Ever hit a state of too much information? When it comes to pregnancy, there is definitely a lot out there. The problem is a lot of the information is inaccurate, contradictory, unnecessary and, sometimes, downright scary, especially in the first trimester.
Dr. Glade Curtis is the author of the Your Pregnancy series of books published by DaCapo Press. He notes that the Internet can be a wonderful educational tool for mothers-to-be, but it’s also important for women to understand that most pregnancies progress very normally and complications are quite rare.
There are some basic guidelines that virtually every doctor’s office follows.
“It’s good to have a foundation of knowledge, and if you’re the one going through it you want to know what’s going on,” says Dr. Curtis. “But at the end of the day we need to realize that we don’t get to do this very many times and some people don’t get to do it at all. It’s definitely a miracle and it’s important to enjoy it.”
In other words, when it comes to actually being pregnant, there are some basic guidelines that virtually every doctor’s office follows. For those who are content for “just the facts, ma’am” so they can move on to contemplating their miracle, here is Dr. Curtis’ “Back to Basics”first-trimester guide to pregnancy:
First Doctor’s Appointment
- Schedule it as soon as you realize you’re pregnant. This is generally around your eighth week. The goal is about 13 total prenatal visits.
- This will be the longest appointment and will usually include an internal exam, pap smear, urinalysis and a blood test to screen for rubella and to establish your blood type and Rh factor. You will also be weighed and the doctor will take a complete medical history if he isn’t your regular OB/GYN.
- At this time, if you haven’t started them already, you will be given prenatal vitamins.
- The office will schedule your next appointment for the following month, at about your 12th week.
What to Expect
- Admittedly, these first 12 weeks aren’t always the most pleasant. Some common complaints include nausea, vomiting, constipation and fatigue.
- In spite of any nausea you may experience, it’s most important to stay hydrated. Keep water (or whatever liquid you can tolerate) by your bed and take a few sips first thing in the morning. Then, continue to sip all day to keep from getting dehydrated.
- Try eating crackers, dry toast, pretzels – anything that can settle your stomach.
- If your prenatal vitamins make you sick, it’s OK to take half at a time, to take one every other day or to discontinue taking them until they can be tolerated.
- Forget about three big meals. Eat six small meals a day instead. Dr. Curtis recommends this throughout pregnancy, in fact.
- If you can only eat one thing, even if it’s weird or not the healthiest thing ever, eat it and don’t worry.
- Experiment with herbal teas, particularly ginger, which is thought to have a soothing effect on nausea. They may not help, but they won’t hurt and can keep you hydrated. Don’t go to extremes with herbs, though. Think moderation, and always ask your doctor before trying any.
- If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. You’re pregnant; don’t feel that you have to keep up as if you weren’t.
- Never take any supplements or try any treatment your doctor hasn’t recommended.
If you are having a rough first trimester, the best way to get through it is with patience and by realizing that this, too, shall pass. Quite frankly, there just isn’t much that can be done to relieve the unpleasant symptoms of early pregnancy because of the risks of upsetting the delicate balance of normal development during this important stage. Don’t be afraid to mention that you’re pregnant and feeling poorly if it will give you the chance to take off early, get out of a chore or duty, lie down for a nap, put your feet up or secure a short break from your other children.
“What I always try to emphasize with my patients is that your body is undergoing a tremendous change and you’re making a lot of hormones,” says Dr. Curtis. “In the first trimester, all of the baby’s organ systems are developing and coming together. This isn’t going to go on the entire time, and if you can just make it through these first few weeks, things are going to be pretty good.”
The second trimester has long been reputed to be the “good” trimester. Many women are blessed with a feeling of well-being during this time. The morning sickness is gone, some of your energy comes back and ailments are few. But there are a few physical complaints that emerge during this time, and worry can strike even when you are feeling good.
Chris Ward, mother of three from Strongsville, Ohio, worried all through her second trimester about adding a third child to the mix, especially when she discovered that child would be a girl. “The thing I worried about most of all was how our life would change,” Ward says. “We already had two boys ages 6 and 10. Bringing an infant into the mix meant going back to diapers, late night feedings and figuring out how to babyproof Legos. And for us it meant dealing with ‘pink’ instead of blue. Would that change the dynamics of our household in ways we didn’t even understand yet? How would the boys handle a baby sister? Would she be more influenced by her siblings’ activities or her innate desire to be a girl? Would raising a girl really be that different than raising the boys had been?”
The second trimester has long been reputed to be the “good” trimester.
Her questions were answered once she had the baby and the boys welcomed their new sister with open arms, but the second trimester was still full of worry and doubt. Here are some common second-trimester worries:
- Lower extremity swelling
- Low backache
- Leg cramps
- Vaginal discharge
- Blood sugar test
- Baby’s movement