COVID-19 has brought many unknowns and uncertainties into the world, especially for those who are just discovering they are pregnant.
Under normal circumstances, it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to have lots of different emotions and questions about how pregnancy will change their life. During this time of COVID, these uncertainties and questions may be even more pronounced.
To help address these concerns, we asked our medical staff to answer your most common questions about COVID during pregnancy. The following information should not replace talking with your doctor about any concerns.
How does COVID-19 affect a pregnancy?
Research is still in process surrounding the effects COVID-19 could have on pregnancy. Pregnant women may be higher risk for negative effects from the virus, but research has shown pregnant women are not at increased risk of mortality (death).
How can I protect myself from COVID-19 if I’m pregnant?
You can protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, limiting direct contact with others outside of your household (especially those who are sick), and wearing a face covering. It’s also important to stay hydrated, eat balanced meals, keep your prenatal appointments, and get plenty of rest.
Can COVID affect the health of my baby after birth?
It isn’t yet known whether or not COVID impacts the health of infants after birth. In regards to breastfeeding, the limited research conducted shows no evidence of the virus being transmitted through breast milk.
What should I do if I’m undecided about my plan for pregnancy?
Once you have verified your pregnancy and confirmed how far along you are, take time to learn about all of your options. At First Care we provide free options counseling with Licensed Social Workers or Client Advocates who can answer your questions about each pregnancy option. Our professional staff will help you weigh the pros and cons of each decision and connect you with resources and referrals to support you.
All of our services are free and confidential. Call the location nearest you to schedule a lab-quality pregnancy test, limited ultrasound, or appointment to meet with a social worker to discuss your pregnancy options.
Finding out you are pregnant may come as a surprise. This isn’t what you wanted, at least not now.
Maybe you’re thinking…
Learn From Others.
We understand. At First Care, we have met with thousands of women who have thought their dreams were shattered too. But, hold on. Take a breath. Pause. Give yourself time to process.
Find hope in their stories and know that on the other side of this, you will achieve and accomplish dreams, maybe even some new ones you don’t yet have!
You will meet with someone who has experience in finding resources to help you. We will talk with you about your dreams and how your decision for your pregnancy may impact those dreams.
Once you have a clear path forward, we can help connect you with the services or resources to make your unexpected pregnancy and future plans work!
See, you may think you’re dreams have been lost, but maybe they were never fully clear. The road is never as easy as it looks, but with First Care, we are there to walk alongside you, encourage you, and cheer you on to follow new dreams.
Call or text today to talk to someone who will listen and offer hope.Learn More
Congratulations! You made it to the third trimester! Common feelings include nervousness and also excitement about your upcoming birth and parenthood. Rest assured, these are all normal feelings.
The third trimester will take you from week 28 through week 40 of your pregnancy. During the third trimester, you may notice some changes due to your growing baby and your body preparing for birth.
Here are few common changes you may notice during this final trimester:
- Abdominal aches: These aches could be caused by round ligaments stretching to accommodate your growing baby bump and preparing your body for birth..
- Fatigue: As baby grows to full-term, the demands baby puts on your body increase. Be sure to get lots of rest.
- Heartburn: As your uterus pushes your stomach upwards, you may notice an increase in heartburn. Talk to your doctor if it is bothersome or severe.
- Contractions: Braxton Hicks contractions may start as your body prepares for the birth of your baby. These contractions are irregular and usually mild. True contractions will be progressive, increasing in frequency and intensity. Be sure to call your doctor if you can time the contractions and they become painful.
- Stretch marks: Stretch marks typically appear due to genetics. Moisturizing your belly may help minimize their appearance.
- Generalized discomfort: As the baby continues to grow, some women will experience backaches, shortness of breath, urinating frequently or other discomforts.
- Breast changes: Some women notice their breasts feel very full and begin leaking towards the end of their pregnancy. This substance is called colostrum, and it’s common to notice some leaking even before the baby is born. Colostrum is very nutrient-dense and will be a wonderful source of nutrition when your little one arrives.
Your baby is also going through many changes during the final trimester to help prepare for birth and life outside the womb.
Here are a few notable milestones:
- Baby weighs between 2-4 pounds
- Rapid brain development that enables baby to regulate body temperature and have rhythmic breathing movements
- Lanugo (fine hair all over baby’s body) starts to disappear, and the hair on baby’s head starts to thicken
- Your baby gains more fat stores, and bones are fully developed (although still soft)
- Baby’s eyes are able to be wide open, and pupils are responsive to light
- Fingernails have grown to reach the tip of the fingers
- Lungs continue to develop and prepare for independent breathing
- Multiple separate bone plates in her skull that are able to slide and move to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal
- Baby is rapidly gaining weight! Expect your baby to gain about ¼ to ½ pound per week in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
- Baby drops lower in mom’s belly and is typically positioned head-down to get ready for birth!
Even though there can be many discomforts and physical demands during a pregnancy, we hope you have enjoyed bonding with your little one even before he or she is born! Every woman’s experience of pregnancy is different, so if you have any concern if something you are experiencing is “normal,” we always encourage you to reach out to your prenatal provider.
Be sure to join us for a birthing class as you prepare for delivery!
We hope this blog series has given you a glimpse of some of the changes you and your baby may encounter from conception to birth!Learn More
Have you missed your period by a couple days and wondering if are pregnant? Answer the questions below and note how many you answer “yes” to.
- Have you missed a period?
- Are you more tired than usual?
- Have you lost weight?
- Do you have to pee more often?
- Do your breasts feel swollen, sore or tender?
- Have you gained weight?
- Do you feel like throwing up?
- Are you experiencing headaches?
- Are you having mood swings?
- Do you feel dizzy?
- Have you noticed a change in your appetite?
If you answered yes to at least four of these questions, there is a chance you could be pregnant.
The only way to know for sure is to take a pregnancy test. First Care provides free lab-grade pregnancy testing and ultrasounds which can verify pregnancy and help determine how far along you are.
Even if you have taken a positive home test, we can confirm your pregnancy and provide information on your options. Our staff are trained to help you navigate your potential pregnancy and connect you to resources you may be in need of.
Your next step? Contact us by text or phone at 612-712-3974. Or schedule a confirmation pregnancy test online.Learn More
Becoming pregnant while pursuing an education can seem like a huge roadblock but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re a student in the Twin Cities at the University of Minnesota, Hamline, St. Thomas, Augsburg, Macalester, or St. Catherine University, you can find support and help through our centers.
At First Care, we will help connect you with resources in the community in addition to helping you identify available resources at your school.
Here are some of our tips to help manage pregnancy as a college student:
Gain a shift in perspective.
As we all grow and mature in life, it is important to realize that hard, difficult, challenging and unexpected things will ALWAYS be a part of life. They are unavoidable and that is not meant to be discouraging. Rather, it is intended to help you see the strength and capability you have within yourself to press on in the midst of unexpected challenges.
Who is in your corner?
I like the metaphor of a boxer who may have thousands of cheering fans but only a select few people in her corner, walking alongside her each step of the way. Take a moment to think about the people in your corner; who is there to support you through this pregnancy? Family, friends, partner? If you don’t have enough support, our Client Care staff can help you widen your support base.
Another key aspect in managing your pregnancy is recognizing any material or financial support you might be needing. This could be baby/maternity supplies, getting connected to programs like WIC, education classes to help prepare you or parenting groups for support.
- The U of M has a Student Parent Help Center that helps students who are pregnant and/or parenting with a variety of resources and support such as: child care resources, family housing, lactation resources, Parents As Students Support Group, Family friendly activity and events list, Teen Parent Outreach Program, and scholarships.
- The University of St. Thomas provides numerous resources to assist pregnant and parenting students.
- The Jeremiah Program provides services for pregnant women who want to pursue or continue their education and/or workforce prep.
We can help you gain access to all of these resources and more.
Believe In Yourself
Recognize you can do both – carry a pregnancy to term and be a student. It may look different than expected but, becoming pregnant does not mean you cannot continue your education. A lot of colleges have resources for pregnant students and want to help you through this as well. We encourage you to talk with your professors and advisers to make a plan for what this can look like.
Often with holistic support, women who experience an unplanned pregnancy realize they are stronger than they know and can move from surviving to thriving in their situations.
Remember you are not alone, not the first person to be experiencing this and you are so capable to get through this season of life.
Connect with one of our Client Advocates today to learn how we can specifically help you!Learn More
Have you ever watched one of those reality TV shows where someone didn’t know she was pregnant until she went to the hospital in labor? It’s easy to wonder how the warning signs most women experience throughout pregnancy were missed!
You will be better prepared to identify symptoms early on in pregnancy with the list below.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms
- Missed period: Some women have very regular menstrual cycles and notice they are late right away. Being a few days late may seem normal for others with more irregular periods. Our pregnancy tests are accurate 20-24 days after a woman’s first day of her last period. By the time you have missed your period, the test is usually within the accurate time frame.
- Nausea: Women experience nausea in pregnancy at varying intensities, and some don’t experience it all. Nausea/vomiting in pregnancy is sometimes referred to as “morning sickness.” Nausea can occur at any time throughout the day or night.
- Swollen/tender breasts: Your body releases hormones that can cause breasts to feel sore, swollen, tight, or even itchy. Your breasts will go through many changes throughout pregnancy to prepare for nourishing your little one after birth.
- Fatigue: It is common for women in their first trimester to feel very tired, sometimes for no reason. This generally improves by the second trimester.
- Frequent urination: You may feel the need to urinate often as your growing uterus can press against your bladder.
- Increased appetite: You may notice you feel more hungry than usual. In addition, pregnant women often times experience intense food aversions or cravings.
- Mood changes: You may notice mood swings as changing levels of hormones can impact your ability to regulate emotions.
- Light spotting/implantation bleeding: Light spotting (noticing a pink-tinge when you wipe) that occurs about 3-4 weeks after a woman’s first day of her last period can be a sign of implantation bleeding, which is considered to be normal. Contact your doctor with any concerns surrounding heavier vaginal bleeding.
- Headaches: Headaches are commonly reported by women during pregnancy. While mild headaches early in pregnancy are generally considered to be normal, any headaches accompanied with blurred vision, dizziness, or spots in your eyes should be reported to your doctor.
- Constipation/bloating: Changing levels of hormones can slow down the passage of food through a pregnant woman’s digestive tract. Drinking water, walking, and a high-fiber diet can help promote a healthy gut.
How Do I Know For Sure?
We can help if you are questioning if you may be pregnant!
London, M. L., Ladewig, P. W., Davidson, M. R., Ball, J. W., McGillis, R. C., & Cowen, K. J. (2017). Maternal & Child Nursing Care (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.Learn More
Many women will say that the second trimester is their favorite trimester of their pregnancy journey! This is due to it being the most comfortable trimester out of all three. The second trimester takes you from week 14 through week 27. Overall, your pregnancy is well established, your nausea might have gone away, and you might be sleeping better as well.
One fun fact about the second trimester is that your baby begins to hear during the second trimester. Therefore, your baby might start to recognize your voice and also respond to sounds outside the womb!
Here are a few changes you might notice in your body during the second trimester:
- Increased hunger and energy overall
- Feeling your baby move inside you more (maybe feeling like butterflies or gas bubbles)
- Your stomach will start showing you are pregnant to others
- You may need maternity clothes or larger bras to accommodate the body changes
- You may have some nasal congestion due to increased blood flow to your mucous membranes
- Potentially experience mild swelling in your ankles and feet
- You may experience sensitive gums and maybe bleeding- be sure to see your dentist if you experience any bright red or bleeding gums
During the second trimester, your baby will grow from the size of a peach to the size of a cantaloupe. Your baby’s senses will start developing and your baby will move around a lot!
Here is what is happening to the baby during the second trimester:
- The baby’s skin is covered in lanugo (soft hair that will eventually go away)
- The baby will start to gain weight quickly
- The baby’s genitals normally can be seen around week 16
- The baby becomes much more active and kicks more strongly
- The baby might swallow and suck it’s thumb
- The baby’s senses are developing and the baby might be able to hear
- The baby has times to be awake and also times to sleep
- The baby can open it’s eyes
- The baby might be able to recognize familiar voices like mom’s or dad’s
Lastly, there are a few tests that are done in the second trimester that you should expect from your doctor. They are as follows:
- Fetal Anatomy Survey– Is an ultrasound that is performed sometime between 18 and 20 weeks. This ultrasound looks at fetal size and anatomy including the baby’s organs. It can screen for potential concerns like the location of the placenta or the amount on amniotic fluid your baby has. At this ultrasound, the gender of your baby might be able to be seen! Therefore, you can let the ultrasound technician know if you would like to see the gender or have it be a surprise for delivery!
- Glucose Tolerance Test– This test will let the mother know if she has gestational diabetes with the pregnancy. The test is typically done between 24 and 28 weeks, but can be done earlier if there are risk factors for gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes can cause problems for the mother and baby during pregnancy and after birth, so it is important to be screened. During the test, mom is asked to drink a concentrated sugar solution. After an hour, mom’s blood is drawn and blood sugar levels are tested. If the results are abnormal, typically a 3 hour glucose tolerance test is performed.
Enjoy every minute of the second trimester and your growing baby, you have so much to look forward to! Also consider joining us for one of our prenatal or birth classes.
Source: Understanding Pregnancy: A Comprehensive Guide. (2012). InJoy Productions, Inc.Learn More
While the gift of time is priceless when making a big decision, it’s also important to consider the various outcomes to the “forever” decisions you are considering making. Be informed and think through all possible outcomes before coming to a decision. Look at all the details of how this decision could impact you not just today, but a week, year or even 20+ years from now.
Ask yourself, how long will this crisis last? Look at each possible outcome.
For example, a woman learns she is pregnant and just started college. The initial thought may be, “How could I go to school and care for a baby?” Abortion may sound like a simple answer. After all, you know women who have had abortions and they seem fine. Life will go on. While life does go on, that’s not the whole picture.
The truth is, abortion related PTSS (post traumatic stress syndrome) is real and affects a large number of women with symptoms often manifesting years after the abortion.
Emotional symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Low Self-Esteem
- Relationship Issues
- Intimacy Issues
- Thoughts of Self Harm
- Anger Toward Self and Others
There are also medical risks* of having an abortion to consider:
- Incomplete Abortion
- Blood Clots in the Uterus
- Heavy Bleeding (hemorrhage)
- Cut or Torn Cervix
- Perforation of the Uterus Wall
- Anesthesia Related Complications
- Painful Cramping
There are also long-term consequences to abortion often not talked about. Many women struggle with infertility, have increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, or struggle with new or increased substance or alcohol abuse.
It’s important to have all the facts when making a “forever” decision.
Now let’s look at the example situation again, you’re in college, pregnant and feel abortion is your only option. Use that gift of time to really think through all options to this forever decision. The crisis you may find yourself in today, may look much more manageable tomorrow. Abortion is a forever decision, one we cannot undo.
Learn From Others
As you make a decision, also consider talking with someone who has experienced abortion and can provide an honest assessment of their experience. At First Care we are happy to put you in touch with our staff or others who have experienced abortion and can answer some of your questions.
Some of the women who have come through our post-abortion healing program have shared their stories with us, including the following thoughts about their abortion decision:
“I wish with all my being, I could take back what I did.”
“They all said I would be okay after…but I’m not.”
“20 years later, I still struggle with great depression and grief.”
“I feel selfish…I feel stupid for getting pregnant in the first place…Before this I never believed in abortion… I have let myself and my family down…”
“After the abortion, I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself.”
“I felt like a monster for killing my child.”
“Looking back at the situation, I could have had my baby and been okay.”
If you are worried about how carrying a pregnancy may impact your future goals and plans for your life, we have staff available to help you talk through those concerns. We also have a variety of resources we can help connect you with as well.
We won’t tell you what to do or not do.
We won’t pressure you.
We will provide a place for you to process and think through the impact of your pregnancy decision now and in the future so you can make a well informed decision that you’ll feel positive about today and in the future.
Schedule an appointment for Options Counseling to talk with someone about your options.
*taken from “If You are Pregnant” from the Minnesota Department of HealthLearn More
Becoming a parent is a life-changing event. Not only does your care-free life seem to disappear, but now you have to keep another human alive. Although this all may sound scary, and to be honest, it can be, we don’t want you to walk alone in your journey. Having a baby will affect you and your future, but as many parents have shared with us, this does not have to be a bad thing.
So how will having a baby affect you and your future?
Babies cost a lot of money. Although there are a lot of factors that can contribute to how much or how little is spend on babies, like formula, child care and doctor’s visits, the estimated cost of raising a child for the first year of their life is around $10,000-$13,000. First Care Pregnancy Center provides numerous community resources and referrals to help lighten the financial burden of parenthood. In addition, through our Every Family parenting program, parents can receive diapers, wipes, clothing, and equipment for their children.
We have a lot of parents tell us that their social lives change once they have a child. No longer is it easy to just go out with friends or take a spontaneous weekend trip. Caring for a baby can definitely affect your social life, but sometimes this can be in a positive way. For many parents, their friend groups may shift to other moms that can support one another and they find more encouragement and life from these friendships! But don’t worry, the friends who are really invested in your life will be right there by your side as you become a new parent.
There are obvious physical changes that will happen to a woman’s body when she carries a baby and gives birth, but other physical things will happen too, like sleep deprivation and joy you’ve never felt before. A lot of new parents say that their lives forever changed the moment they held their baby for the first time, or even the moment they saw their little one on the ultrasound screen. To help prepare for birth and the first weeks as a parent, consider joining one of our prenatal, birth, or mothering classes.
Hormones can play an obvious role in the emotional aspect of becoming a parent. From immense joy, bringing you to tears at the drop of a hat, to feelings of disparity and hopelessness, these emotions can come and go sometimes all in the same day – and they are normal, to some degree. A large part of this is hormones, but also becoming a parent opens your eyes to a different angle of the world. Suddenly, a normal activity for you before you became pregnant feels like a death trap. If you died, what would happen to your child? Are you putting your child in danger? The emotions are real!
Although having a baby and becoming a parent can be life-changing, you do not have to walk that path alone. The professional staff at First Care are here to walk with you as you take the steps to become a successful parent. Through our parenting education program and support from our client care workers, we can address any needs and possible fears you may have about becoming a parent. We will help you make goals and work towards achieving these goals to make your dreams a reality. Because having a baby will affect your life, and your priorities may change a little, but you should still be able to dream of a future for yourself, and your new little one.Learn More
If you’re helping a friend who thinks she’s pregnant, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some ideas to help you in knowing how to best support your friend during this time.
1. Make sure she knows she’s not alone and you are there to support her.
2. Don’t pressure her. Listen to her concerns and fears and recognize that this is a stressful time.
3. Connect her to one of our locations where she can have her pregnancy confirmed with a lab quality test and find out how far along she is with an ultrasound. Come along to her appointment with her to provide support.
4. Encourage her to take her time in making a decision and talk to others who have made each choice–abortion, adoption, and parenting.
5. Continue to be her friend regardless of whether you agree with the decision she makes for her pregnancy.
When helping your friend, it is also important to remember that this is her pregnancy and she will be most impacted by the choices she makes. While you can share your opinions with her, it is important to be ready to listen, ask questions that will help her process, and to reinforce that you are there to support her.
Schedule an appointment at one of our centers today (with your friend’s permission of course).Learn More