From the pages of the Baby & Child Care Encyclopedia: Chapter 1, Prenatal 101
Each pregnancy is different but there are some common symptoms and experiences many women encounter. Read on for helpful information about the first three months, including tips and tricks for managing morning sickness.
The moment you find out you’re expecting a baby, your whole world changes. It may come as a shock or feel like a dream come true (or both), and it’s always a big deal. You’re adding a whole new person to your family! It’s a thrilling time, and it all begins with two little lines on a test.
Pregnancy is an adventure, but it’s not without its challenges. You will experience a long list of physical and emotional changes, and it’s completely natural to have questions, concerns and even anxiety. Some days will be filled with excitement and joy while others may be a struggle. Fortunately, at the end of the day, it’s all worth it—we promise! Congratulations on your impending arrival. We’re here for you, to help you stay strong, healthy and happy throughout your pregnancy.
You just found our you’re pregnant. Now what?
As soon as you’ve received a positive on an at-home test (or even if you just suspect that you’re pregnant), it’s best to reach out to your family doctor. If your pregnancy test is inconclusive, they will confirm your pregnancy with urine and/or blood tests and provide guidance for the months ahead. If you’re unsure of when you conceived, a dating ultrasound may be recommended. They’ll also be able to recommend an OB-GYN or midwife if you haven’t already self-referred. You may see your pregnancy caregiver right away or be asked to schedule an appointment closer to the end of your first trimester.
If you aren’t already taking prenatal vitamins, start now. This pregnancy-specific supplement contains a combination of vitamins and minerals designed to optimize maternal health and prevent neural tube defects. Folic acid is especially important in the early weeks of pregnancy, and the average woman gets far less than the daily recommended requirement through food alone. In addition to taking a prenatal vitamin, you can also increase your folic acid intake by including foods like chickpeas, lentils, cooked spinach, broccoli, cabbage, spring greens and sunflower seeds in your diet.
You may have heard that it’s best not to share pregnancy news with friends and family until after the first twelve weeks. While this is a fairly common practice, it’s not necessary and is entirely up to you and your partner as to when you will share the news.
THE FIRST TRIMESTER
The first trimester of pregnancy can pass by with very few symptoms or be a fairly challenging time. Every woman (and every pregnancy!) is different, but it’s common to experience any or all of the following symptoms:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Tender, swollen breasts
- Increased urination
- Fatigue or even exhaustion (when you’re very tired for prolonged periods of time)
- Heartburn and/or constipation
- Food cravings and aversions
Some of these symptoms can be alleviated with simple remedies, but if you require prescription or over-the-counter medication to relieve heartburn, nausea or other symptoms, your doctor will be able to advise which medications are safe during pregnancy. (While pregnant, do not take any medication without consulting with your doctor or pharmacist.) Also, if you’re able to rest when tired, you should—your body is going through a major transformation behind the scenes.
In addition to these physical signs of pregnancy, you may feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster—you’ll feel exhilaration, joy, anxiety and stress (sometimes, several of these in a single hour or day). Many expectant mothers find themselves worrying about the health of their baby, childbirth, finances or raising a child. This is totally normal, so be kind to yourself. However, if you’re experiencing intense anxiety, depression or mood swings, we recommend connecting with your care team for support.
Managing morning sickness
Feeling a little green? The term “morning sickness” is a misnomer because in reality, nausea and vomiting in pregnancy can be an issue at any point throughout the day. If you’re experiencing this common ailment, there are ways to minimize your symptoms.
- Eat small, frequent meals rather than a few larger meals—an empty stomach can trigger or increase nausea in pregnancy.
- Stay hydrated.
- Try sipping on smoothies. A cold drink sweetened with raspberries, strawberries and blueberries can help fight nausea and is generally easy to stomach.
- Get some rest. Nausea worsens when you are tired.
- Get plenty of fresh air.
- Identify and avoid nausea triggers. such as specific foods or strong smells.
- Crackers to the rescue! Keep a sleeve of plain crackers, like saltines, on your nightstand and eat a couple before getting out of bed in the morning.
- Try natural remedies—eating ginger, sucking on sour candies, using peppermint aromatherapy or wearing a sea band all have varying degrees of success.
- Ask your doctor about anti-nausea medications that are approved for safe use in pregnancy. (Yes, you can take medicine for your nausea!) Be aware that most anti-nausea medications can take some time to work as they have a cumulative effect.
- Ask your doctor before taking any natural or herbal remedies.
Pro tip: Keep snacks in your purse!
If you are vomiting frequently and find that you don’t pee very often or your pee is very dark yellow and you cannot drink enough to correct this, please reach out to your doctor for support. You may be suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a condition that affects approximately 1% of pregnant women and is characterized by severe nausea, vomiting and weight loss. Severe cases of HG can result in dehydration, hospitalization and other maternal complications, so it’s important to seek medical attention. Fortunately, this condition is not an indication of issues with the baby.
- Prenatal 101
- Breastfeeding and the First Three Months
- Starting Solids and the Toddler Years
- An Age-by-Age Guide to Sleep
- Family Nutrition
- Kids and Mental Health
- When Your Child is Sick
- Safety and First Aid
- Milestones, Checklists and Charts