Congratulations! You’ve taken the pregnancy test and now need to know what’s next. The first trimester officially begins on the first day of your last period and ends at 12 weeks. By the time you know you are pregnant, usually, you are already 5 or 6 weeks pregnant! Below, I’ve listed a comprehensive checklist of everything you MUST KNOW, PLUS a free printable chart of essential to-dos for the next 12 weeks.
You’re gonna be a mamma, girlfriend! Whoohoo!
Now, let’s get busy and walk through this together.
Things You MUST DO Before Your First Trimester Is Over, Plus FREE Printable!
1. Learn how that new life of yours is growing and what app is BEST to track your pregnancy progress
Right now, your baby grows faster than any other time of his or her life. So much happens in the first three months! Remember, the first trimester is the first day of your last period, up to week twelve. A great way to check on your delivery date and receive week by week tips is by downloading the What to Expect app. It was my absolute favorite. I loved the online forum of women who were all due at the same time I was.
Alright, so back to baby growth. Lots of sciency terms and things happen during the first trimester. Of course, the fertilized egg starts to grow. To kick this off, it divides into layers and attaches itself to the womb wall where it starts to grow. Very soon this egg becomes an embryo and by six weeks a heartbeat can be heard. By the end of the trimester, all of your baby’s bones, muscles, and every organ has formed! The now called fetus even practices swallowing. <3
2. Learn what changes you should expect in your body
Yay for the shortest trimester! If this is your first pregnancy, usually the baby bump won’t show until the second trimester. If you do have a little roundness there, that’s totally normal (I did for sure). This is usually bloating and gas. You will likely experience swollen breasts and may gain 1 -5 pounds by the end of the trimester. My first pregnancy, I was 5’5″, healthy and still running but I gained the max amount (or more) of the weight spectrum every trimester.
Don’t worry though! Every pound came off the first six months of having our little one. Breastfeeding, a semi-healthy diet and some activity did it. I didn’t do anything extreme. Gaining weight during pregnancy is necessary for the health of your baby. Try not to take it personally and stress about what you’ve gained. Eat healthily, try to exercise moderately and know that, more than likely, it will all come off within the first six to 12 months of having your little one.
Do you feel nauseous yet? Well, there’s hope. This nausea (or morning sickness) comes from a certain hormone called human chorionic gonadotropi (HCG). Like we are going to say that every day. This hormone doubles at a startling rate, every two to three days and peaks at ten weeks into the first trimester. HCG releases the hormones estrogen and progesterone which causes nausea you may have, fatigue and heartburn.
But there is hope!
By the time your second trimester comes around, HCG levels off and these symptoms will fade back. Phew. I remember that being a HUGE relief.
3. Stock up on the best anti-nausea remedies (because it sucks)
If nausea has you chewing on crackers that taste like cardboard and making mental notes of exits, trash cans and bathrooms, here’s what you can do to help:
- Get out of bed earlier if you have to be somewhere. This allows you time to gather yourself while feeling icky.
- Eat something right when you wake up. Place 100% whole wheat saltines next to your bed with a glass of water. Wake up and nibble. This should help with the morning sickness.
- Balance your stomach correctly throughout the day. Try to have small meals and avoid overeating or going too long without eating. Both of these actions may lead to worsening nausea. Another great tip is to try to drink water between meals. This helps you better gauge how full you are.
- Try not to nap after eating. This can actually increase the ickies.
- Get plenty of rest so your body has more strength to deal with the morning sickness.
- Skip out on the stomach-rolling food smells. This can be different for everyone. I always had a piece of peanut butter toast in the morning but randomly one day, the smell of peanut butter rubbed my stomach the wrong way. Common food smells that trigger nausea during pregnancy are chicken, meat, garlic and onions, grocery store smells, fried foods, eggs, fuel and exhaust, musty and damp odors, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer, animal and pet smells, and body odors.
- Avoid greasy and spicy foods.
Foods and supplements that help tremendously:
- Vitamin B6 has been shown to help nausea in pregnancy.
- Nip The Nausea drops added to ginger and lemon.
- Preggie Pop Drops are specifically made for morning sickness!
- Pink Stork Tea is AH-Mazing for helping with morning sickness. It boasts close to a five-star review on Amazon with over 1500 reviews and an “Amazon Choice” label. You can also try Pink Stork’s clinically proven anti-nausea bars though the reviews are mixed. Some women seem to love them and others dislike the taste.
- Tummydrops is a gluten-free ginger blend kind of like a cough drop. I’ve heard women absolutely swear by these, telling me that nothing else worked and even on a low budget, they would buy them again next time around.
- Sea-Band is an acupressure wristband that is clinically proven to relieve morning sickness. I know that sounds crazy but it really does work. It’s Amazon’s #1 Best Seller in Antinausea Treatments with over 2,000 reviews and four solid stars.
- Try natural anti-nausea foods: ginger (ale, soda, tea, ginger snaps), lemons, peppermint tea, crackers, Jell-O, popsicles, and pretzels.
- Consume meals that are more on the bland side: veggies, fruits, chicken noodle soup, chicken broth, plain baked potato, chicken ramen, simple salads, and sandwiches.
You can check out the entire ULTIMATE morning sickness list on Amazon here:
4. Do not eat certain foods (add this food chart to your phone for quick reference)
Learning what to avoid and what foods are great during pregnancy was hard for me the first time around! I was constantly Googling “can I eat (insert food) while pregnant” when we were at restaurants.
The reason you need to avoid certain foods is because your immune system is changing. You now are much more vulnerable to food-borne illness. Before you were pregnant, an upset stomach would have been likely but now this can lead to serious dehydration and even miscarriage. Scary stuff.
So, your doctor is going to tell you to avoid foods that can cause food-borne illnesses since you are so vulnerable now. Tip here: friends and relatives are probably going to say “Oh, it’s okay! Go ahead and eat it. I ate twelve zillion raw eggs during my pregnancy and was fine” or “People have been pregnant for hundreds of years and didn’t avoid these foods – they were fine”. I heard these lines and many more. Do what is best for your baby. Listen to your doctor and NOT your associations. Your doctor knows better.
Foods to avoid:
- Raw eggs (NOTE: raw egg are used in hollandaise sauce, homemade mayonnaise, some salad dressings, cake icings AND of course, lightly scrambled and poached eggs.)
- Unpasteurized Juice (like Cider or local made juice – check the label)
- Larger fish like swordfish, shark and tilefish (that have large amounts of mercury)
- Undercooked or raw meat – which includes most varieties of sushi (Just ask for steaks and hamburgers to be cooked through medium to medium-well. I played it safe and always went for medium-well.)
- Deli meat, hot dogs or lunch meat (unless they are reheated and steaming hot)
- Organ meat like liver (high levels of copper, so don’t eat more than once a week)
- Raw sprouts
- Unwashed produce
- Unpasteurized milk
- Cheeses made from raw milk (avoid many soft cheeses such as brie, Camembert, Roquefort, feta, Gorgonzola. Mexican style soft cheeses like queso blanco and queso fresco should also be avoided unless the packaging clearly states the product is made from pasteurized milk. Soft (non-imported) cheeses made with pasteurized milk are safe to eat during pregnancy.
- Caffeine – less than 200 mg a day or 2-3 eight oz cups of coffee (which includes coffee, energy drinks, soda and more)
- Alcohol (despite what you may have heard, no level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy has proven to be safe. Avoid the risk altogether and just swap out that alcoholic wine for something safer.)
5. Schedule a doctor appointment and know what to expect
Choose a doctor you are confident and comfortable with. You can stick you your primary care provider, choose a different doctor (or practice) that specializes in OB/GYN or select a midwife. If one does not seem like a good fit, it’s best to change now in the first trimester.
In my case, I looked up the best hospitals in the area (since we were fairly new) then found the OB/GYN doctors. They had a practice, so I got to see multiple doctors in that practice but whoever was on call the night I went into labor would be the one to deliver our baby. That was totally fine with me. I liked being able to “shop around” doctors in the practice and I landed on one that I chose to go to for the rest of my prenatal visits.
Before you choose the doctor or practice, make SURE you call your insurance. You need to be 100% positive they are covered by your insurance. Prenatal visits are usually under “preventive care” and fully taken care of by the insurance BUT be wary, your testing may not be covered AT ALL. So, when you go in to get blood tests, the glucose test, the ultrasounds etc. (there are a crap ton of tests during your first prenatal visit) you may pay entirely out of pocket. This cost us thousands and other mommies I’ve known as well.
What you can do to prevent a startling bill is call the doctor’s office and ask what testing will be done each prenatal appointment visit, then ask for the medical codes for these tests and what lab they send the tests to. Afterward, call your insurance and run those details over with them. You’ll get a number and maybe suggestions to do your tests separately at a location your insurance prefers. This could literally save you thousands.
Another thing to note if this is your first baby: make sure you get a schedule from your doctor of how often you will be coming in, when you will be doing tests, what tests you will have to take and when you should expect ultrasound check-ups. I went into almost every visit blind and found out I should have scheduled something else or that day they were doing some kind of test that did something I should have been aware of. Some testing is done in a certain office and I had two tests needed to be done with a special doctor in a completely different building. I learned to ASK ahead of time and write it down. The schedulers don’t know.
I’ve had several friends crying at their doctor’s office because they scheduled the wrong thing and were SO frustrated with the office. Yes, the office scheduler SHOULD be in contact with the doctor and have some sort of chart that tells them what to schedule next but for some reason, most don’t. Get the list so YOU know what’s coming up and can schedule accordingly. The less stress you have during pregnancy, the better!
6. Tackle other first trimester to-dos
- Start taking a great quality prenatal vitamin. I took Nutrilite’s Double X, Omega-3, Iron & Calcium. Download the nutritional information here to check these high-quality vitamins with your doctor. Drink 10 eight oz cups of water a day.
- Look into doctor and delivery options. Start asking around.
- Call your insurance and find out if your doctor or practice of preference is covered and learn how much prenatal visits plus testing will cost you.
- Start a savings account to cover the cost of the prenatal testing plus the delivery, the cost of baby items (we still had $800 worth of must-haves to purchase after our baby shower), the cost of the delivery and newborn photography. We saved up 6,000 and used every penny. Divide the amount of months you have left in your pregnancy by your savings goal and add that much to the account each month.
- Calculate the last date of your last period (or two) and plug it into a pregnancy calculator.
- Sit down with your significant other for a few minutes and write down your family health history. You will need this for the doctor visit and it’s very important to have for you baby’s doctor visits.
- Make a list of questions for your first prenatal visit. I recommend going with a binder, a pen, some sleeve inserts and blank paper. This way you can take notes and shove all the paperwork they give you in there.
- One of the questions for your doctor should include discussing recommended prenatal tests, even if they tell you it’s too early. It’s not. This is YOUR pregnancy. You will need to know, be prepared to choose what tests you decided to do and check with your insurance, so put your foot down if you have to. I never had problems with my doctor but others I know did!
- Schedule your doctor’s appointment. Make sure your significant other can get this time off too from work if you would like them there. Be prepared for this appointment to take 30 minutes to an hour depending on your individual doctor’s wait time. To prepare, ask the office ahead of time how long their wait time usually is. Mine was never more than a few minutes, however, a close friend of mine usually waited TWO HOURS for her doctor! (I’d change doctors.)
- Quit smoking, try to eat a little healthier and go on walks if you can. Try to live healthier for the health of your baby.
- Lesson caffeine. If you drink a lot of caffeine a day, you can still have one or two cups. Try switching out your after-morning or midday coffee with black tea (like Enlish Breakfast) then after a few days try switching to green or Ooling (better yet, a blend) and lastly, make the final switch to herbal teas. My favorite during pregnancy is Chamomile. (I used to drink LOTS of coffee a day).
- Opt out for the alcohol. If you do typically drink a decent amount of alcohol, look up some easy alcohol-free mixers and be prepared with this list (and how to make them) when you go out. This helps tremendously!
- Replace some of your daily food intake with fruits, veggies and fresh produce. Reduce pre-packaged food when possible. I found fresh fruit to taste AH-mazing during pregnancy. An easy way to do this is prepping to-go containers or snack bags one or two times a week.
- Go easy on the workouts. If you are a hardcore fitness gal, you’ll need to ease up on your routine. From personal experience, I know this can be hard! I was training for half marathons when I became pregnant. A few tips: maintain, don’t push if you are in tip-top shape. Go at a 5 or 6 workout-wise instead of a 10. You may find you are more quickly out of breath. Stop if you have any pain.
- Try to do at least 30 minutes of a walk or moderate exercise per day.
- Skip out on workouts that require you to lie flat on your back or directly on your tummy like crunches and pilates.
- Make sure you download the safe foods list and learn what foods are safe and unsafe to eat during pregnancy.
- Pick up a pregnancy book like What To Expect When You’re Expecting and download an app to track your weekly progress, tips and advice. My favorite was actually the What to Expect app.
- Consider logging your pregnancy journey in a journal. I used Shutterfly and just added to it every week or so.
- Join a pregnancy support group or due date club and seriously consider classes for taking care of baby, breastfeeding, and labor. These fill up fast, so look into them and sign up EARLY.
- Share the news with your friends, family, and social media. There are tons of fun ways to release this exciting event.
- Test out different ways to curb the morning sickness. Be sure to check out my Amazon list of the best stuff that worked for me and other moms!
- If you have a cat, make someone else change the kitty litter (that stuff is dangerous for pregnancy). Also, use SAFE cleaning products.
- If you’ve already had a doctor visit or two, decide now to stick with him or her for delivery or shop around. You DO NOT have to stay with that doctor if you don’t want to! It’s best to try other doctors now rather than later.
- Buy a Bellaband to lengthen the time you need to shop for maternity pants. Better to have this now and be prepared than wake up one morning, unable to button your pants.
- By now you probably need a new bra. Hello boobies! You can opt for a soft nursing bra with no underwire or other soft maternity bras like Bravado! (this is the one I purchased). During my pregnancy, I couldn’t do underwire, because the baby sat so high, the wire popped out uncomfortably. You may want to skip the underwire too and prepare for that.
- Kegels! Squeeze em in, girls! (Pun definitely intended.) Kegels help tighten the muscles underneath the uterus, bladder, and bowel. This strengthening can help prevent and or treat incontinence after childbirth that affects up to two-thirds of women during and after pregnancy. They help keep hemorrhoids at bay AND help healing after childbirth. To do a kegel, first, make sure you have an empty bladder (because that could be embarrassing), then pretend you’re trying to stop yourself from passing gas and peeing at the same time – it’s a squeezing sensation. Don’t do this while urinating. That’s supposed to be bad. Do this a few times a day and work up to holding them for 10 seconds three times a day. This is the best number and more than this can actually strain your bowels and lady parts.
- Make a dentist appointment. Because you are pregnant, lots of things change in your mouth (for some reason that has to do with hormones) like increased red, swollen or bleeding gums, increased plaque and other fun stuff. This actually has been proven to affect the baby. So, brush and floss two times a day, switch to a softer toothbrush and make sure to make a dentist appointment.
- Go on a babymoon! Have you heard of this? It’s kind of like the bachelorette party, (minus the ugly and alcohol) your last hurrah of childless couple life. Even if you are single and having a baby, you could take some of your girlfriends on a super fun trip. One of my biggest regrets is not doing this! I talk about this more here on 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Having a Baby.
- Make a to-do list of things you want to accomplish before baby arrives. This could be things you want to enjoy, purchase or get ready.
- Swap out your household cleaners for safe non-toxic and eco-friendly ones. Legacy of Clean is a renown SUPER low-cost green and extremely effective brand. You can find their multipurpose cleaner as an “Amazon Choice” item with five solid gold stars but you can get it for HALF the price through this link here. Also, when it comes to laundry detergent, the famous green product SA8 from Legacy of Clean has a five-star rating on Amazon and is usually sold out. You can snatch it up here for $13.15.
- Wash your hands, get plenty of sleep and be healthy because your immune system is LOW. You are now more likely to get sick so be extra cautious. Carry around little purse-sized hand sanitizers like these if you can.
- Decide when you are going to tell work about your pregnancy and how. This may also be a good time to choose whether you want to go back to work or not. Your work might give you the stink-eye and ask! Mine did. Stay strong with your decision! I did the math (including what childcare would cost us) and we took steps to bring me home and raise our baby. We were able to do this even by cutting our income in half in the beginning. I wrote a post about how you can do this too and not put your newborn in daycare. Check it out here: Real Work From Home Jobs For Stay At Home Moms.
- Know your company’s maternity leave policy (mine was called “disability” ugh!) inside and out. Ask LOTS of questions. Get paperwork and have it signed. Don’t get screwed over like I did. My story is not uncommon. Your HR tells you one thing and then does another. Write everything down or have it written down and get it signed by your superiors and your HR. I know this sounds a little over the top but I would have had over a weeks worth of pay in my bank account right now if I had gotten in writing what I was told was ‘standard procedure’. That’s not a small mistake.
- Moisturize! This can seriously help you prevent stretch marks. While this can be genetically tied, you can also reduce the likelihood with a good moisturizer and routine. I did TONS of searching because I did not want stretch marks. There were some super pricey products out there! I landed on Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Butter because the reviews were outstanding, the price was fantastic and I have had a couple friends use it with ZERO stretch marks. Seriously. And I can say the same now as well! Use it twice a day and don’t miss those thighs.
- Skip hot tubs, steam rooms, hot baths (I know, sadness), hot-weather workouts or whatever might elevate your temp to 102 degrees. This is bad for baby.
- Buy a body pillow to help you sleep and reduce those aches. You will be SO thankful! The Queen Rose Pregnancy Pillow is AH-mazing!!!
- Start thinking about baby names!
- Be prepared for heartburn and indigestion. (I had never had either of these before – ever- and it hurt.) Look up natural ways to remedy this pain. Peppermint tea has been proven to work but there are A TON of other natural remedies women swear by.
- Go maternity-wear shoppin’! Consider buying used or borrowing from family or friends. I had a hard time finding cute and low-cost maternity wear. After scrounging and doing a lot of searching, I came up with a go-to list. Check it out here: Where To Buy The Best Maternity Clothes For Cheap.
Your first trimester is an exciting time and the fastest trimester. Enjoy it! Your baby will begin to grow and signs of pregnancy will start to show. Yay! The first doctor visit needs to be scheduled and some new eating routines implemented as well as the essential first trimester to-dos. In the end and most importantly, remember this time is one of the most amazing experiences ever! Congratulations on your new little life. <3
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