The very first thing you need to do is schedule an appointment with your doctor. You can see a family doctor or an OB/GYN. OB is short for obstetrician, a doctor who has been trained in pregnancy and childbirth. An OB can deliver your child. GYN is short for gynecologist, a doctor who has been trained in reproductive health. A gynecologist can do yearly pap smears, which screen for cancer and other diseases. They can also test for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
If you do not have a doctor, or feel like you cannot afford one, there are many things you can do. Go to your local health department. Visit your local hospital and ask about a payment plan. Look into applying for Medicaid. Call or visit Planned Parenthood and ask them about options. It is so important that you start receiving medical care immediately if you are pregnant.
During your doctor visit, your doctor will ask you questions such as, what was the date of your last period? You will most likely have a pelvic exam, a urine test and a blood test. Your doctor may also put you on prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins contain at least 400 mcg of folic acid, also known as folate or vitamin B9. Taking 400 mcg of folic acid every day during your pregnancy (and even before pregnancy) can help protect your baby from birth defects of the spine and skull.
Things that can harm your baby
- While you are pregnant, avoid drinking alcohol, especially during the first trimester. If you drink during your pregnancy, your baby may develop fetal alcohol syndrome. Fetal alcohol syndrome causes mental and physical problems.
- Smoking pot or taking drugs during pregnancy can result in miscarriage, premature labor or fetal death (death of the baby in the womb).
- Smoking cigarettes or inhaling second-hand smoke can cause major problems once your baby is born. SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, is when a baby dies suddenly without warning while he or she is sleeping. Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke while you are pregnant is associated with miscarriage, stillborn babies and premature birth.
- Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you suspect you are pregnant.
- Take prenatal vitamins that contain 400 mcg folic acid.
- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, water, baked or grilled low-fat meats.
- Drink plenty of milk. If you are lactose intolerant, ask your doctor to suggest milk alternatives.
- Exercise for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week. Walking is great exercise but always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine if you are pregnant.
- Get a lot of rest. Take naps during the day.