After learning that you’re pregnant, your main agenda is simple: Tell your partner and celebrate! But once the happy news sinks in, the next steps can seem overwhelming. To help simplify the situation, we asked Akua Afriyie-Gray, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Loyola Medical Center, for the most important moves a pregnant woman should make.
1. Take a prenatal vitamin
Getting proper nutrition is important for a healthy pregnancy, and your body requires an additional dose of certain vitamins at this time. For instance, pregnant women need to bump up their folic acid intake from 400 to 600 micrograms (mcg) a day to protect against birth defects. “Because these nutrients are so important, I recommend that women start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as they start trying to conceive,” explains Afriyie-Gray. Any variety labeled “prenatal” should cover your bases, but make sure to check out the dose; some brands require two pills a day.
2. Abstain from alcohol
Drinking too much can cause permanent harm to your baby. It can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition that hinders mental and physical development. “What you need to worry about is the cumulative amount of alcohol you drink during pregnancy,” says Afriyie-Gray. So the glass or two of wine you sipped before you realized that you were pregnant isn’t dangerous, she says, as long as you lay off the Shiraz from now on.
But whether you can sip the occasional cocktail for the next nine months is up for debate: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there’s no safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. Some experts disagree, saying that a small glass once in a while is fine; consult your doctor to determine what’s best for you.
3. Decide on your healthcare provider
These days, there are more options for your obstetrical provider: You can choose from ob-gyns, midwives, family practitioners, doulas and more. Along with your partner, decide what provider best suits your needs. Those with a medical condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure, may want to choose an ob-gyn, while those with a history of genetic problems may choose the guidance of a maternal fetal specialist.