursting excitement and heart-pounding panic. Now that you know for sure that you're pregnant, you might be asking yourself, what do I do next?
Take a deep breath and focus on first things first.
This is a big adventure. Whether you planned it or not (and it's nobody's business if you didn't), life as you know it is now over. And this is a good thing, so celebrate! Share the good news with your partner and discuss together how and when to tell friends and family. Before making the news public, honor this life-changing moment together and celebrate your joy as a couple.
If you don't have a health care provider, start interviewing. Perhaps you've been trying to conceive, so you've been working with a health care professional already. Maybe you’ve been going to a clinic or a nurse practitioner all these years for your annual reproductive health checks and you never thought further than that. Do you prefer to navigate your pregnancy and birth more on your own, with an OB/GYN, or with a more engaged health care provider such as a midwife? Give it some thought, read a little, and start making some calls. You'll want to make your first appointment -- but with whom?
Speaking of your first appointment, it won't be scheduled until six weeks after your last menstrual period. Until then, you may be bursting with questions. Go ahead and start to read about pregnancy, but let's not panic about all the things you start to find out to avoid that you didn't know to avoid and hadn't been avoiding, okay? Like millions of other moms, I first picked up "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and it didn't fail me. Later, when I found my midwife, her practice gave me a copy of "Pregnancy and the Newborn." Both books are still tried-and-true resources for new mothers.
What will baby be like? What do you want for your child? What kinds of things can you picture doing with your child? Allow yourself to fantasize about your baby, without getting attached to any particular features or dreams. This is fun to do as a couple, wondering out loud if baby will have your eyes or his nose.
We all have bad habits, and some of them -- like drinking excessive caffeine or alcohol -- are going to have to be broken to improve your odds for a healthy baby. Kicking other kinds of bad habits, such as swearing or watching too much TV, may help you enjoy your pregnancy more and feel more aligned toward becoming a parent.
Transitioning into parenthood is a great time to reflect on the example you want to set for your child. Many new moms find themselves inspired during pregnancy to once again expect the best of themselves. Maybe now that you're cutting back on TV, you can develop a lost hobby, or to put more effort into friendships again. If you've wanted to get better about spending more time outside, committing to a regular exercise program, and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, pregnancy is a great motivator to stick with new habits.
This will be a transformative journey for you, I assure you. No woman travels into motherhood unchanged. After baby arrives, and your life is different and you're different, you'll likely have mixed emotions about losing the person you used to be. Journaling through pregnancy helps you keep track of you -- a good habit to start, in my opinion!
Make the switch to hormone-free meats and milk, and organic produce. Put the kibosh on cosmetics, clothes and bedding that contain formaldehyde, triclosan, bleach, salicylic acid, phthalates and parabens. Start reading labels on your personal care products and make the switch to skin care and cosmetics that are pregnancy-safe.