Getting pregnant is something most couples dream of. However, once you have conceived, the real work begins. You will have to take many important steps to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a safe delivery for you and your baby. Here are some important things that you must do after getting pregnant:
1. Find a doctor or midwife and book an appointment as soon as possible.
If you're a first-time mom, finding the right doctor or midwife who can help you during your pregnancy is important. You can ask around friends or family members who have recently given birth and see if they can recommend someone for you. It's also advisable to have a check-up early in your pregnancy so that any problems can be spotted early enough, so they don't become bigger issues later on. Your first prenatal visit will probably be around eight weeks into your pregnancy — generally around two weeks after your missed period. But if you have any symptoms, such as bleeding or cramping, or if you have an existing condition, tell your obgyn in Richmond VA about it right away. For example, if you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you may need more frequent cervical checks during pregnancy to prevent preterm birth and avoid infection in the womb. If you have diabetes, ask how it affects your pregnancy and whether any changes are needed in your treatment plan.
2. Take folic acid supplements.
Folic acid is very important for the growth of your baby's neural tube, which is responsible for forming the brain and spinal cord. It should be taken by all women who are planning on becoming pregnant or those who are already expecting a child. Consider taking a daily multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid if you don't get enough from food alone because it may reduce the risk of having a baby with neural tube defects by up to 70 percent (if you're already planning on starting a family). If your doctor doesn't recommend it for medical reasons, ask for an explanation so that you understand why not — some women shouldn't take multivitamins during pregnancy because they contain iron, and too much iron can be harmful to babies whose brains are still developing at this stage.
3. Get your vaccinations
It is also essential to get all your vaccinations done if you have not already done so before conceiving a child. This will help boost your immune system and protect you and your baby against diseases like chickenpox, measles, etc., that could prove harmful during pregnancy. Some vaccines, such as the influenza vaccine, should be given at least four weeks before getting pregnant, while others, like the tetanus toxoid booster shot, can be given during early pregnancy.
4. Decide whether or not you want to breastfeed your baby.
Doctors recommend breastfeeding as it provides babies with vital nutrients and antibodies for their immune system development and helps them sleep better at night! However, if breastfeeding isn't an option for you or if there are other reasons why you might not want to breastfeed, then formula feeding is also fine! Remember that whatever decision you make, it's always best for both parents and baby if they have support from family members or friends who have done this before.
5. Decide whether you want to be your child's legal parent.
If you're having a baby with someone other than your spouse (or domestic partner), or if you've never married or registered as a domestic partner, you'll need to make arrangements for legal parental rights before the baby is born. You can sign an "Acknowledgment of Paternity" form at the hospital when you give birth, establishing legal paternity for your unborn child. If paternity hasn't been established before birth, it can be established through DNA testing later in life (when the child is 18 years old).
6. Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking during pregnancy.
Alcohol can damage your baby's developing brain and nervous system, so it's not recommended for anyone — especially pregnant women or trying to conceive. If you do drink alcohol while you're trying to conceive or during pregnancy, be aware of how much alcohol is safe for you and your baby before having any drinks. Don't smoke tobacco products during pregnancy. Smoking tobacco products during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature birth. It also increases the likelihood of low birth weight babies (less than 5 pounds).
Use this checklist of what you must do after getting pregnant to ensure you get the best care. You will have a lot on your mind when you're pregnant, but you don't want to get from one stage of pregnancy to the next without making important decisions about your health and future.