Early Pregnancy: What you need to know.
The amount of different stories i heard when i first got pregnant was astounding. There are so many "Do's and Don'ts" according to almost everyone. It's pretty hard to determine what's important to know and what's just people's opinions. My viewpoints of course are just viewpoints and you can choose to listen to them or avoid them all together, which is perfectly fine too! I take most of my opinions from my experiences, and from what my doctor has told me. So, the point of this particular blog is to really hash out what is considered opinions and what is actually considered important to know.
What do you normally hear?
From the minute you see that positive test, there's probably a hundred different worries and concerns going through your head. What to eat? What to avoid? What medicine is safe to take? Can i still exercise? Dieting? Etc. I know for me i was worried about absolutely everything as i had already had one miscarriage previously. So it's completely normal to have lots of questions, and to believe just about anything anyone will tell you. You will probably hear a hundred different things, but there is a few that i heard over and over again.
You can't eat this and you can't eat that: There are massive lists of what you can and can't eat when you get pregnant. I heard that you can't eat licorice, or any sugary sweets at all. I've heard you can't eat bacon at all, And that just about anything that's not healthy is off limits. Well this is untrue. You can eat everything you normally would in moderation. Bacon and licorice are perfectly safe. My GP told me that it was okay to eat what i normally would, but just to eat in moderation and make sure I'm not McDonald's and donuts for every meal. Every now and again is okay, just like normal. There are a few things obviously that you should avoid such as; raw meat, raw fish, food past the use by date etc. There are some other foods that I've heard you cannot eat as well which include soft cheese, soft serve ice cream from takeaway stores and deli meats (i.e. ham, turkey etc.). I follow that generally most of the time, sometimes i cave and have a soft serve cone from McDonald's, or a ham sandwich. Nothing has happened to me so far which is what makes me think that it isn't as bad as what they make out. But of course that choice is up to you, and what advice you want to take.
My GP said they were perfectly fine in moderation, however my midwife disagreed so i guess it really just depends on the mumma to be and what she chooses to eat. I have also heard that cooked fish is off limits too due to the mercury levels. But i have also heard that in moderation it's okay too. I personally still eat tuna if i feel like it, but i find the fishy smell makes me nauseous so i pretty much avoid seafood all together. Chat to your GP or medical professional and see what they say in regards to what you can and can't eat in the early stages of pregnancy, and make the decision for yourself.
Hot tubs and baths are bad: Okay so i have read lots of conflicting information about hot tubs and baths. The most i have gathered from different medical articles and information from my GP and midwife is that, overheating is bad. So you can have a bath, even my midwife suggested having a bath as a way to help with my sciatic pain. Hot tub however, i am not 100% sure if it's safe. I have been in a hot tub whilst pregnant, i was about 8 weeks along, so only very early, and my son is perfectly healthy and fine, i have also been in a spa bath in this current pregnancy and i was about 23 weeks along and this baby so far is okay too. So is it bad? Again i suppose that's something you can decide for yourself with the advice of a medical professional.
Exercise is bad: This is pretty incorrect, but I've heard it a few times. Obviously strenuous exercise is probably not a good idea, unless its something your body is already used to, but if you only do moderate exercise normally, before getting pregnant, you can keep doing moderate exercise, its perfectly safe. There are some women who stop doing exercise all together due to their pregnancy symptoms, like nausea, fatigue or headaches.
This is perfectly okay too, if you want to stop doing exercise you can. GP's encourage you to try and do at least thirty minutes a day, as it can be very beneficial for you. For me personally, with my first pregnancy i was working full time in my family restaurant as well as a second night shift job at a Chicken Shop, almost ten hours a day, and by the time i was finished work i was exhausted and couldn't find the energy or the stomach to add exercise to the mix. This time around, i run after a toddler all day long so i feel like i'm getting the exercise i need. I do need extra bed rest with my Pelvic issues, but i am still managing to exercise safely. My continued movement and exercise is what i think is helping me get through my pelvic issues. It's very hard to keep going through the pain, but it does help and i know that it is also very beneficial to my body.
Sex will hurt the baby: Very wrong and a little bit funny. I don't know how many movies i've seen that go on about how couples can't have sex for nine months because it will hurt the baby. I've even had some people actually tell me that sex is off limits. When i first got pregnant i was worried particularly about sex causing a miscarriage as i had one already and don't know why. But i very quickly learnt that sex is safe during pregnancy, and sometimes it's a life saver to release stress. Your partner will not hurt your baby during sex. I have read to not have ridiculously vigorous and rough sex, which typically during pregnancy isn't really on your mind anyway due to all the other stuff that comes with pregnancy. Sex is a good thing in pregnancy, but if you feel like you can't do it, or just don't feel up to it, you do not have to do it. In most cases your GP will tell you that sex is safe, unless something medical prevents you. I know for my first trimesters, i try to keep up with sex, but it is difficult with my vomiting. But after that subsides, i find sex to be very releasing, and helpful when stressing or upset during pregnancy.
What you can and can't drink: This is irritating to me, because i have had so many people tell me i can't drink coffee or soft drink. A certain amount of coffee or tea per day is okay. As someone who isn't a religious coffee or tea drinker however i do like an iced coffee every now and again, and i typically crave it a lot during pregnancy, i don't suffer without drinking coffee or tea. But i know for some women who drink a lot of coffee or tea everyday, it can be hard to kick the habit. i have read that 1-2 cups of coffee or tea per day is okay to drink so those who say you can't drink it are incorrect. Soft drink is allowed during pregnancy as well. In moderation of course, just like any other day. I have a little bit of soft drink every now and again and its fine. I have heard a lot of people say that soft drink will make the baby fat, or will harm the baby in the long run if you drink it. From what i have heard and read, this isn't true.
Obviously the high sugar content in certain soft drinks is not good for your own health or weight gain, and drinking too much of this is not beneficial for you or bub, but drinking a small amount of soft drink every now and again is okay. In the line of beverages i find the best for you is water, and i like to drink milk as well, in the hopes of lifting my calcium levels. The beverages that they encourage you to stay away from, is alcohol and energy drinks. I don't know what they say about energy drinks, but my GP told me to stay away from them, and i don't normally drink them anyways. And i am also not a big drinker so not drinking alcohol is easy for me too. I don't know the full effect of alcohol on a fetus, but i just go by what my GP suggested which was to stay away from alcohol, so i do. If you're wondering about alcohol consumption during pregnancy have a chat with your GP and see what they say, and you make your decisions based on that.
Things I would encourage
When it comes to pregnancy i am far from an expert, i don't have a medical degree and this is my second pregnancy and it feels very different from my first pregnancy. But i do have my own experience with kids, and there are some things i would encourage mum's to do during early pregnancy.
Drink lots of water: The first thing i usually do once i get a positive pregnancy test is increase my water intake. Hydration is important and keeping your fluids up is even more so. I would definitely encourage you to increase your water intake.
Eat lots of greens: I like to increase my amount of vegetable intake when i first get pregnant. Obviously not to a drastic amount but to at least one or two meals a day. This makes me feel great, but its also so good for the developing baby.
Don't overthink it: One of the most important pieces of advice i could give, is to not overthink things. Pregnancy in the early stages can be very confusing, and for a lot of first time mum's, or new mum's, or anyone really, any little tug or mild cramp, or change in cervical wellness makes us worried that something is wrong. Taking deep breaths and reminding myself not to overthink every little thing helps ten ties more than dwelling on it. Its important to remember that lots of changed will occur in pregnancy and if i'm ever too worried i can always talk to someone or visit my GP.
Getting rest: Now whilst exercise is still encouraged, getting good rest is too. During the first trimester most women get very sleepy due to the increased hormones, and the all the energy that is being burnt creating a little person. So i would encourage a nap if you can, or even trying to increase your night time sleep amount by even just an hour can make things so much better.
Pregnancy vitamins: I like to take pregnancy vitamins mainly in the first trimester. It helps the baby and increases your vitamin levels which can help you feel better through the rough spots in the first trimester. They even have morning sickness vitamins which can be taken with your normal pregnancy vitamins to help with nausea and vomiting. (For me these did not work, but they can be worth a shot for you.)
Probiotics: This isn't done by many, but i personally am a bit of a flu freak. I hate getting sick, especially during pregnancy. During early pregnancy your immune system is lower as you are busy protecting the baby, so your chances of getting sick are unfortunately higher. I like to drink yakult, at least once a day if i can to try and increase my intake of probiotics and help my to protect me against sickness. There is nothing worse than being early pregnant and sick!
There is no right or wrong really in what you do during the early stages of pregnancy, its all a matter of choice and decision really. If you have all the advice from your medical professionals, whatever you chose to accept and take on board is entirely up to you. Choose what you feel comfortable with and always know that you can find support anywhere. If someone's advice doesn't make sense, or doesn't sound right, you don't have to accept it, find some new advice that you agree with. Make sure you are happy, because the beginning stages of pregnancy are so topsy turvy, ensuring you are comfortable is the first step to a happy pregnancy for you.