You’re pregnant! Congratulations! It can seem when you first learn of your pregnancy that your due date is a long way out. It really does go pretty quickly, however.
There’s much to do and plan before your baby arrives. Most of the work of arranging the items and physical space your baby will need will be in later months, but those later months can go much more smoothly if you’ve done some advance planning and taken very good care of yourself in the first trimester.
Mom’s Physical Considerations
1. See Your Doctor!
Prenatal care is vitally important for both you and your baby. Schedule an appointment as soon as you discover you’re pregnant.
- Schedule all testing that your doctor recommends. The tests likely will be distributed throughout your pregnancy.
- See your doctor at any interval s/he recommends.
- Never turn down an opportunity for an ultrasound! It’s exhilarating to be able to see that tiny little baby grow and develop.
2. Address Habits
If you smoke, you already know you need to quit. The same thing goes for alcohol. Both can adversely affect your baby’s health, especially in the early formative time of the first trimester.
- Tobacco use is associated with low birth weight and even premature delivery. We all know that the longer your baby spends in your womb the healthier s/he will be.
- Alcohol’s effects can be frightening. It can affect several developmental paths even before you know you’re pregnant. It’s crucial to eliminate all alcohol upon learning of the pregnancy.
3. Assess Your Diet
You need great nutrition now as never before. Resist the “eating for two” excuse for indulging in things that don’t deliver solid nutrition.
- Though your baby needs additional nutrition that comes from mom, the baby needs only about 300 extra calories a day. Virtually none of those calories need to come from ice cream or other sugar-laden foods.
- Try to eliminate or at least drastically reduce taking in “empty” calories that don’t provide any real nutrition. Think potato chips, fries, candy bars and similar fun things here.
Real Food for Pregnancy: The Science and Wisdom of Optimal Prenatal Nutrition: you’ll get clear answers on what to eat and why, with research to back up every recommendation. Author and specialist in prenatal nutrition.
Birth Wisdom Yoga Remedies & Journal: The book prompts women to nourish themselves, and therefore their families, with simple but effective activities including writing prompts and yoga poses organized by trimester
Yeah Baby!: The Modern Mama’s Guide to Mastering Pregnancy, Having a Healthy Baby, and Bouncing Back Better Than Ever will change everything you think you know about pregnancy, arming you with the most cutting-edge information available,
4. Test Your Diet
Can your lunch and dinner plates pass the “color test” in which every item is a different color? A plate of burger and fries won’t be able to pass that test – and no, a single leaf of lettuce on a fast food burger doesn’t quite count.
- You and your baby need real food: fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein and whole grains. The more organic you can go during pregnancy, the better.
- Strive to average three to four servings of fruit each day, preferably from whole fruits rather than fruit juice. Fruit juice often is laden with sugar with little real nutritional benefit.
- You should consume three to five servings of vegetables each day. Remember the rainbow and try to include a broad range of colors of vegetables over the course of each day.
- Aim for three servings of dairy or dairy-like foods each day. Milk, cheese and yogurt are obvious choices for anyone who isn’t lactose intolerant. Lactose-free alternatives are widely available.
- Protein is immensely important, of course. Vegans or vegetarians who don’t want to go the meat, poultry or fish route can choose lentils, beans, eggs or nuts in the equivalent of two to three servings daily.
- Consume at least three servings of whole grains each day. The fiber is important in maintaining bowel function throughout pregnancy.
- Consider juicing if you aren’t a great fan of veggies. You can greatly increase your intake of beneficial vegetables through juicing if you don’t have any great affinity for vegetables.
5. Start Prenatal Vitamins Right Away
Even with a great diet that contains no fast or processed food of any kind, there are nutrients that your developing baby needs that you likely won’t be able to gain exclusively from food. The leading ones are folic acid along with iron and calcium in sufficient levels.
- Your doctor will be more than happy to give you guidelines on what to look for in a high quality prenatal vitamin. Several are available by prescription, but there are lower cost alternatives that deliver the same results.
- It may be that your doctor will want you to continue prenatal vitamins even after delivery, particularly if you choose to breast feed your new baby.
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal Multivitamin, New Super Saver Pack 360-(Veggie-Caps) specifically formulated to meet the unique needs of women during pre-conception, pregnancy and lactation, providing the nourishment to support both mom and her developing baby.
SmartyPants Prenatal Complete Daily Gummy Vitamins: Gluten Free, Multivitamin, Folate (Methylfolate), Vitamin K2, Vitamin D3, Methyl B12, Biotin, Omega 3 DHA/EPA Fish Oil, 180 count (30 Day Supply) Chewable prenatal vitamin formulated with premium ingredients
One A Day Women’s Prenatal Multivitamin is a complete multivitamin that provides nutritional support in a two pill (one tablet, one liquid gel) formula for before, during and after pregnancy
6. Continue – or Start – Exercise Programs
There is a common sense caution here, of course, but regular exercise serves several purposes. It helps to burn extra calories that your baby doesn’t need but it also helps to keep your muscles toned and strong, which will help with later stages of your pregnancy as well as with delivery.
- Depend on your care provider’s advice here! One future mom had just begun a hot yoga program when she learned she was pregnant. The yoga instructor said it was fine to continue, but the mom found scientific article evidence that extreme heat could be implicated in neural tube defects. Ask your doctor.
- Walking, swimming and other mild exercise almost always is advisable. Ask your care provider about more extreme forms of exercise such as horseback riding or Olympic weight lifting.
Pregnancy Journals For Recording Your Memories:
The Belly Book: A Nine-Month Journal for You and Your Growing Belly The first pregnancy journal devoted 100% to you and your belly, The book is organized by trimester and includes pages for “time-lapse” belly photos and ultrasound images, as well as prompts for writing about morning sickness, food cravings, maternity clothes and much more.
Bump to Birthday, Pregnancy & First Year Baby Journal : an award-winning journal / diary to help you hold onto memories of the growing bump, the birth & the first year with your baby
Studio Oh! Guided Pregnancy Journal, Bump for Joy! Bump for Joy is a wonderful way to create a unique keepsake of the most memorable moments of your pregnancy
Guided journal is arranged by trimester and contains thoughtful prompts, checklists and fill-in-the-blanks to help you plan for Baby’s arrival
Hormonal changes begin at the very beginning of pregnancy. The wash of hormones can cause fatigue, so be sure to get as much rest and sleep as you need.
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is known as the pregnancy hormone because it usually is present only during pregnancy and is what causes home pregnancy tests to return positive results. It’s also thought to be the leading culprit in the morning sickness so common in the first trimester.
- Progesterone levels increase and stay high throughout pregnancy and is believed to contribute to the irritability that can surface during the first trimester and even beyond. Just be aware that the mood swings you have likely are based in hormonal changes.
- Estrogen is elevated too. It helps to regulate progesterone but also is believed to encourage increased blood flow, leading to increased nourishment for the baby but also leading to achy and tender breasts as well as that beautiful “glow” of pregnancy.
The bottom line on hormones is that it’s your hormones going crazy and not you! Hormones will normalize and level out after your first trimester. In the meantime, get all the rest you need or want.
8. Limit Caffeine
There’s a lot of conflicting and even confusing information about caffeine intake during pregnancy. It’s both a stimulant and a diuretic, which can increase heart rate, blood pressure and dehydration, each of which is undesirable during pregnancy. Just be aware, and limit coffee, tea and sodas that contain caffeine.
Pregnancy books – that are worth buying:
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth: gives expectant mothers comprehensive information on everything from the all-important mind-body connection to how to give birth without technological intervention.
Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too! Hundreds of pages of helpful information parents can use. Features include week-by-week updates on baby’s growth.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting:A completely revised and updated edition of America’s pregnancy bible, the longest-running New York Times bestseller ever.
9. Baby’s Room
Begin thinking about how your physical space in your home will need to change. Where will the baby’s room be? What changes will you need to make over the coming months?
- It’s great if you have a room that can be converted into a nursery! Begin thinking about how you want to have that room organized and how it will work with your new addition.
- Do you want to paint and otherwise decorate? Current latex paints are considered safe for pregnant moms to use, so don’t hesitate to plan down to the last detail and even do your own painting.
- Will other family members have to make accommodation for the new baby? Gently introduce any other children to the concept of sharing a room if that will be necessary.
Check with your insurance provider to determine specific prenatal and maternity coverage you have.
Make plans for filling in any of the gaps you may find. Negotiate with your employer in the early days if that’s appropriate.
Review your employer’s job related maternity leave and related provisions. Know exactly what’s available to you and the implications of returning to work at the end of maternity leave.
Employers generally have to assure you of a job when you return from maternity leave. They aren’t required by law to ensure that you’ll have your same position when you return.
- Know all of your employer’s policies and provisions.
- Make alternative plans if alternatives seem to be beneficial or necessary.
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12. Assess Reduced Income During Maternity Leave
Babies are expensive! You’ll be spending on items for the baby, the baby’s room, an infant seat for the car, a great diaper bag, perhaps a breast pump, baby bottles, really cute clothes and an infinite list of other items. Take a realistic look at current expenses too.
- Make sure you can meet current bills – rent, mortgage, utilities, food, gas, car payments and others – on the reduced income of maternity leave.
- Plan for future expenses on the basis of current income, maternity leave income, then finally on full income after maternity leave.
13. Learn to Love Second Hand Items
Start looking around for off-price items. Babies grow so fast they never can wear out any clothes or anything else!
- Begin reviewing advertisements for outgrown baby items including cribs, baby swings, high chairs and similar items. Buy new if your budget allows and you’re unconcerned about saving money, but buy used if you’re more practical.
- Network with friends who have older children but still have all of those outgrown baby items. They may well be eager just to give them to you.
- Scour second hand stores, Goodwill and similar outlets. They often have barely used items that no baby has been small enough long enough to wear out.
- Check online advertisements. Of course be careful with sites known to have been problematic, but also check with your local police department. Increasing numbers of local police departments are providing spaces for potential online traders to meet in environments of greatly increased safety.
14. Plan for the Future
The first trimester isn’t too early to begin thinking about and planning for the future in terms of college savings or even the baby’s parents’ will.
You do have time to plan for college savings. That will need to occur in the short term future, but the more immediate need is for a will. It will describe your financial plans as well as your wishes for your children’s well being should you be absent from their lives.
15. When to Announce?
A hard and heartbreaking fact is that miscarriage happens. Though not common, it also is not rare. The good news is that most miscarriages happen prior to 6 weeks, however.
- Many expectant couples choose to delay public announcement of their pregnancy until after the sixth week, when the risk of miscarriage plummets to only five percent.
- Miscarriage is rare after it is possible to detect a heartbeat on ultrasound, which generally occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy.
- Miscarriage can and does occur after week six, but it is extremely rare after that milestone.
- A history of miscarriage does not appear to have much if any bearing on the risk of future miscarriage. Miscarriage may be more common in first pregnancies, but that isn’t a hard and fast rule.
- Announcing the pregnancy after the sixth week appears to be a truly safe bet.
16. Don’t Buy Shoes During Your First Pregnancy!
What? A hormone that has been dubbed “relaxin” is that which is thought to be responsible for loosening ligaments so that the pelvic bones can separate or expand to facilitate delivery. We now know that the relaxin hormone is operational long before delivery.
- If while in your first trimester you find the shoes you’ve been searching for a long while and they fit perfectly, don’t buy them! Odds are you won’t be able to wear them later in your pregnancy or after your baby arrives.
- Researchers concluded in 2013 that 60 – 70 percent of pregnant women experienced increase in width, length or both width and length of the feet during pregnancy. The size change was permanent.
- The size change appears to occur only during the first pregnancy, so buying shoes in any subsequent pregnancy seems to be an okay thing to do.
17. Learn to Love Plain Crackers in the Morning
As wonderful as pregnancy and the promise of new life is, morning sickness just plain stinks. Some women have little trouble with it, but others can be quite negatively affected and some experience it at debilitating levels.
- Keep plain crackers – saltines or oyster crackers – by your bed if you’re being troubled with morning sickness. Munch a few before getting up or even before sitting up. They help.
- Eating crackers in bed helps to avoid morning sickness by providing a target for excess stomach acid. It appears that the salt is beneficial in combating morning sickness too.
- One experienced mom counseled her newly expectant sister that cracker crumbs in her bed would help to prepare her for toddler stages later on.
18. Ginger is Your Friend
Ginger has been recognized as an anti-nausea agent literally for centuries. In 2016, researchers reported on its effectiveness against nausea and vomiting during both pregnancy and chemotherapy.
- One article lists anti-nausea foods for combating morning sickness and leads the list with “anything ginger.”
- Ginger tea, ginger candy, ginger anything is fair game. And it tastes good!
19. Don’t Believe Marketers’ Hype
No, you don’t need everything new. No, you aren’t a second class parent if you choose to buy second hand.
- Marketers strive to tell us that we certainly must have the “best” or “latest” for our sweet babies. That’s their job.
- Babies benefit most from parents’ involvement and from physical contact. They couldn’t care less whether their crib is the highest end retail offers or is second hand after a predecessor outgrew it.
- There’s a plethora of used baby items available through a variety of person to person outlets. They’re of varying original quality, but most have seen only limited actual use because babies grow so very fast.
20. You Won’t Need as Much as You May Think
Doesn’t it seem that a baby requires an amazing amount of “stuff?” Well, they do, but they don’t require nearly as much “stuff” as retailers would lead you to believe.
- You and your baby will require an impressive array of things that you probably don’t have at your fingertips at the time that you learn you’re pregnant.
- Neither you nor your baby will require even half of the things that “experts” say you’ll need.
- Plan for the basics. You always can add later whatever you find lacking in your current plan.
21. Learn from Other Moms!
Experienced moms of more than one child will tell you that every pregnancy is different but that there are constants that apply to each one. Experienced moms can be and are a wealth of information. Just ask one or more!
The first trimester is an exciting time! It’s a time of immense and quite noticeable changes in mom’s body as the precious baby develops and grows.
It also can be a time of high stress, excited expectation, foundation for the future or a combination of all three. Whether the pregnancy is sought, planned or a surprise, the first trimester of any pregnancy brings with it changes unique to that specific pregnancy.
Experienced moms will tell you that every pregnancy is different, and that’s absolutely true. There are constants that span each pregnancy, however. The above information addresses some of those points.
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