Monday, March 20, 2017

Your First Pregnancy: What You Should Know

 This post was written by a contributing writer.

Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful, and in many cases, one of the most awaited times in a woman’s life. No matter what life has thrown at you in the past, I guarantee that you’ve never had an experience quite like bearing, delivering, and then raising a child. It goes without saying that you’ll want a safe pregnancy without any stressful complications or nasty surprises. The following is a list of all the most important things to know when you’re due to be a first-time mother. Getting informed and following up on this advice will ensure your pregnancy is one of the most enjoyable and memorable stages of your life.

Image: Flickr

Signs of Confirmation
If you’ve been going out of your way to conceive, it can be easy to let the excitement go to your head, misinterpret certain changes in your body, and generally confuse yourself. When you’re trying for a baby, you should make sure you’re clear on the signs that will indicate that you’re pregnant. The obvious way to confirm you’re pregnant is to use a home urine test with a kit you can buy over-the-counter. There are also various symptoms of first-time pregnancies which can be taken as a confirmation, such as nausea, vomiting, back pain, swollen breasts and abrupt mood swings. Making sure you’re pregnant is very important to assure a healthy term. If the home kit shows unclear results, go to your ob-gyn and have a more foolproof test.

Your Family Medical History

Once you’re sure that you’re pregnant, it’s important to talk to your mother, grandmother, aunties or all of them about their pregnancies. Knowing about any kind of genetic issues or birth abnormalities in your family history, well in advance, is crucial to assure your pregnancy is as smooth and healthy as possible. When you’re clued up about these things, it can get you prepared for any problems that may be on the horizon, and point you towards any necessary aids.

Some Tests are Non-Negotiable

There are a number of primary medical tests which pregnant women should undergo. Things like urine tests, blood sugar tests, hepatitis B tests and so on are all essential for you to determine the level of risk associated with your pregnancy. Your doctor will be able to advise you on which ones are universal for all pregnant women, and which ones are advisable based on your patient notes and family history. Ideally, you’ll take these before you actually try conceiving, but if it’s too late for that don’t put it off any longer. Make an appointment with your doctor, and take all the tests that they deem necessary.

How Much Weight Gain is Healthy?

Like a lot of other first-time mothers, you might be terrified by the thought of the amount of weight you’ll gain during your pregnancy, and eager to know how you’ll shed it once you’ve given birth. The healthy amount of weight gain is dependent on your BMI (Body Mass Index) before conception. If you’re already overweight at the time of conception, then you should take steps to avoid putting on more weight. If you’re underweight, then you should make a point to gain a few pounds. Some women also choose to look into post-pregnancy treatments like a mommy makeover - tummy tuck. Remember that your fetus needs to get the necessary nutrients to have a healthy development. Understanding your dietary needs, and then sticking to them, is another non-negotiable step.

Your Gestational Age

Pregnancy, as you may already know, is divided into three stages, each consisting of three months. With each trimester, physiological changes will happen in your body, affecting your hormonal levels, your blood pressure volatility, your breathing and your metabolism. These are just the tip of the iceberg, as you’ll soon discover! It’s important to monitor these kinds of changes from the first day of the pregnancy, which will help you better understand the following stages as you move through them. Aside from that, it’s also important to note your delivery due date, which is generally calculated by the date of your last menstrual cycle. Generally, delivery will take place anywhere between 37 and 40 weeks from conception.

Bleeding can Still Occur

Typically, one of the earliest signs of pregnancy is missed periods. However, in many instances, there can still be bleeding in the initial stages of a pregnancy. This is often confused with menstrual bleeding. Bleeding during the early stages of your pregnancy occurs when an egg travels down the fallopian tube and into the uterus, where it’s implanted in the lining. This is known as implantation bleeding, or sometimes “spotting”. The best way to tell the two apart is by the color. Blood from spotting is usually a more brown or pink color, in comparison to the usual red of menstrual blood. This kind of bleeding is almost always benign, but it’s still a good idea to stay safe by telling your doctor about it.

To Eat or Not to Eat?

Image: Pixino

You probably already know that you have to take a lot of care with your diet and nutrition when you’re pregnant. Aside from regular doses of vitamins and supplements, you also need to make sure you’re getting a balanced, wholesome and nutritious diet. A lot of doctors will provide you with a handy diet chart, which will be tailored to your body’s needs. Aside from guides like this, and various online resources you can look into, make sure you’re abstaining from alcohol and smoking, and minimizing the amount of caffeine you’re taking in. These kinds of toxins can increase the risk of premature delivery, underweight babies, and various birth defects.

Exercise is Essential

Due to all the changes going on in your body, and the fatigue and dizziness you’ll be feeling in those early stages, a lot of pregnant women tend to avoid exercise a little more than they usually would. Although you may not feel entirely up to it, exercise is just as essential for your health when you’re pregnant as at any other stage in your life, if not more so. Regular exercise, even if it’s just in the form of a moderate walk around the block, is essential for first-time pregnant women. This will strengthen your muscles, stabilize your mood swings to some extent, and make it easier to endure the pain of your pregnancy. If you already have a set exercise regimen you want to stick to through your pregnancy, always talk to your doctor about it first.

It’s No Picnic

While bearing a child is an experience that can change the person you are for the better, and certainly not something that you’ll easily forget, this comes at a price. The pain of giving birth is obviously intense, but long before that, you’re going to have to go through a range of other discomforts. A lot of activities that you’ve been able to do freely will now be either banned or extremely painful to accomplish. Even standing for a long period of time in the later stages can be hard to bear. This is before we get into all the surprise bouts of vomiting and constipation. Talk to your doctor about ways you can ease these discomforts, without causing any damage to your health or the health of your baby. Most importantly, get into an attitude that will make it easier to face the pain head-on. Instead of dreading the discomforts ahead of you, try to see them as the sacrifice you’ll make for a child you’ll love unconditionally. This can make it easier to grit your teeth through.

This post was written by a contributing writer.

This post is not meant to give medical advice. Please consult a medical professional with any questions/concerns.

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