So you’re pregnant, and you know there are things you should be doing, but you are not quite sure what they are.
I’m Nancy Myrick, a Certified Nurse Midwife here at San Francisco Birth Center, and I have some answers for you!
Number one and most Important: You don’t HAVE to do anything. Assuming this is a pregnancy that you’re hoping turns into a baby someday, your body is already doing all the stuff it is supposed to do to make that baby. YOU ARE AMAZING! And probably exhausted, so go take a nap.
Number two: Eat a well balanced diet with lots of all of those things you already know you should be eating: leafy greens, fruit, protein, complex carbohydrates. If you’re feeling fancy, you might throw in some probiotics (or eat kimchi, yum!), take a prenatal vitamin, and start sipping a good pregnancy tea.
“But,” you say, “I feel terrible, and don’t want to eat anything except mac and cheese and vanilla wafers!” I know. I totally know. Lucky you, your embryo doesn’t care. It is a perfect little parasite and it is going to take whatever is healthy and good in your body and eat it right up, leaving you the leftovers. So hopefully you have eaten some veggies and fruits and such in the last few months; that nourishment is what you can now rely upon until you get out of the first trimester and can look kale in the eye again.
Aside: Take folic acid. Just in case you are deficient, it can prevent some pretty serious congenital defects.
Number Three: Consider setting up a Confirmation of Pregnancy visit for around 8 weeks with a midwife or doctor. This usually includes a brief review of your health, vital signs check, urine pregnancy test (like you haven’t peed on 37 sticks at home, right?) and an ultrasound.
The ultrasound will tell you 5 things:
- One: Is there a fetus?
- Two: how many? (yikes!)
- Three: Is the fetus hanging out inside the uterus?
- Four: Is there a little flutter of a proto-heartbeat?
- Five: Is the fetus about the size we would expect it to be based on when your last period was?
Quick aside about that. For reasons archaic and insulting, pregnancies are dated from the first day of your last period rather than the day sperm and egg actually connected (egg swiped right!) which means there are two “bonus” weeks at the very beginning of pregnancy during which you weren’t actually yet pregnant. On the day of conception, you are already counted as being TWO WEEKS PREGNANT! Got that? I know. I know… This gets particularly crazy when you don’t have regular periods or you used reproductive technology to get pregnant or you have been nursing your last baby and never got a period…
But, back to “What now?”
Number four: Sign up for some preschools. Just kidding/not kidding.
At this point, you should consider getting some blood work done. This is standard of care in pregnancy and most any provider you see will order it for you. The tests are to check your blood type, see if you are anemic, if you have any infections that might impact the pregnancy, and make sure your thyroid and pancreas are working well.
You might also start to think about genetic testing in which you can screen for the most common chromosomal anomalies that might affect the fetus.
So that’s it! Simple! Ok not so simple, but this is the place to start.
We at San Francisco Birth Center are happy to dig A LOT deeper into all of this with you and take you the rest of the way through your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
–Nancy Myrick, CNM and the Director of SF Birth Center