Things to Do Before Your First Trimester is Over

Woman with her hand on your abdomen having cramping during the luteal phase
Frederic Cirou / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images

At the beginning of your pregnancy, you think that nine months is a very long time, particularly the first trimester. (Even though you lose at least four weeks by not knowing that you are pregnant. Unsure if you're pregnant? This quiz can help you find out!) The truth is getting a head start on some things in this first trimester can set you up for a much easier go of everything later in pregnancy, preventing a last-minute rush.

Here are my recommendations for goals by the end of the first trimester:

Take a Pregnancy Class

A pregnancy class is very different than a traditional childbirth class. The focus is usually on how to have a safe and healthy pregnancy. Typically you will have discussions about eating well, exercise, preventing complications, knowing when to call your doctor or midwife. You may also talk about a variety of resources that are local to your community, such as pregnancy groups, birth networks, etc. This can help you be prepared for the rest of your pregnancy with an idea of where to turn for help if you need it. This may also be a place to get referrals to other organizations, practitioners, or classes (e.g. prenatal massage therapists, midwives, doulas, high-risk specialists, breastfeeding groups, twin clubs, etc.)

Investigate Practitioners

Ideally, you will have had a chance to look around at the choice of practitioners that you have prior to your pregnancy.

If you haven’t, don’t panic. It is wise to meet with at least a couple before settling in for your prenatal care. Try to ask around for recommendations, but ask pointed questions, not the generic: “Did you like your practitioner?” The reasons that they like their practitioner might be exactly the reasons that you would not be a good fit for that practice.

Do not hesitate to ask for a visit that doesn’t involve removing your clothes. Some practices have a “Meet the Doctor/Midwife” night. This might be a place to go to ask the right questions to help you decide. A bit of time up front might prevent a last-trimester switch when you are really feeling stressed.

Choose an Exercise to Try

If you are already exercising and do not need to switch, don’t. But if you are new to exercise, pregnancy is a great time to start working out. This doesn’t mean head to the gym and select the largest weight set possible. But signing up for a pregnancy related exercise class, or starting with something like walking or swimming can be a great boon to your health. Not only will it help ward off many of the negative symptoms of pregnancy, but it can also help you lose the weight faster when you are postpartum, and it can help you have a faster labor.

Tour Hospitals and Birth Centers

If you are lucky enough to have more than one birthing facility, then you will want to take the time to tour all of the facilities. Even if you are pretty sure that you know which facility you will choose, knowing what is offered elsewhere can be helpful in planning your desires, even in another facility.

It also gives you some ideas of discussions that you should have with your practitioner and may help familiarize you and your partner with your birthing facility information, like where to go when you are in labor.

Find Out about Your Maternity Leave & Paternity Leave Policies

This was something that I assumed I had the basic information already. Boy, was I surprised to find out at about 30 weeks pregnant that I would be forced to use my sick leave and my FMLA concurrently. I couldn’t even opt to take unpaid leave, I had to exhaust my sick leave. This left us in a financial scramble. Had I known before I would have worked harder to plan ahead and use my sick leave more wisely.

This also gives you time to find out whether or not you have the option of getting donated leave or using other options. It will also let you know if you need to plan for help from a postpartum doula based on what help you will have available after your baby’s birth. Learn about your company and state policies on maternity leave as soon as possible, which does not always mean telling your employer that you are pregnant.