Getting a Healthy Start
Women who are trying to conceive should start eating healthfully, getting exercise, and taking prenatal vitamins, but even if your pregnancy was a surprise, there is still plenty of time to get your body ready for Baby. If you're not already taking a prenatal vitamin, start. The vitamin you choose should be high in folic acid, which has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of neural tube and other birth defects when taken in early pregnancy. Exercise is also a must. It's important not to gain too much weight during your pregnancy, as this can put you at risk for gestational diabetes and other complications.
If you've been working out regularly before your pregnancy, you can continue to do the same routine. "Just use common sense," says Dr. Kalish. "If you're feeling overly tired or cramping, then that's your body's way of saying you're overdoing it." If you've been a couch potato up to now, start slowly. "Try to get in 30 minutes of brisk walking four times a week," she says. "Yoga and other low-impact exercises can be a good way to strengthen muscles and avoid things like back strain as the pregnancy progresses."
Says Galloway, "I'm learning to listen to my body more and know when it's time to take a break. It's really difficult to eat nutritiously when you're nauseated and have heartburn, so I've learned to be happy for the small victories in my diet!"
Bonding with Your Baby
Perhaps the most difficult part of early pregnancy is finding a way to bond with your baby. You can't feel your baby's movements yet, and your body is showing no outward signs of impending motherhood. Dr. Kalish suggests talking to your baby. Even though the baby won't be able to hear you until farther along in the pregnancy, studies have shown that newborns recognize the voices they heard in the womb after they're born. Talking to your baby now will make you feel like he or she is already a part of the family, and will get you into the habit for later on.
Reading about the week-by-week development of your baby will make you feel more connected to the changes taking place within you, and talking about the baby's arrival with your partner will help you get used to the idea of having a baby in the house.
Finally, if your doctor does not initially offer you an early ultrasound, ask for one. "One of the greatest things an early ultrasound does is to help a woman bond with her baby," says Dr. Kalish. "A pregnancy test can tell you that you're pregnant, but actually seeing your baby up there on the monitor makes it real. Seeing is believing."