After months (maybe years) of seeing unhappy faces or single lines on all those pregnancy tests, finally seeing that smiley face or additional pink line can almost make you pass out. After the excitement, shock, and joy subside, anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty set in. What do I do now? To answer some of the many questions likely flashing through your brain, we turned to Dr. Jaime Knopman and Dr. Sheeva Talebian. These board-certified OB/GYNs, mothers, and athletes are the brains behind Truly-MD— an honest and refreshingly different website that tackles all issues related to female reproduction – from fertility through motherhood. Read on for Dr. Knopman’s and Dr. Talebian’s top 10 tips on how to handle those first few moments and days after learning you are pregnant.
First things first, before following any of the tips below, take a deep breath! There is a lot that will happen over the next nine months, and you want to try and remain as calm as possible (good energy is transferred through the placenta!). After a few good, deep breaths, a bunch of “OMGs this might actually be happening,” and a call to your plus one (or best friend), then consider these 10 tips below!
- Purchase a prenatal vitamin (if you aren’t already on one). Generic or brand, it really doesn’t matter. Just look for one with at least 600 mcg of folic acid, as this is critical for helping to prevent neural tube defects in the fetus. If you haven’t already been taking one, there is no need to stress! You have not caused any damage or done any harm. Just start now!
- If you’ve had a few cocktails, colored your hair, or partook in any activities that are off-limits during pregnancy, don’t sweat it. The first weeks between ovulation and early pregnancy are what we OB/GYNS call the “all-or-none” interval. Your actions will either have absolutely no impact on the pregnancy, or they will result in a non-pregnancy/miscarriage type of situation. Simply stated, there will be no long-term effects on the fetus
- …But do start altering your habits. While the “all or none” gives you a get-out-of-jail-free card, you do want to start improving your habits moving forward. Hang up your love of unpasteurized cheeses, your obsession with tuna (that one was hard for us, too!), and your passion for cold cuts. While you can still eat cheese, tuna, and cold cuts, the quantity needs to be reduced and the way they are cooked slightly altered. For example, cold cuts should be heated until steaming hot before eating.
- Don’t obsess about what you eat during the first trimester. Nausea is at its peak during this time, and whatever you can keep down is all you and your baby need. Don’t stress if the only foods you feel like eating are grilled cheese, bagels with butter, and saltines. Your lack of greens, veggies, and fruits won’t harm your little one. Your tastes will change shortly, and you can stock up on good things at that time.
- Buy a water bottle and make sure you are constantly sipping. The changes in blood volume that occur during pregnancy can dehydrate you pretty quickly. To avoid that “Oh no, I am going to pass out” feeling, drink lots of fluids. And while we are on the drinking subject, it’s totally cool to continue with caffeine. Around 200mg of caffeine per day (roughly the amount in an 8-12oz cup of coffee) is perfectly fine. Furthermore, we tell our patients that the occasional glass of wine, flute of champagne, or bottle of beer is also ok. While there is no safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy, a few drinks (over nine months, not one day!) is certainly not going to do any damage. Of course, we recommend you speak with your doctor about this as well.
- Do NOT hit pause on your fitness habits! Exercise during pregnancy is not only OK but extremely beneficial for you and your baby (it actually improves placental function!), provided your doctor gives you the green light. You may need to tailor your exercises and taper the intensity, but staying active is important! With that being said, the only activities we are not fans of are those performed in 100 degree-plus heat (e.g., hot yoga). That temperature is not only going to seriously dehydrate you, but also may not be so good for your baby’s developing organs. It is always a good idea to let your exercise instructor know that you are expecting. Most studios/fitness clubs have done a good job at training their teachers on how to modify and be mindful of moms to be. We also love the PROnatal classes, as we feel they are a great blend of being appropriately challenging, but totally safe.
- Yes, sex is OK! Unless you start bleeding, there is really no reason to go on pelvic rest (aka- no sex, no exercise, and nothing in the vagina). If bleeding should occur, we usually recommend pelvic rest until you are blood free for about 48 hours. After that, it is fine to give it another go. Most bleeding after sex is from the cervix, or from the development of a tiny blood clot around the placenta, neither of which routinely cause a miscarriage.
- Don’t give up your grooming. That pregnant glow is great, but let’s face it, sometimes you need a little bit more! And that’s completely fine. You can continue to get your bikini waxes, manicures, pedicures, and facials. If you get a massage, just make sure the practitioner is certified to work with pregnant women, as there is specific training required for this. Also, if coloring your hair, we usually suggest sharing your news with your colorist and asking him or her to switch to a more suitable dye for pregnancy.
- Don’t rush to change your Facebook status. We always get the question of whom to tell and when. This part is totally up to you. While we always recommend that our patients share their news whenever and with whomever, just remember that a positive test does not equal a baby. You may not want your 300+ Facebook friends to know that you just peed on a stick and saw a smiley face. However, you probably do want to tell your parents, your sister, and your BFF should anything go wrong and you need support. In general, most women wait until the end of their first trimester before telling their employer and their Instagram. But bottom line is that this is a personal decision. Do what is right for you.
- Find some good resources. Make friends with a good Internet source (like Truly, MD!), buy a good book, and make sure you like your OB/GYN. He or she will serve as a guide during the next several months. You want to be comfortable and confident with your baby team. If someone or something is not working for you, kick it off, quickly! Your OB/GYN is like the coach of this team, so if you are not jiving with the coach, start looking for another team captain. This game is a big deal.
These nine months, even for those of us who are not pregnancy lovers, are sort of sacred. There are only so many times in a woman’s life that she will be pregnant. So relish the good stuff—the first time you hear your baby’s heartbeat, the first time you feel movement, the first time you see your baby on the ultrasound, and the first time you hold your baby. You are in for a lot of firsts. Let us be the first to say congratulations on your pregnancy!
Dr. Jaime Knopman and Dr. Sheeva Talebian are board certified OB/GYNs and fertility specialists on a mission to educate and empower women on all things reproductive. Their website, Truly-MD, was born (no pun intended) out of a desire to change the dialogue, shake up the conversation, and revamp the answers women have been given about their reproductive health. From your first period to your last, Truly-MD offers answers, insight, and awareness of all things female-related with accessible, digestible, and honest medical advice. Using a team approach (two minds are always better than one) rooted in honesty and transparency, Dr. Knopman and Dr. Talebian are redefining the doctor-patient relationship – giving it to you straight, like your best girlfriends would — but with years of medical training and experience to back it up. At truly MD, no conversation is off limits, no question is dumb, and nothing is too controversial. From the basic to the complex, Truly MD gives women answers — real answers – to help them feel healthier, stronger, and more empowered.