"I’m Pregnant! What should I do next?"
If you have been trying for a baby, getting a positive pregnancy test is a big moment! You are likely to be experiencing a lot of different emotions – excitement, being one - but, it's also very normal to feel some anxiety in anticipation of the journey ahead!
You have made it this far – congratulations. But what should you do next? Here’s our guide on what to do when you find out you are pregnant.
Telling your midwife or doctor
As soon as you find out your pregnant, get in touch with your GP or midwife to let them know. In the UK, you can self-refer to Antenatal services yourself without needing to go through your GP. Self-referral links for your hospital of choice can be found online. You will be asked to fill in a form taking some details about yourself and your pregnancy and a referral to the Antenatal unit will automatically be generated.
It’s important to get referred to Antenatal Services early in your pregnancy so you can get the appropriate care and advice to support a healthy pregnancy.
Most women find out they are pregnant following a missed period, so often before 8 weeks. There may be some circumstances where a woman doesn’t find out she is pregnant until later in her pregnancy. In these circumstances it’s advisable to ask for an urgent appointment with your GP so they can fast track your antenatal referral.
It’s important to let your midwife or doctor know key information that may be important in your antenatal care. This includes:
- Details of previous pregnancies and births, including any complications
- If you are being treated for a long-term condition such as diabetes or hypothyroidism
- If there is a family history of any inherited conditions, for example, sick cell anaemia
- If you know you or the baby’s father are a genetic carrier for a health condition, for example, Thalassaemia
- If you are currently taking any medications – these may need to be adjusted to ensure they are pregnancy-safe
- If you have a history of mental illness or are currently struggling with your mental health
Vitamins and diet
As soon as you find out you are pregnant, it’s important to take the right Vitamins to support the healthy development of your baby. The main vitamins you need to take are:
- Folic Acid 400mg – depending on your past medical history, you may be advised to take a higher dose.
- Vitamin D 10mcg
Some women may also choose to take a Omega 3 supplement. It’s important not to take any foods or vitamins that are high in Vitamin A as these could lead to birth defects (for example Liver).
Being pregnant means you need to be careful about what you are eating and how you prepare foods. Food should be washed and raw meat/fish and fishes high in mercury should be avoided, as well as unpasteurised cheese and milks. You should not consume more than 200mg of caffeine a day. For a full list of what you can and can’t eat during pregnancy, please see the following NHS guide here.
Ensure you maintain a healthy diet in pregnancy, with lots of fruit and vegetables, fibre and water. This will help you get the vitamins and nutrients you and your baby need to support a healthy pregnancy and also help ward off constipation which can be a common pregnancy complaint. Try to eat breakfast as this will help keep you full and avoid reaching for those unhealthy snacks later in the day. You do not need to eat for two although it is normal to feel hungrier. You may need only 200 calories more in your third trimester if you are active.
Smoking and passive smoking can harm your baby, leading to an increased risk of complications such as premature labour, stillbirth and low birth weight. Children born into smoking households are also at higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and childhood Asthma. If you need support stopping smoking during and after your pregnancy, speak to your GP or midwife for advice. Nicotine replacement products can be used in pregnancy to support smoking cessation.
There is no known safe drinking limit of alcohol in pregnancy and current guidance is that it should be avoided altogether.
You should try and aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercises each week to support you and your baby’s health.
Your Booking Appointment – 8-12 weeks
Your booking appointment is your first visit with your midwife. It’s best this takes place early in the pregnancy so they can support your antenatal care and the development of your baby. Certain screening tests, such as Sickle Cell Anaemia or Thalassaemia, also need to take place before 10 weeks.
This appointment is often around 45- 1 hour. Your midwife will ask you a lot of questions about your personal health, the health of your partner and family. This helps them identify any possible risks to you or your pregnancy that may require additional follow up and care.
Your midwife will check your weight, height and blood pressure. You will have your urine tested and some bloods taken to look at things like your Blood Group.
You will be given your antenatal notes at this appointment outlining your care and schedule of appointments and a plan of care throughout your pregnancy. Find out more here, for a detailed description of what to expect at each appointment.
Your midwife should also let you know about:
- Nutrition and diet
- Your baby’s development throughout your pregnancy
- Antenatal screening tests that will be offered, including Trisomy Screening such as Down’s Syndrome.
- Antenatal education and classes
- Breastfeeding workshops
- Maternity benefits such as the Maternity Exemption Certificate (entitles you to free prescriptions)
If you are in a vulnerable situation, such as being a victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse, it’s really important to let your midwife know at this appointment so they can provide you with extra support.
If you are pregnant, you are at higher risk of catching Flu. The seasonal flu vaccine if offered to pregnant women at any stage of their pregnancy.
From 16 weeks, it’s also advised to get the Whooping cough vaccine between 16-32 weeks. Getting vaccinated helps prevent your baby from catching Whooping cough in the first few weeks of life. Whooping cough cases have risen sharply in the last few years and the UK vaccination schedule for children doesn’t start until 8 weeks, so young babies are particularly vulnerable.
You will also be offered a COVID-19 Vaccine or seasonal booster as Pregnant women are at higher risk of COVID-19 related complications.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. For The Creators has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.