So, you’re PREGNANT! Congratulations 🙂 Now, what?
The next 3 months are likely going to move super slowly and pretty quickly, too! It’s a time where a lot is happening behind the scenes. So, even though you won’t look pregnant, you will more often than not feel pregnant and not quite in a glowing kind of way (just yet!).
To help you navigate your first trimester with confidence, I’ve put together The Ultimate First Trimester Checklist and a few notes to go along with it!
Announcing Your Pregnancy to Your Partner
If you have a partner in your pregnancy, they may already know the exciting news because they were there with you when you found out! If they don’t know, there are some super cute ideas on how to announce to them on your favourite socials.
When Justin and I were pregnant with Emmett, I told him with a recording I had his aunt make before she passed, sharing our news. It was such a special moment that I was glad I was able to capture and share with him.
Calculating Baby’s Due Date
The thing about due dates is that only a very small percentage of babies are born on this date. I prefer to look at and plan around, the due month (38-42 weeks). For 99% of babies, it is completely normal and safe for them to be born anywhere between 37-42 weeks gestation.
It’s hard to calculate a due date, though you will go for a dating scan with an ultrasound technician around 8-10 weeks and your health care provider will tell you a date that they will mark as a way to schedule appointments leading up to it. Why is it so hard to calculate? Well, even if you’re testing your Luteinizing Hormone (LH) with at-home ovulation kits, it’s impossible to know exactly when an egg will release, when sperm will fertilize that egg and when it will implant itself into the uterus.
Standard Western Medicine will also typically calculate a due date based on a 28 day cycle with the assumption that ovulation occurred on Day 14. All of which is inaccurate because every menstruating person’s cycle is unique and individual to that person and can and will change. We can only track our cycles looking backwards, but when looking at our cycle for fertility health, TTC, and natural birth control, we need to be looking at it solely from a present cycle perspective. Basically, what’s happening right now, is all that matters because so many outside factors can change the way our cycle is each month – which is normal.
Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins
Okay, so I say this loosely because ideally, if you have been preparing for conception you would already be prioritizing your health and wellbeing and would have been taking prenatal vitamins to fill the gaps in your diet and lifestyle already. If this is a surprise pregnancy, I highly recommend looking into prenatal vitamins and finding one that has quality ingredients, no extra added chemicals or weird things, and doesn’t require you to take 1-2 pills multiple times each day.
Of all the prenatal vitamins I have tried over the past 3 years, I have most enjoyed my experience with Ritual and their Essential Prenatal. As a vegan mother, they have products that align with my needs and include folate vs. folic acid which I love!
Start Building your Birth Team
Ah the birth team – one of my favourite things to look at in your first trimester because it’s essential and so important for not only the rest of your pregnancy, but also for your labour and birth preparation. It also is going to get you thinking about and preparing for postpartum!
It is not predetermined that you get pregnant and you just get an OB – that does not need to be your path. You have so many options when putting together your birth team. The point is, you get to choose! These people, these practitioners, these care providers work for you.
*Speaking of your birth team, I like to keep a running note on my phone for any questions or things that come up so I can discuss it with them the next time we see each other.
Your 1st Appointment
Whether this is your first pregnancy or your fifth, your first appointment will likely be with your family physician unless you are working with a fertility treatment centre. Here you’ll go over your family health history, any previous pregnancies, losses and general information to be considered along your current pregnancy.
Don’t have a family doctor? They can be hard to come by these days! Typically speaking, you can get a requisition for that first ultrasound through a walk-in clinic and they can also refer you to a midwife or OB depending on what you want.
Start Researching about Pregnancy
There are so many evidence-based resources online these days about pregnancy, labour and birth preparation and postpartum – and now is a great time to dive in. Preparing for your upcoming trimesters and your birth and postpartum are essential for empowering experiences. Do you want to feel confident and informed in this stage of your life? Do Your Research.
Create a Pinterest Inspo Board
Okay, so you don’t need to do this…but it can be fun! I like to have a few boards so that I can focus on nutrient-rich meals for pregnancy and postpartum, maternity clothing brands and prenatal workouts. I think a lot of people jump right into nursery room Pinterest boards but I’ll say this…baby will be sleeping in your room for the first few months (if you aren’t planning to co-sleep, bed share or room-share). Meaning, the nursery you’ll put all of your time, energy, money and stress into to get it ready in time, will be vacant for the foreseeable future anyways. There are better uses of your time right now!
Choose How You’ll Announce to Friends and Family
You may have already shared the news with your closest friends and family, but you may also be waiting…to get past the first trimester, keep the special news to yourselves a little longer or because you haven’t quite figured out how you’ll tell people. I love the fun little ways we can bring people into our news, without spending a lot of money or requiring a lot of tools. With our first pregnancy, we had to share our news via FaceTime so we brought our dog into the story with us. With this current pregnancy, we cut up pink and blue paper, put it in an envelope and let people figure it out for themselves (something my in-laws actually did with my husband’s grandparents when they told them they were expecting him).
Document Your Pregnancy
There are many ways to document your life and your pregnancy: from journaling to daily or weekly photos, video blogging and more. Find something that resonates with you and that excites you because that it how you’ll continue to document this period of your life consistently.
I’ll note that when you have another child running around, it becomes more challenging to document, no matter how you choose to do so. This time around, I’m taking pictures at the bigger milestones, and jotting down thoughts as they come to share in spurts.
Make a Pre-Baby Bucket List
I’ve seen this on other lists so I wanted to put it on mine for the sole purpose of reminding you that your life is not ending because you’re pregnant or because in a few months you will have a baby. I want you to cherish and soak in the moments where it’s just you, you and your partner, you and your dog, you and your sisters, etc. But, I don’t want you to focus on all the things you haven’t done yet, that you feel you can’t do once you have kids. Children will make you see things differently, and that’s not a negative. You may appreciate adventures more, the tinier moments.
Prepare for Managing Morning Sickness
You may not be throwing up left and right, but you will likely still experience nausea of some kind between 6-12 weeks pregnant. Figuring out how to best navigate the nausea for yourself is crucial to surviving it! What I found worked really well for me most days included: getting adequate sleep, eating a diverse plant-based diet, a daily ginger tablet as soon as I started to feel any nausea waves coming on…and truly the biggest thing that helped, LEMON WATER. A litre of it daily!
Download a Pregnancy App
There are way too many to choose from so just pick one and roll it. You don’t need to have all of them or even more than one, but it can be nice to have one app especially during your first pregnancy, to give you little insights each week into you and baby’s development. So far, in this pregnancy I could absolutely care less about anything other than the size comparisons because I think they’re fun.
Start Thinking of Baby Names
Did you know that your baby will grow up into a fully functional adult? Don’t forget that tidbit when thinking of baby names! Say the name out loud. Say it on it’s own and also say the full name to hear the ring of it! It’s never too early to start thinking of baby names because as time goes on, you may hear something that makes you LOVE a name, and you may hear something that makes you HATE a name. For this reason, I also do NOT recommend announcing the name you plan to use until baby actually arrives. You’re allowed to change your mind and you don’t want to feel pressured into using a name you no longer love because someone engraved a name into a baby shower gift.
Start Taking Bump Pictures
I find in the first trimester that taking bump pics is SO HARD. You barely have the energy to roll over let alone take a photo of yourself. I’m recommending you don’t put this on your list and start fresh come week 14. Put a little reminder in your calendar every week, put on a cute outfit (bonus points if you can wear the same thing each week to really see the progression) and take the photo!
Go to the Dentist
Oral Health has a much greater impact on our overall health and wellbeing than we as a society acknowledge – or even know! Scheduling your routine checkups during pregnancy is just a small way we can take care of ourselves. Let them know you’re expecting and opt out of x-rays and know that the second trimester is likely one of the best times for you to book your appointment.
You may be seeing a lot of talk around belly balms and while I am most definitely a supporter of bump care, it’s your entire body that still needs love. Exfoliating your body in the shower once a week and moisturizing after every shower or bath will keep your skin well hydrated. If you start to feel a little itch around your breasts or bump, go moisturize – it’ll feel great, provide relief and help your skin as it continues to stretch and grow with baby. I am currently working through the many (MANY) bath and body products I have so I know that some are not ones I’d typically buy or companies I’d like to support. In a season of budgeting, mindful use and consumption, I’m using the Hello Bello Gentle Sweet Cream after showers and Aloe Vera Lotion on pool days or when the skin feels dry.
Here’s the thing…baby’s aren’t expensive. Baby items and products marketed for babies are expensive. The truth is, babies need very little in the fourth trimester and much less than we think in the first year and beyond. There are so many ways to cut the monetary costs around your new arrival; from cloth diapering and cloth wipes to breastfeeding, second-hand shopping and using local Buy Nothing groups.
Check your Medications
Now, I am not a doctor nor am I your doctor BUT, I will recommend you check and take note of any and all medications and supplements you are currently using (even topically) and consult your primary care provider about them before continuing now that you are pregnant! If you are not familiar with the contraindications – which most of us aren’t – talking to someone who is acutely aware of them can help prevent complications or loss.
Look at Your Diet and Lifestyle
You may have already looked at and made adjustments to your diet and lifestyle when you decided to conceive. AWESOME! If you haven’t yet, now is the time! One of the first things I ask clients when working with them (both the pregnant person and their partner, if applicable) is “WHAT are you doing to support your health and your baby’s health?”. If you don’t have an answer OR you’re waiting until baby is in your arms to be healthier, change that mindset right now! Everything you do today will impact them. Live your best life NOW so that you can enjoy your life for many years down the road.
Start a Baby Registry
I honestly would NOT recommend looking at all the baby blogs for a list of ALL the things you absolutely must have for your baby…because you don’t. The truth is babies need very little, especially in the fourth trimester. The minimalist and mama trying to live more mindfully and consciously would highly recommend shopping second-hand for almost everything baby-related. There are a few essentials you will need and want that I absolutely DO NOT recommend buying second-hand like a breast pump, carseat and stroller, but these are both for safety and for long-term use and financial savings. Otherwise, keep things out of landfills, have second-hand showers, talk to your family members and friends who may have things to pass on to you!
Start Buying Maternity Clothes
You likely won’t be wearing maternity clothes in the first trimester, though you might if this is your 3rd child for example, because our bodies already know how to stretch and grow for this so they do it a bit more easily. You also don’t need to spend a fortune and can find many second-hand items for maternity wear online (Facebook Marketplace and Groups, Value Village, Goodwill, Once Upon a Child and Maternity-specific stores). I bought a few essential summer maternity pieces this time around because I’ve never been this pregnant during this time of year and didn’t want to be scrambling for outfits when comfort is what I need most.
Begin Looking into Postpartum Options
As you prepare for baby, don’t forget to prepare for YOU. Mamas leave birth with dinner-plate-sized wounds vaginally speaking not including any tears or stitches. Labour is A LOT and you will need to rest and recover in those first couple weeks. Remind yourself that the 4th trimester is about YOU, YOUR BABY, bonding as a family and adjusting to this new season of life. From adult diapers and pads to nursing balms, nursing pads and more – figure out how you’ll take care of you so you can take care of your baby.
Focus on Reducing your Stress
If you’re thinking “easier said than done” I hear you, so now hear me. Stress is a good thing until it’s not. It’s motivating and even healthy in the way cortisol in small doses supports your body. It’s when it becomes overwhelming, when you can’t enjoy life, when you’re focusing so much on the what ifs or the negatives…that’s when it becomes a problem. Find the things that light you up; painting, playing piano, practicing a new language, reading, writing, yoga, podcasts, nature walks. Whatever it is, if it brings you joy, it’s lowering your stress and in turn helping you!
If you do nothing else in the first trimester, I want you to do this one. REST! Go to bed early, sleep in, take naps, close your eyes and rest your body for 20 minutes. Rest whenever and however you can because right now, your body is doing so much behind the scenes work. Having nausea? Rest will help. Stressed? Rest will help.
Remember when we talked about diet and lifestyle? Hydration is a separate thing. If you are hydrating mainly with pop, carbonated beverages of any kind, juice, coffee, tea, energy drinks, gatorade, etc. it’s time to switch to water. Your body and baby need hydration not added sugar, natural flavours (whatever that is) and zero calorie yet chemical ingredient drinks. WATER is your new best friend. Don’t like water? Suck it up. Add lemon or lime, cucumber, mint, strawberry slices, etc. and make it your own.
This is at the bottom of this Ultimate Checklist because I know full well the reality that you actually feel like moving your body at all in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Exercise has been the last thing on my mind both times so I encourage both myself in that stage and you if that’s where you are now, to move mindfully. Be the one who takes your dog for a walk. Go to the park with your older child even if it’s only for 20 minutes. Practice breath-work opposed to yoga right now, or try sleep yoga, etc. Find the things that feel good and practice them in small quantities when you are feeling okay.
The first trimester is one where you don’t need to get everything ready. You don’t need to buy anything or have it all figured out. It’s a great time to rest and get organized. Think about fun ways to share the news with your partner, family and friends. Look at your life and start to envision how a little one plays into it: what would you change? Start playing around in the kitchen more, get comfortable with new recipes and healthier options. It’s about the small things in this stage.
When the 2nd Trimester rolls around at 14 weeks, then we can start focusing on bigger tasks 🙂