You’ve taken the test and confirmed with your doctor: congratulations, you’re pregnant! Welcome to an incredible journey that will change your life forever.
What’s happening inside you?
Pregnancy is measured in trimesters from the first day of your last menstrual period, totaling 40 weeks. The first trimester is your first twelve weeks -- roughly three months. Weeks three to eight, the embryonic stage, are especially critical since the embryo develops most major body organs and is especially vulnerable to damaging substances, such as alcohol, radiation, and infectious diseases.
What will you be feeling?
When you get pregnant, your hormones immediately trigger to nourish the growing life inside of you. While that’s great for the baby, these hormonal changes can mean a number of symptoms for you. Prepare for bouts of nausea (‘morning sickness’ doesn’t just happen in the morning!), strange food cravings, tender or sore breasts, fatigue, dizziness, heartburn, acne, and more. You may also experience mood swings or feel anxious and stressed. It’s normal!
How should you prepare?
- Take your prenatal vitamins. Folic acid is exceptionally critical during the first trimester to prevent neural tube problems such as spina bifida (when the spinal bones do not properly form around the spinal cord.)
- Cut out harmful substances. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. Limit your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams a day or around two mugs of instant coffee. Steer clear of chemicals from household cleaning products, pesticides, and solvents.
- Avoid hazardous foods. Sorry, sushi fans: you’ll need to say no to anything that may contain bacteria, toxins, or parasites. That means no more raw or undercooked meats and unpasteurized dairy products. Wash your salad veggies well, too.
- Try to eat as nutritiously as you can. Complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and ‘good’ fats from nuts are your best friends.
- If you are experiencing nausea, these measures can help: avoid oily and spicy foods that can irritate your stomach. Have small, frequent meals that won’t tax your digestive system (don’t skip meals because acids on an empty stomach cause nausea, too). If it hits you hardest in the morning, dry crackers eaten before getting up can settle the tummy. Ginger is an all-natural and safe anti-nausea aid, so stock up on salabat and enjoy arroz caldo.
- Sleep much. It may make you feel like a grandma, but the changes to your body will get you exhausted. Don’t fight the urge to rest, even if that means going to bed before 9pm!
- Be informed. Buy a good prenatal book, join pregnancy groups online, subscribe to baby newsletters – you’ll need all the support you can get, and information is power.
- Start saving. Not only will you need funds for labor and delivery, there’s baby equipment (bottles, sterilizers, stroller, crib, car seat, etc.) to consider, and don’t discount the monthly pediatrician visits and vaccinations during that first year!
Good luck on this awesome ride, and enjoy your pregnancy!