Woohoo, you’re pregnant! And also eeeek because you have no idea what you’re doing. How are you supposed to keep the nausea at bay when you don’t even know what you’re allowed to eat and why have you been crying during Hallmark commercials?! The BLANQI Girls tell you everything you need to know about the first trimester of pregnancy…
For most women, the first trimester of pregnancy isn’t exactly a walk in the park. The constant need to nibble on crackers to avoid vomiting on your shoes in public, the sore boobs that are already threatening to explode out of your bra, the crippling fatigue that causes you to fantasize about your bed all day, the emotional rollercoaster that makes you giggle hysterically one minute and cry into your herbal tea the next… and you’re only a few weeks in! How will you possibly make it to nine months?
Deep breaths, honey. Everything will be fine. The best way to reduce your anxiety about pregnancy is to arm yourself with knowledge. Lucky for you, the BLANQI Girls have done all the hard work for you! Here’s what you need to know about your first trimester of pregnancy.
How many weeks does the first trimester last?
Some websites say 12 weeks, while others say 13 and some say 14… so, which is it? According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the first trimester lasts from 0 weeks to 13 weeks and 6 days. The second trimester starts at 14 weeks and 0 days.
Pregnancy is considered to start on the first day of your last menstrual period (even though you don’t fall pregnant until about two weeks later) and it lasts about 40 weeks in total.
What symptoms can I expect?
You could be one of those lucky mamas who looks and feels like a million bucks throughout pregnancy and annoys the heck out of the rest of us (good for you if you are!). But you’re likely to experience some of the following symptoms to some degree:
- Nausea (“morning sickness” can last all day!)
- Breast tenderness
- Increased urination
- Food aversions
- Food cravings
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
What changes should I make to my lifestyle?
If you hadn’t already made these lifestyle adjustments before falling pregnant, you should as soon as you see those two pink lines.
- Nix bad habits: Say goodbye to cigarettes and alcohol. Cut back your caffeine intake to a maximum of 200mg a day (about one 12oz. cup of coffee).
- Rest up: Now’s not the time to take on a ton of extra shifts at work or to sign up for a 10K. You’ll be tired AF, so try to rest and nap when you can.
- Stay active: This might seem like it contradicts the last point, but regular exercise during pregnancy can help relieve back and pelvic pain, reduce stress and fatigue, improve sleep, reduce your risk of pregnancy and delivery complications, and help you recover from childbirth faster. The ACOG advises that women with low-risk pregnancies should do 20 to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week. You should also start performing Kegel exercises every day to help prevent postpartum conditions such as uterine prolapse (when the uterus slips into or out of the vagina) and urinary incontinence. Squeeze the muscles you use to stop your flow of urine, hold for five seconds and release. Repeat 10 times. Do these as often as you can during the day.
- Eat well: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an awesome online tool called MyPlate which calculates how many calories you need per day and how many servings of each food group you should eat during each trimester of your pregnancy. Make sure to avoid foods that can cause listeriosis (a food-borne illness) or food poisoning, including unpasteurized milk and cheeses, hot dogs, luncheon meats, refrigerated pate, smoked seafood, and raw or undercooked seafood, eggs and meat. Choose low-mercury seafood such as salmon and shrimp and avoid high-mercury fish like shark and swordfish.
- Take your vitamins: The ACOG recommends taking a daily prenatal vitamin containing at least 400mcg of folic acid while you’re trying to conceive and during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects (which affect the brain and spinal cord). Your prenatal vitamin should also have about 27mg of iron, 1000mg of calcium and 600 international units of vitamin D.
How much weight should I gain?
If you were at a healthy weight before pregnancy, you should gain 25 to 35 pounds while you’re pregnant (more if you were underweight and less if you were overweight). To find out exactly how much weight you should put on, use MyPlate’s Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator and confirm the results with your doctor.
Even though you might feel like eating everything under the sun during the first trimester, you should only gain 1 to 4 pounds in the first three months.
What should be on my first trimester to-do list?
- Pick a practitioner: OBGYNs and midwives and doulas, oh my! The type of practitioner you choose should be based on how you’d like your birth experience to unfold. A midwife is the way to go if you’d like to have a natural birth in a birthing center or at home, and a doula can be a nice addition to your team for extra support. If you want to give birth in a hospital, you have any pregnancy complications, or you want or need a C-section, an OBGYN is the right choice.
- Map out costs: Having a baby can be an expensive process, so you should call your health insurance company ASAP to find out how much your plan will cover and how much you’ll be out of pocket.
- See your doc: Around eight weeks, you should have your first prenatal visit. You’ll undergo a physical, urine tests, blood tests, and an ultrasound to confirm the presence of a heartbeat and your due date.
- Ponder genetic tests: There are a range of tests you can undergo to determine whether your baby has a chromosomal disorder such as Down syndrome, a neural tube defect such as spina bifida or another congenital disorder. Your risk is higher if you’re over 35 or there’s a history of genetic disorders in your family. While most women undergo these tests, you aren’t obligated to do them. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.
- Enquire about your parental leave: If you’ve worked for a company that has at least 50 employees for at least 12 months, you’re entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. But your state (if you live in California, New Jersey, Rhode Island or New York) or your employer may offer paid family leave, so find out what you and your partner are entitled to.
How much will my baby grow?
By the end of your first trimester, your baby will measure about three inches and weigh almost an ounce – the size of a peach! Your precious cargo will be fully formed with tiny arms, legs, fingers and toes already in place… nawwww. And even its wee fingernails, toenails and teeth will have started to develop.
What are some symptoms that I shouldn’t ignore?
To be on the safe side, contact your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Acute abdominal pain
- Heavy bleeding
- Severe dizziness
- Fever over 101.5F
- Vision disturbances
- Severe swelling in the hands or face
- Painful urination
- Sudden thirst
- Rapid weight gain
- Not enough weight gain
Hang in there, girl. By the time the second trimester rolls around, you’ll be feeling so much better. And you’ll have a little peach in your belly!
The BLANQI Girls xoxo