1. Finding out you are pregnant

If you have just found out that you are pregnant, you may be feeling an array of emotions. You may be excited, fearful, nervous, happy and anxious. This is natural. It can be a confusing time – you will be presented with lots of information and quite often all at once.

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First steps

If you have done a pregnancy test at home, it is important to make an appointment with you GP so they are able to confirm the pregnancy and start the process of referral to a midwife. A midwife will help you with your feelings towards the pregnancy, give you support, help you to choose the hospital for birth, arrange scans, tests, checks and appointments.

The NHS Choices pregnancy website can give you more information. Depending on the area you live in, you may be given one midwife or be allocated to a system where there are a pool of midwives. Understanding the sensations and experiences Being pregnant is a different experience for every mum to be. You may experience physical symptoms such as sickness, heartburn and indigestion. On top of that, your hormones will also be all over the place. It is common to feel happy one day and upset the next for no apparent reason.

Combining a job whilst feeling all these things can be incredibly difficult. It is important to talk to your school if you are feeling under the weather or need to take leave. You are entitled to take time off for medical appointments when you are pregnant. Taking your partner or a family member to appointments can be a great comfort so you can share the experiences of this journey together. This can also help your partner or family members feel more involved and supportive of you during this time.

As your baby develops, your body will go through many changes. Not only will you see your stomach grow as your baby does, you will also experience sensations such as the first kicks, hiccups and the baby moving around. Understanding the different stages in pregnancy can be a great learning curve. There are many resources offering week by week information and advice such as Bounty and the Baby Bump app and additional information such as care, birth plans, etc.

Seeing your baby

Attending ultrasound scans is a real highlight. The first of these is normally offered at 12 weeks and is a 2D scan. There are also 3D and 4D scans available privately, which show movement. It’s possible, even at this early stage to see your baby smile, yawn, kick and more.

The birth

You will be asked to have a think about your birth plan and your midwife can offer you support with this. You will need to consider what kind of birth you want, where you would like to give birth, pain relief options, who you want at the birth and aftercare support. It may be worth speaking to other parents about what worked for them. Try to be flexible with your birth plan – often the baby has other ideas when he/she starts to arrive and your plans may change.

Attending ante-natal classes will help you with breathing techniques and meet other parents to be. Many remain friends after the baby is born. It can be exciting getting ready for the baby to arrive and there may be lots to organise. You will most likely be buying baby furniture, clothes, etc. It is easy to buy too much equipment and often it is never used, so do speak to parents who have recently had a baby and be realistic with your purchases.

Do consider how you will take maternity or paternity leave. It is important to find out what you are entitled to – the Working Families website has lots of helpful advice. As you near your due date, it is important to let go of stress as you deal with handovers and any work issues. This is the time to concentrate on yourself and your baby.

Childcare

Once the baby arrives If you are planning to go back to work after your baby is born, then you may be looking for suitable childcare. Some people have a good family support network who can help look after the baby, while mum is working. However, if this is not the case, you may be considering whether a private nursery, child-minder or a nanny is the way forward. Try to speak to other parents to get recommendations and read any recent Ofsted reports. It is important to speak to your employers if you are planning to return part time and find out what your rights are on this.

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