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Over the next nine months you can expect a lot of changes in your body and your life. Here, we help you to navigate those new feelings and to ensure you don’t miss any important pregnancy tips along the way from week one to delivery.
Speak with your doctor about adding a prenatal multivitamin to your morning routine. At least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day can help prevent certain birth defects that affect your baby’s brain, heart, and spinal cord, especially if you take it before you conceive and in the early weeks of your pregnancy. See that your supplements contain added goodies like calcium, iron, and Vitamin B12 as well.
Right now, you’re just dying to find out: Am I pregnant or not? Unfortunately, you’ll need to stick it out a bit longer. About four days after your egg is fertilized, it begins producing a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which pregnancy tests can detect in about another week — first in your blood (via a test at your doctor’s office) and then in your urine (which an at-home screening would spot).
Get yourself a good doctor — pronto! Having a healthcare provider you like and trust is key. After all, this is the person who will guide you through your entire pregnancy, labor, and delivery, along with the millions of questions, tests, and emotional ups and downs along the way. If you don’t currently have an ob-gyn you love, ask friends, family, and coworkers for recommendations or research practices until you find someone you feel comfortable with. And, hey, your choices are not limited to regular obstetricians. You might also want to investigate alternative or additional types of care — including midwives or family physicians.
Don’t be surprised if your doctor doesn’t schedule an appointment to see you until your 8- to 12-week mark. Many healthcare practices have potential mommies-to-be come in for a blood test with a nurse first to confirm pregnancy and then wait until you’re far enough along to better estimate your due date through an ultrasound test.
No matter how you’re feeling, remember that getting enough sleep is a sure mood-booster. Eight hours or so of shut-eye can make a world of difference. And right now, you might feel like dozing off all the time — at work, in front of the TV, in mid-sentence — thanks to soaring progesterone levels, lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and increased blood volume.
Having trouble taking prenatal vitamins? Sometimes the oversize pills are tough to swallow if you’re already feeling queasy. Ask your doctor about taking children’s chewables instead, along with a folic acid supplement.
Granted, it’s hard to focus on other people’s feelings right now — what with having to tend to your own tummy issues — but there’s a rather selfless question you’ll want to ponder: How is your partner taking all of this? Some partners are super-supportive and ecstatic, while others may feel overwhelmed by the slew of changes taking place. It’s perfectly normal for yours to suddenly obsess over the family finances or fixate on the idea of moving to a bigger home. (Just call it the male version of the nesting instinct.) Chat up your guy to feel out any of his worries or concerns. Goodness knows you’re going to be counting on him to do the same for you.
Do something for yourself this week! It’s easy to put all the focus on your baby these days — and friends and family are probably doing the same thing. Indulge in some Me time before your baby arrives — get a pedicure, immerse yourself in a good book, or take your dog for a long walk. Consider it part of your mama-to-be job to treat yourself. (Anything stress-relieving is good for you and baby, right?) No matter what, don’t feel guilty about these occasional indulgences. If they make you feel good, they’re totally worth it.
Start thinking about what you would do if your doctor suggests any sort of genetic test like CVS or amnio. They can bring up a round of questions. First, of course, is whether the benefits of having the test outweigh the possible health risks. It may take a long talk with your doctor or genetic counselor and plenty of mental wrangling on your own to decide. Other things for you and your partner to consider: Would you end your pregnancy if you discovered that your baby had a serious birth defect? If not, would it help to have this information in advance so you can prepare for a child with special needs? Odds are you’ll never need to act on the answers to these questions (90 to 95 percent of pregnancies result in the safe delivery of healthy babies), but you may decide you’re better off being prepared than caught off guard.
You’ll finally get a peek at your baby this week! Your upcoming prenatal visit will include your first ultrasound. Your doctor will be able to point out fingers and toes, and you’ll hear your baby’s heartbeat. At this time, you may also need a nuchal translucency test, which can assess risks of Down syndrome, other chromosome abnormalities, and congenital heart problems.
Hello, cleavage! Spurred by the hormones progesterone and estrogen, your breasts (and the milk-producing glands inside them) may soon strain the buttons of your blouse. In fact, it may soon be time to shop for new bras. If you plan to breastfeed, we suggest heading straight to the nursing section. You’ll need the easy access after the baby arrives, so you’ll get more wear out nursing bras than you would regular maternity bras.
Many couples decide to break the news around the end of the first trimester. If you’re not ready to spread the word yet, start thinking about how you’ll spill the beans and get ready to tell your boss that you’re pregnant. Handle it like any other important discussion: Set up a one-on-one — and be prepared. Know your company’s maternity leave policy beforehand. Reassure her that you’ll be on top of things until you leave, that you’ll help train whoever will be taking over your responsibilities, if possible, and that you’ll be back at your desk before she knows it. Whatever you do, don’t apologize or feel guilty for taking the time off that you deserve.
Don’t forget to keep up with your regular dental checkups. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 80 percent of expectant mamas suffer from gum softening or bleeding.
Now that you’re regaining energy; take the opportunity to fit in exercise. Light-to-moderate exercise, if your doctor approves, can actually help your growing baby (it boosts circulation so she gets oxygen more quickly), and it can even cut down on many of those annoying pregnancy side effects such as varicose veins, backaches, bloating, and swelling. For healthy, active women, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends aiming for 30 minutes of moderate exercise (that means taking a walk, not training for a triathlon) on most, if not all days of the week.
Along with being known as the “feel good” trimester, trimester two is also considered the sexiest. Some women experience a boost in libido due to a hormonal change, and increased blood flow can also rev up arousal and improve orgasms. So unless your doctor has advised you against it, go ahead and indulge — it’s perfectly safe for your baby-to-be.
Even if you didn’t experience constipation in the first trimester, you could experience it now as the hormone progesterone relaxes smooth muscle tissue throughout your body including your gastrointestinal tract which slows down digestion and also leads to gas, bloating, and burping. In fact, constipation affects about half of all pregnant women. Laxative pills or mineral oils aren’t a good idea during pregnancy, but lots of fluids and fiber can help. To help remedy your stomach woes, it’s a good idea to cut back on foods that make gas worse, such as beans, cabbage, and dairy products.
Wondering whether it’s safe to eat fish? Your baby-to-be can benefit big-time from brain-boosting omega-3-rich fishes such as salmon. But some varieties should be avoided due to high levels of mercury, a pollutant that can affect baby’s developing brain and nervous system. For this reason, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise pregnant women not to eat swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish. In fact, most types of fish contain traces of mercury, so you’ll want to limit your weekly consumption of safer varieties, too. According to the newest guidelines from the FDA, you can enjoy up to 12 ounces a week (roughly two average meals) of lower-mercury fish such as salmon, catfish, pollock, shrimp, and canned light tuna. Of those 12 ounces, only 6 should come from canned albacore tuna, chunk white tuna, and tuna steak combined, which tends to contain more mercury than light tuna. If you’re eating fish caught in local waters, check online with your state’s department of health for advisories.
Unfortunately, hemorrhoids are a common occurrence during pregnancy. The varicose veins in your rectum can swell up and cause discomfort. If you have them, talk to your doctor about over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams that might bring relief. And to keep them at bay, be sure to drink plenty of fluids, combat constipation with added fiber, and avoid straining when you go to the bathroom.