Before you fill out that registry or start thinking about names, here are our tips for navigating the first few days and weeks of pregnancy, including how to more accurately test and how to prep the body and mind for a healthy, happy, and connected experience.
The Uber-Accurate At-Home Pregnancy Test
…that doesn’t require a doctor’s appointment or expertly peeing on a stick. No, the test Expectful recommends can be purchased online, is incredibly accurate and only requires you to make a quick visit to a local lab for blood work. It’s an hCG test created by our friends at Labcorp and can provide you a result as early as 7 days after conception.
So before you move forward with plans, appointments, and more plans, it’s important to know whether you are in fact pregnant or not. Check out the hCG pregnancy test through Labcorp, and you can continue down the path of pregnancy-planning sooner than with other at-home urine tests.
This test can be a first line of confirmation, or can even help put your mind at ease in early pregnancy, before you receive the close attention of your doctor or midwife. More on that next…
What to Do If You’re Pregnant: Medical Care in Early Pregnancy
You may be wondering how you should care for your body if you’re pregnant. Should you book an appointment with a provider ASAP? Stop eating sushi? Double down on your prenatal?
1. Take a High-Quality Prenatal Vitamin & Carry On With Life
“As soon as you know that you want to become pregnant, you should be taking a prenatal vitamin. If you haven’t been, start taking one as soon as you get pregnant,” says Chloë Lubell, a certified nurse midwife with Cosmos Midwifery in Brooklyn, NY.
But there’s nothing else special you should do in terms of caring for your body at this point, she advises. “Enjoy your life! Eat good quality food if you’re not nauseous. Rest if you’re tired. Trust that your body is taking care of you in all sorts of ways.”
2. Schedule Your First Prenatal Appointment – But Don’t Stress About it!
It’s common to wonder when to initiate clinical care in pregnancy. Most obstetric providers, be they physicians or midwives, don’t begin prenatal visits until 8 or sometimes even 12 weeks of pregnancy. There are risk factors that may cause you to seek care earlier than this, including if you’ve previously had an ectopic pregnancy or used fertility treatments to become pregnant.
So you don’t have to reach out to a provider right away. Still, says Lubell, if you want to, you can. “If you’re worried, you can always say ‘Hey, I want to check in with someone now.” You can have a phone call with a provider or message them through an online portal. If you are uncomfortable or if you are nauseous, you don’t have to grin and bear it. You can reach out and say, “I need some support around my nausea, my anxiety, my extreme fatigue or other symptoms you might feel in the first trimester,” she explains.
If you’re worried or anxious about your pregnancy, you may want to have an ultrasound. In general, an ultrasound will not show anything in the uterus until about 5.5 to 6 weeks gestation and a heartbeat will likely not be visible or audible until about 7 to 8 weeks.
Having an ultrasound is not a necessary or routinely recommended clinical step in early pregnancy. Still, having one may be something you desire. Lubell’s take? “If you think having an ultrasound would be useful for your mental health, then it’s useful for the pregnancy.”
3. Nervous? Test Your hCG for More Reassurance
This moment in your pregnancy also brings us back to the Labcorp hCG pregnancy test. At this point in early pregnancy, it’s possible to measure the levels of hCG (the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin, which is produced by the cells that have implanted into your uterus) in your blood, which increase throughout the first trimester. The levels of hCG in the blood typically double every 48 to 72 hours after fertilization, so measuring them can be reassuring to some women, especially if there is a risk for or a suspected complication, like an ectopic pregnancy (when a pregnancy implants outside the uterus, like in the fallopian tubes).
You can ask your provider to order a hCG test for you, but if you don’t have a provider yet or aren’t ready for an appointment, you can use the Labcorp hCG pregnancy test, which you can purchase on your own. This blood test can help confirm your pregnancy with greater accuracy and earlier in gestation than many at-home, urine-only pregnancy tests. Since the test measures the concentration of hCG in the blood, it’s also great for monitoring over time.
What if you’ve previously had a pregnancy loss—is there a reason to get early medical care in a subsequent pregnancy? In general, no, says Lubell. “Having one miscarriage does not increase your risk of having another one. The majority of miscarriages are because of chromosomal abnormalities. So, in that situation, the body recognizes that it won’t become a viable pregnancy and ends it. 1 out of every 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage.”
“Almost all of my clients have had at least one miscarriage, but it doesn’t mean that another pregnancy is going to be difficult for them to achieve. If you’ve previously miscarried and are pregnant again, you don’t need to do anything special. You can continue to trust that your body is doing what it needs to do.”
Still, if you suspect a miscarriage or you start having symptoms like pain or bleeding, contact a medical provider.
Emotional and Mental Health in Early Pregnancy
Back to those swirling emotions—how can you support your emotional and mental health during the early days and weeks of pregnancy?
Much of the worry and anxiety post-positive pregnancy test comes from the fundamental uncertainty of this time of life. There will always be some level of unknown to navigate in the first trimester, especially in the very beginning. There’s no sure way to know if your pregnancy will progress or how things will go. For many people, accepting that uncertainty is difficult and uncomfortable.
Here at Expectful, we get it. Helping you navigate these feelings of worry and anxiety is kind of our speciality. That’s because meditation and mindfulness are some of the easiest—and most evidence-backed—ways to do so. A systematic review and meta-analysis in 2017 found that mindfulness-based interventions in pregnancy have varied benefits, including lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Meditation can also support your sleep. In our app, we offer meditations that are specially created for the first trimester, including those that help you navigate uncertain moments, connect with your baby and yourself, and tap into self-love.
In addition to practicing mindfulness, you can care for yourself in ways that feel good for you. Rest and relax as much as you need to. Exercise if it feels right. Stay involved in the activities you enjoy. Talk to a therapist. Enjoy a healthy diet. Go about your life as normally as possible, especially before early pregnancy symptoms like nausea, fatigue, or frequent urination show up. (Note, though, that not everyone has these symptoms and that their absence does not mean anything about the viability of a pregnancy).
If you want to start making some plans for the next few months, like downloading a pregnancy app, ordering a few books or contacting a doula in your area, those can be fun and exciting steps to take. Above all, be kind to yourself and remain open to the way your feelings may change and evolve over the course of your pregnancy.
“Treat yourself the way that you would treat your best friend. Try to avoid negative self-talk,” says Lubell.
Speaking of friends, it can be helpful for some people to choose a trusted friend to confide in during these first few weeks and months of growing a new human (especially if you don’t feel comfortable telling your wider community about your pregnancy until later). It could be someone who is already an experienced parent (which can come with useful “been there” style advice!) or anyone who truly sees and hears you.
Lubell agrees, “Telling your friends and your family (as long as you know that they will be able to be supportive to you) is really valuable.”
However you approach your early pregnancy, give yourself grace and care during this time, mentally, emotionally, and physically. You’re embarking on one of the most special (and most intense!) experiences of your life— so now is the time to cultivate a sense of mindfulness and gentleness with yourself.