So, you’re pregnant. The positive sign on the preganancy test can be an overwhelming experience. It’s not just happiness and excitement that takes over, there’s also anxiety that comes with being a new mom. Well mommy-to-be, the best guide to help coach you through the first trimester is your own body; it will give you pregnancy symptoms that you need to eat a little more, stress a little less, get more sleep, and alert the doctor for any red flags.
We got in touch with doctors, nutritionists, prenatal fitness instructors, mommy bloggers, and fitness coaches to provide us with their expert opinions for the anxious new mommy for your first pregnancy. Here’s a snapshot index to help you steer straight to the topic of your choice:
“Am I pregnant?” Call it a mother’s hunch or sixth sense, but some seem to know it well before the pregnancy test results come in. If you know your body, you may be able to recognize the very early signs of pregnancy even after just the first week of pregnancy. Alternatively, if you’re experiencing multiple symptoms of pregnancy you may consider taking a home test or blood test.
- Amenorrhea: Lack of menstruation or skipping your period.
- Morning Sickness & Aversions: Nausea or appeal or disgust towards certain smells. Little tip: Sip on chamomile tea throughout the day for some relief. It is gentle and soothing on the stomach, and treats the symptoms of morning sickness.
- Breast Sensitivity: Your breast may increase in size marginally, which you may miss, but sometimes this is accompanied by mild to severe pain and sensitivity to touch, both of which are telling signs. A hot compress can be used to ease sensitivity or wear a well-fitted bra that has a softer support.
- Fatigue & Sleepiness: After conception, levels of the hormone progesterone increase and continue to do so throughout the pregnancy. This causes fatigue and restlessness. Take more naps; you need them.
- Frequent Urination: To keep you hydrated, your kidneys will filter more liquid which puts pressure on the bladder. But, you can ease this pregnancy symptom if you avoid diuretics and liquids before bedtime. Kegels are also helpful.
- Headaches: A common manifestation of the change in hormones when you’re pregnant, these headaches may come around quite suddenly. Try a ginger-based concoction for some anti-inflammatory relief. The one we recommend: Crush an inch of fresh ginger root, add it to boiling water, and let it steep for a minute or two. Inhale the vapors by covering your head with a towel.
- High Basal Body Temperature: When pregnant, your basal body temperature (when you wake up) will stay high for longer—about three weeks. Typically it’s only high during ovulation.
- Pregnancy Constipation & Bloating: Again, owing to the pregnancy hormone progesterone, you may begin to retain water and could have trouble with your bowel movements. Try eating some figs with their skin on, as the skin contains high doses of fiber and calcium. Alternatively, you can boil two figs and crush them to form a paste. Mix this paste with one glass of warm milk and drink it before bedtime.
- Decreased Libido: Low sex drive is a common pregnancy symptom so if you notice an unusual decrease in sexual appetite, it could be a sign.
- Spotting During Pregnancy: MadeForMums.com, a support website run by mum journalists, also addresses another early pregnancy sign, spotting, which affects 20 percent of women: “You may have some spotting when your fertilized egg attaches to your womb lining, which is called implantation bleeding. Confusingly, it can occur just before or around the same time your period is due but is usually a bit lighter.” Most definitely consult your doctor for confirmation.
No two pregnancies are the same and yet, there are some broad pregnancy symptoms that hold true for most mums. Knowing what to expect during materninty is half the battle won and will help you deal and sleep better, which is this pregnancy week by week breakdown is so important, especially for first pregnancy. With the first 12 weeks pregnant under our belt, let’s take a closer look at all the changes the pregnancy baby and mommy may be undergoing:
- 1 Week Pregnant: Pregnancy actually begins two weeks before conception as your body starts priming itself to enable the baby-making process. This is why the first day of your last period is counted towards the 40 weeks pregnancy that physicians use to chart the course of your pregnancy.
- 2 Weeks Pregnant: You may experience a few pregnancy symptoms that are reminiscent of your ovulation days—pain that’s similar to menstrual cramps in the lower abdomen, discomfort in the lower back, aches and spasms radiating down your legs, diarrhea, headaches, and moodiness, too. Also, women experience increasing volumes of fertile cervical mucous and at this time may experience heightened sexual desire.
- 3 Weeks Pregnant: The ‘early signs of pregnancy’ or pregnancy symptoms begin now—sore or tender breasts, cramps during pregnancy and or spotting during pregnancy, fatigue, mood swings and increased urination. Digestion problems such as gas, feeling of heaviness, pregnancy constipation or nausea may surface, too. The pregnancy hormones may make you feel depressed or easily frustrated.
- 4 Weeks Pregnant: The fertilized egg continues to grow, and the cells begin to organize by dividing themselves in order to form tissues and organs for the baby.
- 5 Weeks Pregnant: Your embryo is going through some rapid changes—your baby’s heart and blood stream are beginning to develop and it is around this point that parents can hear the cardiac rhythm on the ultrasound. Out of the fertilized ovum, the baby is now taking shape as the womb fills up with placenta, the amniotic sac and amniotic fluid. At this time, the lungs, heart and spinal cord of your fetus are being formed.
- 6 Weeks Pregnant: Your morning sickness will get worse so brace yourself and find resolves and smells that put you in a better mood and ease the nausea. As for the baby, the little one now looks a bit like a tadpole shape with the head and tail taking prominence.
- 7 Weeks Pregnant: More complex functions of the heart and brain are coming into play for the baby. The eyelids and nose will surface at this time, too. This week, a gelatinous plug is formed at the end of the cervix, which will seal the uterus in order to protect it. Between 50 and 90 percent of women continue to experience increased morning sickness at this time.
- 8 Weeks Pregnant: Your baby’s nose, ears, lips, eyelids, legs, and back are now fully formed as the tail evens out into a spinal column to support the baby’s nervous system. Mommies, expect bloating, gassiness, pregnancy nausea, pregnancy constipation, and headaches in full-swing this week. The milky white discharge (leucorrhea) is a result of the increased estrogen. But, it protects the birth canal from infection by maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria so don’t be alarmed.
- 9 Weeks Pregnant: Pregnancy can cause the blood vessels in your nose to expand. The increase in blood supply could exert more pressure on the vessels, causing them to rupture more easily. Use a room humidifier to keep your nasal mucosa moisturized and healthy or nosebleeds may become a common sighting.
- 10 Weeks Pregnant: All the baby’s cells are in place and the major organs and brain are growing rapidly. Your baby’s head starts to distinguish itself from the chest and your baby can now cross his/her arms and feet.
- 11 Weeks Pregnant: Be thankful, for this is the time that the pregnancy nausea, restlessness, aversions and morning sickness begin to subside until the fade away completely. With your baby’s organs fully formed, you will now see the first hint of that baby bump under your clothes.
- 12 Weeks Pregnant: No more frantic trips to the restroom (at least for a little bit)! Your uterus has moved up the body, into the abdominal cavity and is no longer applying pressure on your bladder.
Experiencing nausea when you are pregnant is characterized as ‘Morning Sickness’, even though you may feel the need to barf or be a bit woozy all day, or any time of the day. Stress, a change in pregnancy hormones and sensitivity to odor and certain foods all contribute or trigger pregnancy-induced nausea so keep tabs on them. For some much-needed relief, here’s what experts recommend:
- Dr Scott Schreiber, a licensed nutritionist from Newark, Delaware suggests a dose of ginger to subdue the pregnancy nausea. “Ginger is great for morning sickness—either the root or a supplement. Do not buy it pre-peeling as coloring is added to give it the characteristic “pink hue”. Ginger calms the stomach and reduces gas and bloating.
- Cabbage consumed in any form—raw, cooked, or juiced—can soothe the pregnancy nausea.
- Tea made using raspberry leaves is safe for pregnancy and eases morning sickness, tones the muscles used during labor, helps in the synthesis of breast milk, and prevents miscarriages.
- Prepare a blend with 10 drops peppermint and 30 drops lavender essential oils. Pour the oils in a bottle and gently roll to mix. Inhale the essence to settle morning sickness.
- Peppermint tea or candies subdue the nasty feeling by easing the build-up of gas and bloating.
- Walking also relieves the hormonal activity, thereby giving you relief from morning sickness.
- Conscious inhales and exhales can curtail stress levels which could be contributing to your pregnancy nausea so try some yoga and breathe like a pregnant woman; deep and easy.
- You can maintain the blood sugar level by eating five to six small meals throughout the day, but balance your carbs and protein.
- Lemonade or simply lemon juice in warm water soothes the effects of morning sickness.
All new-age moms either Google their queries or hit the bookstore for some readable material because, where else are you going to get your answers? Hitting up your OB/GYN for pertinent questions is important but to simply keep your mind at ease and let you know what to expect when you are expecting, preganancy books, whether online or from the store can be of great help. Here are some we recommend:
1) Expecting 411: The Insider’s Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth
Authors Dr Michele Hakakha (OB/GYN) and Dr Ari Brown (pediatrician) have put together the Holy Book for expecting moms world over. They answer all your pressing questions without stirring the boat—from eating sushi to detailed advice on parenthood and raising a baby.
2) What To Expect When You’re Expecting
Considered the Bible for moms-to-be across all 50 states, Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel‘s must-read book was conceptualized hours before she gave birth to her daughter. The fourth edition of the book has sold over 17 million copies and the title is read by about 93 percent of women in the country.
3) The Baby Bump: 100s of Secrets to Surviving Those 9 Long Months
Offering expert opinion, what sets the book apart are the ‘Birth Plan Checklists, a Kick-Count Tracker, and a Work Your Wardrobe outfit assembly guide’. Author Carley Roney has managed to connect with new-age moms who prefer a planned pregnancy and like to stay organized.
The whole concept of eating for two is extremely premature at this stage of the pregnancy trimester. You will witness a slight increase in appetite, but don’t go overboard by stuffing yourself for greed, not need. At this stage, nutrition is key and while it is normal to gain 2lb-4lb during the first trimester, a balance of macro and micronutrients is important because it is common for expecting moms to be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.
Deanna Schober, editor of Coach Calorie and FitToBePregnant.com realized the importance of having a healthy pregnancy diet and the need for pregnancy workouts only by her fourth pregnancy. She says, “As a young twenty-something having babies, I still ate like a college kid, didn’t understand exercise even though I did attempt it at times, and never really *got* the connection between what I ate and how it affected me. I didn’t care about HEALTH. I cared about my weight, always struggling to get the number on the scale right. Healthy for me was diet coke, instead of regular.” She has compared her healthiest versus the unhealthiest pregnancy on her blog. The differences vary with changes to pregnancy diet and workout, which resulted in a healthy delivery and recovery.
Dr Scott Schreiber says folic acid, DHA—an omega fatty acid—calcium, iron and vitamin D3 are the nutrients that the baby needs. Let’s explore this in detail:
- Folic Acid For Pregnancy: Schreiber explains, “Folic acid is essential for the developing fetus as it prevents neural tube defects. It comes in two forms, folate and folic acid—folate being the natural form and folic acid the synthetic form. This addition is important throughout the pregnancy, and more so during the first trimester.” You can take the multivitamin version, or alternately, load up on certain kinds of food. “Food sources of folate include broccoli, asparagus, avocado, citrus fruits, and leafy green vegetables. Other foods are fortified with folic acid, the synthetic form, but it is not absorbed as well as folate.”
- Natural Prenatal Pregnancy Vitamins: These pregnancy vitamins prepare the womb for conception. “Moms attempting to get pregnant should be on a prenatal vitamin prior to conceiving because the neural tube forms in the first few weeks of pregnancy before many even know they are pregnant.” The best place to acquire this vitamin in its natural form is through veggies.
- Benefits Of Fish Oil: Omega fatty acid is instrumental in the growth of the brain. “DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is essential to brain development, as the brain is composed mostly of DHA. It is important for you throughout the pregnancy diet.” Fish is the best way to get this fatty acid. Dr Scott recommends, “Include fatty fish, like salmon, herring, anchovy and seaweed.”
- Calcium Supplement (Natural): One mineral women are recommended to have right through their pregnancy diet and for the rest of their life is calcium. “It is essential for the development of the baby’s skin, bones, teeth, nerves and heart,” says the doctor. “Four servings of calcium-rich foods are recommended. The best sources include spinach, collard greens, almonds, and dairy products, but calcium in dairy products is not as well absorbed as originally thought, so focus on the plants. Calcium is also fortified in other foods such as tofu and orange juice.”
- An Iron Supplement During Pregnancy: Iron is another mineral that is integral to women’s health. “Often over-looked while pregnant, iron is very important for the formation of blood cells and a strong immune system. Iron is found in plants and animals, but the animal sources are better absorbed. Red meat is a great source of iron; however, there are concerns regarding the development of heart disease and certain cancers. I recommend plant sources like spinach, kale, beans, pumpkin seeds, then animal sources like turkey and fish,” says Dr Schreiber.
- Aid Digestion With Fiber: Constipation is the result of pregnancy hormones the growing uterus that is pushing down on your rectum. About 30 percent of women become severely pregnancy constipated. Eat plenty of cereals and fiber-rich foods, try to set a schedule for meals to avoid long gaps, and drink plenty of water as well.
- Pregnancy Supplement Vitamin D: Lastly, women and men both need this pregnancy vitamin, but pregnant women need it the most. “Vitamin D3 should be taken as a supplement every day as over 80 percent of the population is deficient. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that has many functions in the body. It is extremely important during the entire pregnancy.”
So, to ensure a healthy and balanced pregnancy diet, TheBump.com has created a list of ingredients you must add to your shopping cart.
What Not To Eat:
- Fish high in mercury.
- Uncooked or undercooked meats, deli meats and salads (as they could contain listeria).
- Alcohol and other diuretics.
- Try to avoid known pregnancy heartburn triggers, especially if you are suffering from heartburn. These could include chocolate, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato-based products, mustard, vinegar, mint products, and spicy, highly-seasoned, fried and fatty foods. Pregnancy heartburn is caused by hormonal changes and because the baby is pushing on the stomach, it forces the contents back up through the esophagus.
- Craving is synonymous with pregnancy, so TheBump.com compiled foods you should steer clear of when dining out. Grilled chicken and salads may seem like healthier options, but they have high levels of sodium and are extremely calorific. The site also suggests arming yourself with an app to keep tabs, ordering from the kid’s menu for smaller portions, and customizing your meal to suit your low-cal dietary needs.
Many doctors recommend light pregnancy workouts to help keep the body limber, improve its coping abilities, regulate breathing, and prevent cramps during pregnancy and pregnancy pain. ForTwoFitness.com cites the importance of pregnancy workouts, “From helping with weight maintenance and building muscle strength to boosting mood and promoting sleep, the benefits of exercise for moms-to-be go on and on. The most beneficial forms of exercise will get your heart rate pumping, focus on strength and flexibility, burn calories, and help prep your body for birth. They should also include warming up and cooling down, along with an element of restraint as pushing your body too hard during pregnancy can be detrimental to your health.”
It is vital to keep your vitals in check and there are two ways of doing it. Erica Ziel, founder of Knocked-UpFitness.com and mother of three, suggests monitoring your heart rate, which should be under 140 beats per minute. Her recommendation: “Use The Talk Test. When you’re working out during pregnancy you should still be able to carry on a light conversation, meaning at least a couple of sentences. If you are out of breath and can hardly speak, then you are working out too hard.”
If you’ve never worked out in the recent past, begin with low exertion pregnancy exercises for just 30 minutes a day. Exercising during the first trimester cuts the risk of developing gestational diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and other complications during delivery. That said, it is absolutely natural to gain 2lb-4lb in the first three months so don’t worry about the weighing scale. Work out to stay active, improve blood flow and keep the body healthy. Certified prenatal trainer Amanda Dale points out, “No matter which trimester, your exercise program during pregnancy should follow your exercise patterns pre-conception. So, for example, if you were a marathoner when you got pregnant, you can keep running during T1, but if you’ve never run a step in your life, now is not the time to start.” Here are some exercise programs that vibe will with the needs of the first trimester:
- Pilates: The workout helps improve your balance and strengthens the lower back. Considering prenatal Pilates focuses on building core strength, this will really enable your body to stay balanced while its center of gravity is shifting to accommodate your new proportions. FitPregnancy.com has prepared a demonstration of Pilate moves to prepare your body for a safe delivery.
- Yoga: Asanas strengthen your body to carry the excess weight, improve your sense of balance, keep your muscles flexible, stabilize your blood pressure, and teach you to breathe right and stay calm, right through to delivery. Prenatal yoga pays off, so soothe your mind and prep your body with this prenatal yoga sequence.
- Stationary Bike: Always consult a trainer, adjust the handlebars, and preferably use a recumbent bike (the one with back support). Resistance levels are a no-go, and perhaps you could use the pre-programmed workout selection that’s based on your heart rate to keep tabs on your pulse.
- Weight Training: An unusual but recommended workout move is to lift light weights during pregnancy, simply to build strength in your body which will have to take the additional load of the growing fetus in the coming months. If you don’t have weight turn to bodyweight exercises such as push ups. FitPregnancy.com has a workout video on modified push-ups to keep you healthy for all trimesters.
Apart from these pregnancy exercises, FitPregnancy.com also certifies squats, lunges, barre classes and swimming, and asks you to keep high intensity workouts, hot yoga, contact sports, and obstacle races off the list.
Michelle Sharp, a soccer coach from Scottsdale, Arizona continued teaching her troops (5-6 years old) all through pregnancy, “We had practice twice a week and games were on Saturday. Since they were young it was all about showing them how to do everything so there was a lot of running, jumping and stretching. I am old school when it comes to coaching so I was demonstrating how to do it before hand and did every drill, exercise or lap with them. When I reached the third trimester, I just held onto my belly as I ran and did everything a lot slower than I did before. Since I only gained 20lb the whole pregnancy, I wasn’t as clumsy as I was with my first.” Michelle is an exception to the rule as she was physically very fit before her pregnancy and so the trend continued right through her term.
But, Colleen Flaherty, the founder of the BabyBumpAcademy.com tells you when you need to stop: “Avoidance of activity in the first trimester rests on how the woman is feeling. Many women feel extremely tired, have nausea, or get light-headed. They need to listen to their bodies and take rest as needed.”
An interesting fact to note is that babies go into relaxation mode when you do your pregnancy workout, WhatToExpect.com points out it can also have a negative effect. “While babies often relax in the womb during grueling workouts, a post-workout snack should perk things up. Fetal movement should return to normal within two hours after working out — if it doesn’t, get in touch with your doctor right away.”
There’s no real need for a major wardrobe overhaul in the first trimester as the bump is barely visible. That said, some women may find themselves buying new bras at eight weeks and maternity pants by week 9; the experience varies from woman to woman. Alex Richards from Momtastic.com tried styling the bump, but failed, “I made a few attempts at styling my bump during my pregnancies, but I would have been lost without the inspiration and style of fashion bloggers.” These are some fashion bloggers you could follow for pregnancy styling tips—Ella Brooks, Helen Berkun, Miriam Sternoff, Lauren from Dressing Dallas, Soy Claudia, Amy Tara Koch and Annette from A Vintage Splendor.
Here are a few styling tips to accomodate your new size without burning a hole in your pocket:
1) Suspenders: The detachable strap keeps your pants up, prevents the rolling of your waist belt, and can help hold that bra down in place, too. Available in a nude for $13, you can wear this one under your clothes, stretching from your bra to bottoms.
💵 Belly Up
2) Elastic Pant Extensions: This innovation is a money-saver—it allows you to wear the same jeans even as your belly grows in size. The Belly Belt brand offers four different button-and-slide extenders, and three cover panels in denim, blue, white and black, all for a price of $19.99.
3) Raid His Wardrobe: A great cheat for pregnant women is to exploit the boyfriend jacket-androgenous wardrobe trend. You can borrow his plaid shirt, tees, sweatshirts, cardigans and PJs, all of which are super comfortable and can be glammed up for a structured look using some belts and accessories. Modell Molly Sims takes us through slimming styling tips for pregnant moms as she discusses color and silhouette choices:
4) Live In Leggings: Expecting moms swear by leggings for good reason. The waist-band is accommodating, they allow for easy movement, feel like second skin, won’t cause trips and falls, and can be styled with tunics, shirts, T-shirts, and many other choices on the top. Our favorite leggings include the Legging-Liz Lange from Target, Gapfit Gfast Full-Panel Leggings, Lysee Audrey Ankle, Motherhood BumpStart Under Belly Maternity Leggings, and James Jeans Women’s Maternity Twiggy Jean Legging.
5) Flirty Silhouettes: This is the time for off-shoulder tops, cowl necklines, over-sized silhouettes and A-line dresses, all of which look feminine and effortless while ably hiding the new baby bump.
6) Dress It Up: We also love baby doll dresses for the evening, a smart jacket or wrap to streamline your bump, color blocking to accentuate the right parts of your body, and cute shifts for some fuss-free dressing. You can always add leggings or stockings if you’re feeling self-conscious.
7) Pants: Erica Ziel from Knocked-UpFitness.com has found her soulmate in pants, “Lululemon’s Still Pant, turned out to by my favorite maternity pant. Very comfortable yet looked nice so I felt comfortable wearing them anywhere and could dress them up with a nicer shirt… The Still Pant for your pregnancy is well worth every penny.” She also adds, “Whatever pants you buy during pregnancy, be sure you have room to grow and don’t forget about your hips. I hate to say it but those hips will expand, they have too, keep up your exercise during and after pregnancy and chances are in time they will return to normal.”
On that note, we come to the end of our checklist, having covered everything you may need to know about in the first trimester. We recommend you bookmark this page so that you can come back to it again and again as needed. Also, if there are any other questions you may have, feel free to add them to our comments section and we’ll get back to you right away.
As for now, enjoy the first trimester, dear mommy, and fret not, we will deliver our second trimester guide to you, shortly and promptly, so stay tuned.