A few weeks ago when I found out I was pregnant, I really thought I knew it all.
After all, I had been working toward this goal since my November nuptials and I felt like I was pretty well-informed and educated on the subject.
But after going through a stack of books and magazines, visiting my doctor and having several conversations with experienced moms - I realized I had a lot to learn. Luckily, women have nine long months to learn about the process.
This is a list of just some of the things I, as a first-time mom-to-be, have learned. It's a good start, but don't forget to use these months to scour the Internet, go to your book store or library, talk to your doctor and query other moms about their experiences and find out as much as you can.
1. Find a doctor and get prenatal care as soon as you find out you're pregnant.
2. Know that you're going to be magnet for everybody's worst pregnancy and delivery horror stories.
3. Read as much as you can and when you get confused, put it all away.
4. If you're suffering from nausea and dizziness, try wearing an anti-seasickness bracelet around your wrist. You can find them at drug stores.
5. When you're tired, sleep. Don't try to push yourself, take that nap.
6. Start taking prenatal vitamins that have folic acid and iron. They're sold over the counter or your doctor can prescribe them.
7. Avoid exposure to toxic substances and chemicals like household cleaning products, insecticides and paint.
8. Quit bad habits like smoking and eating junk food.
9. Drink lots of fluids, especially water.
10. Remember to wash your hands throughout the day to curb the spread of bacteria and viruses.
11. Join a support group for mothers-to-be or a childbirth class.
12. Avoid caffeine.
13. Ask your doctor before taking any kind of medication.
14. One thing that can help curb nausea is eating several small meals a day.
15. Avoid saunas, hot tubs or steam rooms.
16. Avoid X-rays, and if you need to have dental work or diagnostic testing, tell your dentist or physician that you are pregnant.
17. Never be afraid to ask your doctor a question.
18. Take precautions against listeriosis, a condition brought on by eating food containing the bacteria known as listeria which is particularly dangerous to pregnant women.
19. Do not eat hot dogs and luncheon meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
20. Do not eat soft cheese such as feta, brie and Camembert cheeses, blue-veined cheeses, queso blanco and queso fresco unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk.
21. Do not eat refrigerated pates or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pates and meat spreads may be eaten.
22. Do not eat refrigerated, smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood may be eaten.
23. Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or eat foods that contain unpasteurized milk.
24. Wear loose-fitting clothes to avoid unnecessary restraint on your waist and stomach.
25. Wear a supportive bra to help with breast tenderness, which is common in pregnancy.
SOURCES: Katie Powers of Manatee (Fla.) Memorial Hospital's Mom's Place; the National Center for Disease Control; U.S. Food and Drug Administration; "The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth" by Sheila Kitzinger; "What to Expect When You're Expecting" by Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff and Sandee E. Hathaway; and experienced moms.
(c) 2004, Bradenton Herald (Bradenton, Fla.). Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.