It’s not too surprising that we tend to see a boom of babies born in the summer months. If you count backward, simple math indicates that those cold days and nights of November, December, and January were likely the most popular for baby-making. In a “normal” year, this could be the result of staying home more because of the cold, the extra time together due to vacation from work, or the result of those festive holiday parties. In a Covid era, we may see an even bigger bump (no pun intended) because we are spending even more time inside with our partners. Regardless of how or why it happens, as the new year begins, many of us will be asking – could I be pregnant?
Maybe you’ve been waiting months to ask yourself this question. Or maybe asking this question is coming as a new year’s surprise! Either way, if you’re starting this year off with the possibility of eating, sleeping, and breathing for two, there are a few things you could start to consider.
As the chill of the winter months (on the East coast at least) require us to cover up more and spend time outside less, getting enough vitamin D is so important. When you’re pregnant, Vitamin D and other nutrients that the sun and outdoors provide are essential for baby development. If you were planning your pregnancy, maybe you already started taking prenatal vitamins but if you weren’t, now is the time to start. Even if you turn out to not be carrying at this moment, these supplements can only do your body good.
Your next step should be to identify your support team. If it’s important that they look like you, Mae has created a network of birthing experts of color to support you. Now is the ideal opportunity to find the right doctor or midwife and doula who will make you feel heard, seen, and respected throughout your pregnancy.
In the meantime, movement and diet are also important. If you’ve been less active over the holidays, consider bundling up and taking a brisk walk or spending some time at home doing breathing work, stretching, or yoga. Covid has increased the risk of attending group fitness classes or going to the gym but there are now many at-home and virtual first-trimester-friendly fitness options. And remember that the first trimester of pregnancy is a crucial one for fetus development so play it safe by eating a healthy diet and not only avoiding alcohol but also foods that could put your baby at risk, like unpasteurized dairy products and cold deli meats.
As important as your physical health will be if you are in fact pregnant, preparing yourself mentally is also critical. Culturally, there tends to be a stigma around asking for help and as Black women, we often shoulder incredible burdens without feeling the need or ability to share the weight. Give yourself the permission to release some of that and start to gather the support you are entitled to during this time. Whether you’ve been waiting to see a positive test or were surprised by one, your village will help you in more ways than you can imagine. Share what you’re apprehensive about, excited about, or anticipating with family, friends, your partner, or a professional. Discuss your options and your feelings about both a positive or negative test and most importantly, be kind to yourself. For so many, a new year brings optimism and hope and we often put a lot of pressure on what is to unfold over the next 12 months. If the possibility of being pregnant proves to increase that hope or poses a particular challenge, you have the right to feel those feelings and get the support you need and deserve.
If you’re working, being pregnant will undoubtedly have implications on your professional life. There are so many things to consider, including how you feel about potentially taking a step back from work and the implications that will have on your career. But you don’t need to answer these questions yet. You have plenty of time to think about when and how you decide to share your news with your employer, whether or not your pregnancy status will impact your ability (or desire) to maintain the job you have now, if you will choose to return quickly after you deliver or if you will decide to take a hiatus. However, now is a good time to start personally planning your professional next steps. Take a look at your finances and consider how a baby will impact them and your career decisions. Get familiar with your insurance options and how they may impact your maternity. Understand your pregnancy benefits and if you do not intend to stay in your current position, it may be advantageous to start mapping where you plan to go. Gathering as much information and considering all of your options will only give you more peace of mind.
And if 2022 was the year you planned to start school or get going on an independent project you’ve been dreaming about, don’t let your possible pregnancy stop you! Consider how being pregnant may impact these steps and start to explore adjustments you may need to make if, in fact, a baby is on the way. You can also start to look at support options and ways to stay on track with your plans, despite the addition of a new addition.
As we start a new year with lingering Covid challenges, it seems clear that the one constant in the landscape we are living in is change. The uncertainty of a pregnancy and the anticipation of everything that comes with it can bring hope and excitement but it can also bring some stress and fear. Remember you are not alone. Remember YOU GOT THIS. Remember that no matter what this turns out to be, WE’VE GOT YOU! As you approach your next steps, we are here to support you.
We have curated resources and experts to help you at every step of your pregnancy journey. You can create a profile at MeetMae.com to get the most of what we hope will improve your pregnancy experience and outcome as a Black women. Support goes a long way!