Your entire world is about to switch directions: You’re going to be a mom. Here’s what you need to do to get ready for the next nine months and beyond.
Out with the old
There are a few habits that may have to die hard, but making the switch will be the best thing you can do for the health of your baby. “When I found out I was pregnant, it was a relief,” says Amanda Robinson, mom of one in Cedar Bluff, Virginia. “I felt like I didn’t have to keep going at the same pace as my single girlfriends. I was ready to settle down, and pregnancy was just the push I needed to get me to that place.”
Go ahead and retire that wine glass to the cabinet. According to the American Pregnancy Association, alcohol passes through the placenta to the fetus, increasing the chance of your baby being born with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (the range of birth defects caused by maternal alcohol consumption).
Your baby is what you eat
If you weren’t a healthy eater pre-pregnancy, you’ll need to make some changes to ensure your baby is getting the best start, says Beth Battaglino, RN, executive director of HealthyWomen (healthywomen.org), practicing nurse in maternal child medicine, and soon-to-be mom in Red Bank, New Jersey. “I definitely find myself including more fiber and more water in my diet,” she says. “You are creating a new human and your choices are important.”
“Start small by incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into each meal, drinking water and milk (chocolate counts too), and planning meals and snacks that will help you stay on track,” Battaglino adds. She also advises expectant mamas to check with their healthcare providers about dietary restrictions such as sushi or deli meat.
Green is the new black
When it comes to cleaning products, incorporate organic and eco-friendly goods into your routine. There’s increasing awareness of the damage such chemicals may have on a growing fetus, and it’s wise to adapt accordingly. “I was so freaked out by the idea of the chemicals in my nail polish that I immediately switched everything to the pregnancy-safe version. And I do mean everything—lotion, shampoo, hand soap … the works,” says Robinson.
Battaglino advises moms to be aware of what’s going on in the home as well. “We had some major renovation projects this summer in our home … Making sure the house was well ventilated and staying at a hotel when we were doing the intense phases helped,” she says.
In with the new
Though a part of you will always remain the sassy lass you once were, there are a few things you’ll want to add to your repertoire. “The moment I became pregnant, I began eating healthily,” says Brooke Hammett, mom of one in Houston. “It was like pregnancy gave me the courage to finally fix everything that wasn’t quite up to par before the pregnancy. I didn’t mind incorporating the healthy changes, and after my son was born, it was so easy to keep them up.”
Your doctor will place you on prenatal vitamins, explains Battaglino, and with good reason: These petite powerhouses are jam-packed with folic acid, calcium, iron and B vitamins, and are the first step to providing a daily dose of nutrition to your baby. Though they shouldn’t replace a balanced diet, prenatals are packed with the vitamins and minerals you need to create a healthy and happy little babe.
On the move
Since there’s a little tyke in your tummy, you’ll definitely want to check with your healthcare provider before starting or continuing any fitness routine. “Besides being a great stress reducer, exercise provides you with extra energy and stamina which will help you through your labor and delivery,” says Battaglino, who has been able to keep up her own fitness routine of competing in triathlons, running, swimming and participating in a weekly boot camp.
You’re probably sick of hearing it, but you need to sleep now—there won’t be much chance to do so once baby arrives. But sleeping just because you can isn’t the only reason to catch your forty winks. Your body will be rapidly changing in the first trimester and will need as much rest as possible. An expectant mom may need to revise her bedtime schedule, advises Battaglino: “Once you accept that your body is changing and needs some TLC, things like going to bed earlier and taking naps on the weekend will help make that transition go more smoothly.”
Get a makeover
We’re not talking about clothes, nails and hair (though that’s a great idea too!)—we’re recommending a household revamp. Consider hiring a cleaning crew to spruce up your place and give you time to rest, at least until your nesting instinct kicks in and nothing can come between you, a toothbrush and those bathroom tiles.
Pregnancy is a good time to take a serious look at your finances as well. “A new family equals new finances,” says Battaglino. “Pulling together a financial plan will help ease anxiety, which affects overall health and wellness.” Start your budget as soon as possible. Battaglino explains, “Understanding before baby is here some of the new costs that will be part of your monthly expenses—from diapers to daycare—is important.”
New to your schedule will be a growing number of visits with your midwife or OB. You’ll probably have at least one every month in your first trimester. These will be a great time for you to ask questions and maybe even get a sneak peek at junior during an ultrasound.
Although it may feel like you’re on top of your doctor visits, be careful not to forget about your other healthcare needs, especially regarding oral health. “Make sure you keep your biannual dental appointment,” advises Battaglino. “Your body is going through a big hormonal switch, making gum disease in pregnant women more prevalent. And don’t forget to brush and floss regularly along the way!”
Knowing that you have a game plan for the first trimester will make adjusting to your new role a seamless transition and set you up for a successful pregnancy, ensuring both you and baby are at your best.