What to do in the first trimester of pregnancy

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
April 2, 2023

So you’ve gotten your big fat positive, celebrated the big news with your partner, and the reality of pregnancy is just starting to set in. Sound about right?!

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Welcome to the first trimester of pregnancy, mama!

There’s already so much you can do to get this pregnancy started on the right foot. Getting organized and planning for baby’s arrival really does begin now. The first trimester of pregnancy is a great time to focus on health and nutrition, do some financial and life planning, and choose where to deliver.

I spent my first trimester in a state of shock and wasted weeks of time. There was so much I should have been doing to get prepared! The thing is, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Set weekly goals and accomplish this list of 18 things to do in the first trimester of pregnancy with ease.

Let’s find out what you can do starting in the first trimester of pregnancy to prepare for baby.

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What weeks are the first trimester of pregnancy?

Depending on what app you’re using to track your pregnancy, or who you’re talking to, it can become unclear exactly when and how long the first trimester of pregnancy is. Weeks 1-13 are the weeks in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Generally, people refer to pregnancy by weeks because it is more accurate than by months. I noticed that this is particularly true in the medical community and among other pregnant women and mothers.

When does the first trimester of pregnancy start?

The first trimester of pregnancy is considered to start on the first day of your last menstrual period and ends with the last day of the 13th week from that point. In other words, your first week of pregnancy is actually when your last period was. You start counting weeks pregnant from there.

How many weeks are in the first trimester of pregnancy?

The first trimester of pregnancy lasts for 13 weeks. It is considered to be months 1-3 of pregnancy if you are counting ‘months pregnant’.

What to do in the first trimester of pregnancy?

There’s a lot you can do right away to help ease stress as your pregnancy progresses and you get swamped with things like creating your registry, planning your baby shower, and setting up the nursery.

When we think of pregnancy, I know my mind always goes to those more ‘fun’ milestones, but foundational planning like choosing where to give birth, budgeting for a new baby, and creating a will to ensure your baby’s safety are equally, if not more important. Getting the following items taken care of when you have time, and are likely keeping the pregnancy more on the down low, is ideal.

18 First Trimester To-dos

1. Start taking a prenatal vitamin and fish oils

Hopefully you started taking a prenatal vitamin while you were trying to conceive, but if not, you’ll want to start right away. The early weeks of pregnancy are some of the most important in baby’s development. You want to make sure you are taking a vitamin with plenty of folic acid. Recent studies show that nutrient deficiencies can be linked to neuro-abnormalities and disease later in life.

Fish oils are also a good idea to incorporate into your daily routine. Fish Oil supplements are full of DHA which plays an important role in baby’s brain development.

2. Choose a provider and start researching where you want to deliver

I want to encourage you to do your research here instead of just going with the OB/GYN you’ve been using all along. They very well may be the best fit in the end, but it’s worth learning about options in your area!

Choosing where to give birth is a big decision, and I have seen too many mamas just go with the hospital closest to them or where their current provider delivers without really understanding what that hospital has to offer.

It’s important to research hospital stats now so that you can get set up with a provider that can deliver where you want to be and help you achieve the birth you want, too.

Some things you want to consider in choosing a provider and where to give birth:

  • Doctor or Midwife?
  • Hospital, birth center or home birth?
  • Rate of interventions at a given hospital
  • NICU level at a given hospital
  • Staff on the floor during a shift
  • Amenities for your partner
  • Breastfeeding success rates and support

Why is it so important to do your research now?

I feel especially passionate about making sure first time moms research this and fully understand what their hospital can and cannot provide.

I’ve seen friends separated from their babies during emergencies because the hospital they delivered at didn’t have a NICU equipped to handle their baby’s needs. I’ve seen mamas leave the hospital already having given up on breastfeeding because the support wasn’t there. Friends who wanted to room in and emphasize skin-to-skin care weren’t able to because of hospital policy.

All of this is to say, do your research and homework now in the first trimester so that you aren’t disappointed or stressed during labor, delivery and postpartum.

3. Connect with your insurance company

Right away, you should find out what your insurance coverage will be like regarding prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum hospital stay, and other postpartum care coverage. By looking into all of this early on, and checking out the details of your husband’s plan too, you’ll be able to switch to the plan that has the best coverage.

Some insurance companies will send you pregnancy ‘starter kits’ or other freebies if you let them know you’re pregnant as well. I know I received a pregnancy guide book, some free pregnancy product samples, and was able to get my breast pump sent directly to me before baby was born.

4. Prepare for your first prenatal appointment

While some elements of every prenatal appointment will be the same, the first one is a big and exciting one. If possible, try to schedule the first prenatal appointment at a time when your partner can join.

The first prenatal appointment is a meet and greet between you and your provider. You’ll go over things like family health history, discuss specific dos and don’ts for pregnancy, and even begin talking about care and birth preferences. The most exciting part is that you’ll probably get to hear baby’s heart beat!

Prepare for this appointment by brainstorming questions to ask both your provider and about your health and safety during pregnancy.

5. Enroll in our FREE Bump Smart email series

Stay organized and on top of all that there is throughout pregnancy with our free Bump Smart email series. Each week, you’ll receive an email with ways to prepare that week, relevant articles and info, a quote, and pro mom tips specific to your week of pregnancy.

You’ll also receive a fun journaling sheet each week, and other milestone printables to print and compile as a pregnancy keepsake. Combine these with weekly bump photos and you’ll have an amazing pregnancy scrap book that I wish I had done my first time around!

Even if you’re a month or two in, your bump and feelings are still going to change and evolve so much. It’s never too late to start a keepsake.

So many other weekly pregnancy apps only focus on the medical side. Our email series will help you prepare yourself, your home, your relationship, and all of the other fun and important pregnancy milestones.

6. Learn about what foods and activities you should be avoiding

All in all, I want you to remember that pregnancy is something your body was designed to do. You are not sick or weakened, and on the whole you can probably go about life pretty normally as long as you listen to your body.

However, there are of course some things that need to change. Take some time to learn about what foods and lifestyle habits need to be avoided over the next 9 months. Some big ones are to cut out alcohol, excessive caffeine, raw fish and meat, and smoking.

7. Hydrate and listen to your body

During pregnancy, the amount of fluid in your body increases immensely. Your body produces around 50% more blood and body fluids in order to grow your baby. That being said, you’ll want to up your water intake. Likely, you’ll feel thirstier anyway, and drinking to thirst is your best bet.

8. Prepare for first trimester pregnancy symptoms

The first trimester of pregnancy isn’t easy when it comes to symptoms. And when you’re still keeping your pregnancy hush, hush, it’s hard to hide these sometimes debilitating symptoms. Prepare a survival kit for morning sickness with things like Sea Bands, Preggie Pops, and snacks so that you are always ready.

Sleep as much your body needs, indulge in naps and early bed times. Hydrate and eat often to avoid dizzy-spells and headaches. And remember that it won’t last forever.

Learn more specific natural remedies and pregnancy tips by signing up for Mama Natural’s FREE weekly pregnancy series. She is my go to for the natural solution to any and all of my pregnancy discomforts, woes, and questions.  You love having her emails to guide and advise you as your pregnancy progresses.

9. Learn about prenatal testing options

One of the first big decisions you’ll make in terms of care for your baby is prenatal testing in the first trimester. You should discuss options and details during your first prenatal visit.

An overview of your two options are:

Nuchal Translucency Scan (NT Scan)

  • Covered by the insurance and the ‘norm’ (for now)
  • Measures baby’s neck during a 12 week ultrasound and combines that information with mom’s health and medical history to draw conclusions about possible chromosomal disorders
  • Relatively high rate of false positives. This can lead to more (unnecessary) invasive testing and unwarranted anxiety
  • Rate of false positives especially high for women under 30

Counsyl Prelude Prenatal Scan (Genetic Testing)

  • Typically not covered by insurance
  • Involves a blood draw and genetic testing in order to detect chromosomal disorders
  • Very accurate results
  • Allows to you find out baby’s gender at week 12 if you choose
  • Very low rate of false positives

Trina discusses how she weighed the pros and cons of these and her choice to go with Counsyl in her week 10 Bumpdate.

10. Invest in some new bras and underwear

One of the first big changes to your body in the first trimester will be your growing boobs! They will likely feel a lot heavier and sore. For many women, this is actually the earliest sign of pregnancy. You may notice it before you miss your period.

A well-fitting, supportive bra will be most helpful with keeping you comfortable. Skip maternity bras and instead invest in high quality, supportive nursing bras. These will serve you throughout pregnancy and in the postpartum period. With the recommendation to breastfeed through the first 6-12 months by the AAP, you will definitely get your money’s worth for these bras.

11. Start taking weekly bump photos and recording milestones

A really fun thing to do during pregnancy, and help distract from the yucky symptoms in the beginning? Take a weekly bump photo! It is so cool to watch how your body grows and changes. This can be done however you choose. Print your photos and compile them with the free journal printables in the Bump Smart Course for an amazing keepsake.

Pro Level? I absolutely love Trina’s weekly bump pictures. She made the effort to take the photo in front of the same blank wall each week. She also took one photo in a different shirt and one photo in the same shirt each week. Both are a fun way to track your pregnancy.

12. Think about how and when you’ll announce your pregnancy

Make sure to get on the same page with your partner right away in regards to sharing the big pregnancy news. You want to make sure you decide when you want to make your pregnancy announcement and how you want to do it. Many couples choose to wait to announce until the end of the first trimester because that is when the rate of miscarriage drops off immensely.

You’ll want to decide who to tell first and how. Often, couples decide to tell family and close friends in person and then do a fun photo announcement via social media. There are so many creative announcement ideas out there.

Be sure to follow us on Pinterest and check out our Pregnancy Announcement board.

13. Work on a budget and plan for financial safety and security

Monthly Budget

The first trimester is the perfect time frame to really look at finances with your partner. Planning financially for a new baby is one of the most important things you can do. Consider additional expenses that come with having a baby join the family.

You’ll want to account for monthly expenses like:

  • Pediatric Co-pays
  • Lactation Consultant and Postpartum care co-pays
  • Diapers and diapering supplies
  • Formula and feeding supplies should you need to supplement for any reason
  • Eventual baby food
  • Baby medications and vitamins

Maternity Leave

As you figure out your monthly budget, you’ll want to plan for how to make things work while you are on maternity leave. Often maternity leave is unpaid, and can be a financial burden on many families.

Consider learning about side hustles and work from home options now. This may help you during your time off of work without being too demanding. It might even grow into something that could mean maternity leave won’t have to end or could be longer than anticipated 🙂

Create a will and financial security for your child

During pregnancy it is important to create a will for you and your husband. You’ll want a plan for your baby should anything happen to you. Consider who will care for your child and how you can set them up financially.

If you do not currently have a life insurance plan, now is the time to enroll. If you do, get paper work in order to switch the beneficiary on the account to your spouse or baby.

Lastly, consider opening a college savings account like a tax-advantaged 529 account for your child. While we weren’t in the position to save each month for our baby, for holidays and birthdays we have family members contribute to N’s college account in lieu of other gifts. Everyone has been thrilled at the idea of helping us (and her!) save.

14. Eat healthy foods and learn about exercise options

If you are someone who exercises regularly, there is probably no reason to stop. It is always best to check in with your provider, but in general exercise will make you so much more comfortable throughout pregnancy. By continuing current exercise habits, you will keep up a routine. Exercise during pregnancy will give you more energy, help your body feel less sore and achy and may even help you have a faster labor.

If you weren’t big on exercising before, introducing light exercise to your routine now that you are pregnant will go a long way. Consider adding a daily walk or prenatal yoga to your schedule a few times a week. Whenever I was feeling drowsy or ‘yucky’ a 30 minute walk with the dogs always woke me up and improved my mood.

Consider committing to a prenatal fitness program

I know that where I live there are very limited options in terms of prenatal yoga or prenatal fitness classes.  The few that are out there are expensive and never seemed to fit my schedule.  That’s why I turned to an prenatal fitness online option! Working out while pregnant, especially if you didn’t do much of it before, is something you want to do carefully. It will really promote a healthier pregnancy and potentially easier delivery, but you need to make sure you are doing it safely and accurately.

I love the Knocked-Up Fitness prenatal workout program.  You gain access to ton of different workouts, a suggested weekly schedule, advice for how fitness and stretching can help you cope with discomforts and specific info related to preparing physically for pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery. A lot, I know! Let me just say, there’s a reason she is the go-to prenatal fitness expert on the web, she rocks.

What should I eat during pregnancy?

My best advice is to focus on eating real, whole foods and to listen to your body. Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to overindulge all the time. Talk to your provider about your personal weight gain goals, but remember that you really only need between 300-500 extra calories per day in the second and third trimester.

Get those calories from nutritious, healthy-fat filled foods like nuts and avocados. You’ll be thankful when it comes time to get your body back after baby. And don’t get me wrong, an extra scoop of ice cream is in order every once in a while too 🙂

15. Treat yourself to maternity clothes

There is really no rule on when to make the switch to maternity clothes, and if they are going to make you feel more beautiful and confident, might as well invest right away! Use our maternity clothes guide to build a maternity wardrobe that will grow with you throughout pregnancy and serve you postpartum as well.

Stitch Fix Maternity is a great option because you can tell your stylist exactly what you want. They’ll send you outfit options that will work with you as your body changes. Key wardrobe pieces are all you need to feel gorgeous and confident from week 5 through 40, and beyond.

16. Connect with other moms who are due around the same time

This was one of the best things I did as a first time mama. I was fortunate to use a midwifery center that created group prenatal care. This meant every other week I received group prenatal care with 5 other women due within a month of me. Two year laters, we still hang out with and enjoy the company of these ladies.

While group prenatal care may not be offered, do find out what kinds of community events or lectures your prenatal care provider, or birthing hospital might have going on. Prenatal fitness groups or yoga are another great way to meet ladies due around the same time as you.

Lastly, look for local Facebook groups. I am a part of a number of mom groups on Facebook that are small and highly localized, and organized by birth year of your children.

17. Stay organized and utilize lists to reduce stress

As your pregnancy progresses, the amount of things to do and prepare can start to become overwhelming. Create lists and goals by month and trimester. Use calendars and keep track of things all in the same place. Learn about our Nesting Planner to help. It includes over 150 printables to alleviate all the guesswork from preparing.

18. Get your husband involved in pregnancy

Since your growing baby is probably a secret between just you two during the first trimester, this is a great time to learn about how to get your husband involved in pregnancy. You’ll find a variety of date ideas organized by trimester and other tasks that will get him just as excited as you are!

Make your first trimester of pregnancy productive!

While you may be exhausted and feeling unwell and keeping your pregnancy a secret for now, I encourage you to get the things on this list done! You’ll be shocked at the way the weeks of pregnancy fly by and you don’t want to leave it all until the end.

Certain pregnancy tasks are more fun with friends and family involved, but the things on this list are perfect to tackle early on by yourself and with your partner.

And don’t forget about enrolling in the Bump Smart email series! We’ll help you stay on track with suggested baby preparations and support in each week of pregnancy.

How are you preparing for baby in the first trimester of pregnancy? Anything that should be added to the list? Leave a comment below <3 We love to hear from readers!

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