Congratulations mama! You just found out you are pregnant and now all the excitement and overwhelming feelings are probably hitting you. You might be thinking what have I done? Don’t worry, that’s normal. Just know you are not alone. As someone who has been there and done that I can assure you that you can do this! I’ve put together my own first trimester checklist to help you dial back the anxiety and give you simple steps to get you started towards a healthy pregnancy. So sit back, relax, and let’s get started!
What you will find in this article:
- Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts
- Important Appointments to schedule
- Small step to prepare for maternity leave
- Celebratory Moments
Table of Contents
What is the First Trimester
Your first trimester are weeks 1-13, or 3 months total. Most likely you won’t even know you are pregnant for the first 4 weeks of pregnancy as most pregnancy symptoms are not even apparent until week 4 or until you have missed your period. So you will be a third of the way through your first trimester by the time you can get a positive pregnancy test. Once you know, it’s time its time to celebrate and make some positive life changes.
My free printable first trimester pregnancy checklist will set you up for a positive pregnancy experience:
Share the News with Your Partner
The first step in your first trimester checklist is to share the news with your partner. It’s an exciting time and it can be a lot of fun to plan a special way to share the news with your partner. It doesn’t have to be elaborate if that is not your style.
Check Current Medications
Not all over-the-counter or prescription medications are safe to take during pregnancy. If you don’t have an OB yet, you can contact your primary care physician to clarify if you need to stop or adjust taking any current medications.
Another option is to check out the MothertoBaby fact sheet which gives you a run down of the safety of certain medications during pregnancy. You can also find research based advice regarding the safety of different lifestyle activities such Botox, self-tanner, and consuming different foods.
Take a Prenatal
You should start taking a prenatal vitamin daily as soon as you know you are pregnant if you are not yet taking one. It is difficult to eat enough of some essential nutrients that are needed during pregnancy in your regular diet. That is why physicians recommend a good prenatal to avoid potential birth defects.
Check out this post to learn more about what to look for in a good prenatal vitamin.
Consider Your Birth Plan
Start thinking about what kind of birth you think you would like to have (ie home birth, hospital birth, limited interventions, epidural, or vbac). This will be important to consider when you are looking for a prenatal care provider and birth location. This free printable birth plan can give you some ideas to consider to help guide you in making these important decisions.
You don’t have to know exactly what you want, but a general idea to guide your decisions.
Interview Providers & Choose a Birth Location
Start interviewing providers and find a location to deliver your baby. Now that you know what kind of labor and birth you desire to have, start talking to providers to determine who would be the best fit for you. Providers often have specific birth locations that have connections and privileges’ so keep that in mind when you make your choice. If the hospital policies don’t align with your goals you may need to find a new provider. You want to deliver somewhere that supports your goals.
Schedule Your First Appointment
This should happen around 8-10 weeks. Early prenatal care can help you to feel more prepared and have a healthier pregnancy. To prepare yourself for this appointment check out this post of questions you should ask during your first prenatal appointment and what you should expect.
Schedule Dental Cleaning
Rising hormone levels during your pregnancy can cause your gums to swell and bleed. Preventative dental work is important to avoid oral infections like gingivitis. This can create unwanted complications in your pregnancy and birth.
It is best to schedule your appointment some time during your second trimester and as needed for any severe pain, bleeding, or oral swelling.
Prioritize Your Health
Your health directly affects your growing baby. It is important to make some positive lifestyle changes if you aren’t already implementing them.
- Stop any dangerous lifestyle activities:
- Stop smoking, drinking alcohol, using marijuana, or any other illicit drugs. They can be very damaging to a fetus in the first trimester and throughout the pregnancy.
- Avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible
- Cut back on caffeine. It is recommended that you take less than 200mg of caffeine daily during pregnancy.
- Your doctor should fill you in on all the activities you need to stop during pregnancy at your first prenatal appointment. This will include things like contact sports, using hot tubs or saunas, eating raw fish or undercooked meats, eating fish with high mercury content, eating unpasteurized milk, cheese, or juice.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and limit sugar and processed foods.
- Continue or Start a consistent moderate exercise routine for 15-30 minutes daily. Check out these safe workouts during pregnancy.
- Prioritize Sleep and nap when needed.
- Avoid Stress. This can be difficult to do. Meditation can assist in helping you decrease your stress and anxiety during your pregnancy.
- Limit exposure to toxins in your home by reading labels and replacing toxic options. Here is a minimal list of nontoxic products I use in my home.
Familiarize Yourself with Maternity Leave Benefits
Contact your HR department and learn about your employer’s FMLA and maternity leave policies. Also look into your state’s specific laws as they may provide you additional benefits.
Understand Your Insurance Benefits
Contact your insurance provider to understand what is covered during your pregnancy. That way you don’t end up with an unexpected bill. This will help you make decisions about genetic testing, ultrasounds, getting a breast pump, or preparing for the overall cost of your pregnancy and birth.
Plan a Budget and Save
Once you know how much time you can expect to take off during maternity leave, how much your employer will pay you, and how much your insurance will cover you can begin to plan financially for your baby. If you haven’t started saving for your baby yet, now is the time to start.
Don’t forget to add some fun things like baby clothes and other baby items into your budget. I don’t know any new mom that hasn’t wanted to buy a few things themselves, even if they did receive a lot of gifts during their baby shower.
Hire a Birth Doula
Look into hiring a birth doula to help support you through your delivery. If you are a first time mom this can be a great idea. Some insurance policies may cover this cost, so reach out and find out. Doula’s are experts in birth and can offer you helpful tools to have a better labor and delivery experience. Check out this article to determine if having a birth doula at your birth might be the right choice for you.
Prepare for First Trimester Symptoms
The first trimester hormones are rising and rapid changes are occurring. You will experience a lot of new symptoms during this stage of pregnancy. Although these symptoms are considered normal during pregnancy, it is important to know that you don’t have to just suck it up. If any of these symptoms are causing difficulties in your daily life talk with your provider about what you can do to improve these symptoms.
- Tender swollen breasts
- Nausea w/ or without vomiting
- Increased urination
- Food cravings and aversions
- Mood swings
- Mild shortness of breath with exercise
- Increased blood volume
- Mild spotting
If you know you will go back to work after having your baby, start looking into childcare options now. Some have long waiting lists so it’s best to get on the list before your baby is born. You don’t need that additional stress when you are postpartum.
Take photos of yourself and your partner in this exciting time. Take bump pictures. You might seem silly taking bump pictures in your first trimester with it being so small, but you won’t regret having evidence of that growing baby inside you.
Announce Your Pregnancy
Most people wait to announce their pregnancy after the first trimester as the likelihood of miscarriage drops significantly after 13 weeks. However, there is no “perfect” time to announce your pregnancy. It all depends on you and what feels right. So take some time to determine what feels right for you and your partner and share your news to family and friends.
Get a Pregnancy Journal
Get a pregnancy journal to document your experience. It can be very therapeutic to write down all your thoughts and feelings during this time. It will help you realize how strong you are and what you can do. I wish I had done this in both of my pregnancies. It will give you lasting memories even when your children are all grown up.
Download a baby development app so you can easily learn about how your baby is growing and developing each week. Often they will also give you updates of how you should feel each week as well as helping you understand what is happening in your body.
Find some fun pregnancy podcast or social media accounts to support you through your pregnancy. it doesn’t have to be all about the facts. Hearing the experiences of others can be motivating and supportive.
Consider joining a local pregnancy support group. As you become a mother building up a support system of women sharing a similar experience will be such a blessing to you.
You are doing great mama! I know this time can be hard with so many things happening. Often that first trimester nausea and fatigue can really knock you on your butt. Stay strong and know that it is normal to feel overwhelmed and anxious. This first trimester checklist will help you feel like you can tackle it all. Just remember you can survive anything pregnancy throws at you. You are so STRONG! Take care of yourself, indulge in those cravings (in moderation, of course), and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Before you know it that first trimester will be over! Here’s to an exciting and memorable pregnancy journey ahead!
Jess is a registered nurse with over 6+ years of critical care experience for patients young and old and is the mother of two small children. After having her own children she felt inspired to provide mothers with real actionable guidance and education to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy and postpartum experience.