Pregnancy is observable by an invisible yet marvelous transformation. And it takes place quickly. Hormones elicit your body to begin nourishing the baby even prior to the tests and a physical exam can confirm the pregnancy. Be aware of the changes you may experience and how to take care of yourself during this stirring time.
Morning sickness, which can hit at any time of the day or night, sometimes begins as early as three weeks after conception. Nausea seems to stem at least in part from rapidly rising levels of estrogen and progesterone, which cause the stomach to empty more slowly. Pregnant women are very sensitive of smell, so various odors, such as foods cooking, perfume or cigarette smoke, might cause waves of nausea in early pregnancy. To help reduce nausea, eat little, frequent meals throughout the day. Choose foods that are low in fat and easy to digest. It's also helpful to drink plenty of liquefieds. Avoid foods or smells that make your nausea worse. Try drinking ginger ale. For some women, motion sickness bands are helpful. For others, alternative therapies such as acupuncture or hypnosis offer relief. If you're considering an alternative therapy, get the OK from your health care provider first. Soon after conception, hormonal changes might make your breasts tender, stinging or sore. Or your breasts might feel fuller and heavier. Wearing a more supportive bra or a sports bra might help. You might find yourself urinating more often than usual, especially at night. Pressure from your enlarging uterus on your bladder might cause you to leak urine when sneezing, coughing or laughing. To help avoid urinary tract infections, urinate whenever you feel the urge. If you're losing sleep due to middle-of-the-night bathroom trips, drink less in the evening — especially fluids containing caffeine, which can make you urinate more. If you're worried about leaking urine, panty liners can offer a sense of security.
During early pregnancy, levels of the hormone progesterone soar, which can put you to sleep. At the same time, lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and increased blood production might team up to sap your energy. To combat fatigue, rest as much as you can. Make sure you're getting enough iron and protein. Include physical activity, such as a brisk walk, in your daily routine. When you're pregnant, you might find yourself turning up your nose at certain foods, such as coffee or fried foods. Food cravings are common, too. Like most other symptoms of pregnancy, these food preferences can be chalked up to hormonal changes — especially in the first trimester, when hormonal changes are the most dramatic. Pregnancy causes your blood vessels to dilate and your blood pressure to drop, which might leave you lightheaded or dizzy. Stress, fatigue and hunger also may play a role. To prevent mild, occasional dizziness, avoid prolonged standing. Rise slowly after lying or sitting down. If you start to feel dizzy while you're driving, pull over. If you're standing when dizziness hits, sit or lie down. Seek prompt care if the dizziness is severe and occurs with abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding. This could indicate an ectopic pregnancy — a condition in which the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus. To prevent life-threatening complications, the ectopic tissue must be removed.
To avoid heartburn, eat small, frequent meals and avoid fried foods, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits or juices, and spicy foods. To prevent or relieve constipation, include plenty of fiber in your diet and drink lots of fluids. Regular physical activity also helps.
Pregnancy might leave you feeling enchanted, apprehensive, exhilarated and exhausted — sometimes all at once. Even if you're delighted about being pregnant, new babies add emotional stress to your life.
It's natural to worry about your baby's health, you’re tuning to motherhood and the financial anxiety of raising a child. You might wonder how the baby will influence your relationship with your partner or what type of parent you'll be. If you're working, you might be anxious about your efficiency on the job and how to poise the challenging demands of family and career. You might also experience misgivings and bouts of weepiness or mood swings. To cope with these emotions, remind yourself that what you're feeling is normal. Take good care of yourself, and look to your partner and other loved ones for understanding and encouragement. If the mood changes become severe or intense, consult your doctor for additional support.
Becoming a mother takes time away from other roles and relationships. You might struggle to retain your psychological identity as a partner and lover, but good communication can help you keep intimacy alive. Let your partner know that you need support and tenderness, sometimes without sexual overtones. Identify the stress points in your relationship before they become problematic. Occasional misunderstandings and conflicts are inevitable. Encourage your partner to identify any doubts or worries. Discussing your feelings frankly and honestly will strengthen your relationship and help you begin preparing a home for your baby.
Whether you choose a family physician, obstetrician, nurse-midwife or other pregnancy specialist, your health care provider will treat, educate and reassure you throughout your pregnancy. He or she is there to help you celebrate the miracle of birth.
Your first visit will focus mainly on assessing your overall health, identifying any risk factors and determining your baby's gestational age. Your health care provider will ask detailed questions about your health history. Be honest. The answers you provide will help you and your baby receive the best care. If you're uncomfortable discussing your health history in front of your partner, schedule a private consultation. After the first visit, you'll probably be asked to schedule checkups every four to six weeks. During these appointments, raise any concerns or fears you might have about pregnancy, childbirth or life with a newborn. Remember, no question is silly or unimportant — and the answers can help you take the best care of yourself and your baby.