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The First Trimester of Your Pregnancy


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!

The Baby Gender Guessing Game

“Boy or girl?” It’s the question that virtually everyone asks once you start showing. You’ll encounter curious folks who’ll try to predict the gender with a guessing game or famous old wives’ tales. (You’re having a girl if you’re craving for sweets, you’re ‘blooming’, and your tummy is round. It’s a boy if it’s sour fruits you’re craving for, you look haggard, and your tummy seems pointy.) Everyone’s as curious as you are! Whether you choose to find out or you want to wait for the big reveal, it’s totally up to you. There’s really no rule when it comes to this. Like what all parents think, the important thing is that the baby is healthy.

But if you’re not entirely decided and you don’t know if you’re the sort of parent who should or shouldn’t determine your child’s sex, here are helpful tips you can consider:

YES, I WANT TO KNOW. Find out your baby’s gender if:

  1. You’re the type who wants to plan everything to the last detail.
  2. You feel anxious and stressed whenever you think of big surprises.
  3. You’re a researcher, and being a new mom, you want to be ready with all the resources you can gather when it comes to parenting a boy or a girl.
  4. You want to complete your baby shopping ASAP and you’re dying to know if you can already buy a cute princess costume or scruffy pirates outfit for next year’s Halloween.
  5. You want the nursery themed. Will it be navy with hanging airplanes and hot air balloons? Or will it be fuchsia with hand crafted dolls and an antique tea set?
  6. You want to pin down a baby name and be able to call your child a “she” or “he” rather than “it.”

NO, I’D RATHER WAIT. Opt for the ultimate reveal if:

  1. You’re big on surprises. Nothing gets you giddy than a dose of unfamiliarity.
  2. You want to feel that emotional high a lot of parents share when they found out their baby’s gender on the day of delivery. They describe it as a “moment of absolute joy.”
  3. Your mantra is “learn by doing.” There’s no better way to submerge yourself in parenthood than by studying the ropes only as things unfold.
  4. You don’t even think that ultrasound sex detection is 100% accurate. Besides, it’s not like you’ll love your child any less.

You don’t mind buying and receiving gender neutral items since you can easily use them for your future kids. That makes you save money too!

Delivery Day

It's your big day! Now what?

The anxiety that comes with anticipating your delivery day is normal, which is why it helps to be prepared for it. Whether you're having a natural birth or getting a C-section, knowing what to expect can help quell the nerves that's typical of first-time mommies (and daddies). To help you get a grip on what you can expect on D-day, here are some pointers:

Know the different phases of labor.

This is the longest stage of labor and it can span several hours and last up to several weeks. The cervix will dilate to three centimeters and it undergoes effacement (thinning out). Typically, your contractions will last an average of 30 to 45 seconds, with five to twenty minutes spaced between each one. Your back will ache and some cramping will occur. This is also when your discharge will be blood-tinged mucous or bloody. 

The best thing to do during this phase is to just relax. Save your strength for the more intense phases. If you're able to, try to get some sleep. If not, keep yourself busy by cooking some meals that you can later bring to the hospital, start preparing an overnight bag, or even go for a walk which can help induce contractions and speed up the whole process. If you get hungry, eat a light snack, but be sure to avoid fatty foods.

During this phase, you'll experience stronger contractions, which would come every three to four minutes and will last up to 40 to 60 seconds. By now, you should be at the hospital. Your cervix will dilate to seven centimeters.

As in phase one, remember to keep relaxed and comfortable. Remember to urinate regularly and to keep yourself hydrated. At this point, a nurse or midwife should be with you to take your blood pressure, take note of the spacing between each contraction, and observe the baby's position with an electronic fetal monitor. If you plan on taking an epidural, now would be the time to ask for it.

This is the shortest, albeit most intense phase which can last anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes. Your cervix will dilate from seven to the full ten centimeters. You'll experience stronger contractions which will be 60 to 90 seconds long. There will be pressure in your lower back and rectum. You may also experience nausea, fatigue, tightness in your throat and chest, some shakiness, and more blood-tinged mucous discharge. 

Ask your doctor for guidance. Do not push until your cervix is fully dilated as this may lead to swelling of the cervix, which can cause complications. 

The main event

Now that you're through the three phases, it's time to push! This can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Currently, there are two schools of thought when pushing: the coached pushing or the spontaneous pushing. Here are their differences:

Coached pushing 

- Coached pushing is most widely used in hospitals. This happens when you're fully dilated at 10 centimeters and is done by a labor and delivery nurse.

- You're coached to push at regular intervals, three times with each contraction for a count of 10 seconds.

- Do not push with your upper body, this can strain your face and lead to black or bloodshot eyes and bruises. 

Spontaneous pushing 

- It's also known as physiological pushing or mother-led pushing, when you follow your body's natural urge to push.

- Pushes are shorter but more frequent during a contraction.

- Spontaneous pushing is more intuitive and is assisted by a midwife. 

What happens during a caesarean section?

A caesarean section or C-section is when a woman delivers her baby through a surgical incision in her abdomen and uterus.

Nowadays, C-sections can be scheduled in advance for many reasons, namely:

- Placenta previa (a low placenta that covers the cervix)

- An obstruction that makes vaginal delivery impossible

- You’re carrying more than one baby

- You’ve had a previous C-section which increases the risk of your uterus rupturing during delivery

- Your baby is in breech (feet first) or transverse (sideways) position

- You’re HIV-positive and have a high viral load

- Your baby has a malformation or abnormality making vaginal delivery dangerous

- Your baby is very large

Reasons for an unplanned C-section:

- Your cervix stops dilating or the baby stops moving through the birth canal

- A prolapsed cord (when the umbilical cord slips through the cervix)

- Placenta separation from the uterine wall or placental abruption

- Your baby's heart rate slows down

- You have a genital herpes outbreak during delivery or when your water breaks


The C-section process:

After you're give anesthesia and it takes effect, your belly will be cleaned with an antiseptic and the doctor will make a small, horizontal incision above your pubic bone. 

The doctor will then cut through the underlying tissue. He'll separate your abdominal muscles and spread them to expose what's underneath. When he reaches your uterus, he'll make a horizontal incision in the lower section called a low-transverse uterine incision. 

He'll then reach in and pull out the baby. After the umbilical cord is cut, he'll show you your baby then hand her off to a nurse for examination and cleaning. When this is through, they'll hand over the baby to your partner or place her beside you while you get stitched up. 

Stitches are removed from three to seven days later, or they may dissolve on their own. After you're done, you'll be moved to a recovery room where you'll be monitored for a few hours. But don't worry, your baby will be with you and you'll be free to snuggle and kiss her all you want.