First off, congratulations! What emotions are you feeling? Elated? Nervous? Confused? This is likely one of the most exciting, emotion-filled phases of your life. It’s undeniably wonderful, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first pregnancy. Read on to discover a handy checklist that will guide you through the first trimester and hopefully pave the way for a healthy and happy pregnancy.
1. Start taking prenatal supplements
Start taking prenatal supplements that are specifically formulated to contain essential vitamins and minerals straight away. Make sure you take a daily folic acid supplement (folic acid protects your little one against brain and spinal cord problems) as well as vitamin D to replenish your calcium (your baby will use up a majority of your calcium reserves for his growth).
If you like, you can also start taking a pregnancy multivitamin, but eating a well-balanced diet should help you get all the minerals and vitamins you need.
2. Find a healthcare provider and arrange your first prenatal appointment
As soon as you discover that you’re expecting a baby, book your first appointment with a midwife or OBGYN. The timing of your first antenatal appointment will depend on where you reside. You should have your appointment by the time you reach the 10-week mark, but it may happen any time between six weeks and 12 weeks. Your midwife/OBGYN will need information on your health, your partner’s health, and both of your families’ medical history, so be ready for those questions.
3. Familiarize yourself with your health insurance cover
While it’s impossible to find out ahead of time what your expenses due to delivery and your consequent hospital stay will be, it’s helpful to know what your health insurance will cover as it will help you budget for potential costs.
4. Be careful about taking medicines
You need to check before taking any medicine during your pregnancy, including over-the-counter (OTC) ones. Talk to your midwife or GP about any prescribed medications you might be taking to confirm that they’re safe for pregnancy. You’ll also want to ask your pharmacist for guidance when buying OTC remedies – steer clear of most pain relievers (acetaminophen is generally considered to be the safest), especially during the first trimester.
5. Pregnancy nutrition
Your nutrition during pregnancy is something you want to be conscious about during your first trimester for your own sake and that of your developing baby.
Foods to avoid
Some foods you should avoid include:
- Unwashed produce
- Raw eggs (cookie dough, hollandaise sauce, cake icing)
- Undercooked or raw meat, shellfish, and raw fish (yes, this includes sushi)
- Fish that contain high mercury levels – mackerel, shark, swordfish, and albacore tuna
- Raw sprouts
- Deli meat and hot dogs
It’s important to stock up on healthy foods and give junk food a pass during the first trimester. Consider adding foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, and foods rich in omega 3 to your diet. You also want to increase your daily water intake to reduce the risk of dehydration and fluid retention later in your pregnancy.
6. Ditch some habits
You need to ditch some habits as soon as you discover that you’re pregnant. This is because what you put in your body now affects your baby as well.
- Quit smoking
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and premature labor. Inhaled smoke may also result in low birth weight and birth defects.
- Cut down on caffeine
Limit yourself to a maximum of 200mg of caffeine a day.
- Cut out alcohol
Cut out your alcohol consumption completely for a safe pregnancy.
7. Get relief for morning sickness
Many expectant women suffer from nausea during the first trimester. To ease the feeling of queasiness, consider eating little and often. Also, try working out which foods you can keep down and which ones make you feel nauseous. Snacking on crackers and plain biscuits may help.
If you’re throwing up multiple times a day and are unable to keep anything you eat down, contact your midwife or doctor as soon as possible. You may be suffering from severe morning sickness, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
8. Add exercise to your routine
If you don’t exercise, consider adding regular workouts to your routine to help you cope with the physical and mental hardships of being pregnant. Try to fit in some form of physical activity each day, whether it’s a simple brisk walk around the block or some prenatal yoga or dance class. In addition to the well-documented benefits of exercise, working out during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and may even make it easier for you to cope with labor.
9. Buy a maternity bra
One of the first signs of pregnancy you might notice is your full, tender breasts. If your pre-pregnancy bras begin to make your breasts feel uncomfortable, consider getting fitted for a couple of high-quality supportive maternity bras.
10. Decide when and how you’ll share the news
Deciding when to announce your pregnancy is entirely up to you. Some women choose to share the news with their nearest and dearest right away. Others opt to wait until they're in their second trimester when the risk of miscarriage is lower and the bump starts to show.
11. Get ready to see your baby
If you haven’t experienced any complications with your pregnancy, the first ultrasound scan will be your dating scan, which will typically take place between 10 weeks and 14 weeks. The scanning technician will check the baby’s heartbeat as well as give you an estimate of when the baby is due.
12. Learn the signs of a problem
Some pregnancy symptoms indicate there might be a problem. They include:
- Dehydration as a result of excessive vomiting
- Heavy vaginal bleeding (light spotting should be normal)
- Painful cramps
- Fever above 101 degrees
Pregnancy is a life-changing experience. It's an amazing time, but it can also bring about a rollercoaster of emotions. While there are multiple things to do for your little one, there’s no need to feel stressed and frustrated in the process. With this first trimester checklist, you can make those first few months a bit more bearable.