To anyone who’s desperately tried and hoped to become pregnant, the thought of an unexpected pregnancy may seem like an absolute blessing.
But if you weren’t planning on that little smiley face on the stick, things might not seem quite so rosy to begin with.
Having a baby is a life-changing experience. It’s not surprising that you’ll feel overwhelmed if you find yourself in this position.
Here’s our guide to how you can help come to terms with your future as a mommy and get prepared for the arrival of your little bundle.
#1. Make a doctor’s appointment.
Once you’ve taken a home test, it’s important to get things checked out with a doctor or midwife.
They’ll help you to determine how far into your pregnancy you are, which is important when figuring out when your ultrasound tests will be due. Try to go to the appointment with a note of the first day of your last period. This will give the starting point for dating your pregnancy, although future tests may alter this.
Try to go to the appointment with a note of the first day of your last period. This will give the starting point for dating your pregnancy, although future tests may alter this.
#2. Check out your healthcare policy.
Pregnancy can be an expensive business: doctor’s appointments, ultrasound scan, blood tests. They all add up! Check that your health insurance covers these things and contact the insurance company to let them know your situation and find out how to claim. (Although
Check that your health insurance covers these things and contact the insurance company to let them know your situation and find out how to claim. (Although The Affordable Care Act now requires private insurances companies to cover pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy).
You may also find that your spouse’s insurances cover your pregnancy.
If you find that you’re not covered, then What To Expect has some further advice on where you could go.
If you’re based in the U.K, then the National Health Service covers antenatal and postnatal care.
#3. Time for a health check.
Whatever your lifestyle previously, now is the time to get healthy.
Kick the bad habits
Habits such as drinking alcohol, taking drugs and smoking should be stopped immediately. They could have a serious impact on your growing baby’s health. Even prescription medicines you have been taking now need re-confirming by your doctor as some are unsafe when pregnant.
You are what you eat!
Unfortunately, the old wives’ tale of ‘eating for two’ is just that: an old wives’ tale!
If you begin your pregnancy at a normal weight, then you should be consuming about 2,200 calories per day in the first trimester. During the second and third trimesters, you need to add an extra 300 calories to that.
Certainly not double the daily allowance before you were pregnant!
You should make sure you eat a healthy and balanced diet, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. There are also certain foods and drinks you should steer clear of, including caffeine (most doctors will recommend less than two servings per day.)
Raw or undercooked meat, undercooked eggs, pate and soft cheeses should also be avoided. For a full list of foods that you should leave on the shelf (or in the fridge!) check out the current NHS guidance.
Take your vitamins!
As well as getting nutrients from your diet, certain vitamins are also recommended for pregnant women.
Numerous studies have shown that folic acid can lower the risk of various birth defects. The current advice is to take 400 micrograms daily, which you can buy in single table form. Be sure to read our guide on over-the-counter prenatal vitamins here.
#4. Dealing with emotions.
Finding out that you’re pregnant is an emotional time for anyone. This rings even truer if it has come as an unexpected surprise!
There is a whole range of emotions you may be going through:
- Panic. Am I ready for this?
- Guilt. I’m not really sure if I want this? Does that make me a bad person?
- Worry. Am I cut out for this? Can I afford it? Does my partner want this baby?
- Sadness. I’m going to miss my ‘old life.’
- Anger. I didn’t want this to happen right now! Why me?
- Happiness. There’s a life growing inside of me!
- Confusion. All of the above mixed together!
Getting everything out is crucial! You may need to vent, to scream, to cry (happy and sad tears!)
You may feel like you’re an emotional wreck, but don’t give yourself a hard time. Don’t forget that pregnancy hormones will only heighten your emotional rollercoaster!
In her blog, The Every Girl describes how her own experience was a difficult one because of the pressures we are put under by society: We should be thrilled to have a baby, right?
So if we aren’t feeling this way about our pregnancy, we’re made to feel guilty, like we’re a terrible person and something is wrong with us Surely we’re going to be a bad mom as well then?
No, not at all!
Feeling all of these emotions is normal and no way does it make you a bad person or mean you will be a bad mom!
Dealing with these emotions is where #5 really comes in…
#5. Seek support.
You don’t have to face this alone!
Hopefully, your partner will be understanding and be there to help you through. Just remember that they may well need time to come to terms with it themselves too.
Ann Douglas, author of ‘The Mother of All Pregnancy Books’ explains how important your support network is. This could be talking to friends and family, or even branching out to other couples who experienced surprise pregnancies to find out how they coped.
The internet is also an invaluable tool to contact people who may have been in your situation. There are tons of forums dedicated to surprise pregnancy where you can really feel like you’re not alone.
#6. Get saving!
Babies cost a lot of money for such little things!
It’s hard to put a price on exactly how much you need to save up, so start with a list of baby essentials and work from there. We have a list of all the baby essentials to get you going.
Try to spread the cost by buying things over the 9 months in the run-up to the big day. Just remember that certain high-cost items (like transport and nursery furniture) may make a bigger dent in your budget.
It’s also important to think about the other hidden costs. If you’re hoping to take time off work for maternity leave, check out how much you’ll be paid over this period. You’ll need to save up the difference.
Your monthly budget will change after baby arrives too. Clothing and formula are ongoing costs that don’t stop once baby arrives!
#7. Highstreet or high-end?
Try not to get carried away with the spending. Our essentials list shows you a number of things you really can do without. (For me it was my glider nursery chair. We never once used it!)
However, one of the best things we did was to accept three huge bags of second-hand clothes (washed of course!) from a friend. These babies get through clothes at a rate of knots!
#8. Get baby smart.
It wasn’t until I was pregnant that I realized how little I knew about babies!
And it wasn’t until my little boy arrived that I realized that being a mom was a bit like driving:
You don’t really learn how to do it properly until you’ve passed your test and are behind the wheel by yourself!
Having said that, there is no harm in getting clued up on the theory of motherhood.
Antenatal classes are a great way to learn about pregnancy, labor and caring for a newborn. There are also squillions of books, apps, and websites out there with advice for parents-to-be.
The important thing is not to become overwhelmed and also not to scour the web for too long finding scare stories! The NHS (in the UK) and the American Pregnancy Association (in the USA) are good places to go for reliable and up-to-date information.
Write down any questions you have and ask your doctor or midwife directly.
#9. Prepare to meet your little one!
No matter how big the lump in your throat when you first see that positive test result, be prepared for an even bigger one when you meet your little one on screen!
Your first scan will most likely be an emotional moment.
Whether it fills your heart with joy or you still feel anxious about what the future holds (or even if it’s a bit of both!) it is a magical experience that you will never forget.
Try to embrace your future as a mom: At times it will be amazing, at times it will be one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, but it will all be 100% worth it!