Symptoms during the first month of pregnancy
Believe it or not, most women only find out they are pregnant a month or 2 after conception (when you did the deed that caused your tiny human to choose you as its mom). This is because some women experience no signs whatsoever, and even if they do, early pregnancy symptoms can often be mistaken for PMS.
If you didn't intend on getting pregnant, used the "pull out" method (we're all guilty), the condom broke, or for some reason, your birth control didn't work (you are forgetting to take it on time or you are on antibiotics), or if you have an irregular period meaning you won't sweat it if you skip one, you'll probably be none the wiser until you take a test. As mentioned, very early signs are similar to PMS, such as:
- Tender and enlarged breasts
- Mood swings
- Food cravings and an increase in appetite
- Back Ache
- Stomach Cramps
- Implantation bleeding
You can certainly see by the above symptoms how early pregnancy can easily be mistaken for PMS. This especially goes for stomach cramps and implantation bleeding. Many women who experience this simply pass it off as a very light period, when in fact, it is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy.
Implantation bleeding is thought to occur when the embryo attaches itself to the uterus. It is often accompanied by mild cramps, hence the confusion that it may be your period. However, there are differences you can take note of so that you know it may be time to pick up a pregnancy test. Implantation bleeding usually occurs around 2 weeks after ovulation-so it will unlikely happen when your period is due.
If you have been trying for a baby, these symptoms may have you rushing to your local pharmacy for an array of pregnancy tests. However, pregnancies that are still very early may not show up on a pregnancy test, so if it doesn't, don't get your hopes up completely! Give it another week or 2 or, for the most accurate result, get a blood test. Then you will know for sure.
Care and precautions during the first month of pregnancy
Remember to always speak to your doctor about the do's and dont's of the first 3 months (first trimester) of your pregnancy.
If you are, indeed, pregnant be prepared for a rollercoaster ride. For the next 9 months, you will be sharing your body with a tiny human. How incredible is that?! However, this also means that you are responsible for keeping it safe and healthy so that it gets to full-term and eventually becomes a little human being that will change your life forever.
Before we take a look at precautions you need to take during pregnancy: especially the first few months, you need to know that sometimes, miscarriages do happen. Mostly in the first trimester. More importantly, you could follow every rule in the book, but sometimes go wrong and you are in NO way responsible.
It can be devastating, especially if you've been trying to get pregnant for a long time. Sometimes it helps to get in touch with a counsellor . A loss is a loss, no matter how far along you are.
Once your pregnancy has been confirmed, be prepared for some pretty big lifestyle changes. The first trimester is notorious for being the worst part of pregnancy. Expect mood swings, morning sickness (which, unfortunately, is not only a morning thing....it can happen at any time during the day. Just remember, your body is going through massive changes and things start getting better once you're in the second trimester.
Here we'll discuss some precautions and advice, in general, to get you through the first few months.
1. Find a good doctor (or midwife)
And find them early on, so that they can give you advice, reassure you if things don't feel right, and you can build a relationship with them right from the start.
2. Prenatal Vitamins
Start taking a folic acid supplement as you can, or ask your doctor or pharmacist for the best pregnancy multivitamin. Folic acid is incredibly important for your baby; it can help to prevent any brain or spinal problems.
3. Are your OTC safe for pregnancy?
If you are on any chronic medication, speak to a doctor immediately, and find out if they are safe for pregnancy. This also goes for over the counter medications.
4. Say No to Vices
Say goodbye to cigarettes and alcohol. Even passive smoke may have a negative effect on your baby. Smoking while pregnant may result in early labour, low birth weight, and a risk of miscarriage. This goes for alcohol as well. Drinking during pregnancy can cause a number of problems, including foetal alcohol syndrome, SIDS, and birth defects.
5. Rest, rest and rest some more!
The changes in your body will leave you feeling exhausted most days. Take this time to put your feet up, nap if you can and go to bed earlier. Once the baby arrives, you'll forget what it's like to get a bit of r & r so take it while you can!
6. Morning Sickness
If you suffer from morning sickness, (this could be just nausea, or if you're unlucky, vomiting too.). Ask your doctor about relief from morning sickness.
If it's any consolation, this unpleasant pregnant symptom (morning sickness) does ease off you get into the second trimester. Because most over the counter medication for nausea and vomiting could calm your baby, this is something you just have to ride out. There are things that can help alleviate such as snacking on bland foods like crackers, plain crisps or dry toast.
Eat small meals throughout the day and stick to foods you can-your body will tell you which foods are likely to make you ill, especially because your sense of smell is heightened during pregnancy! If you find that your morning sickness is so intense that you cannot keep anything down, see your doctor as soon as possible as you may have hypermesis gravidarum; a severe form of morning sickness which may require hospitalisation.
Another sign you should never ignore is if you experience tummy cramps-especially if they're accompanied by bleeding (even spotting).
When it comes to exercise, speak to your doctor before continuing your usual fitness regime. Light exercise is actually encouraged. Avoid any exercised that put pressure on your abdominal muscles but don't stop working out altogether as it won't hurt your baby. The best exercises to do while you're pregnant include yoga, brisk walks and swimming.
A final piece of advice is to stay hydrated! during the beginning of your pregnancy, the changes in your body require an increase in water requirements. Make sure you drink plenty of water, juices, and fruits and vegetables which contain lots of water (cucumbers, watermelon, oranges).
Foods to avoid especially during the first month of pregnancy
While the list of foods is sadly long, it is important to take as many precautions as possible during the first few months of pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, a lot of precautions ease up a little once you progress to the second and third trimesters, and you'll be able to enjoy some of the things that you had to give up in the first few fragile months.
Foods and drinks to avoid:
While it would be ideal to cut out caffeine altogether, it is still considered safe to have a maximum of 200 grams (or 2 cups of instant coffee) per day. Don't forget though; caffeine is also found in teas (including most green teas), sodas and even some chocolate. Always check labels!
2. Raw meat
This includes rare meat, raw eggs, raw fish (sushi), oysters, and unpasteurised milk. Any uncooked food could carry dangerous bacteria, such as salmonella, and could harm your unborn baby.
3. Certain cheeses
Yes we know! Cheese! Delicious, stringy, fattening cheese! Here's the good news; not ALL cheeses are banned. You can keep eating the usual cheeses-gouda, cheddar, mozzarella. The cheeses that are off limited are the "mold-ripened" cheese, such as camembert, brie and stinky blue cheese (aka gorgonzola).
While the list of foods is sadly long, it is important to take as many precautions as possible during the first few It may seem like you're giving up a lot, but keep the end in mind: what are a few sacrifices when it comes to a healthy, precious baby, a love you've never known and one that will never change.
Baby development in the first month of pregnancy
While most mamas are still unaware they have a bun in the oven, lots of activity is taking place inside once successful fertilization has taken.
In just one month, the amniotic sac forms around the embryo. This sac is very important at cushioning and protecting the embryo throughout your entire pregnancy. During the first month, the placenta also develops. This incredibly important organ provides nutrients from mother to child inside the womb, and also removes waste from the baby.
Basic facial features form, while the mouth, throat and lower jaw start developing. Along with this, blood cells are beginning to form and circulation begins. By the end of the first month, your baby is about the size of a grain of rice! Nevertheless, that little grain of rice will grow over nine months into a unique, individual baby! Take good care of it.
In summary, you could read an every baby book on the market, join every baby forum possible and get as much advice (even some unsolicited "back in my day" from Aunty Mildred who had 8 kids), but you will still be completely bewildered when your bundle of joy arrives.
Your carefully planned water birth may turn into an unplanned c-section, you may suffer from some post-partum depression, and your little one may not reach his or her milestones when all the books say they will, sending you into a panic.
Ultimately, each baby is different and NOTHING can prepare you for what's to come. This goes especially to parents who are first-timers. Your baby is not the same as any other and does not come with a handbook. As long as your pediatrician is happy, you can relax.
What we can guarantee you is exhaustion, skipping showers, living in sweatpants and stained clothes for a long time, and having to turn down certain social events. However, when you look at your beautiful little human and know "I made this from scratch." In those moments, nothing else matters.