When you find out you’re pregnant, the first thing that happens is…well, emotions. All the emotions. But when you’ve had a chance to catch your breath you start thinking about what you need to do and not do to take care of pregnancy in that all important first trimester.
With so much information out there it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed by advice and opinions. So here’s your stripped down and straightforward Pregged guide to what not to do in the first trimester. We promise we haven’t included any old wives’ tales!
1. Don’t Worry
OK. This is easier said than done, we know. But we’ve put it first on the list because one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby is let go of as much stress as you can. Low levels of stress won’t harm your baby’s development, but worrying about every little detail can worsen some of the symptoms of early pregnancy — including nausea and insomnia.
So keep cool and remember that your body knows what to do. You’ve got this.
2. Don’t Smoke
If you smoke, it’s time to give up. (And that includes giving up the green stuff). This is vitally important for the health of your baby.
Smoking, and breathing second-hand smoke, increases the chances of miscarriage and stillbirth, and of pregnancy complications including:
- Placental abruption — when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus
- Placenta previa — when the placenta covers the cervix
- Pre-term birth
- Low birth weight
Giving up smoking can be really hard. Ask your doctor for help. They’ll be able to refer you to appropriate support to help keep you on track.
3. Don’t Drink Alcohol
Alcohol can also have seriously harmful effects on your baby’s development. Drinking during pregnancy heightens the risk of:
- Low birth weight
- Pre-term birth
- Birth defects, including hearing problems or heart defects
- Severe disorders caused by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
In your first appointment your doctor or midwife will ask you how much you usually drink and whether you have continued to drink alcohol since you found out you were pregnant. If you’re finding it difficult to stop drinking, tell them. They will be able to help.
4. Don’t Eat High Risk Foods
The foods to avoid as soon as you find out you’re pregnant include:
- Raw meat
- Deli meat
- Soft cheese and other unpasteurized dairy
- Raw eggs
All of the foods on this list can be contaminated with bacteria, heavy metal content or viruses which are harmful for a growing embryo, including listeria; toxoplasmosis; salmonella; and mercury.
Include lots of vegetables, fruits and lean protein in your diet and you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of a healthy pregnancy, as well as a strong start in life for your baby. You can learn more about exactly what you should be eating for a healthy Mom and healthy baby here.
5. Don’t Take Medication Without Checking First
Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can be harmful for a growing fetus. Discuss any current prescription medications that you take with your doctor, and check any over-the-counter drugs you buy at the pharmacy too.
Even when prescribed something by your doctor make sure to read the insert. Doctors make mistakes just like everyone else.
6. Don’t Head to the Sauna
As much as a hot tub or a sauna might sound like a relaxing way to unwind after a tough day of living life and being pregnant, it’s actually not a good idea at all.
Exposure to very high temperatures is linked to pregnancy complications and potential damage to your baby’s spinal cord or brain. Some research also suggests that an extremely elevated body temperature can cause miscarriage.
Don’t worry — a warm bath is fine. Just keep it at a comfortable temperature.
7. Don’t Change the Litter Tray
Cat faeces is known to carry Toxoplasmosis, a dangerous infection which can pass from you to your unborn baby.
If you really have to change the kitty litter, where disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done. But if possible, have someone else do this job for you. Pregnancy makes the perfect excuse for not doing this particular unpleasant job for a few months!
8. Don’t Consume Too Much Caffeine
Most of us know that drinking too much coffee isn’t good for a developing baby. But it’s important to be aware that other drinks and a variety of food also contains caffeine. Items to watch out for include:
- Tea (including some herbal tea)
- Ice cream and frozen yogurt
- Breakfast cereals
- Headache remedies
Caffeine is a stimulant and a diuretic which passes through the placenta to your baby. With a brand new and developing metabolism, babies in the womb can’t process caffeine safely.
Check the labels of your regular snack food, drinks and cereals, and aim for no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day.
Now, Take a Deep Breath
Phew. You’re OK.
You’re doing well — the first trimester can be tough as you navigate a whole host of new hormones and emotions, and get your head around the fact that you’re creating a new life right there within your body.
Get some rest, have a chat with a friend, and embrace the ride!