Vitamin supplements in pregnancy

Eating a healthy, varied diet in pregnancy will help you to get most of the vitamins and minerals you need. There are some vitamins and minerals that are especially important.It’s best to get vitamins and minerals from the food you eat, but when you are pregnant you will need to take some supplements as well, to make sure you get everything you need. It’s recommended that you take:

  • 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day throughout your pregnancy – you should also carry on taking this after your baby is born if you breastfeed
  • 400 micrograms of folic acid each day – you should take this from before you are pregnant until you are 12 weeks pregnant

Do not take vitamin A supplements, or any supplements containing vitamin A (retinol), as too much could harm your baby.

You can get supplements from pharmacies and supermarkets, or your GP may be able to prescribe them for you. If you want to get your folic acid or vitamin D from a multivitamin tablet, make sure that the tablet does not contain vitamin A (or retinol).

You may be eligible for free vitamins through the Healthy Start scheme.

Folic acid before and during pregnancy

Folic acid is important for pregnancy, as it can help to prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida. You should take a 400 microgram folic acid tablet every day while you are trying to get pregnant and until you are 12 weeks pregnant. If you didn’t take folic acid before you conceived, you should start as soon as you find out that you are pregnant.

You should also eat foods that contain folate (the natural form of folic acid), such as green leafy vegetables and brown rice. Some breakfast cereals and some fat spreads such as margarine have folic acid added to them. It is difficult to get the amount of folate recommended for pregnancy from food alone, which is why it is important to take a folic acid supplement.

Higher dose folic acid

Some women have an increased risk of having a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect, and are advised to take a higher dose of 5 milligrams (mg) of folic acid each day until they are 12 weeks pregnant. Women have an increased risk if:

  • they or their partner have a neural tube defect
  • they have had a previous pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect
  • they or their partner have a family history of neural tube defects
  • they have diabetes

In addition, women who are taking anti-epileptic medication should consult their GP for advice, as they may also need to take a higher dose of folic acid.

If any of the above applies to you, talk to your GP as they can prescribe a higher dose of folic acid. Your GP or midwife may also recommend additional screening tests during your pregnancy.

Vitamin D in pregnancy

Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy.

You need to take vitamin D during your pregnancy to provide your baby with enough vitamin D for the first few months of its life. You should take a supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day when you are pregnant and if you breastfeed.

In children, not having enough vitamin D can cause their bones to soften and can lead to rickets (a disease that affects bone development in children).

Vitamin D can be found naturally in oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel and sardines), eggs and meat. Some manufacturers add it to some breakfast cereals, soya products, some dairy products, powdered milk, and fat spreads such as margarine. It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone.

Our bodies also make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to summer sunlight. The amount of time you need in the sun to make enough vitamin D is different for every person, and depends on things such as skin type, the time of day and the time of year. However, you don’t need to sunbathe: the amount of sun you need to make enough vitamin D is less than the amount that causes tanning or burning.

If you have darker skin (for example, if you are of African, African Caribbean or south Asian origin) or always cover your skin when outside, you may be at particular risk of vitamin D deficiency. Talk to your midwife or doctor if this applies to you.

Iron in pregnancy

If you are short of iron, you’ll probably get very tired and may suffer from anaemia. Lean meat, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, and nuts contain iron. If you’d like to eat peanuts or foods that contain peanuts (such as peanut butter) during pregnancy, you can do so as part of a healthy balanced diet unless you’re allergic to them, or your health professional advises you not to.

Many breakfast cereals have iron added. If the iron level in your blood becomes low, your GP or midwife will advise you to take iron supplements.

Vitamin C in pregnancy

Vitamin C protects cells and helps to keep them healthy.

A balanced diet containing fruit and vegetables, including broccoli, citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, and blackcurrants, can provide all the vitamin C that you need.

Calcium in pregnancy

Calcium is vital for making your baby’s bones and teeth. Dairy products and fish with edible bones – such as sardines – are rich in calcium. Breakfast cereals, dried fruit – such as figs and apricots – bread, almonds, tofu (a vegetable protein made from soya beans) and green leafy vegetables – such as watercress, broccoli and curly kale – are other good sources of calcium.

Vegetarian, vegan and special diets in pregnancy

A varied and balanced vegetarian diet should give enough nutrients for you and your baby during pregnancy. However, you might find it more difficult to get enough iron and vitamin B12. Talk to your midwife or doctor about how to make sure you are getting enough of these important nutrients.

If you are vegan (you cut out all animal products from your diet), or you follow a restricted diet because of food intolerance (for example, a gluten-free diet for coeliac disease) or for religious reasons, talk to your midwife or GP. Ask to be referred to a dietitian for advice on how to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need for you and your baby.

Healthy Start vitamins

The Healthy Start scheme provides vouchers to pregnant women and families who qualify. The vouchers can be used to buy milk and plain fresh and frozen vegetables at local shops. You’ll also get coupons that can be exchanged for free vitamins locally.

Healthy Start vitamin tablets for women are specially designed for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and contain vitamins C and D and folic acid.

Healthy Start children’s vitamin drops are for infants aged from six months to five years old, and contain vitamins A, C and D.

If you qualify for the Healthy Start scheme, you can swap your coupons for free vitamins locally – just ask your midwife or health visitor where they are accepted in your area. You can also use the Healthy Start postcode search to find where you can use the vouchers.

If you’re not on the Healthy Start scheme, some NHS organisations still offer the vitamins for free or sell them – ask your midwife about local arrangements.


Have a healthy diet in pregnancy

A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any time, but is especially vital if you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy. Eating healthily during pregnancy will help your baby to develop and grow.

You don’t need to go on a special diet, but it’s important to eat a variety of different foods every day to get the right balance of nutrients that you and your baby need.

It’s best to get vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat, but when you’re pregnant you need to take some supplements as well, to make sure you get everything you need.

You will probably find that you are hungrier than usual, but you don’t need to “eat for two” – even if you are expecting twins or triplets.

Have a healthy breakfast every day, because this can help you to avoid snacking on foods that are high in fat and sugar.

Eating healthily often means just changing the amounts of different foods you eat so that your diet is varied, rather than cutting out all your favourites. You can use the Eatwell Guide to get the balance of your diet right. The eatwell plate shows you how much to eat from each food group.

You will need to be careful with your diet if you develop gestational diabetes – your doctor or midwife will advise you.

Fruit and vegetables in pregnancy

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables because these provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, which helps digestion and can help prevent constipation.

Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day – these can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. Always wash fresh fruit and vegetables carefully.

Starchy foods (carbohydrates) in pregnancy

Starchy foods are an important source of energy, vitamins and fibre, and are satisfying without containing too many calories. They include bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, maize, millet, oats, sweet potatoes, yams and cornmeal.

These foods should make up just over a third of the food you eat. Choose wholegrain instead of processed (white) varieties, or potatoes with their skins on, when you can as they contain more fibre.

Protein in pregnancy

Eat some protein foods every day. Sources of protein include:

  • beans
  • pulses
  • fish
  • eggs
  • meat (but avoid liver)
  • poultry
  • nuts

Choose lean meat, remove the skin from poultry, and try not to add extra fat or oil when cooking meat. Read more about eating meat in a healthy way.

Make sure eggs, poultry, burgers, sausages and whole cuts of meat such as lamb, beef and pork are cooked all the way through. Check that there is no pink meat, and that juices have no pink or red in them.

Try to eat two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish such as salmon, sardines or mackerel.  There are some types of fish you should avoid in pregnancy.

Dairy in pregnancy

Dairy foods such as milk, cheese, fromage frais and yoghurt are important in pregnancy, because they contain calcium and other nutrients that your baby needs.

Choose low-fat varieties wherever possible, such as semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, low-fat lower-sugar yoghurt and reduced-fat hard cheese. Aim for two to three portions a day.

If you prefer dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts, go for unsweetened, calcium-fortified versions.

There are some cheeses you should avoid in pregnancy.

Foods that are high in fat, sugar or both

These include:

  • all spreading fats (such as butter)
  • oils
  • salad dressings
  • cream
  • chocolate
  • crisps
  • biscuits
  • pastries
  • ice cream
  • cake
  • puddings
  • fizzy drinks

If you’re having foods and drinks that are high in fat and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts.

Sugary foods and drinks are often high in calories which can contribute to weight gain. Having sugary foods and drinks can also lead to tooth decay.

Fat is very high in calories, so eating too many fatty foods or eating them too often can make you put on weight. Having too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases the chance of developing heart disease. Try to cut down on saturated fat, and have small amounts of foods rich in unsaturated fat instead.

Healthy snacks in pregnancy

If you get hungry between meals, try not to eat snacks that are high in fat and/or sugar, such as sweets, biscuits, crisps or chocolate. Instead, choose something healthier, such as:

  • sandwiches or pitta bread filled with grated cheese, lean ham, mashed tuna, salmon, or sardines, with salad
  • salad vegetables, such as carrot, celery or cucumber
  • low-fat lower-sugar plain yoghurt or fromage frais with fruit
  • hummus with wholemeal pitta bread or vegetable sticks
  • ready-to-eat apricots, figs or prunes
  • vegetable and bean soups
  • unsweetened breakfast cereals, or porridge, with milk
  • milky drinks
  • fresh fruit
  • baked beans on toast or a baked potato

Preparing food safely

  • Wash fruit, vegetables and salads to remove all traces of soil, which may contain toxoplasma, a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis – which can harm your unborn baby.
  • Wash all surfaces and utensils, and your hands, after preparing raw meat – this will help to avoid toxoplasmosis.
  • Make sure that raw foods are stored separately from ready-to-eat foods, otherwise there’s a risk of contamination. This is to avoid other types of food poisoning from meat (such as salmonella, campylobacter and E.coli).
  • Use a separate chopping board for raw meats.
  • Heat ready meals until they’re steaming hot all the way through – this is especially important for meals containing poultry.

You also need to make sure that some foods, such as eggs, poultry, burgers, sausages and whole cuts of meat like lamb, beef and pork are cooked very thoroughly. For tips, read Foods to avoid in pregnancy.


Early signs of pregnancy

For women who have a regular monthly menstrual cycle, the earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Women who are pregnant sometimes have a very light period, losing only a little blood.

Some of the other early pregnancy signs and symptoms are listed below. Every woman is different and not all women will notice all of these symptoms.

Feeling sick during pregnancy

You may feel sick and nauseous, and/or vomit. This is commonly known as morning sickness, but it can happen at any time of the day or night.

Around half of all pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting, and around 3 in 10 women experience nausea without vomiting. For most women who have morning sickness, the symptoms start around six weeks after their last period.

Read more about coping with nausea and morning sickness in pregnancy.

If you’re being sick all the time and can’t keep anything down, contact your GP. The pregnancy condition hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a serious condition that causes severe vomiting and needs treatment.

Feeling tired is common in pregnancy

It’s common to feel tired, or even exhausted, during pregnancy, especially during the first 12 weeks or so. Hormonal changes taking place in your body at this time can make you feel tired, nauseous, emotional and upset.

Read more about tiredness in pregnancy.

Sore breasts in early pregnancy

Your breasts may become larger and feel tender, just as they might do before your period. They may also tingle. The veins may be more visible, and the nipples may darken and stand out.

Peeing more often suggests pregnancy

You may feel the need to pee (urinate) more often than usual, including during the night.

Other signs of pregnancy that you may notice are:

  • constipation
  • an increased vaginal discharge without any soreness or irritation

Strange tastes, smells and cravings

During early pregnancy, you may find that your senses are heightened and that some foods or drinks you previously enjoyed become repellent. You might notice:

  • a strange taste in your mouth, which many women describe as metallic
  • that you crave new foods
  • that you lose interest in certain foods or drinks that you previously enjoyed – such as tea, coffee or fatty food
  • that you lose interest in tobacco
  • that you have a more sensitive sense of smell than usual – for example, to the smell of food or cooking

Problems getting pregnant

If you have fertility problems, you may be struggling with many difficult feelings. Complex and often painful emotions are common for people with fertility problems, those who can’t have children and those having fertility treatment.

“People can feel fear, anger and guilt,” says Clare Brown, chief executive of Infertility Network UK, an infertility support network. “They can feel as though they’ve failed. People talk about feeling less of a woman, or less of a man. Depression and anxiety are common. Fertility treatment can be an intensely stressful experience. Most of us never imagine experiencing problems with having a child. When it happens, it’s a terrible shock.”

For those whose fertility problems prevent them from having children, there can be a sense of loss or grief. Brown says: “It’s almost a kind of bereavement for the child that this person expected to have. We can build our future around a plan to have children, and suddenly it’s taken away.”

Not all people who experience fertility problems feel this way. The 1.5 million people affected by fertility problems have all kinds of responses, says Brown. But for those who find themselves tackling difficult emotions, there is help.

Find support

People with fertility problems may find it useful to talk to family and friends about the way they feel. For some, however, this isn’t an option. They may not want to share their problem with people who are close to them.

“We hear quite often that family and friends find it hard to empathise with fertility problems,” says Brown. “They can often say unhelpful things, such as, ‘Just relax and you’ll get pregnant’. Well, sometimes that just isn’t true.”

Many people find that talking to other people in a similar situation is the most beneficial form of support, says Brown. Infertility UK helps people with fertility problems contact one another to share their experiences.

“People can log on to our website and talk in the forums anonymously,” she says. “We also run face-to-face support groups. They can both do an enormous amount to remove the feeling of isolation.” There’s also a telephone helpline staffed by volunteers to provide information, support and understanding.

Support during fertility treatmentIt’s common to feel stressed when undergoing fertility treatment. Some people find their feelings become more difficult, and they may experience depression or anxiety. Fertility clinics have to offer counselling to all patients and should offer it before, during and after treatment.

“Couples and women shouldn’t be reserved about coming forward to see the counsellor,” says Brown. “Asking for the counsellor doesn’t mean you’re not coping. It’s perfectly normal to want a chance to talk, or seek information.”

If you’re dealing with fertility problems and are experiencing feelings that make it difficult to continue with your daily life, you can go to your GP or fertility clinic for help.

Your GP can talk to you about the help that’s available, which could include talking therapies, lifestyle changes or medicines. You can find out more about fertility tests.


Home Pregnancy Tests How-Tos

These days, finding out you’re pregnant is as easy as one-two-pee. Here’s everything you need to know about pregnancy tests.

 Pregnancy Test


Back in your mom’s day, you had to miss your period before you took a home pregnancy test (HPT) — and wait a couple of hours before you knew the results. These days you can find out you’re expecting much earlier, faster and with better accuracy than ever before (though accuracy will, of course, get better the closer you are to that missed period).


All home pregnancy tests measure the same thing: urinary levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a placenta-produced hormone of pregnancy. HCG finds its way into your bloodstream and urine almost immediately after an embryo implants in the uterus.

When can I take a pregnancy test?

Standard pregnancy tests can be taken between six to 12 days after fertilization, when implantation occurs. As soon as a test can detect hCG in your urine, it can show you (depending on the brand) a pink line, a blue one, a positive sign or a big digital yes — all indicating a positive result.

How soon can I take a pregnancy test?

Can’t wait to pee on that stick? Although it’ll be hard to wait even a few days to find out whether there’s a baby in your future, you may be wasting your money if you start peeing on sticks the morning after you hope you conceived. While HPTs are growing ever more sensitive and accurate, there is a limit to how soon they can work. One week after conception, there is hCG in your urine — but not enough for standard HPTs to pick up. That means if you test just seven days after ovulation, you’re likely to get a “false negative” even if you’re pregnant; there’s just not enough hCG in your urine yet.

There are, however, some brands of tests that claim they’re sensitive enough to detect hCG up to five or six days before your missed period. Still, you’ll get the most accurate results (and avoid the disappointment of a potential false negative) if you can wait until the day your period is expected.

How accurate are pregnancy tests?

It depends on when and how you use it, but some tests claim to be up to 99 percent accurate if you follow the instructions. A few factors that determine how accurate your test will be:

  • When you take the test. Some tests can give an accurate read days before you miss your period, but if you wait until the day it’s supposed to start — at which point your body is producing enough hCG for the test to more accurately detect it — you have a 90 percent chance of the correct result.
  • When the embryo emplants. In 10 percent of women, implantation doesn’t occur until the first day of the missed period, which means they might not get an accurate reading even until they wait until a day or two after they miss their periods. So with every additional day you wait, there’s a better chance you’ll have hCG in your system and the test gets more accurate.
  • How concentrated your urine is. Tests used to recommend using your first pee of the morning, when more hCG is present. But now they’re sensitive enough that that’s not necessary — though it does help if you’re taking the test early. Similarly, drinking too much liquid beforehand could dilute your urine and affect the results.

The good news, no matter when you decide to take a test: False positives are much less common than false negatives. So if your test is positive, you can be, too.

Medications that affect pregnancy test results

Some medications can affect the accuracy of home pregnancy tests. Check the package, but a few of the most common include:

  • Sleeping pills
  • Diuretics
  • Anticonvulsants (used to treat epilepsy or sometimes anxiety)
  • Infertility medications
  • Tranquilizers
  • Promethazine (an allergy medication)

How much are pregnancy tests?

Again, it depends on the test. They usually come in packs of two or three, which cost anywhere from $5 to $20.

How do I use a home pregnancy test?

The details of how you should perform an HPT vary by brand — but in general, it’s probably the simplest test you’ll ever take. To improve accuracy:

  • Don’t drink too many liquids before you take the test (it can dilute hCG levels).
  • Check the expiration date; avoid using an expired test.
  • Read the package directions thoroughly and follow them meticulously.
  • You’ll either hold the test stick in your stream of urine for a few seconds, or collect your urine in a cup and dip the stick into it.
  • Follow package directions for how long you should wait and how to identify a positive test to get the most accurate results (generally, the accuracy improves if you wait 10 minutes before checking).

Finding out you’re pregnant

Now you’ll wait — but not for long. You’ll see a control indicator (either a horizontal or vertical line, a filled-in circle or a flashing control symbol in digital tests) to let you know that the test is working. The result itself requires a few more minutes.

And yes, it’s true that  any line you see in the result panel, no matter how faint it is (or no matter how faint you feel), means that there’s hCG in your system — and a baby in your future.

What if I can’t understand the results?

Many women have trouble understanding the results — so you’re not alone. Even if the results are clear, your best bet is to visit a health care provider to take another test to have your result confirmed by a blood test — which measures hCG levels in your blood and can detect pregnancy with nearly 100 percent accuracy — and a complete prenatal checkup.

What if I get a positive and then a negative result?

Confused because an early test came back positive but a subsequent result was negative? In some cases very early testing may result in a chemical pregnancy — an egg that was fertilized but for some reason never implants. These very early miscarriages are actually extremely common, accounting for up to 80 percent of all pregnancy losses (but because they happen so early, the vast majority of women who’ve had one don’t even know they’ve conceived). Again, it’s always best to see your medical practitioner for more definitive testing. If it turns out that you likely have experienced a pregnancy loss, it’s natural to feel confused or upset. These tips for coping after a miscarriage can help, as does knowing the odds are in your favor to conceive again — and give birth to a healthy baby.


The First Prenatal Appointment

Your pregnancy test was positive (yippee!), and now your practitioner is in the loop. Here’s how to prepare and what to expect at your first prenatal appointment.

pregnant woman in doctor's office

While you’re likely looking forward to the first prenatal appointment, you’re probably in the dark about what actually happens while you’re there — and maybe even when to schedule it. The first prenatal appointment usually takes place between eight and ten weeks into a pregnancy. Once the date is on your calendar, do a little prep work to make the most of your visit. These tips from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) are a great place to start:

  • Note key health facts. Your practitioner will want the scoop on your health history, so jot down the details of any past pregnancies, any medical conditions you have, and any contagious diseases you may have been exposed to (say, if you traveled abroad recently or work in health care).
  • Take stock of your medicine cabinet. Your ob-gyn or midwife will also want to know the names and dosages of any medications and supplements you take (vitamins included).
  • Find out about health conditions that run in your and your partner’s families. Learn what illnesses are present in your families, so you can clue in your practitioner from the get-go.
  • Jot down your questions. In the excitement of that first prenatal appointment, lots of moms-to-be forget to ask the burning questions that have been keeping them up at night — so make a list of questions beforehand (and don’t forget to bring it with you).

Those are your tasks. Practitioners also have their own to-do lists for the first prenatal appointment, including a thorough exam and lots of talking about you and your baby. This will likely be the longest of the (many) visits you’ll have throughout your pregnancy. Here’s what else to expect:

  • You’ll get an official countdown. Your ob-gyn or midwife will determine your due date during this appointment. If you know when you conceived and the date of your last period, make sure to mention it. If your practitioner isn’t sure how far along you are, he or she may order an ultrasound to figure it out.
  • You’ll get a checkup. This will likely include a pelvic exam (during which your practitioner may assess the size of your uterus), Pap smear, blood-pressure reading, weigh-in, and breast exam.
  • You’ll undergo some tests. If you’re at risk for any pregnancy complications because of past pregnancy issues or a family history of them, your practitioner may order an ultrasound to get a glimpse of your baby. Your urine may be checked for protein (to test for preeclampsia, aka pregnancy high blood pressure), and you may also have blood work to check glucose levels (and test for gestational diabetes) and to rule out anemia, hepatitis, HIV, and other problems. Blood work will also reveal your blood count, platelet count (if it’s too low, you could hemorrhage during labor without treatment), HCG levels, and blood type.
  • You’ll chat about yourself and your baby. The first prenatal appointment is the time for your practitioner to get up to speed on your health history and fill you in on how to care for yourself and your growing baby, as well as address any concerns you have (this is when that list of questions comes in handy). It’s helpful to take notes; your doctor or midwife is sure to share plenty of info you’ll want to remember (and moms-to-be are notoriously forgetful).

Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get a glimpse of your baby at your first prenatal appointment. Ultrasounds (better known as sonograms), are not typically done until a bit later, when there’s much more to see. Have patience, Mom. You’re going to need it for the next couple of decades.


6 Things I Did Right After I Found Out I Was Pregnant

mom announcing her pregnancy

Before I got pregnant with my first, I’d witnessed countless friends, family members, and women I follow on Instagram immediately posting elaborate reveals on social media the second they found out they were pregnant—you know what I’m talking about, these kinds of posts are impossible to avoid. Seeing all these women so happy and how excited their followers were for them filled me with envy and joy. I wanted that for myself and daydreamed about one day announcing my own pregnancy in the same instantaneous, public way.

But when I actually got pregnant, I surprised myself.

The day before a long holiday weekend, July 3 to be exact, I bought a pregnancy test on the way home from work. After disappointing months of trying and failing to get pregnant, I dreaded taking another test and having to cope with another negative result. But we had planned to attend several July 4th parties and get-togethers—where alcoholic beverages would be served—and I wanted confirmation that it was safe to partake.

Ugh. Now, I just had to take the darn thing. But I lacked motivation. What if it was negative? Again. I needed distraction. So, I called my sister (she had no idea I was in the bathroom), and we chatted about random stuff—our weekend plans, which side dish she should bring to a barbecue, etc.—while I somehow managed to balance the phone on my shoulder, pee on the stick and set the timer. She had almost made a decision between macaroni salad and coleslaw when I saw it—two lines. Two. Positive.

“It’s positive!” I roared into the phone, cutting her off mid-sentence!  “The pregnancy test is positive!” I ran into the kitchen to show my (very surprised) husband.

“Whaaat?!” she gasped. “You were taking a pregnancy test?” Yes, admittedly, this was rather strange behavior even for me… but holy cow I was pregnant!

“I’m going to be an aunt!” she screeched as my husband hugged me. It was such a great moment—obviously unexpected and a little weird, yes—but truly amazing to share that with two people I loved so much.

I was completely unprepared for what I felt next.

Hearing the excitement and emotion in my sister’s voice and simultaneously seeing the happiness on my husband’s face did something strange to my insides. All at once I felt a surge of feelings as the reality sunk in—joy, fear, anticipation, disbelief, elation. A surge of feelings that I’ve experienced every day since becoming a mom. It was so powerful and overwhelming that at the time I didn’t have words to describe it to anyone—and, frankly, I didn’t want to describe it to anyone else. I had shared it with my two people. Now, I just wanted to keep it amongst the three of us, at least for a little while. I wanted to bask in this emotional stew and take some time to reflect on how much our future was going to change. (Little did I know that less than 24 hours later I would also be basking in really miserable nausea… pregnancy has so many surprises!)

So, instead of calling everyone I knew to announce our happy news like I’d been imagining for months, here’s what I did right after finding out I was pregnant.

I made my sister promise not to tell anyone else until I was ready.

I hung up with her and poured the glass of wine I’d been planning on drinking that evening down the drain. Goodbye, red wine friend. See you in nine months.

I told the dog—hey, her life was about to change, too!

I sat on the couch with my husband and plugged the date of my last period into thedue date calculator to find out when our baby would be making his or her arrival. The estimated due date was during the same week as our first wedding anniversary—so cool! (My daughter was actually born the day after our anniversary—even cooler!)

I ate the dinner my husband ordered—knowing him, it was probably Thai.

I went to bed early that night, exhausted from the roller coaster of emotions I’d experienced but also full of love, peace, and gratitude.

So, yeah, my telling of the events of the day I found out I got pregnant might just go down as the most boring story of all time. But it’s MY boring story. Eventually, after that first doctor’s appointment, after my husband and I had some time to digest the news, we started telling our families and close friends—but it took us a few weeks to feel ready.

Neither of us expected that. (Nor did my sister, who was bursting at the seams with the secret.) But as with so many things we’ve found with pregnancy and parenting, sometimes you’ve just got to go with the unexpected, particularly if it’s what feels right.


Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Decide to Have Kids

Holding Baby

When making the decision to have kids — and when — most people ask themselves the big questions: Are we financially ready? Are we willing to give up our freedom? Career-wise, is this a bad time? While completely valid, these questions are by no means the only things potential parents should wonder about. There’s so much more to parenting than the “big questions.”

Thinking about having a baby? You might want to ask yourself these 15 questions first.

1. Do you like being woken up at 5:15 a.m. each day? Newborns, of course, love waking their parents, as is well known. But did you know that older children will also delight in waking you at dark-thirty by putting stickers on your eyelids?

2. What is your comfort level with having “Wheels on the Bus” stuck in your head for five consecutive hours? High? Then parenting might be right for you!

3. How do you take your coffee? Hot and fresh or freezing cold and a few hours old? If your answer is the latter, you might already a parent.

4. Do you like pooping alone? If “yes,” sad news: This luxury ends once children enter the picture. On the upside, though — actually, there is no upside to this one.

5. Do you strive to be a better human being? Of course you do! Good news: Children do make you a more selfless, considerate, kind person!

6. How long does it take you to grocery shop? If you’d like to really maximize your time spent in the grocery store, by, say, 200% to 500%, parenting is definitely for you.

7. How would you prefer to sleep? Surrounded by pillows and blankets, or with a small foot lodged in the small of your back? If you’re all about option A, you may want to reconsider.

8. Do you crave being smothered in sloppy, crumb-filled kisses each day? Who doesn’t?! You should definitely take the plunge into parenthood if this is something for which you yearn. #thebest

9. Are you over going out to dinner and taking vacations to remote, beachy places? If leisurely meals at places other than your home and trips to tropical islands have gotten straight-up boring to you, you’re in luck: These are not things you will do very often once you have kids.

10. Are you yearning for something more out of your holidays? Here’s something all non-parents should know: Holidays are exponentially more fun and exciting once you have children.

11. Do you enjoy wine? If so, great! Many parents inadvertently become oenophiles during the toddler years.

12. Does the thought of loving something more than yourself/significant other/dog/cat seem impossible to you? If it does, give parenting a try… and prepare to have any and all of your theories on this subject annihilated.

13. Does the thought of reducing the amount of showers you currently take by half (or more), sound:

A) Gross.

B) Doable.

C) Inconceivable.

If you answered B, please proceed with procreating.

14. What are your thoughts on 900 people/articles/blogs/experts giving you unsolicited advice nonstop? Probably not great, right? It’s OK, you’ll get used to it.

15. Do you want to up the joy factor in your life 20-fold? You do? Then parenting is a good bet for you! Prepare to have your mind blown.

What convinced you that you were ready for the crazy, mind-blowing ride of having kids?


Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy

From losing weight to getting fit (or at least off the couch), here’s a rundown of the things you can do to improve your health before you conceive.

Preconception Nutrition

The more you start thinking, hoping, and planning for pregnancy, the more you might start wondering about your own health and well-being, and whether they’re optimal for baby-making. And if you’ve had a preconception checkup, you (and your doctor) may have already identified some areas for improvement. If you’re overweight or underweight, for instance, sleep deprived or stressed, you’ll want to take some serious steps to remedy the situation. You’ll also want to avoid anything that poses a health risk to you and your baby (like alcohol, cigarette smoke, and some prescription medications). Here’s a look at a few steps you can take to make sure your preconception efforts lead up to the healthiest pregnancy possible.


These Whole Foods Ready Meals Could Cause Miscarriage in Pregnant Women

whole foods listeria

Over the course of several inspections in February of a Whole Foods’ kitchen in Massachusetts, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) staff found multiple violations, including the presence of listeria on a food prep surface. The bacteria is especially dangerous to pregnant women.

FDA reps sent a letter to Whole Foods last week describing the listeria contamination. After swabbing 100 surfaces throughout the facility, inspectors found a swab from the vegetable chopping machine tested positive for listeria. According to the FDA, this indicated that other surfaces were at risk of growing listeria, as well.

Whole Foods Market North Atlantic Kitchen prepares ready meals for 74 stores in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, according to its Facebook page. Kitchen staff may have altered cleaning and food prep practices since the inspections.

But to be safe, if you are pregnant, avoid prepared meals, including salad bars, chefs’ cases, sandwiches and wraps, in Whole Foods in the Northeast, especially those with chopped vegetables.

The letter also outlined several other concerning violations, including:

  • Ceiling condensation dripping on to preparation surfaces and food storage spaces
  • Dirty dishes piling up near food
  • High pressure hoses used for cleaning spraying into food prep areas
  • Too much acid in solutions used to soak and treat vegetables
  • Employees not washing their hands between tasks
  • Inadequate hot water at some sinks
  • Sanitizer to clean surfaces accidentally sprayed onto foods
  • Employee clothing touching foods

These violations affected at least the following ready meals:

  • Pesto pasta
  • Mushroom quesadillas
  • Egg salad
  • Anything with chives and beets
  • Couscous
  • Quinoa cakes
  • Anything with leafy salad greens
  • Chicken, turkey and other meats
  • Enchiladas
  • Salad dressings

Whole Foods reps say they’ve addressed all of the problems listed in the letter and they don’t know why the FDA didn’t acknowledge these changes when they sent the letter months later.

FDA reps say Whole Foods’ response efforts up to this point have been inadequate, in part because Whole Foods management has not yet shared a plan for forcing this facility to comply with FDA regulations in the future. Last year, Whole Foods recalled deli pasta and curry chicken made at the same kitchen due to listeria contamination.

Listeria is especially harmful to pregnant women, who are 13 times more likely to develop listeriosis if they come in contact with it – though in general the risk is still very low. Unlike most other bacteria, listeria enters the bloodstream directly, and it can pass through the placenta, potentially causing miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth and meningitis in newborns.

Common listeriosis symptoms include fever over 100.6°F, muscle pain, backache, headache and diarrhea. If you think you’ve been exposed to listeria, call your doctor and see What to Expect’s full guide to listeria and pregnancy for more info.