Your Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy (From Conception to Birth)

Your Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy (From Conception to Birth)

Pregnancy can be an exciting time for parents! But it can also be a time of great stress and anxiety, especially if you're heading into a phase of life you've never experienced before. Questions are normal, and it's okay to feel like you don't have everything figured out! Whether this is your first baby or if it’s just been a while and you need a refresher, here’s everything you need to know to help you get ready for a healthy pregnancy, from conception to birth! 

Pregnancy Prep

Once you and your partner decide you’re ready to have a baby, it’s time to start preparing for pregnancy! Even before you get a positive pregnancy test, there are things you should be doing to ensure a healthy pregnancy from start to finish! 

1. Get off birth control

This may seem obvious, but some people don’t realize that it’s important to get off birth control several weeks or even months before you’re ready to start trying. This will ensure your cycles can normalize and you can start ovulating again, especially if you’ve been on hormonal birth control, as hormonal birth control works by eliminating ovulation completely.

If you have an IUD, you can start trying almost immediately after you have it removed, as this form of birth control does not prevent you from ovulating.

2. Start taking a prenatal vitamin

Even if you have a pretty well-rounded, healthy diet, taking a prenatal vitamin is important to ensure you have enough essential vitamins built up within your body so that the moment you get pregnant, your body will be ready to support and help grow your baby!

In those first few weeks (sometimes before you even know you’re pregnant!) your baby will be developing vital organs, such as the brain and spine. Taking a prenatal will give your baby the BEST chance for healthy development, while ensuring you have what you need to stay healthy as well!

3. Examine your lifestyle

Take a look at your lifestyle and see if there are any changes that need to be made. If you smoke or drink, it’s important that you stop, as these can cause a myriad of developmental issues in your baby.

When it comes to your living or work situation, make sure you’re not being exposed to any harmful or toxic substances. When I was pregnant with my first, I worked at the hospital where we came into contact with harmful chemicals. Taking extra steps to ensure I was 100% safe and protected was vital for my own safety as well as my daughter’s!

4. Visit your doctor

Going to see your primary care doctor before getting pregnant is so important. A general well check can ensure everything is good to go, and that there aren’t any major medical concerns of which you should be aware. Again, this will ensure you will be healthy enough to carry and deliver a child, and ensure you will be able to support a baby at the same time.

Visiting your doctor is also an important step, as you can go over medications you’re currently taking and see if dosages need to be adjusted, prescriptions need to be changed, or if you need to completely stop taking something. There are loads of drugs that are dangerous to take during pregnancy as they could harm your developing baby, so going over these ahead of time is important and weighing the risks with the benefits is important. 

This is also a good time to discuss with your doctor if you are experiencing severe depression or anxiety and get help, as mental health issues can get worse with pregnancy and motherhood.

Woman at doctor appointment

Getting Pregnant

Now let’s talk about getting pregnant…

Although the concept of getting pregnant is pretty basic, for those that are actively trying to conceive, it can be helpful to know when the best time is to have sex for the greatest chance of getting pregnant!

Pregnancy occurs when the sperm meets the egg. Sounds simple, but timing is everything! Once a woman ovulates, you only have 12 to 24 hours for the egg to be fertilized. That’s why knowing when you’re fertile and when you ovulate can be extremely helpful!

The first thing to do is start tracking your cycles several months before you’re hoping to get pregnant! I like to use an app on my phone to keep track, which makes it very simple. After a few months of tracking cycles, the app can predict more accurately when your fertility window is as well as your ovulation day. Keep in mind that these are not always 100% accurate, however, they can give you a pretty good baseline! 

Here are some other things you can do to figure out if you're ovulating:

  • Look at your symptoms: Easily aroused, cramping, tender breasts

  • Take your temperature: elevated temperature

  • Look at cervical mucus changes

  • Take an ovulation test 

If you don't want to worry about when you actually are ovulating, that's okay! Your best bet is to know when you're in your fertile window, and have sex within that timeframe. Sperm can survive for up to 5 days, so as long as you have sex a few days before you ovulate, you're likely to get pregnant. 

If you’ve tried for several months and have yet to get pregnant, try not to panic quite yet! It can take several months to get pregnant, even if you’re actively trying. If it’s been a year and you have yet to get pregnant, reach out to your doctor for help. 

Couple Kissing

First Trimester

Basics of the First Trimester

The first trimester technically begins before you’re even pregnant, beginning on the first day of your last period. So you may be about 4 or 5 weeks pregnant by the time you even take a pregnancy test! The first trimester continues through the end of week 13. A lot of changes occur during the first trimester within your own body, and your developing baby's! In the first trimester, your baby will go from a few single cells to an embryo and finally to a fetus with functioning organs!

Baby’s Growth in the First Trimester

In those first few weeks, although it may not seem like much is happening, your soon-to-be baby is developing at a rapid rate! Once the sperm fertilizes the egg around week 3 in the fallopian tube, your fertilized egg will take about 3 or 4 days to get to the uterus, where it will then implant to the wall at week 4! It is at this time that the cells divide to form the embryo and amniotic sac as well as the placenta.

At week 5, your little embryo starts to develop major organs such as the neural tube and the heart, which is why it is so important to ensure you’re maintaining a healthy diet and taking prenatal vitamins! In the following weeks, the organs will continue to develop at a rapid pace, and by the end of the first trimester, your little fetus has functioning systems and is beginning to look more like a little baby than he did before!

Common Symptoms of Early Pregnancy

The first trimester is KNOWN for the wide variety of symptoms you experience. Some women, especially those that have been pregnant before, may even know they’re pregnant before even missing their period due to the symptoms they experience. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Morning sickness (nausea and vomiting)

  • Food cravings 

  • Food aversions

  • Intense fatigue 

  • Sensitive breasts

  • Heartburn or acid reflux

  • Frequent urination

  • Difficulty focusing/memory problems ("pregnancy/mom brain")

  • Constipation

  • Dizziness

  • Bloating

These symptoms can be difficult to deal with, but be cautious what medications you take to cope with them. If you have severe symptoms, your doctor may be able to recommend or prescribe a medication that can help.

Morning Sickness

Calculating Your Due Date

One of the first things you will probably want to know as soon as you get a positive pregnancy test is when your baby will be born. Keep in mind due dates just tell you when you hit 40 weeks, but that does not mean your baby will definitely come by or on that date. Some babies take a bit longer, and due dates can be inaccurate due to variations in women’s cycles and when the egg actually gets fertilized. Due dates can give you a good idea though of what month your baby should arrive, just don’t stress if your baby comes early or late.

To calculate your due date, figure out the first day of your last period. Subtract three months from that date, then add 1 year and 7 days. For example, if the first day of your last period was April 1, 2022, subtracting 3 months would take you to January 1, 2022. Adding 1 year and 7 days would give you a due date of January 8, 2023.

If you don't want to calculate your due date on your own, your healthcare provider will calculate it for you at your first appointment.

Finding a Healthcare Provider

After calculating your due date, the next thing you need to do is to find a healthcare provider! Finding a healthcare provider you LOVE, that shares your values and will support your choices, is ESSENTIAL for a good pregnancy and birth experience! But this can be difficult!

First, decide if you’d rather have a midwife or an OBGYN. This will help you narrow down your choices based on what providers are in your city. Once you have a few potential providers, see if they have a website and read previous patient experiences. This can give you a pretty good feel for their bedside manner and how they react in various situations.

If you feel comfortable, you may also want to ask close friends or family if they have any experiences or recommendations. Once you have a potential provider, see if they'd be willing to meet you for an initial appointment, where you can ask questions and make sure they'd be a good fit.

For more info on finding the perfect provider for you, read our post How to Pick a Healthcare Provider for Your Pregnancy.

Here are some questions you may want to ask: 

  • What are your C-section rates, episiotomy rates, etc.?

  • Do you always deliver babies with mom on her back? Are you open/willing to delivery in other positions?

  • Will you be the one delivering my baby? Or do you rotate with other doctors at your clinic?

  • Do you do an ultrasound in the first trimester? Or do you only do an anatomy scan at 20 weeks?

  • Do you specialize in complicated pregnancies?

  • Do you support VBAC (vaginal birth after a caesarian)?

It's okay to be a little picky, and it's okay to change your provider at any point in your pregnancy if you don't feel comfortable with them.

    First Trimester Doctors Appointments

    Some doctors will see you a few times in your first trimester, while some will only see you once. As soon as you know you’re pregnant and have decided on a healthcare provider, call and schedule an appointment!

    At your first appointment, your provider will probably want to sit down with you and ask you questions about your health. They will have you provide a urine sample to confirm your pregnancy, and will likely take your blood to perform a variety of tests.

    One of these tests is anti-body testing, where your blood will be examined to see if you are Rh-positive or negative. Knowing this is important because if you happen to be Rh-negative and your baby is Rh-positive, your body will create an immune response against your baby. Preventing this immune response from occurring is simple, and a RhoGAM shot will be given at the start of the 3rd trimester to prevent the mother’s body from creating antibodies.

    Your doctor may also want to do a full physical exam by checking your breasts, and doing a Pap smear if you haven’t had one recently. 

    Although not all doctors will have an ultrasound done in the first trimester, some will perform a transvaginal ultrasound to get a better estimate of your due date, as well as confirm your pregnancy is not ectopic or anembryonic. 

    Although not necessary, you can also have genetic screening done in the first trimester if you choose. The most common screening test is known as noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT). This test is normally performed around week 10 by taking a sample of your blood, and can tell you the odds of your baby having a variety of genetic abnormalities as well as the gender of your baby. Keep in mind, this does NOT diagnose, it only tells you the probability. If the test comes back stating your baby has a high probability of having a genetic abnormality, other testing like amniocentesis can be performed in the second trimester to diagnose/confirm. 

    Nuchal Translucency Screening may also be recommended, which is another indicator of chromosomal abnormalities. This is done with an ultrasound between weeks 11 and 14, and checks to see if there is fluid accumulation in the back of your baby’s neck.

    Other testing done include Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) and sequential/integrated screening. Both of these are non-standard tests and are reserved for those with high-risk of neural tube defects or chromosomal abnormalities. 

    OBGYN appointment

    Things to Watch for/Safety Concerns

    Ectopic pregnancy

    Ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg implants and starts to grow outside of the lining of the uterus. More often than not, this happens in the fallopian tube, but implantation can also occur in the ovary, the cervix or other areas of the abdomen. In any case, the pregnancy cannot continue, as it can lead to tubal rupture and severe abdominal bleeding! This can lead to death if not caught and treated early.

    Although an ectopic pregnancy will start normally, leading to a missed period, positive pregnancy test, and early pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, once development continues, you will most likely start to have signs that something has gone awry.

    Symptoms to watch out for include bleeding, pain in your pelvis or abdomen, shoulder pain, or lightheadedness. Always take these symptoms seriously, as they can quickly become life threatening. 

    We address 10 common questions about ectopic pregnancies in our post here.


    Although some spotting can be normal (known as implantation bleeding), having excessive amounts of bleeding means that something is wrong, and you need to go to the emergency room. This may be a sign of an early miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or something else.

    Hyperemesis gravidarum

    Morning sickness is a common first trimester symptom, but excessive vomiting is not. If you are extremely sick to the point you can’t keep anything down, neither you nor your baby are getting the nutrients needed. Hyperemesis gravidarum will also likely cause dehydration, which can lead to pregnancy complications.

    Molar pregnancy

    Molar pregnancy is when the cells that are supposed to turn into the placenta grow irregularly. A fetus may or may not form, depending on if it’s a complete molar pregnancy or partial, but either way, the fetus cannot survive and will be miscarried.

    Molar pregnancy is a serious complication, and can lead to continuation of irregular growth and cancer if it's not taken care of properly.

    Early symptoms of a molar pregnancy include pain in the pelvis, bleeding, severe nausea, and even the passing of cysts through the vagina. Doctors can diagnose a molar pregnancy by looking at HCG levels and the size of the uterus, as the uterus is normally much larger and HCG levels are MUCH higher than they would be in a typical pregnancy. 

    Anembryonic pregnancy or blighted ovum

    With an anembryonic pregnancy, the egg was fertilized, but the embryo either never forms or begins to form and then is reabsorbed by the body. This often happens when there is a chromosomal abnormality that prevents development from continuing.

    You may have early symptoms of pregnancy such as nausea and have a positive pregnancy test during early development, but when the embryo stops developing, your HCG levels drop and you start to feel more normal again. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done if this occurs.

    First Trimester To-Do List

    • Start taking a prenatal vitamin (if you aren’t already)

    • Calculate your due date

    • Find a healthcare provider and schedule your first appointment

    • Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy foods, quitting smoking/drugs, exercising often, drinking plenty of water, etc.

    • Report the pregnancy to your insurance

    • Have genetic testing done (if you choose)

    • Start researching the type of birth you’d like to have and start prepping your birth plan

    • Research childbirth classes in your area

    • Checkout childbirth books from your library

    • Start journaling about your pregnancy

    If you have questions about the first trimester, check out our recent blog post, Frequently Asked Questions of Early Pregnancy, for in depth answers!

    pregnancy test

    Second Trimester

    Basics of the Second Trimester

    The second trimester begins around week 14 and continues through week 27! It is during this time that many women experience relief from morning sickness, fatigue, and other symptoms that make the first trimester a challenge. With increased motivation and energy, you may have a greater desire to get back to a more normal routine. It’s also in the second trimester that most women start to get a bit of a baby bump, so start taking those weekly bump pics to look back on!

    The second trimester is also an exciting time, as you will likely get to see your baby on an ultrasound if you haven’t already, and you will start to feel the first kicks and punches from their little movements!

    Baby's Growth in the Second Trimester

    Your baby will continue to grow at a rapid pace, and many of those organs that formed in the first trimester will now start to function! At the start of the second trimester, your baby's little body will be producing urine, and the sex organs will develop!

    Around week 18, your baby's ears will start to function, and he/she will start to hear sounds, so make sure to sing and talk to your baby. All kinds of little things will develop throughout the second trimester as well, such as hair, fingerprints and footprints, and toenails.

    By the end of the second trimester, your little baby will start to respond when you talk by giving a little kick or jab, and the lungs will continue to develop to get ready for those first breaths and cries.

    Common Symptoms of the Second Trimester

    • Increased energy

    • Reduced morning sickness/nausea

    • Dizziness

    • Round ligament pain

    • Heartburn

    • Forgetfulness/brain fog (Pregnancy brain)

    • Increased appetite

    • Baby bump starts to form

    • Breast growth

    • Stretch marks

    • Vaginal discharge

    • Back pain/aches

    • Leg cramps/Charlie horses

    • Bloating

    • Swelling in feet/hands

    • Bleeding gums

    • Constipation

    Second Trimester Doctor's Appointments

    During the second trimester, your doctor will probably see you about every 4 weeks and will continue to check your vitals to make sure you are staying healthy as well as listen for your baby’s heartbeat to ensure it's beating at a normal/healthy rate.

    Your doctor may also start to feel your abdomen to check for fundal height. During this examination, your doctor will push on your abdomen to find the top of the uterus and take a measurement. This is a simple and quick way for doctors to estimate your baby’s growth, and can compare measurements from week to week to ensure they’re growing well.

    Some doctors will also have you leave a urine sample each appointment to check for protein or sugars. Protein in your urine can indicate preeclampsia, and sugar can be an early indicator of gestational diabetes. Starting in the second trimester, you may also be screened for perinatal depression.

    About halfway through the second trimester (normally around week 20), you will have an anatomy scan done. During the anatomy scan, an ultrasound tech will do a full scan of the baby to make sure the baby is developing as expected. It is at this time that you can also find out the gender of your baby if you wish (and if you haven’t already found out from non-invasive prenatal testing or with an at home gender test). The anatomy scan is very important, as it gives your doctor information about the baby’s organ and spine development. This information lets them know if any interventions need to be taken before or immediately after birth to ensure your baby’s health and wellness.

    Although not routine, you can also opt to have a Quad Screen done, which screens for spina bifida and other genetic abnormalities in the second trimester, as well as amniocentesis, an invasive procedure that occurs between week 16 and 20 that can determine if your baby has down syndrome, neural tube defects, or other genetic disorders.

    Around your 24 week appointment, you will also have a glucose screening to check for gestational diabetes as well as a non-stress test, which is a simple test to make sure your baby is doing ok. Non-stress tests may also be performed in the third trimester.


    Things to watch for/Safety Concerns


    Bleeding is something you should always watch for in pregnancy and seek immediate medical attention. Although miscarriage is less common in the second trimester, bleeding in the second trimester can still be an early sign that miscarriage is occurring. Bleeding in the second trimester can also indicate that you are going into preterm labor, that the placenta is blocking the cervix (known as placenta previa), or that the placenta is separating from the wall of the uterus. 


    Preeclampsia is a rare but dangerous condition that can start in the second or third trimester. It is diagnosed based on high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine. Symptoms of preeclampsia include excessive swelling (the most common symptom), headaches, right abdominal or stomach pain, and vision loss or difficulties. Preeclampsia can cause placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterus causing excessive bleeding) as well as preterm labor or stillbirth. It can also cause damage to organs within the mother, and if preeclampsia is untreated, eclampsia may develop, causing intense seizures.

    Preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM)

    When the amniotic sac ruptures too early, leading to loss of amniotic fluid that is essential for keeping your baby safe and preventing infection, this is known as preterm premature rupture of membranes. This leads to preterm labor and delivery.

    Cervical Insufficiency

    Cervical insufficiency is when the cervix starts to dilate way before it’s supposed to, often leading to preterm labor. It normally happens in the second trimester, and is caused by weak cervical tissue. Symptoms of cervical insufficiency include backache, vaginal discharge, bleeding, cervical pressure/pain, and cramps. 

    Gestational diabetes

    Gestational diabetes normally starts around week 24. All pregnant women are tested for gestational diabetes. If you develop gestational diabetes, your doctor will help you come up with a treatment plan, which will likely include a healthy diet and exercise routine. If gestational diabetes is not effectively monitored and controlled, you can develop preeclampsia, and your baby is at a higher risk for preterm labor and stillbirth. 

    Preterm labor

    Preterm labor is when you go into labor anytime between week 20 and 37. It can be caused by a wide range of things, but is most common in those that smoke or those with untreated illnesses (diabetes) or infections (UTI’s). Going into labor in the second trimester can be extremely dangerous for your baby, as they often have underdeveloped organs and lungs. However, with amazing doctors and nurses in the NICU, it IS possible for your baby to survive, even if they will have a bit of a long road ahead of them.

    Second Trimester To-Do List

    • Sign up for and take child birth and breastfeeding classes

    • Continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle (drinking water, eating healthy, taking prenatal, etc.)

    • Read-up on and start practicing relaxation techniques you'd like to use during labor (practice makes perfect)

    • Shop for maternity clothes

    • Finalize your baby registry

    • Take a trip with your spouse (babymoon) before the baby comes

    • Continue journaling about your pregnancy

    • Start sleeping on your side

    • Talk to employer about maternity leave

    • Find a maternity photographer and schedule a shoot

    maternity photo shoot

    Third Trimester

    Basics of the Third Trimester

    The third trimester begins at the start of week 28 and continues until you give birth! It’s at this time that women start to get extremely uncomfortable. Severe heartburn, frequent urination, and back pain are common discomforts in the last trimester. 

    As your due date draws near, you may also experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which are irregular contractions that are not causing your cervix to dilate. Many women report that Braxton Hicks cause minor discomfort, but some women may experience pain. 

    Despite all the discomfort in the third trimester, knowing your baby will arrive soon and focusing on that can help you get through the difficult time! It's also important that you take some time in the third trimester to rest and relax to help you get ready for delivery!

    Baby’s Development in the Third Trimester

    In the final trimester, your baby will continue to grow at a rapid pace. Baby’s kicks and jabs will become more obvious as he puts on weight. His little eyes may also open and close, and it's at this time that he will begin to detect light and dark. 

    The third trimester is also crucial for lung development. In the final weeks, your baby will start to practice breathing, and lung maturation will continue from week to week. Further development of the brain and other organs will continue as well.

    In the final days of the third trimester, your baby's lanugo (hair that covers their body) will almost completely disappear, and your baby will likely turn head down and drop into your pelvis in preparation for delivery.

    Common Symptoms of the Third Trimester

    • Frequent urination

    • Constipation

    • Back pain

    • Swelling

    • Stretch marks

    • Braxton-Hicks contractions

    • Leg cramps

    • Heartburn

    • Increased discharge

    • Bloating

    • Itchy belly

    • Sleep difficulties

    • Fatigue

    • Hemorrhoids

    • Brain fog/forgetfulness (Pregnancy brain)

    • Shortness of breath

    • Clumsiness

    • Nesting

    • Leaky breasts

    • Pelvic pain

    • Cervical pressure (in the days before delivery)

    • Diarrhea (in days before delivery)

    • Mucus plug/bloody show (in days before delivery)

    Third Trimester Doctor's Appointments

    In the last trimester, your doctor will start seeing you more often. Generally, you will be seen every 3 weeks until week 32, every 2 weeks until week 36, then once a week until your baby is born! Provider’s want to see women more frequently toward the end of pregnancy to ensure you're staying healthy as well as to monitor your baby more closely.

    During the third trimester, your provider will likely ask you to start counting your babies kicks at home. This is important, as severe decrease in movement is one of the best indicators that something is wrong. Your provider may order more non-stress tests as well.

    If you are Rh negative, your doctor or nurse will give you a Rhogam shot (normally around 28 weeks). 

    Starting at 36 weeks, your doctor may recommend cervical checks to see if your cervix is dilated, how low your baby is in your pelvis (station) and how effaced (thinned/soft) your cervix is. You do not have to have cervical checks, and you can decline them if they make you uncomfortable. The checks can be helpful during labor, but prior to labor, cervical checks don’t often give reliable information on if labor is near or not.

    It's also at this time that your doctor will want to test for Group B Strep. If you test positive, you will receive antibiotics during labor to prevent the baby from contracting the bacteria, which can make them very sick. 

    At 40 weeks if your baby still hasn’t come, your doctor may recommend scheduling an induction in the coming days, and may recommend stripping the membranes. This is when a doctor uses their finger to gently separate the amniotic sac from the uterus. This may help induce labor. Remember, this is voluntary, so if your doctor recommends it and you don’t want it done, you have the right to decline.

    It is also important in the third trimester to take some time to talk to your doctor about your birth plan. This will ensure you’re both on the same page about how you’d like to deliver and what interventions you want to try to avoid. Although things often don’t go according to plan, discussing these things with your doctor can allow them to vouch for you in the delivery room.


    Nesting is a very common symptom you experience in the third trimester. This is when you have increased motivation to get everything cleaned and prepped for your baby’s arrival! Take advantage of this newfound energy by prepping meals, getting the nursery ready, decluttering, and deep cleaning your home.

    For more nesting tips and ideas, check out our blog here!

    Pregnant woman folds baby clothes

    Things to watch for/Safety Concerns

    In the last trimester, keep an eye out for all of the same dangers that you watched for in the second trimester, such as bleeding, preeclampsia, premature rupture of the membranes, preterm labor, as well as the following:

    Placental abruption

    Placental abruption is when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before delivery. This can be dangerous, and can cause your baby distress. Not all women who have placental abruption will exhibit symptoms, but some will have pain, contractions, and bleeding.

    If you feel like something is off, visit your doctor to be checked out.

    Placenta previa

    Placenta previa is when the placenta blocks the cervix. Although this can be an issue at any point in pregnancy, women with placenta previa will often start showing signs of it in the third trimester (around week 28). If you start having excessive bright red bleeding, you need to see your doctor right away.

    If bleeding doesn't stop, your doctor may recommend an emergency caesarean. If you stop bleeding and you and the baby are okay, your doctor may recommend waiting until you are closer to full term to give your baby more time to develop.

    Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)

    At each appointment, your doctor will continue to monitor your baby's growth. In the last trimester, your baby is supposed to put on extra weight and grow rapidly. However, some babies stop growing or do not grow at the rate that's expected. This is known as intrauterine growth restriction. Sometimes this happens as a result of a placenta that is not functioning properly, but can also be caused by developmental abnormalities within the baby.

    If your doctor feels that your baby isn't growing properly, they will monitor with ultrasounds and may want to see you more frequently. If your baby does not continue to grow, induction will be recommended.

    Post-term pregnancy

    Although most women will have their babies by 42 weeks, some women still don't go into labor. Research shows that going past 42 weeks can, in some cases, be dangerous. This is because the placenta may become depleted, giving your baby less than what they need to continue to grow, which can lead to stillbirth. It is at this time that doctors will recommend induction.


    Stillbirth is another major concern in the third trimester, so it’s important to do those kick counts and go to the emergency room if you aren't feeling as much movement as normal! Remember to ALWAYS trust that mom gut!

    3rd Trimester To-Do List

    • Count baby's kicks

    • Have a baby shower

    • Finish getting the nursery ready

    • Wash baby’s clothes and blankets

    • Put together a plan for your pets or older children for when you go to the hospital

    • Prep freezer meals for after you have the baby

    • Contact insurance about getting a free breast pump (some allow you to order one during pregnancy, while some will make you wait until after delivery)

    • Register at the hospital or birth center where you’d like to deliver

    • Finalize birth plan and discuss it with your provider AND your partner

    • Continue to journal about your pregnancy

    • Pack your hospital bag

    • Pick a pediatrician for your baby AND contact them with estimated due date

    • Read your car seat manual, install it in your car, and have it checked by a CPS tech

    Install infant car seat


    When Will My Baby Come?

    Once you hit 37 weeks, you’re technically considered full term and your baby can come at any point! Some babies born at 37 weeks will need a short stay in the NICU, while some won’t require it at all. 

    Although due dates give you an estimated arrival date, keep in mind that only about 4-5% of babies are born on their due date. Just because your baby isn’t here on their due date doesn’t mean they are ‘late’ and that you need to rush into an induction. It’s actually very common to go past 40 weeks, especially if you are a first time mom.

    If you haven’t gone into labor by 41 weeks, you are considered late term, and your doctor may recommend induction, as waiting too long (past 42 weeks) can be dangerous for the baby.

    Signs That Delivery is Near

    As you get closer to birth, you may notice some new symptoms that can signify that labor is near! Pay attention to these things in the final weeks, and get ready to head to the hospital (because you’re probably less than 48 hours away from labor!)

    Diarrhea and loose joints: Some women notice an obvious change in bowel habits closer to delivery. Diarrhea is a common symptom and is caused by the release of the hormone relaxin, which helps the muscles and joints relax in preparation for birth.

    Mucus plug loss/bloody show: During pregnancy, a thick glob of mucus plugs the cervix, preventing bacteria from making its way into the uterus. When your body is ready for labor, the mucus plug will be lost. The mucus plug normally ranges in color from clear to pink, but occasionally will have some bright red blood mixed in. This is referred to as the bloody show and is normally a huge indicator of impending labor.

    Am I in Labor?

    Knowing if you’re in active labor can be difficult. If your water breaks, that’s a pretty good sign that it’s time to head to the hospital. However, although this is the norm in the movies, only about 10-15% of the time is this the case. More commonly, you will start to start to have more intense, consistent contractions that start to get closer together.

    When you start having contractions, start timing them. Downloading a contraction app can be extremely helpful for figuring out if you are in false or true labor. Once your contractions are consistently 5 minutes apart, it’s time to go to the hospital. (If you live further from the hospital/birth center, you’ll want to leave sooner). Then it’s time to have that baby!

    Woman in labor

    Staying Healthy During Pregnancy


    Exercising is a great way to stay healthy and get ready for birth at the same time. Some women worry that exercising isn’t safe during pregnancy, but most obstetricians will say you can continue any of the workouts you were doing before pregnancy as long as they aren’t too intense.

    If you haven’t exercised in a while but would like to start during pregnancy, begin with gentle workouts, such as walking, swimming, and stretching that will be gentle on your body. This post has some of our favorite exercises you can easily do at home. There are also great online workout programs designed specifically for pregnant women, so that’s another great place to start.

    As a rule of thumb, listen to your body at all times. If you are feeling pain or extreme discomfort, it may be best to step away from your routine and find other exercises that are more gentle on your body. And always talk with your provider if you have questions or concerns.

    Exercise During Pregnancy

    Take a Prenatal Daily

    Prenatal vitamins are so important. Even if you maintain a healthy diet, you may not be getting enough vital nutrients that both you and your baby need to stay healthy and strong. When looking for a prenatal, look for something with:

    • 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid
    • 400 IU of vitamin D
    • 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium
    • 70 mg of vitamin C
    • 3 mg of thiamine
    • 2 mg of riboflavin
    • 20 mg of niacin
    • 6 mcg of vitamin B12
    • 10 mg of vitamin E
    • 15 mg of zinc
    • 17 mg of iron
    • 150 micrograms of iodine

    Keep in mind that vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the United States. So finding a brand that has a USP label on the packaging is always a good plan. This is a seal found on supplements that have gone through additional testing to guarantee you are getting exactly what it states on the label. 

    If the prenatal you choose makes you sick, try a different brand or talk to your doctor about your options.

    Eating Tips: What to Eat/What to Avoid

    Maintaining a healthy diet is important always, but it’s especially important during pregnancy. Although you will probably be taking a prenatal, eating foods rich in nutrients and vitamins will give you more energy, help with your baby’s development, and keep you strong as well. Try to get a variety of different foods into your diet, and try to pick foods that are more natural and avoid extremely greasy or overly processed foods. 

    If you’re not sure what to eat, here are some foods that are extremely beneficial in pregnancy:

    • Salmon: contains omega-3 fatty acids which help with brain and eye development

    • Dairy: contains calcium for bone growth (also may prevent low bone density in pregnant women as well)

    • Eggs: contain choline for brain and spine development

    • Veggies/green smoothies: contain a wide range of vitamins that help with development as a whole and reduces your risk of low birth weight and spinal abnormalities

    • Berries: contain fiber for regulated digestive tract as well as a wide range of vitamins for development

    • Avocados: good source of healthy fats that promote skin and tissue development

    • Lean meats: provide protein and iron, which is essential for preventing iron deficiency which can lead to low birth rate/preterm labor

    • Whole grains: give you energy while also providing you with fiber for regulated digestive tract

    It’s also important to avoid or eliminate foods that have a high risk for carrying bacteria, as well as foods/drinks that contain harmful chemicals that could effect your developing baby, such as:

    • Alcohol

    • Coffee (Can be okay in limited amounts)

    • Deli meats or other processed meat

    • Raw meat

    • Organ meat

    • Raw fish

    • Fish high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, tuna, marlin, king mackerel, etc.

    • Raw eggs

    • Soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, chevre, and blue cheese varieties such as Danish blue or gorgonzola

    • Unpasteurized milk or juices

    • Unwashed fruits and veggies

    • Uncooked sprouts

    eating during pregnancy

    Drink Water

    Drinking enough water provides a myriad of benefits, but is especially beneficial during pregnancy. Not only does water consumption help your body to make amniotic fluid to protect your baby while in the womb, but drinking enough water also helps your body to produce more blood cells, which is essential for carrying nutrients to your baby and helping them develop. 

    Water also helps clear out toxins in your body, and can reduce the risk of UTI’s and swelling.

    According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you should try to drink at least 8-12 cups of water per day.

    Adjust Your Skincare Routine

    Skincare and dermatology products can contain chemicals that, although generally safe, may not be safe to use during pregnancy. Avoid products that contain:

    • Salicylic acid

    • Retinoids

    • Phthalates

    • Parabens

    • Hydroquinone

    • Formaldehyde

    • Oxybenzone

    • Octocrylene

    • Octinoxate

    • Benzoyl peroxide

    • Botox

    Visit Your Doctor According to the Recommended Schedule

    With how often you’re supposed to see a doctor in pregnancy, some can get overwhelmed and start skipping appointments. However, following the recommended doctor appointment schedule during pregnancy will allow your provider to monitor you AND your baby closely, and respond if anything goes wrong.

    In general, you will see your doctor:

    • Once a month in the first and second trimesters

    • Once every 2-3 weeks from weeks 28 through 36

    • Once a week from 36 weeks to birth

    Keep in mind that provider’s may vary in how often they want to see you. If you have a complicated pregnancy, your doctor may recommend you come in to be seen more frequently.

    Try not to skip appointments because you deem it unnecessary, you don’t have insurance and don’t want to pay out of pocket, or if you are strapped on money and worry you won’t be able to afford the appointments. There ARE programs that will assist you in pregnancy if you have a low income, and many doctor’s offices can work with you if you don’t have insurance.

    Sleep on Your Side

    This may not seem that important, but sleeping on your side once your baby bump starts to form can be important for your own and your baby's health. When laying on your back, your growing baby will put excessive weight and pressure on your aorta and vena cava as well as other vital blood vessels, preventing adequate blood flow and oxygen delivery to your body and baby. Laying on your side can also relieve back pain and make it easier to breathe.


    Ensuring you’re up to date on vaccines will keep you from contracting deadly diseases that you could pass to your baby. However, some vaccines are not safe to get during pregnancy, such as the MMR, Live flu, and Varicella (chickenpox) vaccines. This is because these vaccines are live virus vaccines, and they can harm the developing baby. Other vaccines to avoid are yellow fever, HPV, Japanese encephalitis, and typhoid fever.

    There are several vaccines that are recommended to receive during every pregnancy, which include the Tdap and inactivated flu vaccine. These vaccines have been found to be generally safe, and the immunity you develop can pass directly to your baby, giving them greater protection in those early months. 

    Dental Care

    Visiting the dentist during pregnancy is just as important, if not more important, during pregnancy than it is at any other time. During pregnancy, the hormonal changes we experience can have a direct impact on our oral health, resulting in a higher risk of gum swelling that can lead to gingivitis. Some women may also have greater tooth decay, leading to cavities, so it’s best to visit your dentist before damage gets too severe.

    Some women worry that visiting the dentist will be harmful, due to the cleaning agents they use and the x-rays that are performed. However, the products they use to clean your teeth are not going to cause any harm. It is also generally considered safe to get dental x-rays during pregnancy, as the radiation you receive from a single picture is not enough to cause any significant damage. If you are worried, talk with your dentist about just skipping the x-ray altogether until after your pregnancy.

    dentist pregnant

    Medications To Avoid

    Since much of what we consume can pass through the placenta and effect our babies, it’s best to be wary of what we are putting into our bodies–especially when it comes to medications! Not only can they lead to developmental abnormalities, but some drugs can also lead to miscarriage and stillbirth.

    Here are some common drugs that have either been proven to cause harm, or are considered risky and may want to be avoided:

    • Pepto-Bismol 

    • Aspirin

    • Ibuprofen (also known as Motrin, Advil), Aleve, and other NSAIDs

    • Acne medications (also known as Accutane, Isotretinoin, Absorica, Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan, Zenatane)

    • Fungal medications 

    • Decongestants such as Sudafed, DayQuil, Claritin-D (Some doctors say these are ok, but be cautious before taking them and avoid multi-symptom or sustained action varieties)

    • Nyquil (as it has a high alcohol content)

    • Methotrexate

    • Illegal drugs such as cocaine, crack, heroin, marijuana, etc

    This is not an all inclusive list, so it is always important that you talk to your provider if you have questions, and consult them before starting anything new.

    Additional Things to Avoid During Pregnancy

    Although you can’t live in a bubble your whole pregnancy, there are some additional things you should avoid or be aware of to ensure you stay safe during pregnancy!

    • Painting: Some paints can cause toxic fumes that could be harmful to your baby. If you need to paint, make sure you have adequate air flow.

    • Hot baths/hot-tubs: Extreme heat should be avoided during pregnancy, as it can raise your baby’s internal temperature to damaging levels, leading to spinal and brain damage in the first trimester. Hot-tubs can also be full of bacteria that can enter your vagina and cause infection.

    • Roller coasters: Riding jerky or fast rides in later pregnancy can lead to the separation of the placenta from the uterus (placental abruption). Some providers may give you the ok in early pregnancy, but it’s always best to talk about the risks with your provider before going on that trip to Six Flags.

    • Kitty litter: Can contain Toxoplasma gondii, a bacteria that can affect your baby’s development and lead to miscarriage.

    • Cleaning products: Many cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can seep through your skin and harm you or your baby. It’s best to stay away from oven cleaners, bleach, aerosol sprays, ammonia, chlorine, phthalates, etc. Opt for simple cleaners with gentle, natural cleaners, wear gloves and a mask when cleaning, or ask for help.

    • Pesticides/herbicides: Many of these products work by interrupting healthy growth in insects and plants, so it makes sense why these should definitely be avoided in pregnancy, as they could cause great harm to your developing baby.


    Pregnancy can be overwhelming! From navigating the changes our body is experiencing, to prepping for a new life with a new baby, we can quickly become consumed with stress! And high levels of stress not only impact your well-being, but can actually be harmful to your baby as well!

    That’s why finding ways to relax and decompress each day is vital! Whether you enjoy a nice walk outside in the morning, a bit of yoga, some time to read your favorite book, or a nice warm shower, find little things you can add to your routine each day to help you relax and de-stress.

    It can also be helpful to pinpoint what things are causing unnecessary stress to your life, and eliminate them if possible.

    pregnant woman reading

    Pregnancy can be a trying time for us moms. As we struggle with feelings of inadequacy as our bellies grow to the uncomfortable symptoms and the stress of becoming a parent, it's important to know you're not alone! Although pregnancy is a challenge, it can also be a beautiful time! As you feel the little kicks, remember that all that baby truly needs is a mom that loves him! Which is something you're designed to be!

    For more information on pregnancy check out our Month By Month Guide to Your Baby's Development, and visit our blog at!

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