There’s no feeling quite like your first pregnancy. It’s a mix of ecstatic joy, awe at the miracle of creating life, and wondered elation at the life growing inside you. With that excitement and happiness, however, can also come anxiety and nervousness. It’s a natural response when dealing with something new and unknown, but thankfully, generations of women have recounted their experiences and offered advice that will carry you from the first trimester all the way to the delivery room and beyond.

1. Signs of Pregnancy

While either home or doctor-administered pregnancy tests are the surest way to confirm you’re with child, your body will begin telling you you’re pregnant long before getting a test even occurs, even beyond the expected missed period. If you’re a first-time mother who’s been trying to conceive, keep an eye out for unexplained nausea, particularly in the morning. Other common symptoms are lower back pain, surprising changes in mood, swollen or tender breasts, and even the odd craving for a specific food.

2. Adjust Your Diet

First-time mothers are often intimidated by the necessary diet changes for ensuring a healthy birth, but eating for two is actually fairly straight forward. For foods to avoid, caffeine and alcohol are the most obvious, as they can lead to everything from premature birth to congenital issues that will impact your baby later in life. As for what to eat, a diet rich in dark, leafy greens, whole grains, and plenty of protein-rich foods like dairy products and healthy, lean meats. Since you’re eating for two, your doctor will prescribe an appropriate calorie increase that will give your growing baby the nutrition they need without negatively impacting your own weight.

3. Choose the Right Exercise Routine

Pregnancy leads to all manner of odd aches and pains, with a sore back and feet the most common. This can make something as simple as standing in line for an extended period of time difficult. That said, giving birth requires a strong body, and light exercise is proven to have healthier pregnancies with significantly less discomfort. The trick is in knowing which exercises to avoid. Pregnant women should not attempt weight training or exercises that require lying on the stomach. Instead, try light, low-impact aerobic exercise, like power walking or swimming.

4. Take Stress Seriously

It’s tempting to live life as close to normal while pregnant, but the simple fact is that carrying a child takes a toll on the body. The Journal Of Labor Economics published a study that women who work up to within one month of delivery give birth to babies as much as a full pound lighter than women who step back from the office sooner. Your body and well being is just as important as the life growing inside you, so don’t be afraid to step back from responsibilities that add extra stress.

5. Body Changes after Pregnancy

Be prepared for your body to change significantly after carrying a child. In order to accommodate the growing fetus, your body’s skin must expand rapidly, which leads to stretching and, in most cases stretch marks. These typically occur around the stomach, as well as the breasts, which swell to accommodate milk. While they are a bright red when first appearing, with time stretch marks will fade. Their discomfort generally fades in time, but if it lingers or is otherwise too much for you, you can get treatment from a place like Refined Dermatology. Other long-term body changes include decreased bladder continence, slightly more regular periods, and even changes to hair texture.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Many of these changes may come as a surprise, and while it may seem daunting, your body is well equipped by nature to handle the trials and changes that come with carrying a child. Take time to enjoy the novelty and excitement of your first pregnancy, and don’t be afraid to lean on family, friends, and your doctor for support.