So, you’ve calmed down now after you’ve raided the pregnancy section at Waterstone’s, googled literally everything pregnancy related and come to terms with the little human growing inside you…so what’s next?
The most important, vital thing you need to do is start thinking about you and your baby’s health.
Your First GP Appointment & Beyond
Normally, you will see your GP or healthcare professional around once a month until the 6th month, then every 2 weeks during the 7th and 8th months, and then weekly until labour. This may differ depending on your individual situation.
In your first visit, your healthcare professional will do a full physical examination including a pelvic exam and Pap test in most cases. They will take a full health history (including history of previous pregnancies), you will be measured, weighed and have your blood pressure taken. They may also test you for any STI’s. You will get a due date (EXCITING!), typically this will be 266 days from the first day of your last period if you have regular menstrual cycles. Otherwise, they will assign a due date based on ultrasound. During very visit after that, you will be measured, have your blood pressure taken, have your urine tested for sugar/protein (these are signs of potential complications) and then the most wonderful part…. baby’s heartbeat!
Near the end of your first trimester and early in the second trimester, your health care professional will talk with you about a variety of prenatal tests to assess the health of the fetus. It’s up to you which ones you have done. For instance, if you have no intention of terminating the pregnancy if the tests do find a problem, you may want to skip them. However, even then, you may want to have the test so you can prepare yourself emotionally for the possibility of having a special-needs child.
When to Tell People
Now some people have the patience of a wise old monk, others do not. However, it is really important to relax and take a breath. This is not to frighten you, but the first 3 months are the most common time for miscarriage, so let the baby settle. You also need time to adjust and plan with your partner (such as will you keep working? Telling your employer etc.) You will need to check with your employed about maternity leave and what you are entitled to.
Announce it after you’re sure everything is well. Plus, it will be so amazing to blurt it out to everyone!
Preparing for “The Talk”
Plan. This is key! Prepare questions for your employer regarding any benefits and maternity leave just after your first trimester. Also make a plan for how your work load will be handed out and how your job will be handled when you’re out. The more you keep on top of things like this, the less stress you have when you’re heavily pregnant. It’s also great to keep your relationship with your employer stress-free and honest.
First Trimester Issues
So how are you feeling? If you are like the majority, you will feel tired and sickly. Deal with the fatique first. After all, your body is building a home that can grow and protect a tiny human for 9 months…isn’t that amazing.
With this in mind:
Nausea, or morning sickness can be intermittent, constant or if you’re lucky- non-existent. However, if you’re one of the unlucky ones, don’t worry, this is normal. There has been some evidence that nausea is nature’s way of protecting the baby from potentially harmful foods. At the end of the first trimester, most morning sickness should disappear, but until then:
If you’re still experiencing quite consitent morning sickness past your first trimester, you should discuss this with your GP.
Some women experience a severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. If you experience any of the following, you may have more than just “morning sickness” and should call your health care professional:
You know you’re supposed to follow a “healthy” diet during pregnancy (think lots of fruit and veggies, low-fat forms of protein, high fibre, etc). But do you know why? Beyond the obvious—maintaining enough calories to keep you healthy and ensure the baby keeps growing—we’re learning that in-utero nutrition, including whether the mother is overweight or has pregnancy-related diabetes, can impact a child’s health throughout his life.