It all starts with the positive pregnancy test!
Maybe you missed your period, came to the end of the two-week wait, or you "just had a feeling," but once you pee on a stick and make it official your entire life suddenly changes in an instant. You stare at the positive pregnancy test in utter disbelief. You might experience absolute joy, shock, and even fear.
Bottom line: That first test is one of the biggest milestones of all because it's the beginning of this great adventure. Here's everything to look forward to next:
Telling your partner
You might have been in the same room with your partner when you found out you were pregnant. But for those women who aren't, telling the dad-to-be can be a lot of fun. Some pregnant women simply leave the positive pregnancy test somewhere conspicuous, while others go to elaborate lengths to break the news in a special way.
First prenatal visit
It's important to see your ob/gyn as soon as you discover you're expecting—she will play a huge role in making sure you have a safe and healthy pregnancy. That first visit will last longer and be more involved than future visits as your doctor will take your complete medical history and administer a physical exam. You will likely have a Pap smear, a urine test, and blood tests as well. It may sound daunting, but it can actually be very reassuring knowing your doctor will hold your hand every step of the way.
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Seeing your "baby" for the first time
You know you're pregnant, but you're not showing yet and you're certainly not feeling any kicks. It can be difficult to actually believe that there's another being living inside of you. However, once you see your baby on an ultrasound, everything suddenly becomes very real. It's a magical moment. Bring tissues.
First bout of morning sickness
OK, so it's definitely not one of the high points of pregnancy, but there is something special about that first time you vomit and/or feel those waves of nausea, which typically starts around six weeks for many women. For some people, morning sickness, which can occur day or night, is one of the first clues that they might be pregnant (along with a missed period, of course.) So for couples who have been trying to conceive, those horrible waves of nausea can actually be something to celebrate!
First food aversion
Your favorite food is a hamburger with fries? Maybe you like to splurge on ice cream for dessert? You eat eggs every day for breakfast? Guess again! While you might certainly still love your favorite foods, don't be surprised if you begin to gag at the sight of some of them. This is an odd quirk of pregnancy tied to morning sickness. Not all women experience aversions, but if you do you'll certainly always remember that first time you, say, can't bring yourself to eat a slice of pizza. It sounds impossible, but it does happen. (Yes, even with pizza!)
You're home watching TV when you see a commercial for cranberry juice and your life suddenly depends on you having a glass. Or maybe you send your hubby out to get chocolate chip cookies because you just realized you had to have some. (And you don't really care that it is 11pm. And raining.) Experts tend to agree that giving in to such cravings is typically okay, but within reason: Pregnant women only need about 300 extra calories a day, so scarfing down a pint of ice cream is definitely not a good idea.
Make sure the majority of your diet is still healthy so that you can save room for some occasional splurges. One caveat: Some pregnant women actually crave non-food items such as clay, chalk, or dirt. This is a condition called pica, and it can be very dangerous to both you and your baby. If you're having such cravings, talk to your doctor right away.
Hearing your baby's heartbeat
Anyone who has ever had a baby will probably always remember when they heard their unborn child's heartbeat for the first time. By using a Doppler device, most likely, your doctor can detect that rapid-fire "thump, thump, thump," one of the most beautiful and reassuring sounds you'll ever hear.
Finishing the first trimester
Getting past those first three months is a big deal: First, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, most miscarriages occur in the first trimester. So making it to the second trimester often means you're past that danger zone. Also, morning sickness symptoms tend to lessen during the second trimester, so that's certainly good news. Of course, there's also the fact that you're one-third of the way there. Woo hoo!
Making the big announcement
Some parents-to-be call every friend and family member the split second they find out they're pregnant. Others confide in just their own parents or a special friend or two. There are also those people who immediately update their status to "I'm pregnant" on Facebook. However, a lot of couples keep the big news secret until they hit the second trimester for various reasons. Either way, when you do start spreading the news, expect to be showered with lots of attention.
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Buying maternity clothes
It's going to happen—you'll try to slip on a pair of jeans that were previously loose on you and they are just not going to fit. You won't be able to pull up the zipper. As for your shirts and blouses? You might even pop a button! The good news is that maternity ware has come a long way from the frumpy, shapeless shifts previous generations used to wear. In fact, some of the outfits are downright trendy and chic. Who knew that you could be pregnant and a fashion plate at the same time?
First bit of unsolicited advice
It might be your mom, your mother-in-law, or a total stranger on the street. But you will most certainly get plenty of tips and advice about all the things you should or shouldn't be doing while pregnant. Order a piece of tuna at a restaurant and someone might tap you on the shoulder to warn you about the dangers of mercury in fish. Drink a Diet Coke and hear the horrors of chemicals and artificial sweeteners. Decide you want a natural birth and just brace yourself for input from pretty much everyone you know about the wonders of epidurals.
Bottom line: You'll hear advice from everyone about everything. Some of it will actually be valid, while a lot of it won't be at all. Don't make any medical decisions based on hearsay—always talk to your doctor first—and remember that you're in charge of your own body. In other words, there's nothing wrong with very politely telling someone to mind his own business.
That "whose are those" moment
You know that your breasts will grow right along with the rest of your expanding body. And that change is gradual. However, one morning you'll get out of the shower, glance into the mirror, and think, "Hello Sophia Vergara!" Your breasts can grow a cup size or two during pregnancy and, for a lot of women, that change is certainly exciting.
Feeling your baby move
It's one of the strangest, most amazing feelings in the world—and the first time you feel your baby kick or move is a milestone to celebrate. For some women, it feels like a flutter; for others, a nudge from inside. You eventually might also see an arm or a leg protrude from within—it's a Close Encounters kind of experience you'll never forget.
Finding out the gender
Around halfway through your pregnancy, you can find out your baby's sex via various means. Not all parents do—that is a very personal decision. However, whether you find out if you're having a son or daughter during pregnancy or at that moment of delivery, you'll always remember hearing "It's a girl!" or "It's a boy!"
Choosing a name
Whether or not you find out the sex of your baby ahead of time, you still will likely try to come up with a name (or two) for your future offspring. You might spend weeks (OK, months) talking to your partner about possible options. And when you have that "a ha" moment where you both actually agree? It's definitely one you'll tell your child about for years to come.
Finishing the second trimester
You're now entering the home stretch. The third trimester is typically packed with lots of excitement, such as having a baby shower, writing your birth plan, and packing for the hospital. Oh, and yeah—going into labor. Only three more months to go!
Sure, it's fun having a countdown to your due date, but don't expect to give birth on that day. In fact, most women don't. There are some clues that can help you figure out when your baby will make her appearance, but for the most part it's a total guessing game.
RELATED: The Truth About Due Dates
It might be a dull ache at first or maybe bad menstrual cramps, but contractions can quickly escalate to a pain like no other. Trust us—you'll never forget it. If you find the contractions unbearable, there are options that can help dull the pain. Talk to your doctor about what's right for you.
Pregnancy is certainly filled with lots of celebratory moments, but nothing compares to the day your child is born: From that first push (or being wheeled in for your C-section) to hearing your baby's cry and holding him or her for the first time. Congratulations, Mom! Pregnancy might be over, but now the fun really begins.