29 MUST-DOs DURING YOUR FIRST TRIMESTER
Woohoo, you're pregnant! This is going to be one of the unforgettable moments of your life - you can bet your last dollar on that! But take it from us, you're going to have your highs and lows, usually during the first trimester. Fatigue, morning sickness, weight gain, constipation and being on an emotional rollercoaster are some of the things you should brace yourself for. However, with a well-planned to-do list, you can keep tabs on your condition and hopefully look forward to a healthy, problem-free pregnancy.
Here are 29 things that have to be on your to-do list. Let's dive into them!
#1: SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOUR MIDWIFE
Meeting up with your midwife should be the first item on your first-trimester checklist. This is called the booking appointment, which is your first official antenatal appointment. It occurs between eight and twelve weeks of your pregnancy. Ideally, you should have had it by the time you are 10 weeks pregnant.
Depending on where you live, this appointment can take place at your home, the hospital, your GP's surgery or even a baby center. Here's what happens during a booking appointment, but brace yourself for the deluge of questions your midwife is going to ask.
#2: TAKE A SUPPLEMENT
Once you realize you are pregnant, it is time to start taking supplements daily.
Supplements your GP or midwife would recommend are:
- A 400mcg (microgram) supplement of folic acid (Vitamin B9). This is a very vital nutrient that prevents birth defects in your baby's brain and spinal cord. This condition is called spina bifida
- A 10mcg (microgram) of Vitamin D
- A pregnancy multivitamin although eating a balanced diet would suffice
#3: DOUBLE-CHECK WITH YOUR GP OR MIDWIFE ON PRESCRIPTIONS
Most prescriptions have side effects on the baby growing in your womb.
Make a list of all prescriptions and seek professional advice from your GP, midwife or pharmacist before buying them over-the-counter. Ideally, your go-to for advice should be your GP or midwife.
#4: QUIT SMOKING
If you're a chain smoker, being pregnant means it's time to dump your cigarettes. Not only does smoking put you at risk of many pregnancy or birth complications like ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or premature labour, but your baby is at risk as well.
Moreover, smoking can cause low birth weight in your baby. If quitting is a challenge, seek help or get support by talking to your GP or midwife; they should be able to put you into contact with a stop-smoking support scheme.
Hint: It is not even advisable to smoke e-cigarettes while pregnant, no matter how safe manufacturers claim they are. The vapour from them also contains nicotine and other toxins.
#5: STOP DRINKING
Medically, it is not known the consumption levels of alcohol that are safe for pregnancy. It is thus advisable you stop drinking altogether.
#6: TAKE LESS CAFFEINE
Cut down on your caffeine intake. You can drink up to 200mg of caffeine every day (that's about two cups of instant coffee or one cup of brewed coffee). Exceeding this limit can increase your risk of a miscarriage.
This limit also applies to other sources of caffeine like energy drinks, cola, chocolate and teas.
#7: WATCH YOUR DIET
You need to glean all the information about what to eat and what not to eat when you are expecting. It is also important to eat a balanced diet and pick up some good eating habits.
You need to avoid foods like raw shellfish, raw meat, cheese, unpasteurized dairy products and liver. These foods may contain toxins, bacteria or parasites that can harm your baby. Read extensively about pregnancy-safe foods or talk to your midwife or GP.
#8: EASE YOUR MORNING SICKNESS
Nausea, especially in the mornings, is one of the common symptoms expectant mothers have to deal with. One of the ways to get relief from morning sickness is to eat little and often. Do also figure out foods that make you feel sick and avoid them; you must avoid foods high in fat or spicy and greasy foods.
Eating snacks like biscuits or crackers, drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding nausea triggers can also keep morning sickness at bay. No worries, though, your morning sickness should subside from between 16 to 20 weeks.
Warning: If you are vomiting several times in the day, and cannot eat anything, then consult your GP or midwife. You may have a severe but rare form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum.
#9: BE AWARE OF ALL WARNING SIGNALS
Pregnancy comes with many symptoms you cannot afford to ignore. You must know these symptoms off-hand and call your GP, midwife or early pregnancy unit as soon as you start experiencing any of them.
Here are eleven pregnancy symptoms you should not ignore.
#10: TAKE A BREATHER
Feeling fatigued all the time is very common during your first trimester. It is because your body is adjusting to all the hormonal changes it is experiencing. In this case, it helps to get some rest often and maybe put your feet up every now and then.
Try to also have enough hours of night sleep and wake up at regular hours in the morning so your body adopts a sleeping pattern. Do everything to catch your ZZZs – read a book, listen to some music, meditate and switch off your phone.
Warning: Do not sleep on your back or belly but on your side. Sleeping on your belly can cause your baby to be stillborn while sleeping on your back cuts off blood supply to your baby. It is best to learn to sleep on your side during your first-trimester when your belly is still small, so you get used to it as your pregnancy progresses.
Being physically active such as exercising regularly, can help you cope with pregnancy physically and mentally. If you are up to it, have a workout plan, incorporate some light physical activity into your daily routine and stick to it religiously.
Here are some pregnancy-safe exercises for your first-trimester.
Hint: You can also include some meditation into your daily fitness routine. Helps to keep stress and tension at bay.
#12: HAVE A MASSAGE
You can have regular prenatal massages since this helps to ease body aches, relieve muscle tension and reduce stress. Your partner or spouse can give you a rub down at home. You can also book an appointment with a therapist.
Here's how to have a prenatal massage at home.
Warning: Prenatal massage has some side effects since it can worsen some pregnancy conditions, so speak to your GP or midwife before doing one. Let your GP or midwife be aware of any symptoms you may be experiencing.
#13: BUY A MATERNITY BRA
As you are getting on with your pregnancy, you'll feel your breasts getting fuller and more tender by the day. This is one of the early signs of pregnancy.
You should ditch your regular bras for maternity bras if they cannot support your breasts anymore. Get to know the best maternity bras.
#14: HAVE SEX
Yes, you can make love during your pregnancy if only you are feeling up to it. If you are not experiencing any complications like vaginal bleeding, fatigue and generally feeling sick then sex can be good for you.
In fact, sex during pregnancy has a lot of benefits like better orgasms, reduced stress, lowered blood pressure, easier labour and recovery. Indeed, some positions are safe for the first trimester of pregnancy. Read about them here.
#15: GET READY TO SEE OR HEAR YOUR BABY
When you are between 10 and 14 weeks pregnant, you will have to go for a dating scan. Hopefully, this will be your first ultrasound scan if you're not having any complications.
A sonograph will be used to check your baby's heartbeat. Usually, the sonographer will tell you when your baby is due. This procedure is very brief (about 20 minutes) if your baby is in a good position.
#16: DECIDE WHEN TO ANNOUNCE YOUR PREGNANCY
The right time to let the cat out of the bag is a matter of preference. Most women can't keep a secret and tell their family, friends and coworkers as soon as they realize they are pregnant.
Others wait till they are in their second trimester when their bump is showing. However, you may need to blow the gaff on your pregnancy if you're having complications or if your work is stressful or dangerous to your pregnancy.
#17: SWITCH TO PREGNANCY-SAFE ACTIVITIES
Once you get wind of your pregnancy, you will need to PUT A STOP to engaging in certain potentially dangerous activities, hobbies, jobs and even household chores. For instance, if your job exposes you to X-rays and chemicals as usually occurs in certain medical and research jobs, you will need to inform your supervisor or employer to make some changes. You should also do your chores as safely as possible.
Wear gloves and avoid coming into contact with pesticides, detergents, solvents, products with strong fumes or warning labels and lead in drinking water. Make your GP or midwife aware of your daily routine so you can both brainstorm ways to avoid anything hazardous coming into contact with you during that routine.
#18: START YOUR PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES
Pelvic floor exercises will help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and prevent incontinence or leaking wee during and after pregnancy. You will be shown how to do these exercises during your antenatal appointments.
#19: DRAW UP A BUDGET
Plan how you are going to finance the cost of having a baby. Babies are indeed bundles of joy but also bundles of expenses! For the coming months after delivery, imagine your shopping list being full of diapers, wipes, baby food, bibs and the list goes on and on.
This is the time to explore money-saving ways of shopping. You will also need to take advantage of discounts, freebies, offers, yard sales, gift vouchers and deals offered by some shops to cut down on expenses. Putting together a baby registry can be another option to consider in addition to considering buying second-hand items to cut down costs.
#20: GET YOUR PARTNER INVOLVED
You need to make your partner or spouse a part of your pregnancy right off the bat. Get him involved in your routine, let him accompany you to your antenatal classes, give you massages and help you whenever he can. These are all little ways you can get him to be a part of the big picture too.
Get him to read about pregnancy and get all the knowledge he needs. He can install APPs like DaddyUp that help men to be supportive of their partner's pregnancy.
#21: BOOK YOUR ANTENATAL CLASSES
Find out from your local area what antenatal classes are available and book early since most of these are high in demand.
#22: GET UPDATED ON YOUR BABY'S DEVELOPMENT
These days with technology, following up on your baby's development is as easy as a flick of a switch.
You can install APPs like Sprout or Pregnancy+ that give you daily updates on your baby and how he or she is growing via visual aids.
#23: JOIN A BIRTH CLUB
Do not be a lone ranger during your pregnancy. Connect with other moms-to-be and get some moral support and advice. Due to COVID-19, you may be skeptical about joining a birth club in-person, you can however opt to join a community like that virtually via APPs like Peanut.
Most of these APPs provide a platform for meeting and communicating with other pregnant women within your geographical location or neighbourhood. You can ask questions, have conversations, join groups, share stuff, create polls and even video chat!
#24: GET A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
This may not be an option if you already have a GP and midwife. But if you do not, then you need to do a thorough search for one. First, start by asking friends and family to recommend one.
Additionally, make a choice from those listed on your health insurance plan or just search online.
#25: THINK HEALTH INSURANCE
If you are already on health insurance, now is the time to find out what the insurance plan covers with regards to prenatal care, delivery cost and care for your baby.
Talk to your insurance company or human resources or benefits department. However, if you do not have one then consider talking to an insurance company.
#26: TAKE BELLY PHOTOS
Well, now is the time to flaunt your belly – even if it's not so big. Taking regular pictures can be a good way to keep tabs on how your baby is growing.
#27: MAKE A LIST OF BABY NAMES
Start making a list of names to choose your baby's name from. But don't make a choice yet, save the list for later.
Read our post on HOW TO CHOOSE A BABY NAME: 10 TRUSTED TIPS to find out more about baby naming.
#28: THINK PRENATAL TESTING
During your first trimester, your doctor will recommend several screening tests you need to take. These tests are done to detect birth defects and other problems like Down's Syndrome in your baby.
#29: ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
Free up a few minutes every day to connect with your baby. The best times for these moments are when you wake up in the morning and just before bedtime.
Sit quietly, rest your hands gently on your belly, then think happy thoughts about you and your baby. You can also talk to your baby or make him or her listen to some music. Make sure your breathing is calm during these moments. This is a great way to start bonding with your baby.
Here is a to-do list to help you get all your I's dotted and T's crossed during your first trimester. Download from here.
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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