Maybe it was feeling morning sickness or perhaps you missed your period. Maybe you just felt different and thought to take a pregnancy test. No matter how you learned you were pregnant, the realization makes you think about all the things to do in the first trimester. Let’s not forget, all the things to avoid during the first trimester.
I’m not going to give you a lecture or 20-point to do list, but let’s talk about how you can start taking care of yourself and that growing baby in the first trimester weeks.
To learn more about the first trimester timeline and baby’s development, check out my post on the Zulily Blog about Baby Development During the First Trimester.
There are 3 trimesters in pregnancy and a “fourth trimester” which describes the first 3 months after you have your baby. The weeks of the pregnancy trimesters are:
First trimester: 0-13 weeks
Second trimester: 14-26 weeks
Third trimester: 27-40 weeks
The first trimester may not look like a lot of change on the outside, but a lot is happening as baby grows and your body changes to take care of your new baby.
What do I Need to Do in the First Trimester?
Enjoy your cravings and also work in nutritious choices.
It can be fun and curious when you have strange cravings. I first thought I might be pregnant when I came home from work and put hot sauce on a spoonful of peanut butter. Yep, pregnant. I also tried to make a salt and vinegar ice cream. That did not work very well. Enjoy those cravings and have fun with it! When it comes to working in nutrition choices during the first trimester, work in vegetables, fruits, fibers and lean meats if you consume meat.
Avoid fish high in mercury, don’t eat cat litter (but really let someone else handle the cat litter) and stay away from anything that you think could give you an infection from being uncooked or unpasteurized. It is also wise to try to cut back on caffeine. This can be hard since you may be feeling so tired, but work to reduce intake. This is also a good time to start prenatal vitamins and folic acid. First trimester sickness (morning sickness but it can hit at anytime of the day!) can make it hard to eat and drink enough, so keep some healthy snacks and water nearby at all times (this is a water bottle that I happen to love). Oh and stop any tobacco, alcohol or drug usage. If you need help stopping, find a program nearby to assist you (getting help is always better than suffering alone!).
Find a trusted provider
Your pregnancy and birth team is very important. If you do not have a trusting relationship with your current provider, it is okay to switch to someone that makes you feel more confident. Find a provider that will listen to you, has an approach to pregnancy and birth that you align with, and will help you understand all the changes and choices you will experience. If you have a history of anxiety or depression, or are feeling depressed during pregnancy, ensure that you have a good relationship with your provider and can bring these things up.
Give yourself permission to rest
Chances are you will feel fatigue throughout pregnancy, but it can be most evident in the first trimester. While you are cutting back on caffeine, you can also be adding in rest. Let go of something on your to-do list and add in a nap. Communicate with your partner (if applicable) that all the hormone and body changes mean you need more rest.
Protect yourself from getting overwhelmed by comparison
It can feel like there are hundreds of things to do after you find out you are pregnant. You may get tempted to download every app and join every Facebook group. Figure out what makes you feel seen and connected and identify anything that traps you in comparison. If you love bump pics and fruit sizes, great, but if you do not, that is okay too.
You do not have to do everything possible to have a good and loving pregnancy. Check out our free Facebook group for the space you need for REAL talk about postpartum- preparation, education, advocacy, communication, connection. We help you prepare for life after baby and support you through the first year with resources, small group coaching, 1-on-1 consults, courses
Plan your parental leave
Start to explore parental leave at your place of work and your partner’s place of work. Look into your contract and any HR policies to see what will be available to you. Plan accordingly so that you are able to have a leave.
Related: Communication after baby
Should I Announce My Pregnancy in the First Trimester?
Deciding if and when to announce your pregnancy is a very personal choice. Some people will tell you that you HAVE to wait until after 12 weeks, when the risk of miscarriage declines. You do not have to wait. It can be very valuable to have people in your corner no matter what the outcome of your pregnancy is- we need community in our joy and in our pain.
Some people will tell you to announce right away and make it big. You do not have to do that either. If you want to keep your pregnancy intimate, that is totally fine.
If you and your partner do not agree on when to disclose your pregnancy, spend time communicating, discussing your values, and working to find a compromise. Sometimes an outside counselor or trusted friend can be a good third party to help you talk through it.
Preparing for Birth and Postpartum
When you find out you are expecting, you want to think about birth preparation and postpartum preparation. Birth preparation includes your preferences for how and where you birth. Postpartum preparation includes setting yourself up for success with life after baby and the transition home and beyond.
Birth prep can be completed via an online course like Birth It Up or at your hospital or through a local birth educator.
Postpartum prep is more difficult to find. At Postpartum Together, we offer an eCourse paired with a small group to guide you through making a postpartum plan so that you and your partner can be prepared for bringing home baby, having support, staying connected in your relationship and more.
Everyone has their own idea of first trimester tips. Prioritize taking good care of yourself, getting in tune with your body, establishing important relationships with your support team and learning about the changes happening in you and your baby.