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We know that the first trimester is often the most worrying time in pregnancy. Those first 12 weeks can be nerve-racking, especially if you’ve experienced an early pregnancy loss before.
There’s so much information to absorb about what to eat and drink, what NOT to eat and drink, supplements to take, medications to stop taking, plus tonne of other guidance, it can get a bit confusing.
So to help you get through those first 12 weeks, let’s talk about a few do’s and don’ts in the first trimester of pregnancy.
First Trimester Don’ts
1. Don’t Smoke
You don’t need us to tell you that smoking is bad for you at any time of your life, but during the first trimester, there is evidence to suggest that smoking can increase the risk of miscarriage, birth defects, premature birth, low birth weight, and even death.
While the evidence isn’t quite so clear with smoking weed and vaping, there’s no guarantee that they’re ok either.
Taking steps to stop smoking while you’re pregnant is important.
2. Don’t Drink Any Alcohol
If you’re trying for a baby, quit drinking.
When you find out you’re pregnant, quit drinking.
Alcohol does nothing positive for a growing baby and can cause developmental problems, increase the risk of miscarriage, and can also lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
That title is also quite misleading because you don’t need to be drinking a lot of alcohol for problems to occur.
There is no evidence to suggest that a low amount is ok or low risk, so it’s best to drink none at all.
3. Don’t Eat Uncooked Meat or Raw Eggs
Make sure everything you eat is cooked thoroughly. Uncooked or undercooked meat and eggs can cause severe problems to health and well-being, and is very dangerous during pregnancy, at any stage.
This puts you at a higher risk of developing salmonella or listeria, which can be life-threatening conditions for both you and the baby, and can also increases miscarriage risk.
4. Don’t go OTT With The Coffee
Coffee might keep you awake, and during the first few weeks of pregnancy you may need all the help you can get with that, but too much caffeine is dangerous for your baby’s development.
One cup of weak coffee or tea is generally OK.
This is because the caffeine is able to cross over the placenta and affect the development of your baby’s heart, by increasing their heart rate.
One cup a day is considered okay, but anything more could put your baby at risk.
5. Don’t Clean Out The Cat’s Litter Tray
You can delegate the cleaning of the cat’s litter tray to someone else in the family, because it’s unsafe for you to do so.
This is because there are countless germs and parasites which are present in cat waste, and there is one which is particularly dangerous during pregnancy, called Toxoplasma gondii.
This can lead to serious illness and developmental problems for your baby, as well as problems with vision.
First Trimester Do’s
1. Do Change Your Diet to Organic
If you haven’t already adopted an organic lifestyle, now is a great time to do it.
Limiting your exposure to any harsh chemicals e.g. pesticides and additives, is a great way to boost your health generally, but also to boost your baby’s health.
Go for fresh and clean fruits and vegetables, and avoid processed foods. If you can do this, you’ll have much more energy too, which you will need during those first few months, and onwards.
If it feels daunting or you’re worried about the higher expense of organic foods, replace just a few things that tend to have higher levels of pesticides such as berries, apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, and broccoli.
2. Do Take Folic Acid or Folate
Many women start taking folic acid or folate as soon as they decide they’re going to try for a baby, but if your baby is a surprise, you need to start taking it right now.
Generally speaking, a 400-600 microgram dose of folic acid or around 1000 mcg of folate daily during the first trimester can help to reduce the chances of your baby developing serious defects, such as spina bifida, and anencephaly.
Talk to your midwife or doctor if you’re not sure about how to take folic acid or folate.
And if you’re thinking of trying to become pregnant, it’s a good idea to start taking a supplement now.
You can top up your folate intake by eating dark and leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, and whole grains too, but you may not get the required amount simply through food.
3. Do Make Sure You Get Plenty of Sleep
You’re going to be very tired during pregnancy, especially at the start.
This is because your body is adapting to what is happening, countless hormones are rushing through your body, and whilst your baby is growing, your energy levels are going to feel quite low.
To get you through all of this, you need to make sure you get your rest.
You’re not being lazy here, you’re giving your body the time to grow your new baby in a healthy way.
Make sure you get a good quality 8-9 hours of sleep every night.
4. Do Enjoy Gentle Exercise
If you don’t partake in regular exercise, now is a good time to start. Make sure you tell your fitness trainer or someone in your gym that you are pregnant and you will be told how to adapt your exercises accordingly.
If you’re not sure still, talk to your midwife or doctor.
Exercise is great for regulating your moods, and we know that during early pregnancy there may be countless mood swings going on, thanks to those hormones whipping around your system.
Exercise also helps to keep weight gain during pregnancy to a minimum and can help you get a better night’s sleep, which you certainly need during this part of your pregnancy.
Exercise helps during the labor process and reduces the risk of diastasis recti which is when the abdominal muscles separate from the growing bump and do not return to their normal position after childbirth.
5. Do Get Checked Out if You’re Concerned
If you’re worried about anything, talk to your midwife or doctor.
This part of pregnancy is probably the most worrying, and by reducing that worry, you’re reducing stress.
If you feel unwell, you notice bleeding, cramping, or anything which causes you concern, go and get checked out.
The best advice during the first trimester is to put yourself first.
Look after yourself, be a little selfish, spend plenty of ‘me’ time and treat yourself to those things that will make your life easier.
You deserve it!