Getting a positive pregnancy test can be a life-changing moment. You're likely to experience a range of emotions, from feeling overwhelmed and excited to anxious and fearful. Whether your pregnancy was planned or a complete surprise, it's normal to feel like you're on an emotional rollercoaster.
Once the emotions subside, you may find yourself wondering what to do next. From what to eat after your positive pregnancy test to precautions you should take, we've got the complete list of steps to take on your new pregnancy journey.
Consider Taking a Second Test
Most home pregnancy tests are 99% accurate when used correctly. If you're tempted to do another test (or a few!), there's no harm in taking another at-home pregnancy test to confirm the results of the first. While getting a false positive on a pregnancy test is rare, it can happen if you used an expired pregnancy test, or if you waited to look to interpret the results of the test.
Most at-home pregnancy tests tell you to look for results about 3 minutes after you take the test. If you wait too long, you may see what's called an "evaporation line" - a faint line that can occur when the urine evaporates or if the test gets wet. A false positive can also occur if you're taking certain medications, such as fertility drugs.
Call Your Healthcare Provider
Once you have a positive at-home pregnancy test, it's time to call your healthcare provider. Some providers may not schedule your first prenatal appointment until you've reached your 8th week of pregnancy. Others may ask you to come in for a blood test to confirm you are pregnant. The blood test measures the amount of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the blood - a hormone present during pregnancy. An hCG blood test can detect pregnancy as early as 6 to 8 days after ovulation.
During your initial prenatal visit, your doctor will calculate your estimated due date based on the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). If you are between 6 and 8 weeks pregnant, your provider may perform an ultrasound, sometimes called a dating ultrasound, during your first appointment. This scan is used to confirm your estimated due date and to check the general health and development of the baby.
Before you leave, your provider will schedule you for a follow-up prenatal care office visit. In the first and second trimesters, most providers will want to see you about every 4 weeks.
Prioritize Healthy Habits
Once you know you're pregnant, it's important to start or maintain healthy lifestyle habits to support you and your growing baby while pregnant. Take these steps (if you haven't already) to optimize your health:
- Quit smoking, drinking, and using recreational drugs. These substances have been linked to miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and developmental problems that may affect your baby throughout their entire life.
- Eat a healthy, nutrient-dense diet. A healthy pregnancy diet should include adequate amounts of protein, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables to support you and your baby's health. Eating foods rich in folic acid, such as eggs and leafy green vegetables, helps decrease the risk of birth defects.
- Begin taking a prenatal vitamin. Prenatal vitamins help ensure you get the essential vitamins and minerals you need to support your health and your growing baby's development.
- Stay hydrated. Your body's blood volume increases during pregnancy, so you'll need to drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself and your baby hydrated and healthy. Bonus: staying hydrated can help boost energy levels, which may help combat pregnancy fatigue.
- Continue (or start) exercising. Exercising while pregnant not only keeps your body healthy, but it helps build stamina and strength needed for labor and delivery. Low-impact exercises, such as walking, yoga, or swimming, are safe during pregnancy.
Decide Who to Tell and When
You might be bursting at the seams to share the news about your pregnancy with everyone you know. Alternatively, you might feel hesitant to share your news for various reasons. Some people prefer to wait until after 12 weeks, when the risk of miscarriage is lower.
You may decide to tell each person in your life in a one-on-one setting, or make a general pregnancy announcement on your social media channels. Some people choose to tell their closest friends and family first before making a big announcement. There is no right or wrong way to share - the most important thing is to do what makes you feel most comfortable.
Whether you're a single parent or have a supportive partner, it's important you have support throughout your pregnancy (and after!). Your life will change in profound ways in the coming months, and you'll need the support of people you can trust.
Your midwife or doctor is a good person to go to for all of your pregnancy-related questions. But your family and friends can provide physical and emotional support. You may find it worthwhile to find an online or in-person support group with other people who are due around the same time as you. These friendships can be invaluable during pregnancy and in the early days of parenthood.
Plan for the Future
There's no doubt about it: parenthood changes everything. No one has a crystal ball to see into the future, but being preparing for upcoming life changes while you're pregnant can help you feel ready for the incredible journey of parenthood before your baby is born. Consider some of these ways to prepare for the future.
If you work outside of the home, it's important to discuss what changes will need to be made once your baby is born. Talk things over with both your partner and your supervisor at work to discuss needs and expectations. Many companies offer flextime and telecommuting options, which gives parents the flexibility needed to continue working after having a baby.
If you or your partner plans to be a stay-at-home parent, childcare is less of an issue. If you both work outside of the home, you'll need to discuss what your childcare arrangements will be. This may include family or friends caring for the baby while you work, hiring a nanny or au pair, or choosing a daycare for your baby to attend.
If daycare is the option you choose, be sure to call around to nearby facilities to get on a waitlist while you are still pregnant. Many areas have long waitlists for daycares, so you'll want to make sure you're placed on the list so you're not worrying about who will care for your baby once your maternity leave is over.
Consider your current housing and whether you can see a baby and young child living in and sharing that space with you. Depending on your preferences and budget, you may want to move into a bigger residence so your baby can have their own room or space to store their toys, clothes, and other belongings.
If you need to move, ask family and friends to help you pack up your current place and unpack in your new home, or hire professionals. Lifting heavy furniture and boxes, for example, can increase the risk of injury to you and your growing baby.
Breast or Bottle Feeding
Deciding how to feed your baby is a personal decision, and it's one you'll want to consider before the baby arrives. Experts recommend breastfeeding for the first year of a baby's life, but not everyone wants or can breastfeed. Formula is specially made for babies to ensure they get the nutrients they need to support their growth and development. Whether you choose breast or bottle feeding is a personal choice. What's most important is that your choice works for you and your baby.
Pregnancy is a great time to take parenting classes, read pregnancy and parenting books, and talk to other parents about their parenting styles. You may already have a general idea of the type of parent you want to be, but it's important to discuss this with your partner to make sure you are both on the same page. Babies and young children are constantly changing, and your approach to the way you parent them will likely change as they grow, too.
Find Pregnancy Resources
Everything you need to think about, do, and prepare for while pregnant can feel overwhelming and at downright exhausting at times. Rather than pushing through it on your own, reach out for support when you need it. There are organizations and helplines available to help you prepare for the physical and emotional changes you are experiencing.
- National Parent Helpline. Offers specific groups for parenting children of all ages, parent mental health support, and tips on finding local resources in your area.
- American Pregnancy Association. An organization dedicated to providing education, advocacy, and support for pregnant people.
- Birthright International. Provides free, confidential support to anyone who is pregnant or a new parent. This organization offers classes on pregnancy, prenatal care, child care, parenting, and helps put people in touch with resources as needed, including counselors and financial support.
Prioritize Your Needs
After a positive pregnancy test, you may be full of questions and mixed emotions. You might get advice from well-meaning loved ones - whether they are experts or not. But if you prioritize your own needs and your own health, you can feel good about your choices for both you and the baby.
If you can't tackle everything at once, that's okay. There are a few primary things you can do right away to support a healthy pregnancy, like taking prenatal vitamins, getting prenatal care, and eating a healthy diet. If you're still processing how you feel about pregnancy and parenthood, know that this is normal. Give yourself time to adjust, practice self-care, and reach out for support when you need it.