We’ve consulted with two of Australia’s leading obstetrician’s Dr Lionel Steinberg and Dr Peter Jurcevic to run us through the symptoms and precautions to take during the first three months of pregnancy.
Symptoms during the first trimester
Dr Jurcevic advises, “fatigue, nausea and vomiting, bloating, breast tenderness are very common and usually abate in most people by the start of the second trimester”.
Hormonal changes in your body are the root cause of nausea and fatigue, (often called ‘morning sickness’, yet can occur anytime and hang on until the end of your first trimester). Your breasts will also become larger and more tender. The nipples and areola may darken and veins will be more noticeable.
Precautions during first three months of pregnancy.
During this delicate time, there are a few precautions you need to be aware of.
1st trimester of pregnancy precautions
“Alcohol is to be avoided” advises Dr Jurcevic. “As the saying goes, ‘If you have a drink, so does your baby’”. Alcohol can affect an unborn baby’s brain and the most critical time for this not to occur is in the 1st trimester of pregnancy.
Some medication and natural supplements can interfere with foetal development, damage the baby’s organs, cause miscarriage or bring on premature labour. Dr Jurcevic recommends pregnant women “always consult with their doctor or pharmacist when it comes tomedications. There are also Drug Info Hotlines and most maternity hospitals have readily accessible resources either online or via telephone”.
Medicine Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) or contact your local maternity hospital for more information.
3. Recreational Drugs
Recreational Drugs cross the placenta into the baby’s system which can cause birth defects, miscarriage, stillbirth or intellectual impairment. If you need information and support, contact your doctor or call the Drug Information Line on 1300 85 85 84.
Smoking while pregnant restricts oxygen to your unborn baby and passes on toxic chemicals. If you need help to quit speak to your doctor or call the Quitline 137848
Dr Jurcevic has strict instructions for us; “continue enjoying your lattes!” But limit them to 2 to 3 per day.
While rubella virus vaccinations are standard vaccines girls get in adolescence, it will often be updated for pregnancy. It is important to discuss getting all vaccines up to date with your doctor.
What to eat when pregnant first trimester
You need a well-balanced and healthy diet while pregnant. Make sure your food intake includes the following:
Fresh leafy vegetables: If you buy from a local farmers market you know it is sold at its freshest, which is when it is full of nutrients. Wash it all carefully before eating to ensure it is clean.
Sweet Potatoes: A great healthy snack, full of vitamin A which is essential for foetal development.
Fish and seafood: These are full of essential oils and minerals.
Dairy: Greek yoghurt is excellent to include as it is high in calcium and contains good gut bacteria.
Legumes: Such as chickpeas, lentils, peas and beans. These have extra fibre and contain calcium, folate and iron which you need more of during pregnancy.
Eggs: A superfood, these little nuggets contain a bit of almost every nutrient you need.
Meat: Pork, chicken, lamb and beef, are terrific sources of quality protein.
The biggest concern with food when in the first trimester of pregnancy, is the food poisoning bacteria called Listeria. “While women around the world eat a varied diet during pregnancy, recommendations of foods to avoid vary greatly” says Dr Steinberg. He continues, “there is some logic, pasteurisation processes vary, storage and food preparation practices can differ”. “In Australia, we have very clear recommendations” he adds.
Dr Steinberg explains further, “It isn’t that all foods to be avoided are certain to cause transmission of the Listeria bacteria to you and your baby, but rather, these foods are considered high risk and carry a much greater likelihood of you contracting Listeriosis. I have been giving this same advice for 30 years”.
In a first world country the chances of getting this is really low. However, advice for the first trimester of pregnancy is to stay away from the following:
- Soft cheese
- Unpasteurised dairy
- Deli meats
- Raw meat like sushi
- Any food stored so long you have no idea how old it is
- Badly stored food such as cooked meat left sitting out on the bench overnight
Also make sure all meat you eat is thoroughly cooked.
Things to avoid in early pregnancy
Taking up a new sport: “Almost all exercise is safe (kick boxing excepted!). Ideally you want to keep your heart rate below 140b/m. A fitbit can be a useful guide” says Dr Jurcevic.Hot Yoga is also one form of exercise that is not appropriatefor pregnancy, (see Overheating).
Sugar: The risk of gestational diabetes is higher if you do not manage your sugar intake in early pregnancy.
Overheating: Avoid excessive heat. “Your core temperature is normally 37c. Baths over 40c are generally intolerable anyway and saunas will not feel great when you are pregnant”, says Dr Jurcevic.
1st trimester of pregnancy do's and don'ts
Take prenatal supplements: A pregnancy multivitamin provides support to both you and the baby. Calcium, iron and folic acid are the most important.
Take probiotics: These are attributed to reducing the likelihood of conditions such a preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. As well as that they help manage heartburn and constipation.
Rest up: You may experience fatigue in the first trimester, and if you push yourself hard, it only gets worse. Make use of any time you have to rest and accept any offers of help graciously.
Eat well: In the first trimester you set yourself and your baby up for the rest of the pregnancy journey and beyond. Eat fresh produce and stay away from processed foods.
Exercise: Continue exercising and if you are not already exercising, light walking is a great place to start. Remember to seek advice from your doctor before starting exercise while pregnant.
Stay Hydrated: You will get dehydrated faster while pregnant as you are providing fluids to your baby too.
Take on any new work or large projects that adds extra stress into your life.
Clean out the kitty litter: By all means, cuddle your cat, but stay away from her faeces as this contains a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii which can cause harm to your baby.
Gain an excessive amount of weight: Dr Jurcevic provides a guideline on this. “ Currently 8-14kg is the average weight gain across a pregnancy. A lot of this is baby, placenta, blood volume and increased fluid (the rest is fat). New evidence is suggesting that 5-8kg may in fact be the ideal. Watch sugar intake in particular as the placental hormones are very good at storing excess sugar as fat”. He adds, “The average Australia woman, after three months post delivery, usually weighs 5kg more than she was first pregnant. Therefore after 3 kids ...15kg!”
Is it safe to travel during pregnancy first trimester?
For an uncomplicated pregnancy travelling up to 36 weeks locally and 32 weeks internationally is okay. Always check with your doctor first before making those travel plans.
Precautions during pregnancy
The most critical time for taking precautions during pregnancy is in the first trimester. However, you still need to be cautious for the duration of your pregnancy. Do not take unnecessary risks, take care of yourself and make sure you get enough rest and nourishment.