Once you see a positive pregnancy test result, you have a myriad of different emotions, and then after the dust has settled, then, of course, you think, “Well, what do I do next?” And so to help you take that next step, think, “Take A STEP.” “Take” stands for take a prenatal vitamin. If you haven’t already been taking one, then start now. Pick one that has at least 400 micrograms of folic acid in it. And actually, it’s best if you can take a prenatal vitamin prior to getting pregnant, because you want to make sure you have enough circulating folic acid in your system when the baby is developing in those early days of pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects, specifically, spina bifida is the one that most people are familiar with. But like I said, if you weren’t taking one prior to when you find out you’re pregnant, there’s no better time to start taking one than now, and that will help ensure that your body has what it needs to grow a baby. “A” stands for avoid alcohol. There is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy, and this includes beer or hard liquors. The alcohol that a mother consumes can pass through the placenta and it can cause a spectrum of disorders for the baby from physical deformities to cognitive impairments later in life. So again, there is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. The “S” in “STEP” stands for schedule your first prenatal appointment. And this should be scheduled before 13 weeks gestation, so as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, you can call and make your appointment, and you’re usually seen between 8 and 12 weeks, but, for sure, it should happen by 13 weeks and you can plan on about 13 appointments throughout the pregnancy or more if your circumstances warrant it. Prenatal care is very important to make sure that you and the baby are as healthy as possible. The “T” in “STEP” stands for think twice about medications. This includes over-the-counter medications, prescriptions that you were taking when you found out you were pregnant, as well as herbal supplements. When you have your first prenatal appointment and your doctor asks you what you’ve been taking, be honest about everything you’ve been taking and using so that they can determine if it’s safe during pregnancy or not. If there’s something that you need to be on that isn’t safe during pregnancy, they can look for alternatives that have less risks or side effects and prescribe that instead. The “E” in “Take A STEP” stands for exercise. And if you’ve already been exercising before conceiving, you can usually continue with those routines after getting pregnant. A few modifications might need to be made, like around 20 weeks gestation, your doctor will tell you to start sleeping on your side, and so this will also mean that you shouldn’t be doing any exercise routines that put you flat on your back. If you weren’t exercising prior to conception, then this is a great time to start. The goal is to shoot for 30 minutes of moderately intense cardiovascular exercise on most days of the week, but that’s not going to happen over night. You’ll slowly work your way up to that, so just start by walking for 10 to 15 minutes each day. Slowly work your way up to a half hour and then increase the intensity of your workout slowly so that that’s ultimately what you’re doing is 30 minutes of moderately intense cardiovascular exercise. If, at any point, you start to cramp or bleed, then stop, and call your doctor, and get instructions from them. And exercise can and should be continued throughout the pregnancy unless your doctor tells you that your circumstances warrant bedrest or not exercising. The “P” in “Take A STEP” stands for pick a provider. And this can actually be pretty difficult, especially if it’s your first baby or you just recently moved from somewhere else and you don’t know the doctors in you area. I suggest starting with your insurance company. Call them and get a list of providers in you area that deliver babies and then you can shorten that list by finding out who’s closest to your home, talking to friends and family and getting some information by word of mouth, and you can even visit a few offices and make sure you like the location, you like the staff. But if you actually want to meet a provider, you’ll have to make an appointment with them, because it takes a slot out of their day. So just to quickly recap, if you just found out you’re pregnant, start by “Taking A STEP”. Take a prenatal vitamin, avoid alcohol, schedule your first prenatal appointment, think twice about all medications, exercise, and pick your provider. If you have more questions in the future for me, feel free to ask them on our Intermountain Moms Facebook and Instagram pages, and recommend us to your friends and family too.