That positive pregnancy test is a life-changer. For a woman, knowing that she will become a mother is both exciting and scary, mostly because there are so many new situations and rules and medical issues all wrapped together that happen in a very short time.
For first-timers, especially, there is a big learning curve that has to be overcome immediately. The baby begins developing at a fast rate, and many miracles have already happened before the first symptom ever comes to fruition. There are so many things to know and to balance while life is going on and, many times, the mom-to-be is trying to keep the best of all secrets. It's impossible to keep everything straight, especially while you are trying to stay awake or keep the sickness down.
Some mistakes in the first trimester can have dire consequences — smoking, especially can cause birth defects, and alcohol can also be problematic. Getting started on prenatal vitamins and talking to a doctor are essential during the first trimester, and figuring out the do's and don'ts of safe foods and medications can pave the path of a healthy pregnancy. But no mom-to-be is perfect, and it can be hard to keep track of all of those instructions. It's tricky to navigate and very stressful, so we've got a guide to help you get through — and help you realize that sometimes everything will be OK.
Here are 15 mistakes moms-to-be make in the first trimester.
15 Not Recognizing The Signs
Pregnancy can be a mystery, especially since many of the symptoms are the same as when your period is about to begin. For a woman who isn't closely tracking her cycle to figure out when it's due, she may not recognize the symptoms of her pregnancy for weeks or — if her period is irregular — even longer.
The earliest signs of pregnancy can include sore breasts, shortness of breath, fatigue, frequent trips to the bathroom, cramping, food cravings or aversions, constipation, mood swings and dizziness. Everyone hears about the nausea, but for most, morning sickness doesn't start until about six weeks.
By the time some women figure out that they are pregnant, the first trimester is nearly over. Some women spend the whole time wondering if they have the flu, but if you experience these symptoms, it may be time to take a test.
14 Waiting To Start Prenatal Vitamins
The day that you buy your pregnancy test should also be the day that you buy prenatal vitamins. Yes, that means even if you are just starting to try and haven't yet missed your period. Doctors believe that women who are trying to get pregnant should go ahead and get started on the nutritional supplements to give the baby the best start in life.
Prenatal vitamins are especially important in the first trimester, while the baby's organs and tissues are forming. In fact, taking folic acid in the first trimester is directly linked to a decrease in the possibility of a neural tube defect such as spina bifida by up to 70 percent. The neural tube is formed during the fifth and sixth week of pregnancy, which is not long after a woman first misses her period, so it is important that she starts the supplement right away.
Many first time moms think they need to wait for a doctor's appointment to get a prescription for a prenatal vitamin, but there are many over-the-counter options to choose from.
13 Not Calling The Doctor
Some women wait a while to call the doctor after learning they are pregnant, but while many times there is little that a healthcare provider can do, sometimes it's a good idea to get a checkup. And if you are taking any medications, you need to talk to the doctor about any potential problems right away.
At the first prenatal appointment, a doctor will talk about the medical history and confirm the pregnancy, but often there is little more to do than to give a list of the proper food and medication in the first trimester.
But that doesn't mean that a woman should hesitate to call the doctor any time a question comes up. For example, there are prescriptions that are safe to combat the most severe forms of morning sickness. A woman shouldn't suffer just because she is afraid to ask — after all, by the time the baby is born, she won't have any trouble waking up the doctor to ask about the tiniest sniffle.
12 Booze Hound
The problem with delaying knowing that you are pregnant or not talking to the doctor is some women don't know the dangers that they could be putting their baby in. For example, a newlywed could be enjoying her honeymoon with cocktails every night, all while the baby is developing.
There are definite risks to the baby if the mother consumes too much alcohol, including fetal alcohol syndrome, which is more rare but can include intellectual disabilities and other problems. But Harvard research recently determined that a bit of alcohol consumption in early pregnancy isn't as dangerous as once believed.
Those findings may make a mom give a sigh of relief — and we agree, she shouldn't worry about what she did before she was aware of the baby — but she should still cut out the alcohol as soon as possible. No one wants to risk that their little one will suffer.
11 Up In Smoke
Even worse than alcohol, cigarettes are terrible for pregnant women. Many birth defects are attributed to smoking, and many of those happen very early in the development of the baby. It may not be enough to wait until you learn that you are pregnant to stop because there have already been a few weeks of development going on at that point.
Don't get us wrong; the second that you see that pink line on the test, put that cigarette out. But it would be better if you had kicked the habit before getting pregnant. Quitting cold turkey can be very hard, and when a woman is already feeling sick from pregnancy, she doesn't need another complication for her body. Yet the alternative of continuing smoking is beyond dangerous.
It's a bad habit, but no mom wants to make it even worse for anyone else, especially her little one. So don't make the mistake of smoking while pregnant.
10 Worrying About Morning Sickness
Every woman expects to get a little nauseated when she is pregnant, but many times she never knows what to really expect until she is in it. It can be really disturbing to go through daily bouts of vomiting, and that can cause a lot of worry and angst.
But the good news is that for most women it is just fine. It's icky and miserable, but it can actually be a good sign that the baby is growing and developing.
There can be a cause for concern if a mom-to-be can't keep anything down. A severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum can cause women to get dehydrated, and that can land them in the hospital. Women who are going through this should talk to the doctor right away, as we already mentioned. But for everyone else, a little nausea and the occasional trip to the porcelain throne should not be a cause for concern. Don't waste the time worrying about it.
9 Eating For Two
Some women take full advantage of the fact that they are pregnant and they will overindulge. They will eat all those carbs that they have been avoiding for years, and blame it on the cravings. But it isn't true that a woman should "eat for two" during pregnancy. The truth is that she only needs a few hundred extra calories to sustain the baby.
The recommended weight gain for an average size woman is 25 to 35 pounds throughout the pregnancy, but only maybe five or 10 should be added in the first trimester. In fact, many women don't gain any weight during that time. Others end up losing some weight due to the morning sickness, and that is OK for most women.
The only women who need to worry about weight gain in the first trimester are those who are underweight at the beginning. Women who gain too much at the beginning may regret it when they are working to get the weight off.
8 Giving In To Every Craving
This may seem like a repeat of the idea of eating for two, but many women make a mistake of giving in to every craving that goes well beyond the problem of a few pounds. Cravings can be a strange phenomena for pregnant women, and sometimes they can dream about eating things that should not be a part of any diet.
The nightly scoop of ice cream could be a problem for a woman who is diabetic, and a vegan may have trouble consuming meat for a few days. Both, though, aren't nearly as dangerous as a severe form of cravings called pica.
For those women, the idea of eating rocks, glass or charcoal actually sounds amazing. The desire can be strong and make it really hard to resist. It's definitely time to call the doctor when these types of cravings come about — and please, don't give in, no matter what.
7 Working Too Hard
Pregnancy is hard work, and in the first trimester it is flat out exhausting. While the baby is developing and the placenta and extra blood is starting to pump, the energy is sapped from a pregnant mom Some days, a woman can barely get home from work — she is keeping her eyes open with toothpicks and pinching herself the entire commute.
The exhaustion that comes in the first trimester is not only a medical reality but it's also a signal from our bodies that it is time to slow down and rest. Moms-to-be have a lot of extra responsibilities and worries on their minds, and they need time to decompress and let all that go. They need the sleep to reinvigorate their minds as well as their bodies.
Working too hard is definitely a mistake for a mom to be, and it can lead to dangerous consequences such as dehydration and depression. It's time to take it easy and enjoy it and get ready for the next several months of pregnancy and motherhood.
6 Caffeine Cleanse
Another major diet change that comes about during pregnancy is the need to cut down on caffeine. Many doctors recommend that a pregnant woman has less than 200 mg of caffeine each day, and that is only the equivalent of about one cup of coffee. For major latte fans or diet Coke fiends, that can be a big restriction.
One of the biggest mistakes that women can make at this point is to go cold turkey. Going from three or four cups a day to none can really do a number on the body. Many women experience fierce headaches in the first trimester because of the increased blood flow anyway, so adding major caffeine withdrawal on top of it can make them miserable.
Lately doctors have become less restrictive about caffeine, since new research shows that it isn't as big an issue as first perceived. It's still a good idea to cut down right away, but a morning cup of joe won't harm the baby, so it's OK to enjoy it.
5 Not Snacking
Snacks may be the most important meal for a pregnant woman, especially in the first trimester. They can do a lot to help a woman get through her day, and they can take the edge off hunger while helping the body get through the worst moments.
From the moment a woman in her first trimester wakes up, she should eat a little bit. A granola bar by the bed could actually go a long way toward staving off that rush to the toilet — OK, well, she'll run to the restroom to urinate, but at least she won't have to vomit. Many women find that having a little food in their bellies can help battle the morning sickness.
Snacks can also give a prego suffering from fatigue a boost of energy in the afternoon, and eating small snacks instead of big meals can also help with the heartburn and gas that can plague the first trimester. It's a mistake to wait until the major meals for some sustenance, and it could actually make things worse.
4 Announcement Mistakes
Many women believe it is bad luck to announce their pregnancy in the first trimester. That's because miscarriage is most likely during that time, and they don't want to risk having to explain what happened over and over again to family and friends. But some women are happy to start telling people right away, as they then have a support system in place if the tragic does happen. We know that the answer is personal for everyone, but we do want to warn you about a few announcement mistakes.
First, while it's OK to announce early to family and close friends, we recommend you wait at least a little while to go all out on social media. There are people who can thrive in a social media environment, but many times people feel free to judge at a time when a woman is most vulnerable. So skip it at this point.
Also, be very aware that some people get their feelings hurt if they aren't told in the proper way. Even if you aren't planning an elaborate announcement, it is a good idea to strategize who you are telling when so that they don't learn the big news from someone else.
3 Pushing Away Your Partner
We understand if you don't exactly feel amorous in the first trimester. After all, it can be hard to keep down lunch, much less want to feel touched. The mood swings and anxiety can make it hard to feel anything other than overwhelmed or upset, but it's still important to let your partner know that you are in this together.
The first trimester can be just as scary for a dad-to-be as a mom-to-be, but he doesn't have the luxury of feeling the effects of the baby. Most dads-to-be want to know about the experience, and giving them some details can help alleviate the worry for both parents-to-be. One of the biggest mistakes a mom-to-be can make is pushing her partner away at this time when they should cling to each other the most. This relationship is very important, and pregnant women shouldn't get so wrapped up in their situation that they feel that they have to go it alone. It's about moving forward together as a family.
2 Deciding On The Birth Plan
By the end of the first trimester, the baby's birth is still six months or so away, and that's way too soon to start talking about the birth plan. Yet, some women think they have it all figured out from the first trimester. When that happens, that is usually a bad sign — it's definitely a big mistake.
There are many factors that need to go into a birth plan, and many of those are not yet determined by 12 weeks. It isn't so easy as saying the birth will be all natural — no epidural, no C-section, no induction meds — but lately many women want this to be true.
There could be birth defects that make a C-section a safer option for the birth. The mom-to-be could develop a condition such as pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes that make induction a good idea. The baby could be breech or the mom could not be able to handle the pain. There are many good reasons to change the birth plan, so the worst thing that a woman can do is decide on a plan in the first trimester. The key is flexibility and that doesn't happen for a woman so quick to make a decision.
1 Worrying Too Much
Our No. 1 mistake that pregnant women make in the first-trimester is something that we are all guilty of: worrying too much. Some women replay the moments before they knew they were pregnant, and they obsess over the consequences of those few nights out drinking. Others agonize over the diet do's and don'ts from the doctor, and they scrutinize every menu before placing their order. They worry about that cup of coffee, even though the doctor said it's fine to have one cup a day.
Stress can have an impact on the baby. We know that the knowledge of that sometimes one makes the anxiety worse, but it is true. We know that there are decisions to make and lots of planning and preparing in the works, but women need to do all that they can to let go of the worry and try to enjoy these times. Sometimes the first trimester is a miserable time, especially if the morning sickness is bad, but it's still the beginning of the journey called motherhood. Pretty soon this phase will be over, and you will want to look back at it with fond memories.
Sources: Baby Center, WebMD