First of all... CONGRATULATIONS! We are so excited for you, and so happy that you are here. Early pregnancy can be a pretty surreal time: You know you’re pregnant, but without seeing the bump or feeling those sweet kicks, it can be hard to really wrap your mind around it all.
But there are some amazing things you can start working on now that will help your baby (+ you).
Not in the Katniss, Hunger Games kind of way (though yes, please literally survive).
What we really mean is that your motherhood journey starts now.
And it’s a tough one. From morning sickness to miscarriage worries to first-trimester fatigue, pregnancy is not only physically demanding, it can be emotionally draining as well.
We moms put so much pressure on ourselves to get every little thing right (which, P.S., isn’t possible—or even very interesting, for that matter). We are here to tell you that you are enough, just as you are.
So be gentle with yourself. And be in awe of yourself. Look what you’re doing! We think you’re quite amazing.
2. Eliminate toxins.
Your baby gets exposed to everything that enters your body, so do what you can to make it all good stuff.
It’s not possible to eliminate it all, so don’t stress too much, but do what you can to avoid substances that could harm your little one.
Avoid cigarette smoke, alcohol and recreational drugs. Ask your doctor about prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and cut back on caffeine. (I know, I’m sorry! But the research shows that miscarriage risk goes up with every cup of coffee we have each day. Stick to one cup a day, max.) Limit the amount of mercury you consume, buy organic if you can and choose beauty products that are low in or free of harmful chemicals.
3. Take a prenatal vitamin.
Eating healthy foods is really the best way to provide your baby with everything he needs to develop. But it can be hard to get all those nutrients in. Taking a prenatal vitamin ensures you’re providing your baby with tons of awesome vitamins and minerals—folic acid to prevent neural tube defects, vitamin D to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and DHA to help your little smarty’s brain grow, to name a few.
Pro tip: If your prenatal vitamin makes you nauseated, take it before you go to bed.
4. See your doctor or midwife.
Consistent prenatal care will help you and your baby to have the healthiest possible pregnancy and birth. You will likely have your first appointment around eight weeks. From there you’ll go in about once a month, then every two weeks starting in your third trimester, and then every week for the last four weeks (this varies, of course). Your health care provider will check your weight and blood pressure each time, do some screening tests and just make sure everything is progressing beautifully. And if questions come up in between visits, just call. Your doctor or midwife wants you to feel supported and cared for every day.
6. Take deep breaths.
Whether this is your first baby or your fourth, pregnancy is stressful.
Your body is going through some big changes, hormones are surging and, oh yeah, you’re having a baby. Finding ways to relax and de-stress is not a luxury, it’s a necessity! In fact, yogaand meditation have been found to not only improve your health, but to improve your baby’s health (and behavior) after he’s born. Cool, huh? You can find prenatal yoga routines online and download apps like Insight Timer for guided meditations.
Pregnancy can be a bit of a whirlwind—all the logistics and planning can make it zip by pretty quickly. But take it from this mama of three: You’ll look back at your pregnancy with nostalgia when it’s over. (You definitely won’t miss the morning sickness, though.)
Take a few minutes each week to write about what’s going on—how you’re feeling, any big life events—and write a letter to your baby. And, of course, don’t forget to snap some photos of your ADORABLE growing bump!
8. Work out if you can.
When you’re having a hard time keeping breakfast down, exercise may be the furthest thing from your mind. But if you can find a way to fit it in, do so. Exercise will boost your energy and help you sleep better, and it has tremendous benefits for you and your baby.
Check out our guide to learn more about the benefits and safety of working out with a bump.
9. Ask for help.
You’re already Superwoman (you are growing a person, after all). So instead of feeling like you have to continue doing it all on your own, reach out for help! Ask a friend to run an errand for you. Request that your partner take on more of the meal prep. Invite your family over to babysit your toddler. They really do want to help you. All you have to do is tell them how.
10. Get connected.
Find your tribe, lady. Pregnancy and motherhood are amazing, yes, but they are hard. Connecting with someone who gets it can make all the difference. If you have a friend who is currently expecting, that’s awesome. Or have a heart-to-heart with a non-pregnant mom friend and let them know you need them even more now. You can try joining a local moms’ group even before your baby arrives.
And guess what? Our birth class comes with an online community of moms ready to support you. So join us and be our friend!
This post first appeared on Mother.ly