8 Pregnancy Tips For First-Time Moms

OK, let’s be frank; pregnancy is a BIG DEAL! If this is your first go at it, I can only imagine that you must be feeling all sorts of things right now. Excited? Nervous? Perhaps a mixture of both? Believe me, it’s pretty normal!

It’s such a miracle of nature that your body is literally putting together a brand-new person, one small piece at a time. How amazing is that? Of course, with this ‘awesomeness’ comes many changes and questions.

As a pregnancy dietitian, I hear from many first-time moms-to-be that they were so ecstatic to find out they were pregnant but, at the same time, very overwhelmed. Perhaps a bit stressed by the many questions running through their head over and over again. Maybe you’re thinking the same way: What should I eat? What about exercise? Can I do anything to prepare for labor right now? And what about all the pregnancy signs nobody prepares you for?

That’s why I’m here, mamas. Now, I want to share some practical tips to help you navigate the joys and challenges of pregnancy yourself. Come with me!

8 Pregnancy Tips For First-Time Moms

It’s time to equip you with some practical tips to ensure all nine months of pregnancy are as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Of course, no pregnancy is identical, but these practical pieces of advice have been useful to many first-time moms. So, let’s dive in!

Choose the best healthcare provider for you.

You know how, when you are pregnant, you spend hours and sometimes even days searching for the best, perfectly fitting maternity jeans? A healthcare provider is exactly the same—everything is so much better with the right match for you! You want your doctor, midwife, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner to hear you out and make you feel comfortable about your choices!

Begin by getting referrals from relatives, friends, or even your primary care physician. Find a provider whose style and personality fit with yours. Don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment with a couple of them to get a feel for how they work!  

Do they afford you time to ask questions? Are they in your insurance network? Do you feel aligned with the process for appointments, labor, and delivery? If it doesn’t feel right, keep searching. Remember that this person will be with you during one of the most essential phases of your life. You should get a doctor who’s not only available for appointments but also the right one for your needs!

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

That’s right, DRINK WATER! Your body needs more water and fluids during pregnancy. Drinking plenty of water makes you less likely to experience constipation, and it helps curb common pregnancy complaints like swelling and headaches. Organizations like ACOG recommend 8 and 12 glasses of water per day. However, the truth is everyone is different.

Your fluid needs will ultimately depend on individualized factors like how much you sweat, the temperature outside, and your activity level. I recommend a starting point of about 100 ounces of fluids per day—from all fluids! 

If you dislike plain water, jazz it up with one of the best drinks for early pregnancy! You can even include some slices of lemon, cucumber, or fresh berries in the mix for a different taste. Some herbal teas and high-water foods like watermelon can also be good options!

However, consuming beverages containing caffeine should be reduced to less than 200mg per day. Be sure to consider caffeine from all sources, even chocolate! Research has pointed out that high caffeine intake can impact pregnancy by increasing the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, high blood pressure, etc. Decaf coffee is a potential alternative if you’re working on reducing caffeine intake but want the flavor and feel of your coffee in the morning! 

Get moving.

Exercising during pregnancy? Most of the time, the answer is absolutely! Unless your doctor advises against it, staying active can be a game-changer. It can help increase energy levels, improve sleep, boost mood, and support smoother labor and delivery.

The important thing here is to pay attention to your body and go for activities you are interested in. Swimming, walking, and prenatal yoga are some of the commonly encouraged exercises for pregnancy. It’s important to start small, always drink water, and do not take on anything that could cause you to fall easily. Taking a walk around the block or strolling through Target in the summer months is more than acceptable! The most important thing is to incorporate movement that helps you feel good.

Get quality sleep and nap when needed. 

Growing a human is no easy task. Don’t beat yourself up for taking extra time to sleep or rest. Indeed, naps may be one of your new best buddies, especially during the first and third trimesters. Taking a nap during the day when you can may help reduce pregnancy fatigue, improve mood, and give you time to get the rest your body is asking for. Even 20-30 minutes to sit and relax may be just what the doctor ordered. 

When nighttime comes, try to get at least 8 hours of shut-eye to enjoy the massive dividends of sleep. Good sleep plays a role in blood sugar regulation and overall pregnancy outcomes. Quality sleep even has fertility benefits if you’re not yet pregnant! So, moms, do not feel guilty if you rest a little; your body is quite literally working to grow and build a whole human!

Educate yourself on the birthing process.

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to the labor and delivery of your little one. Knowledge of what’s going to happen can reduce tension and make you feel capable of handling the situation at hand! It’ll also help you with deciding your wishes and wants for the journey ahead. 

Educate yourself by enrolling in a childbirth education class. A good birth plan class will cover everything from the different stages of labor to strategies to help manage labor pain. Also, adhere to your doctor’s instructions, read books, and watch educational childbirth videos. Many great labor and delivery courses are also available, like this one (discount code: RYANN)! Trusted by thousands of mamas! 

In addition, some individuals like to join support groups to learn from fellow moms. Be sure to check out my post on things to know about first-time pregnancy. The more information you have, the more confident you will be when it comes time to be introduced to your little one!

Create a bump-friendly wardrobe.

Your body changes during pregnancy, so your clothing needs and sizes also change. Choosing some “bump-friendly” clothing items that help you feel comfortable and confident can be super helpful. 

To get the most bang for your buck, begin with some basic wear that can easily be converted to other outfits. Many pregnant women find stretchy leggings, flowy tops, and wrap dresses to be comfortable choices that provide breathing room. Comfy shoes should not be left out either, as you might experience swollen feet. 

Remember, you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort. So, rock that bump with confidence, Mama! And if all else fails, you can always snatch your partner’s comfy shirts. Oversized T-shirts are also a good choice, am I right? 

Fuel your body.

Instead of ‘eating for two,’ I like to encourage ‘nourishing for two.’ Your body needs extra nutrients to support your growing baby and keep your energy levels up. So, eat right to feel right!

Choose foods rich in nutrients when you can. Include lean proteins, red meat, beans, whole grains, fats, fruits, and vegetables in your diet. Snacks are a great opportunity to incorporate healthy options, too. These foods are rich in nutrients like folate, which is vital for proper neural tube development and the prevention of birth defects. Folate is also necessary for your baby’s brain and spinal cord development. Check out my pregnancy diet chart month by month for more information on essential foods and nutrients for each stage of pregnancy

And, no, it is not a sin to continue enjoying your favorite foods and treats. For the most part, cravings during pregnancy are completely normal. When we restrict the foods we love, we often indulge in a larger capacity later on. Desserts, pizza, bread, chips, or your other favorite food can all fit into a well-rounded pregnancy diet. Just be sure to include plenty of other wholesome choices, too!

Also, take your prenatal vitamins daily. They contain folate and other important nutrients to reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies, help fill the gaps in your diet, and promote a healthy pregnancy.

Pamper yourself!

Pregnancy is not always fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pamper yourself occasionally. Practicing self-care is very important during this period. It’ll DEFINITELY do your mental and physical health a whole lot of good!

Book a prenatal massage to help with the pain. Take a relaxing bath before bed—just ensure the water is not too hot. Rub some pregnancy-safe lotion on your belly. Read a few pages of a book you’re loving. You could even invest in a pregnancy pillow to sleep better at night. Either way, don’t forget to take care of yourself!

You’re not just “eating for two”; you’re providing nourishment for your little one’s growth and development.

It’s quite natural for more questions to arise with each passing day of your pregnancy, whether it’s your first or your fourth. The tricky part is that there is an ocean of contradictory information regarding what to do, the foods to eat and avoid, the activities to perform, and the activities to avoid. It can become very frustrating rather quickly. That’s exactly why I created The Prenatal Nutrition Library App(TPNL)!

TPNL app is packed with practical, science-backed preconception and pregnancy nutrition information that cuts through all the noise. No more late-night Google spirals or panicking because your aunt’s neighbor’s cousin said you can’t eat cashews while pregnant. (Spoiler alert: you totally can, except if you have a nut allergy.)

But wait, there’s more! Here is a FREE 1-Week Meal Plan that I‘ve prepared for you. It’s like a little teaser of the amazing resources awaiting you in TPNL. I mean easy-yet-tasty meals that will make your palate and your little one do a happy dance. See you there!