Pregnancy can be overwhelming with all the rules and recommendations. It is particularly daunting in the first moments that a woman realizes she is pregnant, as well as all throughout the first trimester.
Pregnant should really be renamed "9 months of don’ts" to accurately convey the sheer number of injunctions a mom-to-be will hear.
As Hopkins Hospital points out, fetal development is at its most precarious in those first three months. A range of illnesses, not-so-safe substances and deficiencies can increase your chances of a miscarriage and birth defects as this is when the fetus' organs and nervous system are being developed. Considering that you might not have even realized that you were pregnant in the first couple of weeks, it can be disheartening. What’s more, the uncertainty of the situation hamstrings you into getting ready.
Fortunately, it gets easier in the second trimester. Once the pregnancy is established and the organs are formed, opportunities open up. You can enjoy more and prepare better. That is as it should be, since you have a long pregnancy ahead of you, and you can’t live in straitjacket for 9 months. Here are 15 things that might have been impossible or forbidden to do for the first 3 months but become possible afterward (at least until you are too itchy and exhausted to follow through.)
15 Stop With The Folic Acid
Folic acid, also called folate, is essential to developing the spine and brain in a developing fetus. That’s why all bread in America is spiked with it and it is recommended for women who are trying to conceive and in the first trimester of pregnancy. According Mumsnet, doctors recommend taking 400 mcg of the vitamin every day, especially between the 3rd and 8th weeks when the organs are developing.
However, there is always a limit to how much of a good thing you can take and you will probably get sick of taking all those supplements. You will be able to take folate off your list at week 13, and indeed you should.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2009 showed that:
women who took folic acid in the last trimesters of pregnancy increased their odds of their kids having asthma.
To be specific, they found an 11.6 percent increase in the number of children who developed asthma when 3.5 to 5.5 years old. Taking folic acid during the first 12 weeks didn’t have this effect. The important lesson here is that there is always such a thing as too much of a good thing. While you are at it, you will want to avoid overdosing on vitamin A as that can make you sick. Just avoid separate supplements and rely on food to get you your nutrition, as a general rule.
14 Be Cough-Free
Over-the-counter medications can get a bad rap with pregnant women. Many websites insist that they should be avoided, especially in the first trimester. However, WebMD reveals that most types of cold medicine are safe for you, including Vicks, Trind-DM, and many types of Robitussin. There is an exception to the general safety of cold medicine with guaifenesin.
The evidence is weak and the studies that provide it are pretty shoddy, but there using guaifenesin has been loosely associated with neural tube defects. This has led many doctors to try to avoid it, especially in the first trimester when the organs are developing. The risk doesn’t seem worth it until later in the pregnancy.
Most folks recommend keeping the amount of medicine you take at a minimum anyway because anything that does anything has side effects,
and side effects make pregnant people worry about their baby’s health.
Not so hilariously, pregnancy is when you are more susceptible to illnesses and you can make yourself miserable trying to avoid all medication. Ultimately, clearing up that nasty chest cold when it gets bad is fine. Remember to get the medication that will deal with only the symptoms that you have and try to make yourself comfortable.
13 Take Meds To Stop The Runs
Diarrhea can pose a risk to your pregnancy by making you dehydrated and siphoning off amniotic fluid that you need. Settling your stomach so you can keep your fluids is going to be a high priority during this time. However, this is complicated by the iffy status of loperamide, the active ingredient in anti-diarrheal medicine. Once again, there are conflicting studies as reported in WebMD.
There was a small study that found it safe for women in their first trimester. A larger study found a higher risk of birth defects under the same circumstances. One study found an association with heart defects and another found no connection.
There hasn’t been enough research done to settle the matter. This conflicting evidence has led to, you guessed it, doctors recommending that you avoid it in the first trimester. Are you sensing a pattern? It seems like the 1st trimester just sucks. They give a further recommendation that you only take it for 24 hours at a time. It is possible that the studies aren’t detecting anything that loperamide is doing, but rather the effects of the underlying conditions that cause diarrhea. Either way, the 2nd trimester is when it is safe to use Imodium.
12 Take A Warm Soak
Getting overheated is never a good idea, but it is particularly dangerous in the first couple of months of pregnancy. According to Healthline, an elevated body temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit in the first trimester can lead to neural tube birth defects such as Spina bifida. It certainly has in animal studies.
You will want to skip hot water for your own sake, too, since your skin is more sensitive to heat now and won’t react well to high temperatures. This means that you have to avoid saunas and hot tubs because they are heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and you will probably want to avoid them for the duration of your pregnancy.
You can be a little less scrupulous about keeping out of the heat after the 13th week, but you should still be careful. Test the water temperature of your bath water with your elbow or forearm before getting in to make sure it is comfortable because those are the most temperature sensitive parts of your body. Be sure to get out of the tub if you feel faint or sick (I know that’s obvious, but some folks get stubborn.) High heat affects blood flow and you don’t want to cut the developing baby off from their food supply.
11 Sippin’ The Tea
Raspberries are perfectly safe and raspberry treats are perfectly safe. Red Raspberry Leaf tea, however, is way more concentrated. Quite a few natural health websites promote it for pregnant women in the belief that it promotes uterine health. The claim is that it helps ‘tone’ your uterus (so it can fit in a bikini?)increases milk production, decreases nausea, and eases labor pains. In fairness, it is rich in iron. According to American Pregnancy, however, there are voices of dissent when it comes to raspberry leaf tea.
Many doctors feel that it might ‘tone’ a new oblast straight out of existence if taken in the first trimester.
They urge not taking Red Raspberry leaf tea until the 2nd trimester and some recommend holding off until the 24th week.
Ultimately, this precaution is because Red Raspberry Leaf tea is an herbal remedy. Exercising a little caution before taking any herbs, supplements or drugs is a good idea during your pregnancy. There are some herbs, such as black licorice and ginger, that can cause problems with your pregnancy if you take large medicinal amounts of them. The same goes for some supplements. Always talk to your doctor before swallowing pills of any derivation.
10 Dabbling In Hot Yoga
Exercise is definitely great for moms-to-be, and prenatal yoga comes highly recommended. However, there are many caveats with that recommendation. If you aren’t a regular yogi, now is not a good time to dive into hardcore yoga practice. The poses will have to be modified to accommodate your changing shape as you go along and vigorous exercise is going to be increasingly dangerous for everyone involved.
The biggest caveat with Bikram, or hot, yoga is to avoid it in the first trimester, especially if you haven’t already gotten used to it. According to LiveStrong, Bikram yoga is typically done in rooms that are kept 90 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity which makes participants sweat and raises their inner temperature.
With the raised humidity, the sweat doesn’t evaporate, leaving the participant as hot as before. This is a bad plan. Heating your core body temperature past 101 degrees cooks the kid.
Doing this in the first 3 months stunts the developing organs, so you will have to skip Bikram for a bit. In the 2nd trimester, if you are acclimated to the conditions already, you can return to your yoga room but you will still have to take it easy. Overheating is a risk and your body will start producing a hormone that makes your limbs extra flexible, which can lead to your joints getting injured.
9 Start Trying Out The Inverted Poses
As your pregnancy progresses, keeping your balance and turning will become more difficult as your stomach will make you top-heavy and generally get in the way. Plus, carting all that extra weight is tiring. It might be tempting to get all your twisting and headstands in now if you are into yoga, but doctors recommend against this.
According to LiveStrong, you should start avoiding certain poses in the first 12 weeks to avoid folding your organs on the fetus. Some of those poses are inverted poses. They mean poses that put your feet above your head.
Do not do headstands, shoulder stands or poses that require lying on your back with legs in the air. These will put too much pressure on your uterus.
Honestly, enthusiastic yogis who get pregnant will have to curb their activities for the next 9 months. If you are interested in doing yoga during your pregnancy, you can check out yoga classes that are designed specifically for pregnant women or talk to your instructor about modifying your routine to accommodate your new condition. But at least you can try an inverted pose or 2 in your 13th week before your stomach hides your toes.
8 Stop With The B6 Supplements
B6, also called pyridoxine, is a big enabler. It aids in metabolizing proteins and aids 100 different enzyme reactions. In the first trimester, it is kept hopping as it metabolizes everything in sight and helps your baby form.
According to SF Gate, a study published in American Journal of Epidemiology in 2007 found that women who had high levels of B6 were more likely to conceive and less likely to miscarry. It also reports that gynecologists recommend 10 to 25-milligram B6 supplements taken 3 to 4 times a day to combat morning sickness. The recommended daily allowance for pregnant women otherwise is 1.9 milligrams per day, so you can see that those obstetricians are recommending a lot of pills.
Those supplements can be pretty daunting, and you will probably want to go back to getting your B6 the old fashioned way from bananas and chickpeas as soon as possible.
Well, morning sickness tends to fade away during the 2nd trimester and your B6 needs will return to something like normal in the 13th week.
Most of your vitamin needs will be met by food after that point, especially since you will be eating more of it. Your obstetrician will likely keep you on a prenatal vitamin still, but the formulation may change or it might simply be less required. It depends on your circumstances, but if you were taking a separate pill for B6, you can drop it from your daily regimen.
7 Bask In The Rays
Relaxing in a sunny spot on the beach may be the most attractive option right now. It might even be the only thing that you want to do right now. Unfortunately, there is a good reason to avoid doing it in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. According to BabyCentre UK, there have been a couple studies linking prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays to low levels of folic acid in pregnant women.
Folic acid breaks down in sunlight which will deprive the baby of the nutrients it needs to form the neural tube that will eventually become the brain.
After week 13, that isn’t as big a concern. You can lounge in your lawn chair by the pool of a comfortably sunny afternoon. You will have to avoid getting too hot and dehydrating, though. You might also find that your skin is more sensitive now and burns more easily. There is no call to fry your skin and make yourself uncomfortable: slather on sunscreen and keep in the shade if you finding yourself prone to burning. On the plus side, if you like a nice tan, you will have an easier time achieving your ideal color because your body is producing hormones that aid in darkening your skin.
Sunbeds are a foreign territory, though. There haven’t been any studies on the safety of sunbeds during pregnancy. You might want to stick with tanning lotions for decoratively darker skin and keep light treatments for skin conditions to the hospital setting.
6 Announce The Pregnancy
All right, you could have announced your condition from the rooftops at any time after you saw the second line on the pregnancy test. Some people like to post about the minutia of their lives constantly. However, a lot of women like to hold off making a general announcement until after the 12th week. It might be a bit of superstitious caution on our part.
As BabyCentre UK points out, most miscarriages occur in the first 12 weeks. Waiting until the main danger is past feels like you are avoiding jinxing anything.
And there are some of us who are not big on sharing. You wouldn’t know this from social media since we simply keep dark most of the time. We would rather wait until we absolutely have to admit to our condition before everyone starts fussing over us. (And they will fuss. Everyone wants in on the pregnant lady action.) Other women just want time to create cute pregnancy announcement.
Obviously, the significant other must be informed sooner rather than later, and you’ll start showing around the middle of the 2nd trimester. This will force your hand. Saying something before this happens will ease people’s minds about your health. Whatever your reason for holding off on the announcement, waiting until the 2nd trimester to announce your pregnancy feels right for a lot of women.
5 Take The Occasional Glass
Everyone always insists that alcohol shouldn’t pass a pregnant woman’s lips ever, but this is a bit of exaggeration. As Mumsnet reveals, the general consensus is that while you should eschew alcohol for the first trimester, a glass of wine every 1 or 2 weeks is OK after the 13th week.
The tendency to demand that women give up alcohol all together really comes from the fact that it can cross the placental barrier which means that too much will jack up your chances of having a miscarriage. It also can cause alcohol spectrum disorder, a wide range of developmental problems and heart defects.
So, no, drinking isn’t totally benign and no one has set the minimum amount that you can take without hurting the developing fetus.
We can‘t really set a minimal amount since experimenting on pregnant women is ethically iffy. Still, pregnant women before the 1980’s quaffed booze in quantities. I hate to use the past as an excuse, but it was pretty common to drink throughout pregnancy for centuries and the correlation between excessive drinking and birth defects wasn’t discovered before the middle of the 20th century. There does seem to be a point where the risks aren’t very high. Just keep it to a minimum.
4 Shop For That New Support
The impulse to buy stuff to commemorate your pregnancy has a long history. There are some things that you should hold off on yet, though, or you will be wasting your money. Maternity and nursing bras fall into this category. I can say from experience that there is no way to know how big your breasts will get when you are pregnant and nursing. They might not expand much at all.
Mine didn’t, and I stuck with my comfortable old bras for the duration. You will definitely not be needing a maternity bra in the first 12 weeks. Your milk ducts aren’t even filling up yet and you aren’t going to change shape for months yet. If you guess the wrong size, you will wind up with something that pinches or doesn’t support you at all.
Shopping for what could be an expensive item before you need it when you may never need it is a waste of money. And trust me, you want to conserve your resources as much as possible. Having a baby is an expensive proposition, costing as much as $9,000 for the hospital stay alone. And all the baby stuff that you’ll be investing in now? Start saving the cash.
3 Stock Up On Diapers
One expense that it is practically impossible to avoid is diapers. An infant soils 6 or so diapers on any given day and can keep up that pace for months. They stop using so many diapers a day as they get older, but the expense will not end until they are potty trained. That might not happen for 3 or 4 years. According to LiveStrong,
Each box of diapers will be between $9 and $11 a pop and you will be cranking through a box every 20 to 25 days, so you will be spending a minimum of $108 a year on diapers. And for the sake of your furniture and health, you will want to have those diapers at the ready before the kid is born.
This means that you will want to start collecting diapers early on. Once the pregnancy is certain, start clipping coupons and arranging for a cheap and continuous supply of diapers. If you have the chance, ask people to give you diapers at your baby shower. I know, everyone will want to buy those cute baby clothes and get joke presents, but if they really loved you, they would get you diapers. There will always be time for cute baby clothes and joke presents later.
2 Switch Up The Positions
If you are getting a lot of benefits out of doing yoga, and many women do, you are probably finding it frustrating that you can't do everything that you could do before you were pregnant on the yoga mat. The news is going to get worse as your belly expands. According to LiveStrong, you will have to give up the Upward facing bow pose, so beloved of yogis, by the end of the first trimester.
Having all that weight bearing down on your back and uterus will strain muscles you don't want to be strained and might crush something. It just isn't a good idea in general.
However, you get to substitute some fun poses in their place. LiveStrong recommends using the camel pose, where you kneel and then lean back on your palm. You can also substitute the bridge pose for the forbidden one. That's the one where you stretch out on your back, lay your arms straight out beside you while putting your feet flat on the floor, and then lift your hips.
A lot of women find that these poses strengthen their pelvic floors and core strength, so this could help with labor. If not, at least it will feel good to stretch out your poor achy back. Regardless, always talk to your instructor about the right poses for your pregnant self.
1 Pick The Name
The most fun part of having a kid for me was picking a name. This is one area where you can indulge your creativity within reason. Of course, you will want to pick something that you are comfortable calling your kid in public and the kid will find convenient for as long as he or she uses it. It is going to be something that you will be writing on a million official documents and your offspring will be writing on a million more. And no pressure or anything, but this name will be your child’s label and represent him or her, possibly for his or her entire life. So you will want to start on that name early.
There is a catch. You won’t know whether you are having a boy or a girl until the 4th or so month when you can have an ultrasound. It is difficult to pick a name if you don’t know what type of name you are looking for. You can sidestep this by picking a name for both eventualities, or you can pick one unisex name that covers either option. Even if you go with those two processes, you might find it easier to hold off on picking a name until you see the child. There is something about that moment that makes it real for some.