The first trimester is your baby’s most critical period of development. By the end of the third month, all the organs will have developed and your baby’s arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers and toes will have formed.
With such rapid growth taking place, its no wonder you’re exhausted and your own body is starting to change rapidly too.
“Growing another human being is a tough job,” said Dr. Melissa Mancuso, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Akron Children’s Hospital. “But getting yourself in the best health possible before conception is the most important and best way to avoid problems during pregnancy.”
To help you cope with all the changes taking place, Dr. Mancuso offers these 11 tips for surviving the first trimester.
- Prevent constipation by bulking up on fiber and staying well hydrated. Constipation in pregnancy is notorious, especially during the first trimester. Incorporate more fiber in your diet with whole grain cereals and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Water is the best choice to keep you hydrated, but if that gets too boring, fruit-infused water can be a tasty alternative.
- Stay active. Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have an excuse to skip the gym or your usual fitness routine. As long as you’re not high risk for preterm labor or other complications, it’s better for you in the long run to maintain your normal level of fitness.
- Get the proper support. As your belly grows, you may find an abdominal support band helpful in preventing lower back pain, especially if you’re carrying multiples.
- Take care of your skin. Be prepared for hormonal changes that can affect your skin – from red bumps and skin tags to stretch marks. While these can’t be prevented, a good moisturizer can help. Since there’s no clinical proof that cocoa or shea butter is best, stick with a product you like.
- Get plenty of rest. Practice good sleep habits to ensure you’re getting enough rest such as keeping the bedroom at a cooler temperature, and using a fan and lightweight bedding. Avoid watching TV or eating before bed. Take naps when you can and go to bed early at night.
- Use caffeine in moderation. While there’s no rule that says you have to give up your morning coffee, limit caffeine use so it’s not excessive.
- Curb morning sickness and nausea. Morning sickness usually resolves by the second trimester, but in the meantime, vitamin B6, ginger or crackers can help. As an added bonus, B vitamins can enhance your energy level. Some women also find their morning sickness improves if they have a snack at night. If nausea and vomiting are severe enough to cause weight loss, medication may be needed.
- Choose the right doctor for you. Find a doctor with whom you are comfortable and who answers your questions and gives you enough time during the visit.
- Alleviate swelling of the legs. At the end of the day, elevate swollen legs so your toes are above your nose. If you’re on your feet a lot, compression socks or stockings can also help.
- Invest in a well-fitted bra. As your breast size increases, you’ll want to get a comfortable, well-fitted bra that provides enough support to prevent lower back pain.
- Pamper yourself with a massage. Let the massage therapist know you are pregnant, so proper positioning can be used, such as a wedge on one side to promote good blood flow to the fetus. Don’t get a massage if you have excessive swelling, which can cause problems with blood clots.