Here’s the scenario: peeing on a stick and getting a plus sign. Incredible feeling, right?
Also a little overwhelming. What next? Congrats and no worries mama — read on to take the stress out and learn how to prepare for baby (they call it baby steps for a reason).
1. Take Your Prenatals
If you haven’t already, start these. Your doc/midwife might give you some freebies at the office, but be leery and check out its rating from a legit third-party testing source. You need a prenatal that’s low in lead and pesticides (which they should all be right? Yeah, I wish.)
Both are pretty affordable and have A+ ratings on Pure Market.
What about iron during pregnancy? Because your blood flow increases to help your baby grow, you may need more iron. Iron-rich foods include beef liver, chicken liver, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, spinach, palm hearts and dark chocolate.
My iron levels were low at a routine checkup and I had to start supplementing with Floradix but it was expensive oh my. So for my second pregnancy, I started cooking with a cast-iron pan. It’s a good, natural source of iron and I’m convinced it upped my levels – no supps needed yay!
2. Call Your Doc
Or midwife, or whoever will be helping you through this pregnancy. They won’t see you right away but they’ll make a spot for your first prenatal appointment (typically 9-10 weeks).
Side note: this seemed like a simple task at first, but for me, after just not “feeling right” at my first OB-GYN appointment, I started researching. I discovered I wanted more of a natural experience and chose a birth center with certified nurse-midwives.
Many people (ahem, family members) asked “why natural childbirth?”. My short answer was “why not?”.
“Strangely enough, the more we know about birth, the easier it is to lose sight of how well designed and simple birth actually is…Women know how to give birth without machines, epidurals, and fear.” source
I encourage you to do a little research – a good start is this quick read on natural childbirth. Then go with your (beautiful pregnant) gut.
3. Rest and Nourish When You Can
The first trimester can be filled with exhaustion and nausea. Rest when you can and eat what you can. While I was already on a mostly-all-organic diet, I couldn’t stomach a lot of fruits or veggies. (Organic) crackers and ginger drops were my jam. Just get through this stage and try to make up for it during the second tri.
Oh and rest? If this is your first you’ve probably got it made. Your second or third with a full-time job – that’s a little trickier. (Also pretty sure you don’t have time to sit and read this anyway.)
4. Inspect Your Bod
In particular – what you’re putting on it. Things like phthalates, fragrance and triclosan should all be avoided when pregnant. Keeping your babe safe is easier than it sounds: make simple swaps with the FREE Green Yourself 7-Day Pregnancy Challenge.
5. Know That Crazy Pregnancy Sh*t Happens
And have no fear. Lightning crotch. Sore boobs. Constipation. Vomiting. Hemorrhoids. Heartburn. Leg cramps. Pregsomnia. Huge dark nipples. CMV. Carpal tunnel. Nonexistent bladder control. Varicose veins. Bleeding gums. Extra spit. Swelling feet. Back pain. Cold hands. Itchy skin. Craving dirt. Funky-smelling discharge. Skin tags. Stuffy nose.
Not that you’ll get ALL of these, but knowledge is queen and it’s comforting to know you’re not the only one. (Note: always call your midwife/doc if something REALLY doesn’t seem right – like bad cramping or bleeding.)
Just take it day by day and you’ll get through it. And always keep in the back of your mind: it’s allllll worth it.
6. Inspect Your Budget
Yup, the dreaded “B” word. Who likes to do that? But you’ll want to put some away for doc/hospital/delivery. (And now’s a great time to check up on your insurance plan.) Then figure out what you’ll need for the non-toxic baby stuff and possibly daycare.
Lean & Green Tip #1: Find your already-am-a-mama tribe.
Think of everyone who’s recently had a baby. Friends, family and co-workers can come out of the woodwork when they hear you’re expecting. Graciously accept what they give or let you borrow. It can save you tons and keeps it green of course. But use your judgement: some things you’ll want to buy new for baby — like a crib mattress.
Lean & Green Tip #2: Have a baby shower.
Make sure someone’s planning a baby shower for you. If not? Throw it yourself. It’s what I did, and not a single regret. 🙂
Keep it super low-cost by having it in-house and asking a few people to cook. Have simple, cheap games to keep your guests entertained. These pre-made printable games from Etsy are pretty awesome.
Make sure everyone has a link to your registry. You don’t have to go crazy with the “baby stuff” and you can create a natural, minimal baby registry in a snap here.
Lean & Green Tip #3: Plan to breastfeed and cloth diaper.
By far, the two biggest costs in the first year of life are diapers and formula. Most of us know by now, breast is best. And, formula can get super expensive. So mamas, be determined to nurse.
The first few weeks are far from easy and the solution to dry, cracked nipples is to, well, nurse more. Unless you have a medical condition, you can continue to nurse, and there’s plenty of support to help you along the way. (Our favorites: La Leche League and KellyMom.)
Cloth diaper: Save moolah and help out the planet. But can you imagine cleaning the pee and poo off your baby’s diaper? I couldn’t but was ridiculously determined.
It wasn’t as terrible as I thought, and knowing I saved thousands of dollars in disposable diaper costs helped. I included everything you need right down to the washing method in the Green Your Baby Registry Guide.
Need some disposables for daycare or the newborn stage? Check out the best non-toxic diaper options here.
And your babe in a cloth diaper? Doesn’t get much cuter than this.
Lean & Green Tip #4: Think beyond the baby stage.
Anything you buy or plan to buy, see how it can last through the years.
Car seat? Consider skipping the infant one and save big by choosing a convertible all-in-one car seat without flame retardants.
Baby food maker? Consider a Vitamix blender. It’s perfect for the whole family and will last. From baby food to nut butters to frozen desserts: this blender does it all.
So, what’s the real cost of a baby? This is why I keep it lean whenever I can, because it can add up:
For details beyond the first year, see the cost of raising a child here.
7. Read About Your Fourth Trimester
During my pregnancy, I was truly amazed by how my baby was growing every week and it’s fun to listen to the “week-by-week” podcast or read about what it’s like to give birth, etc. It’s incredible, I was fascinated, and I didn’t think about too much beyond that.
If you’re in your first trimester and can barely swallow a Saltine, just bookmark this page for later.
My biggest takeaway from growing baby research? Take the time to also read about those first few months when baby’s born. So you know what to expect. Because there are a few myths, and here’s the lowdown.
Myth #1: I’ll immediately bond with my baby.
Nope, didn’t happen for me. I had a tough postpartum mentally and bonding with a crying baby felt like trying to deal with a semi-crazy co-worker. A few long weeks later, I was good and the bond eventually happened.
Just know it can be normal and ok. Do lots of skin-to-skin contact, snuggles and eye contact, and you’ll get there. Also – always share how you’re feeling with your postpartum caretaker (they should be asking often).
MYTH #2: If I do the right thing and read her cues, my baby won’t cry much.
Reality is, you could be doing ALL the right things and babies still cry. I heard a crazy stat that we cry more in the first year of life than in our entire lifetime. After two kiddos, I can believe it. Or, as my mom always says: “it’s just their way of talking.” Made me feel (kinda) better.
Check out Feng Shui Mommy for a great read, especially about the fourth tri.
8. Find a Pediatrician
Being able to meet your baby’s doc, ask questions and see if you vibe is key, so you’ll want to think about this sooner than later.
Join a few local mommy groups and see who they like.
Do a search on The Institute for Functional Medicine and see if there’s one in your area.
No luck? Try to find a pediatrician with “D.O.” after their name, which means they may take a more holistic approach.
Or search for a Pediatric Naturopathic Doctor here. Bonus if they have an M.D. as well as N.D. certification.
Then if you have insurance, check to see if they’re a participating provider.
Peace love and baby kicks.
Care to share?
About the Author
Jen Brady — Chief Green Mama
Mom of two. Wife of one. Holistic nutritional consultant. Amateur biohacker. Guide of the Green Yourself Pregnancy Challenge. Author of the Green Your Baby Registry Guide.
I'm wild about pregnancy and babies (in a sane way) and I need to steer you away from harsh chemicals and hormone disruptors. Stick with me to keep it lean and green.