Friday, September 16, 2005

Your Pregnancy: Tips for the First Trimester

Pregnancy is an exciting time for most women, but as many expectant mothers already know, the first trimester can be trying to say the least.
The first trimester, which is the first 13 weeks of your pregnancy, is an important time for your baby's development. It is also the time when you are most likely to experience common pregnancy symptoms such as tiredness and morning sickness.

The good news is, many of these will usually symptoms disappear once you hit your second trimester. Better still, the first trimester usually flies by-- after all, based on the "last menstrual period" system of calculating your due date, you'll be about 4 weeks pregnant by the time you get a positive pregnancy test reading.

Here are some tips to help you through your first trimester of pregnancy:

-- Schedule doctor visits right away. As soon as you find out you're pregnant, call your OB/GYN to schedule your prenatal care. If you're not already taking prenatal vitamins, your doctor will prescribe them to you. Adequate intake of vitamins, and especially folic acid, is crucial during your pregnancy. If you are not yet pregnant but are planning to get pregnant, you should start taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid now.

-- Eat healthy. Even if your diet previously consisted of junk foods and sodas, it's till not too late to change your eating habits for your baby's sake. Load up on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grain breads. Stay away from processed lunch meats and soft cheeses like feta and blue cheese (these foods can contain listeria, a bacteria which is harmful to fetuses). Avoid caffeine and junk foods.

-- If you're feeling queasy, adjust your eating schedule. Morning sickness (not an accurate name because it can occur throughout the day and night) is very common during pregnancy. Let your stomach settle a bit by eating small meals and snacks throughout the day instead of three large meals. Nibbling on dry saltine crackers may also help to settle your stomach. If your morning sickness is severe, your OB/GYN may need to prescribe something for you. If you are experiencing waves of nausea which don't include vomiting, eating small meals may help. Obviously you should avoid foods that make your stomach feel upset (I couldn't eat my favorite lunch, tuna fish, the entire time I was pregnant with my son).


-- Join a pregnancy support group. There are many online support groups that have chat rooms and message boards where you can post pregnancy questions or concerns or just meet other expectant moms. Ivillage.com has a wonderful pregnancy community with "Expectant Mother Clubs" starting every few weeks (you can sign up for the appropriate club based on your due date). The best part is, once you deliver your baby, you can continue with your club when it converts to a "Playgroup".

The first trimester is a time of anticipation, anxiety and excitement. There is nothing more wonderful than hearing that first heartbeat or seeing your baby's tiny profile during an ultrasound. It is these joys that will make your first trimester a wonderful time for you.

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