Parenting Lesson 3 - Beginning the journey (trimester 1) - Part I

Topics covered in this lesson-

  1. Preparing for your first visit to a doctor

  2. How many fetal scans are to be done during pregnancy

  3. What exercises I should do during pregnancy

  4. What should I do for food cravings and aversions during pregnancy?

  5. Is it safe to have sex during first trimester?

The first trimester is the earliest phase of pregnancy. It starts on the first day of your last period -- before you’re even actually pregnant -- and lasts until the end of the 13th week. It’s a time of great anticipation and of rapid changes for both you and your baby. Your body may have issues like bleeding or other discharge from vagina, fatigue, tender breasts, constipation, etc. Knowing what to expect will help you get ready for the months ahead.

Preparing for your first visit to a doctor

Congrats! You would have already confirmed your pregnancy by a home pregnancy test and ready to go and see a gynaecologist to ask what to be done next.

Mostly first visit to a gynaecologist is around confirmation of the pregnancy, your due date calculation and an overview of pregnancy and some nutrition supplement recommendations

However it is always a good thing to prepare beforehand when you are visiting a doctor. Below are few things that you should ask to your doctor

1. What would be my target weight gain?

2. What lifestyle changes should I make?

3. Can I continue my medications, in case you are already taking some?

4. What over the counter medicines can be taken?

5. Your checkup schedule for next few months

How many fetal scans are to be done during pregnancy

There are 3 main types of ultrasound offered in pregnancy.

  1. A dating scan can be used to confirm your due date if you are unsure of your last menstrual period or your date of conception. It is usually offered to pregnant women from 10 weeks to 13 weeks' gestation, but can be carried out any time from 6 weeks.

  2. A nuchal translucency scan (NT scan) might be offered to help you work out the risk of your baby having a chromosomal abnormality. It might be done as part of a dating scan, or it can be done separately. You might be advised to have a blood test with it.

  3. A morphology or anomaly scan is a detailed ultrasound scan that looks at your baby’s body and observes the position of the placenta, the umbilical cord, the amniotic fluid around your baby, and your uterus and cervix. It is usually done at 18 to 20 weeks' gestation.

Sometimes ultrasounds are performed more often during pregnancy-

1. you are having twins or triplets

2. you have a complication in your pregnancy

3. your healthcare professional has concerns about the health of your baby

4. Keep a constant check on fetal growth and development

What exercises I should do during pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy is very important and it could

  1. Keep your mind and body healthy. Make you feel good and give you extra energy. It also makes your heart, lungs and blood vessels strong and helps you stay fit.

  2. Help you gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy

  3. Ease some common discomforts of pregnancy, like constipation, back pain and swelling in your legs, ankles and feet

  4. Help you manage stress and sleep better.

  5. Help reduce your risk of pregnancy complications, like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

  6. Help reduce your risk of having a caesarean birth (also called c-section).

Some of the most recommended exercises during pregnancy are –

  1. Walking. Taking a brisk walk is a great workout that doesn’t strain your joints and muscles. If you’re new to exercise, this is a great activity to start with.

  2. Swimming and water workouts. The water supports the weight of your growing baby, and moving against it helps keep your heart rate up. It’s also easy on your joints and muscles. If you have low back pain when you do other activities, try swimming.

  3. Riding a stationary bike. This is safer than riding a regular bicycle during pregnancy. You’re less likely to fall off a stationary bike than a regular bike, even as your belly grows.

  4. Yoga and Pilates classes. Tell your yoga or Pilates teacher that you’re pregnant. She can help you modify or avoid poses that may be unsafe for pregnant women, like lying on your belly or flat on your back (after the first trimester). Some gyms and community centers offer prenatal yoga and Pilates classes just for pregnant women.

  5. Low-impact aerobics classes. Low-impact aerobics don’t put as much strain on your body that high-impact aerobics do. In low-impact aerobics, you always have one foot on the ground or equipment. Examples include walking, riding a stationary bike and using an elliptical machine. In high-impact aerobics, both feet leave the ground at the same time. Examples include running, jumping rope and doing jumping jacks. Tell your teacher that you’re pregnant so that she can help you modify your workout, if needed.

  6. Strength training. Strength training can help you build muscle and make your bones strong. It’s safe to work out with weights as long as they’re not too heavy. Ask your provider about how much you can lift.

You don’t need to belong to a gym or own special equipment to be active. You can walk in a safe area or do exercise videos at home. Or find ways to be active in your everyday life, like doing yard work or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Please do not forget to ask your doctor before exercising as some pregnancy situations may have a need to avoid exercising.

What should I do for food cravings and aversions during pregnancy?

If your taste buds have gone haywire, join the club. Pregnancy cravings and aversions are incredibly common. In fact, 50 to 90 percent of expectant women may have a sudden urge for a particular food or dish, while many others are suddenly turned off by foods they used to like.

You can't always fight these symptoms, so just try to respond to cravings and aversions with reason. Keep in mind that most disappear or lessen by the fourth month — if yours don't, it may be an indication of an emotional need you should address. Talk to your partner: If what you really crave is some more love and care.

Try to avoid going crazy with pregnancy cravings that do nothing for you nutritionally — even while you indulge them. For example, go for a mini chocolate bar instead of a king-sized version, or a glass of low-fat chocolate milk rather than a tray of brownies. When cravings strike, try to distract yourself. Take a walk or go to the gym. Even reading a book or calling a friend for a chat may take your mind off that piece of sweet that's calling your name. Give in to your cravings once in a while (though not for alcohol) — then eat well for the rest of the day.

If food aversions during pregnancy are limiting your food intake, look for substitutes for the healthy foods you can't stomach right now.

Is it safe to have sex during first trimester?

The most common question the women having first time pregnancy come up with is , “ is it safe to have sex in the first trimester ?” . The thing which matters most is the muscles of uterus , they ought to be strong enough which kills the possibility of a miscarriage.During intercourse the penis do not extend above the vagina and thus it does not reach the baby. Ensuring the sex is not too rough and hard.

Myths such sexual stimulation or orgasm has no role to play in starting labour pain , orgasm may cause mild uterine contractions which are harmless.

When to avoid sex during early pregnancy (first trimester )

Sex is safe in majority of females in early pregnancy but in some this may not be the case. Females should avoid sex during conditions such as having a history of miscarriage , feeling nauseous or fatigue. Women who are going to give birth to twins or multiple babies or women with low line placenta should stay away from intercourse.

Harmful effects of having sex in the first trimester

Although sex is considered safe during first trimester , but there are some harmful affects also :

  1. Growing foetus increases load on the cervix and if the cervix is not strong enough then foetus may be in danger. Thus it is better to avoid sex as sex increase pressure on the cervix.

  2. Having sex with a condition in which one portion of placenta covers the cervix (placenta previa ) may damage placenta and cause harm to baby’s life .

  3. If the male partner has any kind of STDs like Hepatitis B or Genital Herpes then also sex should be avoided .

How much weight loss is normal in first trimester?

As many as 80 percent of moms-to-be experience some form of pregnancy nausea, which can make keeping even the blandest food down a real challenge — resulting in some loose-fitting clothes these days. Be assured that losing a few kgs at this stage has no impact on your baby's development. And to put things in perspective, you're not supposed to be gaining that much weight yet anyway! Normal-weight women shouldn't gain more than 1-2 kg — total — in the entire first trimester. By week 14 or so, your morning sickness should subside and your appetite will likely return with a vengeance. At this point, the majority of women who lost weight early on quickly regain it — and then some. The only time weight loss is a problem is if it becomes significant, like more than 10 percent of your overall body weight — a 60 kg woman dropping to less than 54 kg, for example. If this happens, your doctor will likely prescribe medication to ease your morning sickness so you can eat again and start gaining weight healthfully.