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You’re pregnant . . . congratulations! Whether this baby was meticulously planned for or a total surprise, you’ve been given a gift from God. Rejoice!
When I found out I was pregnant with my first baby this past October, I was SHOCKED--sorta. My husband, Caleb, and I use the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning (more on that in the future), so we were 100% open to a baby and embracing our fertility a la Love and Responsibility.
We just didn’t really plan on me getting pregnant (it really was a lovely surprise!)
The first thing I did (and perhaps you too) is Google everything I needed to do as soon as I learned I was pregnant. I desperately wish someone had explained #5 on this list to me before I made my decision on it. Now that I’m 29 weeks along, I feel like I finally have a good idea of what I would go back and tell the newly pregnant past-Grace to do!
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Here are the 13 things I suggest you do as soon as you find out that you’re pregnant:
1. Double-check that you’re actually pregnant
When I had a sneaking suspicion that my period was late (about a week after it was due), I decided to search my cabinets for the pregnancy test I had purchased long ago, forgotten about, and shoved to the back of the drawer.
I diligently waited the two minutes the box suggested and I’m pretty sure I audibly gasped when those two little pink lines showed up. (Luckily, Caleb was asleep so the surprise wasn’t ruined.)
Wanting to be extra, absolutely, double sure that I was pregnant, I headed to Walmart and bought a pregnancy test 3-pack (which boasted some pretty solid accuracy stats).
I promptly proceeded to take all three tests and, lo and behold, they all told me I was pregnant! As a bit of a perfectionist, double-checking that I was actually pregnant was the logical first step for me. I think it’ll probably be the first thing I do every time I find out I’m pregnant--and I recommend you do the same!
(You don’t want to give up delicious deli meats and alcohol without a good reason, right?)
2. While out purchasing pregnancy tests, get a good prenatal vitamin and begin taking it immediately!
I’m not a medical doctor and not giving medical advice etc etc, BUT I am someone who knows that taking vitamins is important for babies. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Even if you eat a healthy diet, you can miss out on key nutrients. Taking a daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting at least three months before conception — can help fill any gaps” .
My Creighton Practitioner recommended I begin taking prenatal vitamins as soon as Caleb and I were married, so I already knew about this step and had been taking them for quite some time. If you didn’t know about taking them, now you do!
Just find a general prenatal vitamin with folic acid in it (I like the Up&Up gummies at Target because they’re gluten free). Once you get to your doctor, you can talk specifics on your diet and if you need a vitamin with more nutrients.
3. Stop smoking, drinking alcohol, eating lunch meat, taking Ibuprofen, licking lead paint, or any other potentially harmful activities.
Look. The truth is, nobody can stop you from doing any of these things while you’re pregnant. In fact, our grandparents drank, smoked, and did a whole bunch of other pregnancy no-nos on the daily while pregnant . . . and we’re still here.
You can probably drink a glass of wine on occasion while you’re pregnant. I’m also a bit of a fraidy-cat, so I didn’t “risk” drinking alcohol (for this first pregnancy--who knows what the next will bring).
I did, however, steam lunch meat and eat it, drink some caffeine, and get a bunch of mosquito bites building a fence at 28 weeks. After all, nine months is a good slice of time. If you’re having babies during your fertile years, you don’t want to experience it as this huge inconvenience the whole time.
(Obviously, there are some inconveniences such as backaches and no ibuprofen. But there are alternatives for mostly everything it’s recommended you give up.)
I like what Kendra at Catholic All Year has to say about all this:
“. . . all that unscientific fear-mongering just serves to degrade a culture of openness to life. How can a woman be expected to avoid all of those things for all of her fertile years? The answer is she couldn’t.
So if my view of pregnancy is that it’s something that’s dangerous to mothers and babies, then I’d have to treat fertility as a disease to be cured. I’d have to “plan parenthood” so as to make very, very certain I didn’t ever accidentally ride a roller coaster when I might unknowingly be pregnant. Or have a glass of wine. Or eat a bologna sandwich. I might have to abort a perfectly good baby just in case” [2, 3].
4. Tell your spouse (or significant other) you’re pregnant!
Now that you found out for sure you’re pregnant, got yourself some vitamins, and decided which government / medical suggestions are simply to cover their own butts, it’s time to let someone else know that you’re newly expecting!
Best case scenario:
You have a committed husband that loves and supports you. He’ll be super excited to hear y’all are going to have a baby (whether you make the announcement some big, Pinterest-y to-do or a simple “I’m pregnant!”)
Here’s how I told my husband the news!
Caleb and I fondly call one another ‘bean.’ Not quite sure why . . . nicknames are weird and gooey. On my Walmart run for pregnancy tests and prenatal vitamins, I also bought a bag of lima beans. (And used the self-checkout thank you very much.)
When I got home, I set up my phone camera really fast, got out a bean, hit record, called Caleb in, and handed him the bean. He was confused (as expected), so I explained that we now had a little bean of our own!
It was sweet and inexpensive and meaningful and I told him the day I found out--because he had a right to know as soon as I did. After all, he’s going to be raising that little bean with me!
Not as ideal scenario:
You’re pregnant out of wedlock or your husband isn’t thrilled with the idea of having kids.
If this is the case, you still need to tell someone! Determine who is the person in your life you trust the most. Whether it’s your mom, dad, sister, cousin, grandmother, or best friend, I suggest when you find out you’re pregnant to let at least one person know asap.
Babies are not a dirty little secret. No matter what the circumstances of a baby’s conception, a mother should never feel ashamed to be pregnant. Of course, if the circumstances were adulterous, for example, you should ask for the Lord’s forgiveness.
But never be ashamed! Shame, after you’ve already sinned, is Satan trying to squeeze every last drop of misery from your past actions. A well-formed conscience is guilty when tempted to sin, yes. But don’t confuse that guilt with shame.
5. Do your research into doulas, midwives, and OB-GYNs.
Before I dive into this, let me say: your birth story and preferences are your own. You choose what you are comfortable with and want from your labor and birth.
When you find out you’re pregnant, you’ll probably want to find a medical professional to support you and monitor your baby’s health. Before you choose an OB-GYN, I highly recommend asking yourself: what type of birth do I want? TLDR, hospitals are businesses and OB-GYNs are surgeons.
Soon after you learn you’re pregnant you have some decisions to make. Ask yourself:
- Do I want to give birth in a hospital or at home?
- Are the risks of an epidural worth the pain management?
- Which interventions am I opposed to (episiotomies, forceps, epidurals, fetal monitoring, mandatory IV port, non-emergent inductions)?
- What type of medical professional will my insurance cover? What am I willing to pay out of pocket for the most comfortable birth?
After doing lots of research, I decided that the Bradley Birth Method aligned with my in-hospital, no-intervention preference . Until recently, I’ve been seeing an OB-GYN for my appointments mainly because I didn’t know how to find a midwife or really what they were when I first learned I was pregnant.
Now I know that Tricare covers Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) in certain circumstances and that my OB-GYN requires certain interventions that I’m not comfortable with.
(In case you’re curious, she requires the women she cares for to have an IV port inserted as soon as they’re admitted. I don’t want an IV because in my ideal birth, I don’t have any interventions. I’m not going to refuse life-saving medications / blood in emergency situations [I want to live], but I have complete confidence in my nurses and doctors that they can insert an IV in an emergency if needed. Otherwise, I’d prefer to receive my fluids via water bottle, thanks.)
If the idea of a natural birth / midwives all sounds a little too crunchy, I get it. My mom had an epidural for me and I turned out okay (pretty sure). But I don’t want to settle for a white-knuckled, get-this-baby-out-of-me screaming fest for my labor and birthing.
The Bradley Method offers a natural alternative that I really believe in trying.
I suggest you read all about natural, husband coached births in the various Bradley Birth Method books there are out there!
Here’s what Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way has to say about choosing a midwife versus an OB-GYN: “Study after study has shown that the quality of care by the certified nurse-midwife is superior to the average doctor’s care. The CNM is a registered nurse (RN) who has continued her education to study nurse-midwifery . . . An obstetrician’s training focuses on abnormal childbirth which requires intervention” .
6. Try to figure out how far along you are (for fun)
Also, ponder the fact that you have to wait until 6-8 weeks to have your first prenatal appointment.
Lemme give it to you straight: Caleb and I use Natural Family Planning. This means I track my menstrual cycles, don’t use any birth control, and know exactly when I am ovulating. That means that Caleb and I knew there was a chance I was pregnant about 2 weeks after I ovulated.
Long story short: I’m pretty sure to within a day or so when our little bean was conceived. If you’re not tracking your ovulations or temps or anything, your guess can only really be as good sometime since your last menstrual period.
BUT it’s still fun to make a guess and slap it into a ‘when is my due date’ calculator! When I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t believe that I had to wait 5 weeks to have my first doctor’s appointment. It makes sense to me now, because they didn’t tell me anything Google and pregnancy tests hadn’t already!
7. Find an office nearby with your medical professional of choice (preferably one that has an in-house lab facility).
Today, I had to get some generic pregnancy labs taken. Unfortunately, the OB-GYN office I’m currently at does not do blood draws there.
So I had to go to my least favorite place in the entire world (other than the DMV): Quest Diagnostics. If you have not had the displeasure of having tests taken at one of these places, I envy you. From Texas to Florida, their service is garbage and employees generally are too.
Just take my word for it: avoid medical groups that outsource their labs! It’s a pain in the booty from week 7 to week 29 to have a doctor’s appointment one day and then go to get your lab tests taken another day. I hate bureaucracy.
If you do too, just find a healthcare provider that does it all. (Unless the only midwives in your area don’t have an in-house lab. Then I suppose I’d just ask them to please not order your labs to Quest Diagnostics!)
8. Schedule your first appointment with that doc!
This step is pretty self-explanatory. Even though you’ll be waiting a couple weeks before your first appointment after you learn you’re pregnant, it can’t hurt to figure out insurance / referrals sooner rather than later!
9. Download a pregnancy and symptom tracker app
There are a ton of apps, websites, and forums out there for pregnant mommas. I simply downloaded 3 or so apps, checked out how they worked / looked, and chose my favorite: Ovia Health.
I love this app because:
- It’s free!
- It allowed me to customize my page theme, my expected due date, and even our baby’s nickname (and eventually, name!)
- The symptom / weight gain / appointment tracker was simple to figure out and easy to find past entries in
- It gives week by week updates on your baby’s physical development as well as common symptoms women face at different times of pregnancy! Many first-time mother Google panic searches were avoided by being told in advance about certain normal symptoms (like nosebleeds! Nobody ever told me that was a thing!)
The only annoying thing about it is the occasional propagandized immoral parenting / birthing blog posts they share on the feed (men breastfeeding for example). But it’s pretty easy to swipe on past them.
10. Start researching questions doctors will ask
- Cord blood banking (this seemed like an unnecessary extra expense to me)
- Will you participate in newborn screening tests? (Presents a risk to your baby including false positives in genetic testing leading to abortions / fear for your baby before it’s even born! )
- Natural vs medicated birth? (See above. And probably more posts in the future.)
- Family medical history
- Is all of my medical paperwork somewhere I can send it to this new doc (find those shot records!)
11. If working, consider when you’d like to let your boss know / put in for maternity leave
I am fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom (thanks to the US Marine Corps). You really don’t have to let your boss know that you’re pregnant until later in your pregnancy. Unless you’re close to them, in my opinion, it’s none of their business as long as you can continue doing your job.
Definitely look into maternity leave policies at your place of work and follow whatever guidelines they’ve established for requesting maternity leave. Or consider becoming a stay-at-home mom! More on the scam that is two-income families later.
For now, consider this quote from this fabulous article over at TradCatFem:
“Your career will not be there for you at the end of your life; your family and community will – if you choose to have one. Doesn’t it make sense then to cultivate and invest more in the constant (family or community) than the transient?” 
12. Schedule a dental cleaning (2 if your insurance will cover it!!)
“Hormone changes and certain medications can increase the risk of periodontal disease and dry mouth, so we advise patients to brush and floss twice daily during pregnancy” .
These hormone changes also increase your risk of developing gingivitis a bit, so if you’re concerned about keeping bacteria out of your gums and teeth and such, go get ‘em cleaned!
13. Let your family know that you’re pregnant!
Most of the articles on the internet suggest waiting until you’re 12 weeks pregnant before telling pretty much anyone due to the risk of miscarriage dropping significantly after this point .
I don’t agree with their reasoning. I let my close family and friends know soon after my first doctor’s appointment because I wanted their support and to share this great news!
If I had lost my baby to miscarriage, it would’ve been hard to let all of them know what happened. But I truly believe that having my family’s support through that healing process instead of allowing it to burden only Caleb and me would be crucial.
From what I’ve read and heard, many women have lost their babies to miscarriage (10-20% of known pregnancies end in one). It should absolutely be something our families support us through instead of the taboo subject it’s become.
Mother Angelica has a beautiful miscarriage prayer that I suggest all mothers read:
“My Lord, the baby is dead!
Why, my Lord— dare I ask why? It will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face— it will not see the beauty of Your creation or the flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?
“Why, My child— do you ask ‘why’? Well, I will tell you why.
You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind he hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes he sees everlasting Beauty— he sees My face. He was created and lived a short time so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow and called it forth. ”
I am humbled before you, my Lord, for questioning Your wisdom, goodness, and love. I speak as a fool— forgive me. I acknowledge Your sovereign rights over life and death. I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an Eternity” .
Isn’t that prayer incredible? Pregnancy doesn’t have to be scary. Our Lord takes care of us all--especially tiny, innocent babies in the womb and the mothers that love them.
I think I’ll probably write on this topic in more detail some other time. TLDR: I think that you should consider telling your close family and friends soon after you find out that you’re pregnant!
Alrighty, I think that’s every little bit of advice I’d give to women who’ve just found out that they’re pregnant! Learning that you’re expecting can be an exciting and nerve-wracking thing, but it doesn’t have to be scary.
Don’t over-Google all of your questions. Find a few knowledgeable and experienced folks and glean all the wisdom from them that you can.
Please let me know if you enjoyed this post as well as if there’s anything else you’d recommend women do as soon as they find out they’re pregnant!
: Mayo Clinic; Pregnancy diet: Focus on these essential nutrients
: Catholic All Year; Hey America, Pregnancy: You’re Doing it Wrong
: The Age; Abortion fear over no-alcohol-in-pregnancy advice
: Bradley Birth Method Website
: Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way
: U.S. National Library of Medicine; Invasive prenatal genetic testing: A Catholic healthcare provider’s perspective
: TradCatFem Blog; Women Do Not Belong in the Workplace
: UTSW Medical Center; Can I go to the dentist when I’m pregnant?
: Mayo Clinic; Miscarriage
: EWTN; Mother Angelica’s Miscarriage Prayer