The A to Z of the First Trimester

It’s been a while since I posted, apologies! Between work, busy baby, Christmas and general life it has been hard to get a spare minute. New year, maybe new pregnancy for some? Judging by how busy maternity is in September, I’d say this is a good time to address the first trimester! Also, I’m pregnant! There I’ve said it and it’s fantastic. Even if I do feel like a bit of a fraud going from fertility struggles to super fertile all of a sudden. I’m over the first trimester but it was no walk in the park so I decided to do a post on tips for getting through it. So if you’ve had a positive pregnancy test, read on. Here’s my A to Z guide.

A is for Aghhhhhhhhhhh

Whether planned or unplanned; seeing that positive pregnancy test is one of the biggest Aghhhhhhhhh moments you will have in your life. It’s a miracle and you will stare at that test for quite a while with your mouth open before you can even begin to process things.

B is for Boobs

Tender boobs can be the first clue that there’s something stirring for some women. If not straight away, as the first trimester goes on, you will notice they are ever so slightly bursting out of your regular bra. This may seem early but it’s a good time to invest in a couple of comfy maternity bras – the ones with no underwire. You may need to wear them at night too for extra support. And make the most of them!

C is for Cutting Out

Yes, time to cut out alcohol, smoking, unhealthy foods (if possible!). Your body may not feel like a temple right now but it is home to your little baby already and what goes in also goes to baby. Don’t forget there’s plenty of support out there if you are finding it difficult – speak to your GP or midwife. C is also for cats! When you are pregnant, try to avoid contact with cat litter as there is a risk of contracting toxoplasmosis which can be very harmful to your baby.

D is for Declutter

Now is the time! It may seem like your pregnancy will go on forever but it won’t and once that baby comes, they come with a lot of stuff! Make space now, get rid of anything you no longer need.

E is for Exercise

While it’s not advised to take up a brand new high octane sport during pregnancy; if you are already running or doing fitness classes do keep it up. Always let any instructors/trainers/coaches know you are pregnant so they can make adjustments if necessary. If you don’t exercise; this might be a good time to start something low impact like walking, swimming or pregnancy yoga. It will help keep your body in good condition during pregnancy and afterwards. It’s also good for your mental health which can take a battering thanks to the wonderful pre and post pregnancy hormones.

F is for Food

The old saying that you are now eating for two is absolute rubbish! It’s easy to pile on the pounds in pregnancy but a lot harder to lose them afterwards. There are a few foods you are advised to avoid in pregnancy but don’t stress if you’ve been eating them before you knew you were pregnant. The main tips are to make sure all foods are properly washed (including those packets of lettuce that say they are already washed – give them another rinse!); try and make sure all meats are thoroughly cooked (avoid the rare steaks for now); avoid unpasteurised milks and unpasteurised cheeses (the likes of brie and camembert); mayonnaise in a jar is fine but avoid homemade mayonnaise; avoid anything with undercooked eggs – your sticky meringues for example. The main risks are food poisoning. Also pate is out as it is very high in vitamin A which is not recommended in large doses in pregnancy. And if you get any weird and wonderful cravings; go for it – mine was for Tangle Twister ice lollys – in winter!

G is for Get Sleep

Nobody can put into words the pure exhaustion of the first trimester. Your body may seem the same on the outside but it’s working overtime on the inside. Having to continue as normal with work can mean you’re in bed by 8pm every night. Do what you have to do, it may not be so easy when it’s your second or subsequent child but on your first just nap nap nap every chance you get. It does pass, you should get your energy back in the second trimester.

H is for Hunger

It is the strangest feeling, you are beyond nauseous one minute and totally ravenous the next. Try and eat healthy snacks, have some fruit and nuts to hand in the car; try to avoid greasy foods which can make nausea worse. I have more information on the nausea bit below under N.

I is for Insurance

It may seem early but it’s time to start thinking about what type of care you want for your pregnancy and birth; now is a good time to ring your health insurance provider so you have an idea what you are covered for. There’s so many choices right through from home birth, midwife led care, shared care and private consultant care. If you don’t have health insurance, it may be too late to sign up for cover in this pregnancy so check it out first.

J is for Journal

It’s amazing how you forget about things as your pregnancy goes on, baby brain may just be a thing. In my first pregnancy I downloaded a diary app for my phone and kept a record of how things were going were going in the first few weeks and added scan pictures. I didn’t manage to keep it up the whole pregnancy but even now I read back every so often and it brings me right back to all the emotions.

K is for Keeping a secret

Traditionally, people didn’t share their pregnancy news until the first trimester was over as this is when chances of miscarriage reduce and you will have had your first scan. These days, with early scans, some people choose to tell family and friends sooner. For us, we told our families over Christmas at around 9-10 weeks gestation. We had a scan at 8 weeks and there was a strong heartbeat, this set my mind at rest. But I think if I did have a miscarriage I would tell my family and friends anyway, I feel I would need their support. It is lovely at the start having your little secret that only you and your partner know and it’s for you decide when to share the good news.

L is for List of baby names

Definitely one of the exciting aspects of pregnancy. Picking names for your baby, there’s so much variety. It can cause major rows but eventually you will both agree on a shortlist – this can take time, it’s never too early to start! There’s so many books, apps and websites to get ideas. Will you go traditional or modern? As a midwife, no name would surprise me any more! One tip I would give is don’t ask for opinions from others.

M is for Medications

Being pregnant is wonderful but also means your immune system takes a bit of a battering so you can be more susceptible to colds, flus, bugs, etc. Unfortunately, a lot of remedies you might reach for in the pharmacy will not be safe to take in pregnancy. Always check with your pharmacist before taking anything. If you are on a long term medication for an existing condition; check with your GP or see your specialist as early as possible in your pregnancy as your medications may need to be changed.

N is for Nausea

Nausea in the first trimester is truly awful, for anyone that has suffered full on hyperemesis – I salute you (and you are probably laughing at me whinging about a bit of nausea). It seems never ending in early pregnancy – it hit me around 6 weeks and lasted (all day) until 12 weeks exactly – for some unlucky people it does continue longer. Different things can set you off – tastes, smells, motion. So some tips that might help are ginger (ginger anything – biscuits, fresh ginger grated into food, ginger flavour teas, etc), peppermint tea, hot water with fresh lemon, dry crackers or cereal, sea bands. Different things work for different people; try and eat little and often if you can.

O is for Open a Savings Account

Having a baby means quite the expenditure! In reality you can go as mad or as frugal as you like – there’s top of the range travel systems or you can get many a second hand bargain on donedeal or adverts websites. Either way, it does all add up; if it’s your first baby there are essentials you will need like a cot, clothes and nappies (a mountain of nappies!). You might also want to take extended maternity leave after the paid 6 months (in Ireland, you are entitled to take up to 16 weeks unpaid leave at the end of your paid maternity leave if you wish); you will definitely need to put away a few euros if you really want to do this.

P is for Pregnancy Apps

There’s lots of great free pregnancy apps you can download to your phone. These apps tell you each week how big your baby is and it’s so exciting to be able to visualise all the changes. They also give you a round up of common pregnancy symptoms by the week and what developments your baby is making. It’s definitely worth trying a few and then sticking with your favourite!

Q is for Questions

I guarantee you have about a million questions but as soon as you arrive into your antenatal appointment – your mind goes blank and you can’t remember a single question! Write them down as they occur to you and try to avoid google for everything as there is a lot of misleading info online. Or at the very least, confirm your answers with your midwife or doctor.

R is for Reading

You will get lots of leaflets at your antenatal booking appointment, the temptation is to leave them on a shelf where you will “get back to them later”. You never get back to them. They are actually full of very useful information. These days it is so easy to search google when you have any questions or ask in parenting forums. But beware, not all advice will be good advice so question the source before you take anything as gospel. Buy an actual book about pregnancy, even your other half might be tempted to have a browse. Read as much as you can, knowledge is power as long as it is accurate!

S is for ultrasound Scans

It is a contentious topic as unfortunately not all maternity services in Ireland offer scans at 12 weeks and 20 weeks. Why are these important – the 12 week one is to confirm your dates and the 20 week one is to check for any fetal anomalies. But this post is about the first trimester and some people need a scan before 12 weeks. For example – if you have any bleeding or heavy cramps; if you have no idea of your dates or if you have a history of miscarriage. In cases like these, your GP can refer you to an Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (EPAU) where they will scan you. Sometimes you would just like an early scan to see your baby – EPAU is not the place for this; however, there are lots of companies that offer private scans if you would like one. It can be very reassuring to get an early scan but can also cause anxiety if they can’t find a heartbeat because it’s just too early and you have to wait a week for them to recheck. I would advise waiting until at least 7 weeks before getting one.

T is for Take photos

Ok, so any bump you have in the first trimester is more bloating than baby but it’s good to start taking bump photos and record how many weeks you are. These are great to keep with your scans to show your child some day. You can also look back in amazement at your relatively flat tummy at 10 weeks when you are sitting with a massive baby bump at 36 weeks!

U is for Urinary output

A constant need to pee is common in the first trimester and it’s something that returns later in your pregnancy as your baby leaves less room for your bladder. This is normal but if it’s accompanied by stinging then you might have a urinary tract infection which women are more prone to in pregnancy. See your GP if concerned. You will also have a urine sample checked at every antenatal appointment so be prepared!

V is for Vitamins

If you are super healthy and live on quinoa and vegetables and oily fish and other such healthy food then move on to X! Despite our best intentions, we are all busy people and sometimes we need a little boost with vitamins especially when pregnant. In the first trimester, the most important supplement is folic acid. If you are feeling very nauseous, some pregnancy vitamins might not agree with you so try different brands – just make sure they are pregnancy specific. If you can’t tolerate any of them, do take folic acid on its own.

X marks your due date on the calendar

The countdown has begun! A lot of people feel the first trimester lasts forever but you’ll be surprised at how fast the pregnancy zooms by and the next thing you know you have your baby in your arms. So mark your calendar and maybe even book a holiday (babymoon!) for when you are in your second trimester – check what the airline policies are on flying when pregnant – most airlines allow travel up to 32 weeks and with a letter from your doctor up to 36 weeks. Always double check though!

Y is for making time for You

If ever there was a time for a bit of pampering – it’s when you’re pregnant. Especially with your first as you have the time. So make time for pregnancy massages, pregnancy yoga, pedicures and even just a bit of relaxing with a good book. Pretty soon your life will chance forever so enjoy the chilling out and get those batteries charged up! Let any therapist know you are pregnant, some treatments are not suitable for the first trimester.

Z is for Zen

Z is always going to be a difficult one! Zen is defined as a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Mental health awareness is a topic that has come to the fore in the media and health services thankfully. In pregnancy there are a lot of changes with hormones as well as natural anxiety and worries that everything will be ok. It is so important to let your health provider know if you think you are feeling depressed as the earlier you get help the better for you. Postnatal depression is something people are aware of but there is also such a thing as antenatal depression. Look after your mind as well as your fabulous pregnant body and you’ll be in top shape to tackle motherhood.

Have you been there? Let me know if you have any tips to add! PS – Being pregnant at Christmas 2 years in a row… didn’t really think that one through!

Have you recently found out you are pregnant? Then look no further, here is the ultimate guide to the first trimester of pregnancy.


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