You’re pregnant! Now what?

First off, congratulations! Welcome to 40 weeks of excitement, major change, anticipation, and joy. Also? Welcome to nausea, breast tenderness, weight gain, and probably a fair amount of anxiety, if you’re paying attention at all.

Growing a person is a big deal. It can wear you out and take over your brain. But knowing what to expect helps you cut back on a lot of worries.

Pregnancy’s wild ride: First changes

Rising hormones in your body are responsible for a lot of quirky new experiences, especially during the first trimester (weeks 1-12):

  • Sore breasts. One of the earliest signs of pregnancy, and a short-lived one. Your breasts also fill out during early pregnancy. If your bras are feeling too tight, get fitted for a new bra (and ones you can also use later for nursing) at the Women’s Health Boutique.
  • Fatigue. The first trimester is a particularly sluggish period. Thank the hormone progesterone.
  • Nausea. The ridiculously misnamed “morning sickness” can occur anytime and all the time. Chalk it up to estrogen. If your nausea is debilitating or if you’re vomiting, call your doctor. You might find relief from a prescription or from tips like eating soda crackers before you get out of bed in the morning or eating small meals throughout the day.
  • Heightened sense of smell. And few of the odors that hit your nose smell good during pregnancy.
  • Food cravings. Hard to say which foods will obsess you (if any), but your hormones may declare a loud preference for certain foods.
  • Constipation. Progesterone slows down digestion, and if that weren’t bad enough, the iron in your prenatal vitamins can cause constipation. Eating fruits and vegetables and drinking a lot of water can do a lot to help. But check in with your doctor if you need further ideas. You might be able to take a stool softener.

You might also find that you’re getting more headaches. Increased blood circulation during pregnancy may be the trigger. The problem is, the medicines you took for headache before you were pregnant may not be appropriate now. Make sure you talk to your doctor about which options are safe.

When should I call my doctor?

Pronto.

Call as soon as you confirm your pregnancy with an over-the-counter pregnancy test.

The usual way of things is that your doctor will want you to schedule your first visit between 8 and 10 weeks of pregnancy. During this visit, you mostly likely talk with a nurse to find out what you can expect from pregnancy and to set up a plan for your care.

Sometimes, you have an ultrasound early on so that your doctor can determine your exact due date.

Just make sure that you get in to see your doctor during the first 12 weeks. Early prenatal care is essential for a healthy pregnancy and baby.

How much weight gain is too much?

Women tend to fall into two camps during pregnancy: the “feeding frenzy” approach to eating and the “meticulous attention to keeping my weight down” method.

The best answer falls somewhere in the middle. Eating for two most definitely is a misleading notion. The second entity you’re eating for probably won’t weigh much more than eight pounds at its biggest. It certainly doesn’t need the full day’s intake that you do.

Expect to gain about 25-30 pounds during pregnancy. This varies, of course, but is a reasonable guideline if you aren’t carrying twins.

Here’s to your happy, healthy pregnancy! Now get some rest, and call your doctor if you haven’t yet.

You can find out more about early pregnancy by attending our free early pregnancy class at St.Vincent Women’s Hospital. This class offers information on what to expect, healthy nutrition, and exercise, and it gives you a chance to ask questions. Call 338-CARE to register.

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