The first trimester of pregnancy is exciting, full of questions – and for many women – a little overwhelming. Those who have never had a baby don’t know what to expect, and women who have often experience different symptoms than before.
A happy, healthy pregnancy begins with education and understanding. We’ve created a comprehensive guide on what you can expect during your first trimester, what substances you should avoid, and what you need to put on your to-do list.
The early signs of pregnancy vary between women and even pregnancies. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- A heightened sense of smell
- Food aversions and cravings
- Swollen or sore breasts
For some women, these pregnancy symptoms are almost unbearable, but typically these don’t last past the first thirteen weeks. Focus on taking care of yourself, getting plenty of sleep and trying to eat as best you can, even if you are nauseous. If you do experience nausea or morning sickness, drink plenty of water; add lemon juice to liquids and meals; eat small, frequent meals to keep your stomach from being empty; eat something with protein before bed; and try to stay active.
As soon as you discover you’re pregnant, call your doctor. You may be asked to make an appointment to come in as soon as possible, or your physician may want to see you at the eight-week mark. Typically, an ultrasound will be performed at your first appointment to confirm you are pregnant and establish your due date. A Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) test, a diagnostic test for chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome, is also performed in the first 12 weeks.
What to avoid
Now that you’re carrying a baby, you should refrain from a few substances and activities. Avoid hot tubs and saunas, X-rays, handling cat litter or gardening, and exposure to oil-based paints and oven-cleaning products. Limit your caffeine intake to 300 mg a day, and completely avoid consuming the following substances:
- Illegal drugs
- Some herbal teas (check with your doctor)
- Deli meats (unheated)
- Soft-cooked eggs
- Undercooked meats
- Raw sprouts
- Unpasteurized milk and juice
- Soft cheeses
- Certain types of fish, including king mackerel, shark, swordfish and tilefish
- Any medication not approved by your physician
Your To-do List
Your number one priority during your first trimester should be to relax, take care of yourself and anticipate the new life you’re about to bring into the world. You should also:
- Begin forming your maternity leave plan with your supervisor and company’s HR department, if you have a job
- If you plan on going back to work, begin touring day cares and even applying for your child’s spot if the one you prefer books up fast
- Enroll in any birthing preparation courses you would like to take
- Start taking a prenatal vitamin
- You can also begin doing Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor for birth
The first few months of pregnancy are often exciting and daunting all at once, but know we at Baptist Health are here to support you and your baby every step of the way. Learn more about our physicians, and get information on pregnancy, birth and childbirthing classes.