Congratulations! You’re pregnant! Whether this is your first child or your third, there’s nothing quite like the experience of being pregnant and giving birth. During your lifetime, you’ll experience lots of amazing things, but growing a tiny human inside of you is definitely a unique and thrilling adventure. As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll encounter obstacles, challenges, hormonal mood swings, and so much more. But you’ll also experience the amazing gift of bringing life into the world and all the joy that comes with it. There’s lots to look forward to, lots of planning and preparation to do, and lots of things you need to get crossed off your list before your little one arrives. Once you’re done freaking out and celebrating, pick up the phone and call your doctor, nurse practitioner, or midwife (whomever you plan to see throughout your pregnancy) and make an appointment. It’s time to begin your prenatal care!

Pregnancy Health

Keeping yourself healthy and happy during your pregnancy should be your number one prioritywhat goes into your body also goes into your baby. The first thing you think of is food, but there’s so much more. Even the lotion you use, the medicine you take, and the chemicals in your hair dye might need to be altered. Everything you eat and everything your skin absorbs isn’t just about you anymore; you’re taking care of two people now! While it’s important to take that into consideration, it’s also important to keep mom happy. Happy mom = happy baby. Pregnancy is not about sacrificing yourself, but is instead about gaining another life and the excitement that comes along with it.

To start off, maintaining a healthy diet and ingesting vital nutrients (like folic acid) are key to supporting you and your growing bump. You should begin taking prenatal vitamins as soon as possible. One of the first things your baby develops is the neural cord, which becomes the brain and spinal cord. This means that you should start a healthy diet full of all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs right from the get go. Eating healthy diet is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy pregnancy, but there are other things you should (or shouldn’t do) during your pregnancy:

Top Do’s and Don’t’s of Pregnancy:

Do’s

  • Get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Try your best to get your 8 hours of sleep per night and at least 8-10 glasses of water per day. 
  • Buy yourself a pregnancy pillow. Sleep is super important, and a comfortable, supportive pillow can help you get a good night’s sleep. 
  • Limit caffeine intake. There are numerous conflicting studies on the topic, all with varying conclusions on the interaction of caffeine and pregnancy. Air on the side of caution and cut back on your intake.
  • Educate yourself. Especially if this is your first pregnancy, it can be extremely beneficial to take a childbirth class. These classes are the perfect opportunity to expand your knowledge, raise any concerns you might have, and get some questions answered by the professionals.
  • Go shoe shopping! I know we really have to twist your arm on this one, but we’re serious. Make sure you have comfy, supportive, non-restricting shoes not just to support a changing center of gravity, but also to keep your swollen, fluid-retaining feet comfortable as well. 
  • Exercise. Remember, happy mom happy baby, right? Well exercising can help boost your mood, maintain a healthy weight, improve circulation, and help you sleep better. Plus, exercising during pregnancy can help smooth the transition after childbirth and speed up postpartum healing. However, be sure to check with your doctor before starting an exercise routine.
  • Eat healthy. Maintaining a healthy diet and intaking key vitamins and nutrients are key to a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. 
  • Travel smart. Usually the best time to travel is between 14-28 weeks: by now you’re probably over that initial morning sickness and the risk of miscarriage or early delivery is still low. Check with your doctor before making any travel plans.
  • Fly Safe. While flying, get up and walk around every 30 minutes to reduce the risk of blood clots, drinks lots of water to stay hydrated, and reserve an aisle seat so moving around and trips to the bathroom are easier.  
  • Decide on a birth plan early on. There are so many options when it comes to delivery: home delivery, natural, epidural, C-section, etc. Write down your desires and give them to all those who will be involved in the birthing process so they know what’s going on.

Don’t’s

  • Drink alcohol or smoke. This includes limiting exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Clean out the litter box. Assign litter box duty to your significant other (or the kids). Toxoplasmosis is a disease that is caused by contact with a parasite that cats can carry. Adults don’t normally exhibit symptoms, but the disease can be passed onto your child and can cause blindness or mental disability later in life (symptoms aren’t normally exhibited as infants). 
  • Use harsh chemicals. You should limit your exposure to toxic chemicals in cleaning products and healthcare products such as lotion, shampoo/conditioner, hair dye, and household cleaners.  
  • Lift heavy objects. If you do need to lift something while pregnant, exercise caution. Your expanding belly and changing center of gravity put you at risk of injuring yourself. Stay safe and let someone else do the heavy lifting. 
  • Sit close to an air bag. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pregnant women should sit as far away from the air bag as possible and the lap portion of the seat belt should always be placed under the abdomen as low as possible. 
  • Go overboard with fish consumption. Eating fish is a great addition to any diet, especially since the intake of Omega 3’s is related to higher I.Q.’s and improved motor and communication skills in youngsters whose mom ate fish. However, some kinds of fish can contain mercury, which is known to be toxic to people of all ages. To stay on the safe side, the FDA recommends that pregnant woman shouldn’t eat more than 12 ounces of fish per week; especially fish that are known to be high in mercury such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish. 
  • Don’t over heat. This means avoiding saunas and hot tubs since only 10-20 minutes can raise your temperature near the limit of what’s considered safe for pregnant women. 
  • Don’t eat for two people. We know this is a common mindset, but packing on the extra pounds may make them harder to lose postpartum. Simultaneously, not gaining enough weight can put your little on at risk for low birth-weight, which is highly correlated with major developmental problems. Frequently check in with your doctor to make sure you’re gaining weight at a healthy rate.

In addition, being pregnant can be royally confusing , especially if this is your first child. How do you know what ache or pain is normal and which isn’t? Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommendation is if you experience any of the following symptoms, you should call your doctor:

  • Contractions at 20 minute intervals or less,
  • Dizziness or fainting,
  • Pain of any kind,
  • Heart palpitations,
  • Trouble walking and swelling of your joints (edema),
  • Strong cramps,
  • Vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluid,
  • Shortness of breath,
  • Constant nausea and vomiting, or
  • Noticeable decrease in baby’s activity.

While all of these are great tips for a healthy pregnancy, there are two main points: stay healthy and happy. Exercise, maintain a healthy diet, get lots of rest, and start preparing for your little bundle of joy!

Maternity Clothing

As your pregnancy progesses, you’ll find that each trimester brings many new challenges and feelings. But you’ll also encounter unique fashion challenges as your bump grows. Clothes that fit great will slowly become increasingly indecent and showing off your curves becomes secondary to keeping your belly under your shirt. There’s no reason to buy an entire new wardrobe, especially if you can’t afford it. Broken down by trimester, here are the top tips for how to surpass and conquer the major trials and tribulations of maternity clothing and staying comfortable in the skin you’re in. 

  • 1st Trimester
  • 2nd Trimester
  • 3rd Trimester

Challenge:

Hide your little bump. When you first get pregnant, you’ll want to scream it from the mountain tops, but once the excitement dies down, you might reconsider. Lots of moms keep their pregnancy under wraps until the second trimester when the risk of miscarriage decreases and the baby has settled in more.

Solution:

Tight clothing will just make you look like you’ve gained a few pounds so instead, opt for loose fitting clothing that flows over your waist and belly instead of highlighting it. Don’t over do it though, as overly baggy clothes will make you feel frumpy and unstylish. 


Tips from other Moms

  • Splurge on one good pair of maternity jeans. They’ll end up costing you about $100-200+, but you can wear them all the time and they can be a major wardrobe saver. “For my last pregnancy, I bought one awesome pair for $175 and wore them constantly. I just matched them with different tops every day, and no one was the wiser. In fact, I wore them so often they got a hole in the butt in my last week of pregnancy!
  • Buy a maternity belt. A maternity belt is different from a belly band in that it offers support for your growing tummy. It can be worn under or on top of your clothes, and can provide some much needed relief from lower back pain, round ligament pain, and so much more. Plus, some do double duty and also can work as a belly band at the same time. Don’t know the difference between the two? Read this article that compares belly band versus maternity belt. “.. It’s really helped give me the bit of support I needed for this last month of pregnancy. My rounded ligaments and lower back were killing me! It helps me get through the day and trying to do normal things.”
  • Find your favorites. Instead of spending a fortune on a whole new wardrobe that’s only going to get a few months of wear, pick out a handful of tops that you can mix and match with cardigans and sweaters from your pre-pregnancy wardrobe. “A few t-shirts and tanks in different colors, maybe with ruching on the sides.”
  • Don’t go big. The easy thing to go is to browse your local store and pick out a bunch of clothes that are too big for you and hope they work out. However, wearing bigger clothes doesn’t necessarily mean better. Baggy, over-sized clothes will make you look and feel frumpy and make you look bigger. If you can grow a human, you can rock some maternity clothing too. “Instead, slim down your silhouette and emphasize the features that aren’t expanding with snug-sleeved tops, skinnier pants, and button-down shirts or blazers (from your pre-pregnancy wardrobe) left unbuttoned.”
  • Pick colorful. Don’t limit yourself to dark and/or neutral tones; add a pop of color whether that be a cardigan or a fun dress that shows off your bump too! “Don’t limit yourself to black and neutral tones — color is an essential part of the modern maternity closet. You’ll feel happier when you’re wearing clothes that aren’t drab.”
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