• Eat well and avoid potentially hazardous foods
  • If you are concerned about whether or not an activity is safe for you to do during pregnancy–check with your doctor.
  • Start reading labels–oftentimes a label will tell you if something is potentially harmful to your pregnancy

1.   Begin preparing and gathering support

Exactly when (or how) you start telling your family and friends about your new pregnancy is completely up to you but I would advise talking with your doctor first to determine if there are any early risk signs that may influence your decision. Many women will wait until the first and sometimes second month are passed completely before they will begin sharing their news. This saves a lot of heartache on the mother’s part should she lose the pregnancy.

Some people throw an announcement party! This could be a fun way to share your news.

Having said that, start taking belly pictures! Start keeping a journal. It is nice to be able to look back on your pregnancy as a positive experience or even a learning experience for future pregnancies. A journal can be helpful as well to share with your doctor..

Start thinking about community and about the hopes and dreams that you have for your pregnancy and parenthood. This is an exciting time! Even if it’s difficult to accept the new pregnancy, most mothers come around fairly quickly and start getting excited and look forward to meeting their child in person.You know something is up.

Your last period was weeks ago but for some reason you just feel different and you can’t explain it. You’ve been Googling “early signs of pregnancy,” “am I pregnant?” and “how can I tell if I’m pregnant?” but are still confused, worried, and maybe feeling a little “cautious” excitement.

If this is you, you are one of the lucky ones.

The reason I say that is because the most delicate time of the pregnancy is the early viability, the ability of the fetus to attach and begin forming properly. This is occurring often times long before the mother is even aware that she is pregnant.

It is important to note that if you are able to become pregnant, or if pregnancy is a possibility for you, that you be aware of the early signs of pregnancy and also what you should do if you think that you may be pregnant.

This article will cover some of those early pregnancy symptoms, some of the problems that can occur early in the pregnancy, and five crucial ways to keep yourself healthy, ready, and in the best physical and mental shape for those first delicate weeks (and early months) of pregnancy.

The most important thing is that you stay aware of your physical body and make wise decisions about your body if you are able to become pregnant. It would be a lifelong regret to make choices during this very special time that have lifelong consequences for another human being, your unborn child.

So, since we don’t have an inner alarm that just goes off and shouts “You’re pregnant! Ding! Ding!” (Wouldn’t that be nice?), we have to practice a measure of self-awareness. It all begins by being in tune with your body, what is normal for you, and what is not, and being hyper-aware of your menstrual  cycle, so you will know early if there is something happening that is out of the ordinary for you.

Here at the Babienet Parenting Community, we understand how emotional, sensitive, and trying these times can be for mothers and we are here for you with a welcoming community of other parents who understand. If this is your first time becoming pregnant, you may be tempted to ask trusted friends what they think, and while this is fine you also need a community of people who have been there.

This article will help to take the fear out of a “pregnancy scare.”

There’s a huge variance in reactions when a woman thinks that she may be pregnant. Some are apprehensive, some frightened, others overwhelmingly ecstatic. Some people call this a “pregnancy scare,” and while both of my pregnancies ended in healthy young baby boys, I certainly understand that term “pregnancy scare”. Because no matter how ready you are for a child, when you become pregnant, fear and anxiety can set in quickly.

It can be a roller coaster of emotions if you think you’re pregnant and then you think you’re not pregnant and then you think you are pregnant. It dominates your thoughts in a way like no other thing can. The fear, the worry, and the anxiety that you carry around in the pit of your stomach–until you know for sure–can be isolating and overwhelming.

This article is here to help you sort out some of these emotions and be better prepared for these moments in your life.

First, let’s handle some of those questions you have been Googling.

Although many people do not experience symptoms until around week 4 to 6, it is important that you understand the early signs of pregnancy and are able to recognize in your body that there are changes happening. During your childbearing years this self-awareness is very important in the event that you become pregnant. Here are some of the signs that you will see early on in a pregnancy, with the understanding, of course, that all pregnancies are different.  Your body may handle it differently than other people, even other family members. Take these symptoms as a whole and understand that your experience may be different, perhaps even extreme for some symptoms.

Early Signs of Pregnancy

  • Missed period
  • Light spotting (bleeding)
  • Swollen breasts
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Elevated basal temperature
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Mood swings
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Lower back pain
  • Food cravings
  • Crying

To reiterate, the symptoms can vary in frequency, duration, and intensity from mother to mother.

My first inclination that I was pregnant came with constipation. How utterly un-poetic is that? But I had never been constipated before and it was a very strange and new thing for me. I bought medicines to treat the problem and was focused on that but knew something different was going on with my body. But yes, constipation was my indicator that something was going on.

Some women know because they are suddenly overcome with morning bouts of sickness and nausea. I never had this symptom even though my mother had ongoing morning sickness throughout her pregnancies. One of my cousins had nausea and dizziness to the extreme level, to the point of passing out one time in the shower. My sister had morning sickness nearly every day of her pregnancies and had to receive medical care for it when it got really bad.

Confirmation is key.

If you know that something is going on, your body is different, and you suspect pregnancy, your first phone call should be to a doctor to get a pregnancy test done professionally. At home pregnancy tests can be unreliable but can also confirm pregnancy for you. False negatives are common but a positive pregnancy test means that the hormones that indicate pregnancy are present. If you have a positive at home pregnancy test do not ignore this. Make an appointment with your doctor at your earliest convenience and begin making decisions as if you are pregnant, just to be safe.

It is important to know some of the things that could go wrong in this early part of your pregnancy so that you understand the risks of your choices and the importance of good health during this crucial time. Here are some of the issues that can arise early in a pregnancy that can cause problems in your pregnancy or can terminate a pregnancy.

Problems in early pregnancy

  • Miscarriage

During the first trimester of pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage is at the highest. There are many things that can cause a miscarriage and some of these things are completely out of your hands. The most common reason for miscarriage is a problem with the chromosomes in the embryo which is nature’s way of ending a pregnancy when the child would likely not have survived. Hormonal problems and abnormalities in the uterus can also be an issue. If you suspect that you have had a miscarriage it is important to follow-up with your doctor.

  • Ectopic pregnancy

During the third week of pregnancy, if the fertilized egg cell implants itself outside of the uterus, most often in the fallopian tube, the growing set of cells can cause the tube to rupture. This causes significant internal bleeding and pain in the woman’s abdomen. Ectopic pregnancies are ended with certain medications given by your doctor or in some cases surgery. If significant damage has been done to the fallopian tube, it may need to be removed by surgery.

  • Teratogens

Teratogens are infections or foreign substances such as drugs, alcohol, or medications which can cause birth defects. The first trimester is such a delicate time in pregnancy that the risk of damage to the fetus is relatively high. The baby’s organs and structures formed during this time and you should make sure to stay away from any substances that can cause birth defects in your unborn child.

It’s important to note that this risk, although higher in the earlier stages of pregnancy, is still present throughout the duration of your pregnancy. Warning labels or product websites can give you more information about how and when it is safe to consume a substance during pregnancy.

So, what should you do, or not do, if you suspect or have confirmed pregnancy?

Here are five very important things that you will want to do in these first few weeks to make sure that you are at your healthiest both mentally and physically for your pregnancy.

5 Ways to be Your Best in Your First Month of Pregnancy

2.   Choose a healthcare provider

The very first thing you need to do is choose a healthcare provider and make a prenatal appointment. They can confirm whether or not you are pregnant and get you started on prenatal vitamins which are extremely important for you to begin taking early in your pregnancy and throughout the duration of your pregnancy.

You can also discuss any concerns that you have about family history with your doctor so that they can advise you and plan a pregnancy map of care.

You will want to review your insurance plan as well as the absentee / maternity leave requirements at your workplace.

3.   Begin making different choices for your body

There is no question, a pregnancy body requires special care and the decisions you make in the early days of your pregnancy could have lifelong repercussions for your child.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Avoid alcohol

Although some studies show that minimal alcohol early in pregnancy may be ok, it is something to seriously reconsider. Harvard Health says to ”avoid alcohol during pregnancy. Respected medical societies like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Women both say women shouldn’t drink any alcohol during pregnancy. The main reason for this is that heavy use of alcohol during pregnancy has been linked to a long-term and irreversible condition known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).” Alcohol in pregnancy can also lead to developmental issues in the fetus and low birth weight.

  • Limit caffeine
  • If you smoke or vape tobacco or other products, quit

It is important to avoid substances that increase the risk for birth defects, such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and retinoid medications.–What can you do to reduce the risk of birth defects? Harvard Health

Join online communities or find local support groups.

Here at the Babienet community, we provide a safe space for you to interact with other parents, as well as articles on pregnancy and parenting to help you to be the best parent you can be. Come and join us! You can also join us on Facebook or follow our Blog.

It is so important as a new parent to have a sense of community and to feel like you are not alone in this sometimes overwhelming experience.

You can also find pregnancy support groups of parenting groups in your local area.

4.   Know when to call your doctor!

  • If you suspect you are pregnant–get confirmation.
  • Vaginal bleeding

Although some spotting is normal, heavy vaginally bleeding could be a sign of early miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. If heavy vaginally bleeding is coupled with an intense pain in the abdomen, you need to see a doctor right away to rule out ectopic pregnancy which could be very dangerous to your health.

  • Excessive nausea and vomiting

If you are unable to keep fluids down for 12 hours or so, you are at risk of dehydration. Dehydration, a drop in electrolytes, extreme vomiting and nausea, extreme dizziness can all be symptoms that can threaten your health. Call your doctor to discuss your symptoms. You may need to have some fluids at the hospital via IV to restore your electrolytes and treat dehydration.

  • High fever

If you have a fever higher than 101°F or 38°C you may need to see your doctor as this could be a sign of infection.

  • Vaginal discharge that is different or itchy

This could be a sign of an STD and you will certainly want to rule that out by a visit to your doctor and STD testing and treatment.

  • Painful or uncomfortable frequent urination

This could be a sign of a UTI or bladder infection.

  • Severe headache, swelling or pain in the calves

This could be an indication of a blood clot. Blood clots can be a deadly risk. Coming from a family that has a predisposition to blood clots, I fully understand the dangers of them. If you have a history of blood clots or history of them in your family it is important to communicate this to your doctor. If you have swelling or pain in the calves or severe headache, it could be a sign of a blood clot and you want to talk to your doctor about these symptoms.

  • Flare-ups of pre-existing conditions or chronic diseases

If you have a chronic disease such as thyroid disease, high blood pressure, asthma, lupus, or diabetes and your condition worsens then it is important to follow-up with your doctor and talk to them about your condition. You could also have a sudden worsening of depression or anxiety and these are also important things to talk to your doctor about.

5.   Stay positive

There’s a lot to be said for the power of positivity.

Pregnancy brings about such hormonal changes in your body that it is easy to slip into a place of worry, fear, and even feelings of depression. It’s important that you learn to listen to your body, tend to your body’s needs more carefully, and work to keep a positive mental attitude.

Pay close attention to the needs of your body. Sleep when you need to sleep. Rest when you need to rest. And when those feelings of anxiety or dread creep up, find ways to stay positive.

Pregnancy self-care and staying positive:

  • Take a nap
  • Take a warm bath and relax
  • Read a book or do some other enjoyable hobby
  • Spend some time in nature
  • Meditate
  • Call a friend
  • Take a walk
  • Get a massage
  • Wash and style your hair or do your makeup
  • Buy a new bra or loose fitting clothing for your pregnancy
  • Paint, draw, or journal
  • Make affirmation cards to hang around the house
  • Make a pregnancy vision board
  • Scroll through baby product and baby room decor pics on Pinterest
  • Exercise your faith-based activities and attend faith-based events
  • Smile!
  • Watch funny videos on You-tube (I’m a big fan of funny animal videos.)
  • Listen to music that calms you.

These 5 things–choosing a healthcare provider and following your doctors advice, making wise choices, building your support team, educating yourself on early warning signs, and maintaining a healthy, positive attitude– will all help you to make the first month of your pregnancy as successful as you can.

These are great tips to carry you through your first trimester and into the homestretch. Best of luck to you and your little one(s)!

 

For further reading:

What’s in a Name? Choosing a Name for Your Bundle of Joy

Choosing the Best Care for Your 1st Time Delivery

16 Facts All Women Breastfeeding Should Know

Pregnancy Exercises_ The Ultimate Guide to Safe and Effective Exercises for Every Trimester

What to Expect_ What Happens During Childbirth

The First Trimester–When to Call Your Doctor–WebMD

 

Christina M. Ward,

Babienet blog contributor

Proud mother of 3 and  grandmother of 2

5 Ways to be Your Best in Your First Month of Pregnancy provides actionable tips for a successful first month of pregnancy and helps you to know the first signs of pregnancy.