Today’s the day more UK women discover they are pregnant than on any other day of the year.
If you’re one of them celebrating a new pregnancy in 2020, here are our tips for how to prepare for the next nine months:
1. Get yourself booked in
Register for your first antenatal appointment at your GP, Children’s Centre or directly with the midwives at your local hospital or birth centre.
Thinking about going private for your pregnancy and birth? Read more about NHS vs private maternity care to help you decide.
2. Follow your pregnancy week by week
When you find out you’re pregnant, part of the journey is learning about how your baby is developing. Which scan can tell you what sex it is? And when will you feel the first kicks?
Keep track of what’s going on for both you and your baby with our week by week guides to take you through from conception through to your due date.
Want to know when to share your news? Although there are no official guidelines, prospective parents often wait until after the 12-week dating scan to tell people.
3. Sign up for antenatal classes
You can attend these NHS classes with your birth partner or on your own. Private classes, including those run by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), are usually more comprehensive and held in smaller groups.
Although they usually start when you’re around 25 weeks pregnant, book as early as you can in your pregnancy as they can fill up quickly.
Read more about NHS vs NCT antenatal classes to help you make up your mind.
4. ‘Where’s the best place to give birth?’
There are several options: a hospital labour ward (also known as an obstetric unit), a birth centre (also called a midwife-led unit) or at home.
The decision you make will affect many things, from the facilities available to you to how likely it is you’ll know the midwife during your pregnancy and birth, so it’s worth thinking about.
Choosing where you give birth really matters so use our where to give birth tool to find the best option for you.
- Labour ward, birth centre or home birth? Compare maternity options to see what’s available to you
- Use our choosing a maternity unit checklist for advice on asking the right questions when you visit a hospital or birth centre
5. Manage pregnancy symptoms
Your growing baby is probably making its presence known through a range of symptoms.
Morning sickness (which usually starts around 4-6 weeks of pregnancy), breast tenderness and tiredness are all common, especially during early pregnancy, as well as feeling hot and emotional.
Some women go off certain foods or develop strange taste sensations like metal (dysegusia) while others find they have an increased sensitivity to smells or even a stuffy nose (oestrogen increases mucus production).
Pregnancy dos and don’ts
6. Eat a healthy pregnancy diet
Eating a balanced diet is vital for both you and your baby. Despite the old wives’ tale, you don’t have to eat for two (or more, if you’re expecting a multiple birth).
Start each day with a healthy breakfast to reduce the temptation to snack on sugary, fatty foods. Have plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrain carbs such as brown bread, low fat dairy and protein foods such as fish and poultry.
There are a number of foods that are potentially hazardous for pregnant women so become familiar with them (see pregnancy dos and don’ts above).
7. Keep exercising
Exercise won’t harm your baby and the more active and fit you are in pregnancy, the better you’ll cope with labour and getting back into shape, post-birth.
Whatever your preferred activity, carry on with it for as long as you feel comfortable. You should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise.
If you are becoming too breathless to talk, take things down a notch. Don’t forget your pelvic floor exercises, which lower the risk of experiencing incontinence after you’ve given birth.
8. Make time for self care
With so much going on with your growing baby, it can be easy to forget about yourself. Now is the time for self care, such as booking in pregnancy massages.
Changing hormone levels can leave you tired and emotional, especially in the early months.
As your pregnancy progresses the extra weight you’re carrying will also take its toll on your energy levels and your growing bump can mean sleeping well is a real trial.
Enjoy your rest – you need it for now, for labour and for when the baby arrives.
- Want a good night’s sleep? Read Choosing the best mattress type to find the one for you.
9. Know your pregnancy benefits
Pregnant women or those who gave birth less than a year ago are entitled to free prescriptions and NHS dental treatment with the Government’s Maternity Exemption form (FW8).
Women receiving certain benefits and all pregnant women under 18 will also receive free milk, infant formula, vitamins and fruit and vegetables under the Healthy Start scheme.
They may also be entitled to a one-off £500 Sure Start Maternity Grant to help with the cost of their baby.
If you are working, you may have the right to paid time off for antenatal care.
10. Book pregnancy travel
If you’re jetting off for work or even a babymoon, check with the airline and your travel insurer for their policy on pregnant women flying.
After 28 weeks, they may ask for a letter from your doctor or midwife confirming when you’re due and that you aren’t at risk of complications.
The chances of going into labour are naturally higher from 37 weeks (32 weeks if you’re having twins or multiples) so flying isn’t recommended from this point onwards.
For more information, read our guide to flying during pregnancy.
11. Research what to buy for your baby
You might not want to purchase them until you’re further along in your pregnancy – or even after the birth – but it’s worth familiarising yourself with what’s out there.
Read about baby products you need – and get the heads-up on those you don’t need to waste money buying.
12. Childproof your home
According to RoSPA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), children aged 0-4 are at most risk from accidents in the home.
Before your baby arrives, think about whether your home is baby-ready from a safety point of view.
For example, do you have a pond that needs covering or even filling in? Or is it time to think about buying a lockable first aid cabinet that can be put up high, away from curious little fingers?
Read our guide to childproofing your home so that you don’t leave any safety consideration unchecked.
13. Plan your finances
In the calm before the storm when the baby arrives, it may be wise to review your finances and think about how your new addition might impact things.
Whether it’s budgeting, opening child savings accounts or Isas, working out how much childcare will cost or how to check your entitlement to tax credits and benefits.
With another person (or people) coming into your life, there’s plenty to think about. But don’t worry – follow our how to budget for having a baby guide and it needn’t be as daunting as it sounds.