If you're newly pregnant, you may be concerned that you haven't given your baby the best start in life, especially if you weren't planning to conceive. Here are some of the more common worries—and how they can affect you and your baby.
It's always good to get your health in order before becoming pregnant—having regular medical and dental checkups, getting or staying in shape, and taking a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. If you're actively attempting to become pregnant, it's best to act as though you already are—especially in regard to drinking, smoking, and taking medications that can be hazardous during pregnancy.
But even the most perfect baby plans can go astray, and sometimes pregnancies aren't planned at all! Realistically, should you be worried about what you did in the first few weeks of your unborn child's life?
I took some medication.
It happens to almost every pregnant woman; shortly after taking that positive pregnancy test, your mind flashes back to the antibiotics you took recently, the allergy medicine you use each morning, or the Midol you've been taking for a week.
There's often no need to panic. Very few medicines are clearly dangerous to your pregnancy, says Marjorie Greenfield, MD, associate professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at University Hospitals of Cleveland and the Case School of Medicine, and author of Dr. Spock's Pregnancy Guide. "Most of the time, when we recommend not taking medicines, it's because we don't know enough clear safety data," says Dr. Greenfield. "[W]hat pregnant woman is going to volunteer for a research study to see if a medication is going to be harmful to her pregnancy?"
Of course, there are some medicines that have been proven dangerous, continues Dr. Greenfield. "I think the best advice is if you've been on a medicine, ask your doctor whether there's anything to be worried about."
I had x-rays.
Shortly before Christmas 2002, Cynthia Hinz had her left foot x-rayed. "I found out I was pregnant on New Year's Eve!" says Hinz, a Northern California mom of five, who was immediately worried that the x-rays would negatively affect her newest little one. He's now a healthy toddler.
X-rays are a frequent concern, says Dr. Greenfield. However, a dental x-ray, chest x-ray, or similar x-ray performed in early pregnancy is not really worrisome. "The amount of radiation that your uterus gets is not very high and won't put the pregnancy at risk." X-ray studies of the pelvis, such as a barium enema, allow more radiation to get to the uterus. In these cases, Dr. Greenfield advises women consult their healthcare providers about what their individual risks might be.
I got a flu shot.
If you're proactive about your health as winter approaches, you may have gotten a flu shot. Should you worry? No, says Dr. Greenfield. Not only are flu shots safe, they're a good idea for all pregnant women.
If you come down with the flu during your pregnancy, you're more likely to have complications that could put you and your baby at risk. That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu shot for all women who will be pregnant during flu season (November through March), even women in their first trimester.

I had a few drinks.
Tanya Murphy found out she was expecting shortly after the holidays. "I drank wine at a Christmas party before I knew I was pregnant," says Murphy, of Haughton, Louisiana. "I was so concerned that could have caused [my son] some damage." Murphy's baby, born the next August, was unharmed by the holiday drink.
According to the CDC, no amount of alcohol during pregnancy has been proven safe. However, it is unlikely that the occasional drink (defined as a mixed drink with one ounce of alcohol, a five-ounce glass of wine, or a twelve-ounce beer) taken before you learn you are pregnant will have harmed your developing embryo.
There is real danger to your baby, however, if you're drinking heavily (defined as more than seven drinks per week) or binge drinking (defined as more than five drinks on one occasion). If you're concerned about your drinking and are afraid you may have trouble giving it up during pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider about counseling or treatment options.
I'm a smoker.
According to the March of Dimes, smoking during pregnancy nearly doubles your risk of having a low-birth-weight baby. In addition, it can increase your risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, premature rupture of membranes, and problems with the placenta. Obviously, it's best if women quit before they even become pregnant—but what if you didn't?
"The sooner you quit, the better," says Dr. Greenfield. "Most of the complications with smoking have to do with smoking throughout the pregnancy." When you quit, your baby starts to reap the benefits of your decision almost immediately. And keep in mind that it's never too late to stop smoking.
I got a tattoo or piercing.
The risks of getting a tattoo or piercing during pregnancy lie in the possibility of getting an infection. "There's no known risk to your pregnancy from the actual tattoo [or piercing]," says Dr. Greenfield. "As long as you didn't get an infection, then you're fine."
And for the next several months, let your growing belly serve as your body art!
I feel like I'm just not ready!
What if you're worried about almost everything? Some of this anxiety is due to the massive changes going on within your body, says Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD. Dr. Peterson is a family therapist practicing in Oakland, California, and the author of An Easier Childbirth.
If you're nauseated, exhausted, and generally not feeling well, it's easy to tend towards negativity. "It's kind of a leap of faith to think that here you are sick, and that's a good thing!" says Dr. Peterson. She often has her pregnant patients practice visualization—giving themselves positive suggestions that their bodies know how to be pregnant and are up to the task.
Finally, notes Dr. Peterson, keep in mind that you are getting ready for motherhood. "If you keep hanging up on different things, ask yourself what you're really anxious about," she says. "Pregnancy is a huge transition for a woman. Maybe, your anxiety is really just about becoming a mother."