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Your pregnancy week-by-week guide

I’m pregnant! Now what?

Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

Expecting a child is an exciting time, whether it’s your first or your fifth. Whether you’re excited, nervous or both, we’re here to support you every step of the way to help you have a happy and healthy pregnancy. Use this guide to jumpstart your journey, or skip to your week of pregnancy so we can meet you where you are.

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First trimester
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Second trimester
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Third trimester

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    What to expect in the first trimester

    First trimester tips

    • Track your fertility. Trying to get pregnant? A good first step is to track your menstrual cycle and ovulation. There are many apps available that can make this process simpler.
    • Calculate your due date. Your doctor will be able to provide an estimated due date (EDD), or you can figure it out yourself using a simple formula.
    • Take prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins help ensure you get the proper nutrients during your pregnancy to support your baby's growth and development.
    • Choose a healthcare provider. You’ll want to select an OB-GYN early in your pregnancy. You’ll have appointments every four weeks during the first trimester and increase the frequency as your pregnancy goes on. While you can switch providers during your pregnancy, many women find comfort in finding a trusted doctor early who will be with them for the entirety of their journey.
    • Research alternative providers. Doulas and midwives can help during labor and throughout your pregnancy. While both may receive training in their fields, only a midwife is considered a medical professional. A doula’s focus is on supporting the mother’s physical and emotional needs before, during and after childbirth, while a midwife can complete exams and assist in labor and delivery.
    • Set your diet. Aside from taking vitamins, what you eat and drink during your pregnancy matters. Increase your intake of protein, calcium, healthy fats and fiber while limiting things like caffeine. Some foods are considered dangerous to consume during pregnancy, including raw, undercooked and unpasteurized foods and several varieties of seafood, including sushi.
    • Read up. From the classic “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” to new favorites, there's no shortage of pregnancy books and resources available to calm the nerves of first-time moms and dads — and plenty that seasoned parents will find helpful, too.
    couple celebrating postitive pregnancy test

    What to expect in the second trimester

    Second trimester tips

    • Choose a birth support system. If you’d like, a doula or birth coach can fill this role in an official capacity. The role of a birth coach in the delivery room is to guide and support you during delivery. They will help you relax, keep your spirits high, try to ensure your comfort and work with you on your breathing techniques during labor. Having a knowledgeable third party in the room outside of your loved ones and official medical staff may help make your labor process feel less daunting. Of course, your partner or a trusted friend or family member could fill this role in an unofficial capacity. It’s all about who you want supporting you.
    • Follow your baby’s and your body’s developments. Your baby develops quickly, and each week can be vastly different from the last. Explore developments week by week, start at the beginning or jump ahead to see what’s next. Your body will undergo many changes during your pregnancy; on average, women tend to gain between 25 to 35 pounds and may experience symptoms like morning sickness, muscle aches and pains, weird food cravings and frequent urination.
    • Stay active. If you feel up to it, working out while pregnant is generally safe and even recommended throughout your pregnancy. There are specific workouts you’ll want to avoid, including those that involve lying flat on your back. It’s a good idea to discuss a workout plan with your doctor before continuing or starting any new workout or exercise regime.
    • Make your pregnancy more comfortable. As your belly starts to grow and more and more symptoms creep in, you’ll want to do all you can to make yourself more comfortable during your pregnancy. Consider investing in a pregnancy pillow, belly bands and a nice pair of supportive shoes.
    • Update your wardrobe. You may be able to wear your regular-size clothing during the first trimester, or at least get away with the crafty “rubber band trick,” but you’ll likely need to splurge on some maternity clothing and bras in the second trimester. Today's styles are up to date and fashionable, and you should be able to replicate your own style with trendy maternity clothes. Gone are the days of maternity muumuus — unless that’s what you’re into!
    woman looking out window

    What to expect in the third trimester

    Explore pregnancy by week:

    Third trimester tips

    • Create a baby name short list. Trendy, classic or one of a kind? It’s up to you! From Aaron to Zelda, you have a lot of options to choose from. Many parents wait until they meet their new little one in person before officially deciding on a name, but putting together a nice short list can be a fun activity to complete as the date gets closer.
    • Complete your baby registry. You can create a baby registry at one place, several places (using online retailers like Amazon or brick-and-mortar stores like Target and Walmart) or a combination of both. You can register for everything from onesies and diapers to strollers and baby swings. Consider creating a baby registry checklist so you don’t leave off anything important.
    • Have your baby shower. Whether you’re organizing the shower yourself or passing the honor to a trusted friend or family member, a baby shower is a great way to celebrate your little one’s arrival with those you hold dear and stock up on some baby essentials while you’re at it. It takes a village, after all.
    • Prepare the nursery. It’s time to get the nursery ready for your little one! Make sure it’s stocked with diapers, wipes, blankets, clothes for the first few months (babies grow quickly!) and a baby monitor. You may find a nursery checklist helpful as you stock the room over time.
    • Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding. The decision is all yours, but you’ll want to stock up on bottles either way. If you're formula feeding, research the best types of formula — there’s no shortage to choose from. If you’re breastfeeding, a good breast pump is important.
    • Install (and check) the car seat. You won’t be able to take your baby home from the hospital unless you have a car seat properly installed. It’s a good idea to complete this task several weeks before your due date, just in case. Most cities have a free service to check your car seat installation for safety — this may be your local fire station, police station or a nonprofit like Safe Kids. To find a location in your area that will perform a check, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website and enter your ZIP code.
    • Pack for the hospital. You should get your hospital “go bag” ready between four and eight weeks before your due date. A hospital bag for labor should include clothes for mom and baby, your birth plan, comfort items for you, toiletries, snacks and entertainment, such as magazines or games. Don’t forget about last-minute items you’ll need to add on the day of your baby’s birth, including your phone charger, toothbrush and other daily necessities. You’ll also need to bring your cord blood collection kit if you’re planning on cord blood banking.
    • Complete your birth plan. Your doctor will likely ask you to complete your birth plan at around 34 weeks. A birth plan is a written document that expresses your wishes for your child's birth.
    • Prepare for birth. As you prepare for labor, you’ll likely take birth classes early in your third trimester. These classes can be focused on the Lamaze method, natural childbirth or home birth and are offered by many hospitals. Parenting classes may also be offered by your local hospital or community center and can be a valuable time investment for first-time parents that let you start your journey with confidence.
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    Profile picture of Jessica Render
    by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.