Week 1: Kick bad habits to the curb. Although this is considered the first week of pregnancy, there’s no bambino brewing just yet, so it’s the perfect time to get your life and body baby-ready. Enjoy plenty of exercise and healthy foods, and just say no to harmful habits.
Week 2: Start taking prenatal vitamins. Popping that daily pill is an important part of providing your babe-to-be with the vitamins and nutrients he needs, so start early (ideally sometime before sperm meets egg).
Week 3: Get busy in the bedroom. It’s time to make a baby!
Week 4: Brace yourself for morning sickness. If things went well last week, morning sickness will likely be in your future. Be prepared: When it hits, it often hits hard. Saltine crackers, ginger candies and seasickness wristbands can all help fight the urge to purge.
Week 5: Start a pregnancy journal. Your period would normally be making an appearance this week, but if you’re reading this article, that probably isn’t the case. Taking a test too soon can provide unreliable results, so wait until your menstrual cycle is at least a week late before peeing on that stick. For now, put a pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and begin documenting every step of your journey ahead.
Week 6: Take a pregnancy test. As soon as you see that positive indicator, schedule an appointment with your doctor. And celebrate: You’re going to be a mom!
Week 7: Begin sleeping on your left side. As your belly grows, it’s important to sleep on your side—preferably your left—to provide optimal blood and nutrient flow to your developing baby. It’s a good idea to start working on the habit now: Trust us, if you’re a stomach or back sleeper, side-snoozing can take some getting used to.
Week 8: Slurp down a milkshake. By this point, some telltale pregnancy symptoms have likely kicked in, including nausea and exhaustion. It’s time for a pick-me-up! Milk is a great source of calcium and vitamin D, both of which are important for baby’s growth and development, so the occasional milkshake indulgence is OK (and even good for you) during pregnancy. Make your shake at home with fresh fruit to increase the health benefits and decrease the calorie count you’d get from a fast-food fix.
Week 9: Sleep in. Child-growing is hard work. Don’t fight the exhaustion—snooze all you can.
Week 10: Flip through a baby name book. Choosing a moniker for your little one is an intimidating job, but it’s also one of the most fun parts of becoming a parent. Start making lists of names you and your partner like, and bounce around combinations for the next several months. Put plenty of consideration into your choice—once you’ve signed the birth certificate, there’s no going back.
Week 11: Research your maternity leave options. You should get familiar with what kind of leave is available to you before you break the news at work. Do a little research on your company’s policy and find out the legal requirements for your state. Paid maternity leave is surprisingly uncommon, so many moms use a combination of sick leave and personal and vacation days to cover as much of their time off as possible. Short-term disability and the Family and Medical Leave Act might also be an option.
Week 12: Shop for maternity clothes. You probably don’t need them just yet, but you’ve waited long enough—go ahead and grab a few new outfits! When that bump arrives, it usually happens almost overnight, so it’s good to be ready. As a general rule, you should buy maternity duds in the same size you wore prepregnancy, since the clothes are cut to accommodate your growing belly.
Week 13: Start thinking about childbirth. Yes, we know it’s some 25 weeks away, but it’s good to have an idea of how you’d like your labor and delivery to go so you can discuss it with your healthcare provider. If you’re dead set on delivering drug-free, you want to make sure you have a doctor who supports your choice.
Week 14: Spread the news. You’ve made it through the first trimester—it’s time to shout about this baby from the rooftops!
Week 15: Tell the work crew. Before word of your baby-to-be gets out via whispers at the water cooler, make sure you’ve informed your boss. She likely won’t be too pleased to hear it from someone else. Tip: When you share the happy news, present her with your maternity leave plans, which you should have mostly sorted out after all that research you did in week 11.
Week 16: Look into birthing classes. You probably won’t get started with them for a while, but since some sessions fill up, it’s a good idea to get a jump on enrolling. Figure out which classes you’re interested in taking (you can always try more than one) and get registered.
Week 17: See a movie. Before too long, every movie you see in the theater will involve either multiple rest-room runs, a check-in call to the babysitter, or talking animals, so get your fill of flicks while you can.
Week 18: Indulge your crazy craving. Pickles dipped in peanut butter at midnight—why not? Go ahead and try whatever wacky food concoction has been on your mind.
Week 19: Have sex. (Wait, didn’t we do that in week 3?) Unless you’re considered high-risk or your doctor has told you otherwise, sex is perfectly safe during pregnancy, and most moms-to-be feel their friskiest in the second trimester. Giving love the green light can help keep your relationship strong, and your man will love those new curves you’re sporting.
Week 20: Find out baby’s gender. Or don’t! The 20-week ultrasound is usually the moment when parents-to-be are able to find out if they’re expecting a boy or a girl. Let your ultrasound tech know whether you’d like her to spill the beans or save the surprise.
Week 21: Create a baby registry. Once you know whether you’ll be seeing pink, blue or gender-neutral yellow, you can get to work on your wish list. Consider registering at a few different stores (including at least one online retailer) and scan items at a variety of price points so all well-wishers can buy something within their budget.
Week 22: Take an infant CPR class. You can’t be too prepared when it comes to your baby’s well-being.
Week 23: Research postdelivery procedures. Will you be banking baby’s cord blood? Vaccinating? Circumcising? What’s right for one mom might not be right for another, and these shouldn’t be spur-of-the-moment decisions. Do your research now so you’re ready to confidently make the call when the time comes.
Week 24: Write a will. A little depressing? Yes. But absolutely necessary. It’s also a good time to look into your life insurance policy and make any amendments a new addition might deem necessary.
Week 25: Make room for baby. Take a break from the seriousness of weeks past and start planning the perfect nursery. For most families, designing a nursery means clearing out an old guest room or home office, which can be a tedious and time-consuming undertaking. But once the space is free, you can begin buying and moving baby’s goods into his new digs. Let the fun begin!
Week 26: Paint your toenails. Your tootsies will be disappearing from view any week now, so brush on some color before they vanish.
Week 27: Enjoy a weekend away. You’re officially entering the third trimester next week, when both travel and your belly become more cumbersome, so spring for a last hurrah babymoon with the papa-to-be.
Week 28: Shop for your baby shower dress. Festivities are likely in your future, and you should take the opportunity to buy something that makes you look and feel fabulous. After all, it’s not every day you get to serve as the guest of honor.
Week 29: Stop panicking. For many expectant moms, pregnancy becomes “real” around this time, and in true parent fashion they begin to freak out over all the upcoming events they aren’t yet prepared for. Yes, the baby has to come out somewhere (most likely down there). And yes, you’ll soon be responsible for about a dozen diaper changes a day (even if you’ve never changed one before in your life). But believe us: You’ll be fine. Women have been doing this since the beginning of time, and you’ll shoulder through each obstacle like the mommy warrior you have become. Trust your instincts!
Week 30: Tour the hospital or birthing center. Check out the rooms where the action takes place, learn the policies and procedures, and get preregistered for the big day. Now is the time to ask any questions you might have (Is there a limit on the number of guests allowed in the delivery room? Can I labor by candlelight?) and find out what hospital guidelines permit.
Week 31: Take a nap. Or two. Heck, even three. Get all the Zs you can, because once baby arrives, good rest might be almost impossible to come by.
Week 32: Do some laundry. Wash, dry and fold all those adorable baby clothes you got at your shower. (Don’t feel silly if you need to wipe away a few tears while you’re doing it. We’ve all been there.)
Week 33: Write a birth plan. By now you should have made all the big decisions and be ready to write them out. Make two versions of your birth plan: One instructive plan that spells everything out clearly, and a short abbreviated version that can tell the nurses what they need to know at a glance. Bring plenty of copies of both with you to the hospital.
Week 34: Pack your bags. It’s good to be prepared in advance, so go ahead and get your overnight bag stocked with labor and delivery necessities. You can toss in last minute additions (like your makeup and toothbrush) when the contractions kick in a few weeks down the road.
Week 35: Install your car seat. This isn’t an easy task with a burgeoning belly, so you may want to recruit your partner for the job. You can also drop by your local fire station to have someone certified in car seat installation help you out.
Week 36: Splurge on a day at the spa. Prenatal massage, pedicure, facial, the whole nine yards … after carrying that baby around for the past nine months, you deserve it!
Week 37: Go on a date. It might be the last night out you enjoy for a while, so make the most of it.
Week 38: Cook and freeze meals for after baby’s arrival. When you’re dealing with new mom exhaustion, you’ll appreciate being able to enjoy a home-cooked meal that doesn’t require any more effort than popping it in the oven.
Week 39: Stock up on diapers and sanitary napkins. You’ll be needing a lot of both very soon.
Week 40: Take a picture of your belly. You might not be loving your bump after toting it around for all these weeks, but it’ll be amazing to look back and see how you stretched and grew to accommodate the little life that was brewing inside you.
Made it to week 41? Have that baby already! It’s time for the next leg of your journey to begin.