That positive pregnancy test is a life-changer. For a woman, knowing that she will become a mother is both exciting and scary, mostly because there are so many new situations and rules and medical issues all wrapped together that happen in a very short time.
For first-timers, especially, there is a big learning curve that has to be overcome immediately. The baby begins developing at a fast rate, and many miracles have already happened before the first symptom ever comes to fruition. There are so many things to know and to balance while life is going on and, many times, the mom-to-be is trying to keep the best of all secrets. It’s impossible to keep everything straight, especially while you are trying to stay awake or keep the sickness down.
Some mistakes in the first trimester can have dire consequences — smoking, especially can cause birth defects, and alcohol can also be problematic. Getting started on prenatal vitamins and talking to a doctor are essential during the first trimester, and figuring out the do’s and don’ts of safe foods and medications can pave the path of a healthy pregnancy. But no mom-to-be is perfect, and it can be hard to keep track of all of those instructions. It’s tricky to navigate and very stressful, so we’ve got a guide to help you get through — and help you realize that sometimes everything will be OK.
Here are 15 mistakes moms-to-be make in the first trimester.
1-NOT RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS
Pregnancy can be a mystery, especially since many of the symptoms are the same as when your period is about to begin. For a woman who isn’t closely tracking her cycle to figure out when it’s due, she may not recognize the symptoms of her pregnancy for weeks or — if her period is irregular — even longer.
The earliest signs of pregnancy can include sore breasts, shortness of breath, fatigue, frequent trips to the bathroom, cramping, food cravings or aversions, constipation, mood swings, and dizziness. Everyone hears about nausea, but for most, morning sickness doesn’t start until about six weeks.
By the time some women figure out that they are pregnant, the first trimester is nearly over. Some women spend the whole time wondering if they have the flu, but if you experience these symptoms, it may be time to take a test.
2-WAITING TO START PRENATAL VITAMINS
The day that you buy your pregnancy test should also be the day that you buy prenatal vitamins. Yes, that means even if you are just starting to try and haven’t yet missed your period. Doctors believe that women who are trying to get pregnant should go ahead and get started on the nutritional supplements to give the baby the best start in life.
Prenatal vitamins are especially important in the first trimester, while the baby’s organs and tissues are forming. In fact, taking folic acid in the first trimester is directly linked to a decrease in the possibility of a neural tube defect such as spina bifida by up to 70 percent. The neural tube is formed during the fifth and sixth week of pregnancy, which is not long after a woman first misses her period, so it is important that she starts the supplement right away.
Many first time moms think they need to wait for a doctor’s appointment to get a prescription for a prenatal vitamin, but there are many over-the-counter options to choose from.
3-NOT CALLING THE DOCTOR
Some women wait a while to call the doctor after learning they are pregnant, but while many times there is little that a healthcare provider can do, sometimes it’s a good idea to get a checkup. And if you are taking any medications, you need to talk to the doctor about any potential problems right away.
At the first prenatal appointment, a doctor will talk about the medical history and confirm the pregnancy, but often there is little more to do than to give a list of the proper food and medication in the first trimester.
But that doesn’t mean that a woman should hesitate to call the doctor any time a question comes up. For example, there are prescriptions that are safe to combat the most severe forms of morning sickness. A woman shouldn’t suffer just because she is afraid to ask — after all, by the time the baby is born, she won’t have any trouble waking up the doctor to ask about the tiniest sniffle.
The problem with delaying knowing that you are pregnant or not talking to the doctor is some women don’t know the dangers that they could be putting their baby in. For example, a newlywed could be enjoying her honeymoon with cocktails every night, all while the baby is developing.
There are definite risks to the baby if the mother consumes too much alcohol, including fetal alcohol syndrome, which is more rare but can include intellectual disabilities and other problems. But Harvard research recently determined that a bit of alcohol consumption in early pregnancy isn’t as dangerous as once believed.
Those findings may make a mom give a sigh of relief — and we agree, she shouldn’t worry about what she did before she was aware of the baby — but she should still cut out the alcohol as soon as possible. No one wants to risk that their little one will suffer.
5-UP IN SMOKE
Even worse than alcohol, cigarettes are terrible for pregnant women. Many birth defects are attributed to smoking, and many of those happen very early in the development of the baby. It may not be enough to wait until you learn that you are pregnant to stop because there have already been a few weeks of development going on at that point.
Don’t get us wrong; the second that you see that pink line on the test, put that cigarette out. But it would be better if you had kicked the habit before getting pregnant. Quitting cold turkey can be very hard, and when a woman is already feeling sick from pregnancy, she doesn’t need another complication for her body. Yet the alternative of continuing smoking is beyond dangerous.
It’s a bad habit, but no mom wants to make it even worse for anyone else, especially her little one. So don’t make the mistake of smoking while pregnant.
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