Top 10 first trimester to-dos
There’s so much to consider when you find out you’re pregnant. From sharing the news to picking baby names, there’s lots to occupy your mind. But don’t forget about the most important thing: ensuring the health of you and your baby.
This means taking steps during your first trimester (i.e. the first 12 weeks) to get your pregnancy off on the right foot. Here’s how:
1) Find all the healthcare providers you need. This may mean an OB/GYN, nurse practitioner, and even a midwife. Not sure who to choose? Asking friends, family or coworkers who have had babies who they would recommend is a good place to start. You could also try researching local care professionals online and check out reviews, or schedule appointments to see who you’re comfortable with in-person.
2) Schedule your first prenatal checkup. You’ll see your healthcare provider on a regular basis during your pregnancy. It’s important that you keep your first prenatal appointment so your doctor can gather information about your health. Your doctor will take blood to learn your blood type and Rh factor, your rubella status, and may also test you for HIV and hepatitis B. Your OB/GYN will also discuss genetic screens to look for chromosomal abnormalities and may offer non-invasive tests as an option.
3) Learn what’s safe to eat and what’s not. Pregnancy is an important time to eat healthy and avoid certain foods that might harm your baby. Some of these include foods high in mercury like shark, swordfish, or tilefish, although one can of tuna fish per week is safe. Pregnant women should also avoid deli meats and undercooked or cold hot dogs unless they are heated to steaming to avoid listeria, which has been linked to a higher rate of miscarriage. And of course, avoid alcohol throughout your pregnancy.
4) Stock a healthy kitchen. Believe it or not, most women only need around 300 additional calories per day during pregnancy – that’s equivalent to half a bagel with peanut butter. And even though it can be tempting to indulge in lots of sugary snacks or high-fat foods, try to curb your hunger with healthy options. Keep plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand (remembering to wash them well before eating), low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins like grilled chicken or salmon.
5) Drink lots of water. During pregnancy your blood volume can increase by up to 50%. You’ll need lots of extra water to support not just this process, but also your growing uterus. Drinking lots of water can help prevent fatigue, constipation and even preterm labor or irritable uterine contractions.
6) Exercise. Most exercises are okay to continue during pregnancy if you were doing them before conceiving. Try to steer clear of contact sports like soccer or activities that could trigger a fall, such as horseback riding. As your belly grows, your center of gravity will change – making it easier to get off balance – walking or swimming may be safer activity options.
7) Stop smoking. Smoking can put your baby at risk for a variety of complications, including preterm labor and low birth weight. Stop smoking as soon as you can, or reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor.
8) Rest as you can. Fatigue or low energy is a common problem in your first 12 weeks. Try to grab a nap when you get in from work and take things a little slower on the job if you can. Let the housework and other tasks go for a while or ask a partner to help if possible.
9) Talk to your employer. If you don’t know your employer’s pregnancy policy, now is the time to ask. Find out about maternity leave and make sure your insurance will cover your needs during pregnancy and delivery.
10)Learn the signs of a problem. There are plenty of aches and pains during pregnancy, but learn the symptoms that need attention early so you can alert your healthcare provider if needed. This includes vaginal bleeding, a vaginal discharge with a bad smell, headaches or blurry vision, fever, pain in your legs and more.