Seeing those two lines on a pregnancy test can be an incredibly exciting, nerve-wracking, and scary moment. You likely have a million thoughts and questions running through your head. What’s next? Who do I tell? What do I need to do to have a healthy pregnancy? This article will walk you through the key steps to take after getting a positive pregnancy test.
Confirm the Result
Before doing anything else, you’ll want to confirm the positive result. Home pregnancy tests can sometimes give false positives or negatives. The best way to confirm is to go to your doctor and get a blood test done. This will check for the presence of the hCG hormone that indicates pregnancy. A blood test is the most accurate option.
You may want to take a second at-home urine test as well, using first morning urine. Taking the test first thing when your urine is most concentrated can yield a more reliable result.
If you get a positive on a second test, it’s safe to assume you are likely pregnant. Still, a doctor’s confirmation is key.
Schedule a Doctor’s Appointment
The next step is to schedule an appointment with your obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) or midwife. Most doctors will want to see you within the first 8-10 weeks of pregnancy.
At this first visit, your doctor will confirm the pregnancy through either a blood or urine test. They will also do a full physical exam, take your health history, estimate your due date based on the date of your last period, and begin prenatal screenings.
Prenatal screenings during the first trimester often include:
- A pap smear
- Pelvic exam
- Blood work to check blood type, anemia, immunity to rubella, etc.
- Urine test for infections
- STD tests
- Discussing genetic testing options
Your doctor will explain what screenings you need and why they are important for monitoring your health and the health of the baby. Be honest with your doctor about your health history so they can best determine what tests you need.
Calculate Your Due Date
One of the first things you are probably wondering is your due date! Calculating this will give you a general timeframe for the pregnancy journey. Due dates are calculated based on the date of your last menstrual period. Here’s how to estimate it:
- Take the first day of your last period and count forward 3 months.
- Then add 7 days to that date.
- The result will be your estimated due date.
For example, if the first day of your last period was September 1st:
- Count forward 3 months to December 1st
- Add 7 days, giving you an estimated due date of December 8th
This is just an estimate, as most babies arrive 2 weeks before or after the estimated due date. Your doctor will give you a more accurate due date range based on physical exams and ultrasound results.
Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are an important supplement during pregnancy. Your recommended daily vitamin intake goes up significantly when pregnant. Prenatal vitamins help ensure you meet these increased nutritional needs.
Look for a prenatal vitamin with the following:
- 400-800 mcg Folic Acid – prevents certain birth defects
- 400 IU Vitamin D – for bone health
- 27 mg Iron – prevents anemia
- 220-260 mg Calcium – for maternal and baby’s skeletal growth
- 15 mg Zinc – for cell growth
- 150 mcg Iodine – supports thyroid function
You also need higher levels of nutrients like B12, B6, and choline when pregnant. Your doctor can recommend the best prenatal vitamin based on your health status and any deficiencies.
Start taking the supplements as soon as possible and be consistent every day. Make sure to take them with food to avoid nausea. Getting into the habit early makes it easier to remember for the next 9 months.
Modify Diet and Exercise Routines
Now is the time to take a close look at your diet and exercise habits to ensure you optimize your health during pregnancy.
It’s generally recommended to increase your calorie intake by 300 calories per day during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Focus on getting those extra calories from nutritious whole foods.
Try to eat a balanced diet with plenty of:
- Whole grains
- Lean protein
- Low-fat dairy
At the same time, limit processed foods, sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. Stay hydrated by drinking about 10 8-oz cups of water daily.
It can also be helpful to limit or avoid:
- Unpasteurized dairy and juices – risk of foodborne illnesses
- Raw sprouts – risk of salmonella
- Deli meats – risk of listeria
- Fish high in mercury – tuna, swordfish, etc.
- Caffeine – limit to 200mg per day
Talk to your doctor about any dietary restrictions you may need based on health conditions you have.
Exercising during pregnancy provides many benefits, including:
- More energy
- Improved sleep
- Reduced back pain
- Better mood
- Easier labor
Aim for about 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. This could mean brisk walking, swimming, yoga, light strength training, etc. Avoid intense burst activities that could lead to injury.
Also avoid exercises that require intense balance, involve jumping, or have risk of abdominal trauma. Make sure to drink plenty of water and not exercise to the point of exhaustion.
Seek your doctor’s advice on continuing exercise routines you did pre-pregnancy to ensure they are safe.
Decide When to Tell People
One of the exciting parts of a positive pregnancy test is getting to tell loved ones the big news! You get to decide when the right time is to start spreading the word.
It’s generally recommended to wait until at least 12-13 weeks to announce publicly. This is when the risk of miscarriage drops significantly. Many people wait even longer for that reason.
Here are some things to consider when deciding when to tell:
- You may want to tell family and close friends earlier, even if waiting on a public announcement.
- Tell your boss and HR department earlier if you need to make plans for maternity leave.
- Consider if you want to announce in a cute or creative way on social media.
- You may be showing earlier if not your first pregnancy.
The most important thing is sharing the news when you feel comfortable and ready!
Learn About Health Insurance and Maternity Leave Benefits
Two of the not-as-fun logistical steps are looking into insurance coverage and maternity leave. Still, it’s important to understand your benefits and rights as early as possible.
Health Insurance Considerations
- Contact your insurer to find out what exactly is covered for prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care.
- Find out the total out-of-pocket costs you can expect to pay throughout the process.
- Ask if approval is required for seeing specialists or going to specific hospitals.
- Learn when you need to enroll baby on your policy after birth.
If uninsured, look into options like Medicaid or CHIP which provide coverage to qualifying pregnant women. You may also have new enrollment options due to pregnancy being a “qualifying life event.”
Maternity Leave Overview
The main points to understand are:
- How much paid and unpaid leave you qualify for through your employer and the state.
- The process for applying for leave with HR.
- If short-term disability benefits are an option.
- Your rights in returning to your job role after leave.
Research options early so you can financially and logistically plan ahead. You’ll likely need to request leave 30-60 days in advance.
Seek Support If Needed
Receiving a positive pregnancy test can lead to a whole range of emotions ranging from joy to fear to uncertainty. Know that these feelings are entirely normal in this major life transition.
The key is not keeping emotions bottled up. Having trusted people to share feelings with and ask advice from makes a huge difference.
If you don’t have a strong personal support system or feel overwhelmed with emotions like stress and anxiety, seek professional help. Talk to your doctor about support groups and therapists that specialize in pregnancy and postpartum.
Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for help connecting to resources. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health in this journey.
Pregnancy involves a tidal wave of information. From doctor’s appointments to test results to insurance papers, it can get overwhelming quickly. Staying organized can help reduce anxiety and keep things running smoothly.
Tips for staying organized:
- Use a calendar to track doctor’s appointments and your due date.
- Have a folder or binder for keeping documents, test results, etc.
- Use an app to track questions for your doctor, baby’s kicks, and more.
- Keep a notebook with you to jot down notes from appointments.
- Create a “Baby Planning” checklist with tasks like setting up the nursery.
- Enlist your partner’s help with organization.
The more you can get in order early on, the easier managing later pregnancy and baby preparations will be!
Finding out you are pregnant marks the start of an amazing journey. Take things step-by-step, trust your healthcare providers, and don’t hesitate to ask questions when uncertain. Reach out for help when needed. With the right care for your mind and body, you’ll be giving your baby the best start in their new life.