START PREG­NANCY RIGHT!

A GUIDE TO THE FIRST 3 MONTHS

Your Pregnancy - - Talking Point -

Many women don’t know they’re preg­nant un­til well into the first trimester. But so much is hap­pen­ing to your body and your grow­ing baby in these first twelve weeks

B y the end of your first trimester, your baby is al­ready fully formed. He is about 10 cen­time­tres long and weighs around 28 grams (about the same as a slice of bread). Your baby will have arms, hands, fin­gers, feet and toes, will be able to open and close his mouth, and his cir­cu­la­tory and uri­nary sys­tems will be work­ing. All this hap­pens in the short time from conception so it’s a crit­i­cal 12 weeks be­tween fer­tilised egg and recog­nis­able proto-hu­man.

For planned preg­nan­cies, you can take care with what you do and eat; if un­planned, this is the time your body will be telling you that some­thing’s up – best you lis­ten.

HOW DO YOU KNOW?

Some women give off that glo­ri­ous preg­nancy glow from the first trimester; oth­ers spend it hang­ing over the loo. “Phys­i­o­log­i­cal adap­tion to hor­monal changes at this stage of preg­nancy usu­ally re­sults in symp­toms such as nau­sea or vom­it­ing, lower ab­dom­i­nal pains, leg cramps, short­ness of breath and ex­ces­sive heart­beats,” says Johannesburg gy­nae­col­o­gist Dr Ki­ran Kalian.

HERE ARE A FEW OTHER FLAGS THAT YOU HAVE A BABY ON BOARD:

Breast ten­der­ness and morn­ing sick­ness. These are the ear­li­est signs of preg­nancy.

Bleed­ing. About a quar­ter of preg­nant women have slight bleed­ing dur­ing the first trimester – this light spot­ting may be a sign that the fer­tilised em­bryo (egg and sperm) has im­planted in the uterus. Al­ways visit your doc­tor if you ex­pe­ri­ence bleed­ing.

Dis­charge that is thin and milky is com­mon. Don’t use a tam­pon dur­ing preg­nancy as it can in­tro­duce germs.

Tired­ness. Grow­ing a lit­tle hu­man is hard work. Food crav­ings/aver­sions. Plenty of pee stops. Don’t hold it in, and don’t stop

FOR PLANNED PREG­NAN­CIES, YOU CAN TAKE CARE WITH WHAT YOU DO AND EAT; IF UN­PLANNED, THIS IS THE TIME YOUR BODY WILL BE TELLING YOU THAT SOME­THING’S UP

drink­ing flu­ids – your body needs them. Heart­burn. Mood swings. Weight gain. Dur­ing the first trimester, you should gain about 1.5 to 3kg. “Healthy eat­ing is rec­om­mended and a bal­anced diet is key,” says Dr Kalian. “But the preg­nant mother needs to un­der­stand that eat­ing should be re­stricted to enough for one per­son, not two.” You only need about 700 ex­tra kilo­joules a day dur­ing the first trimester – the equiv­a­lent of half an ap­ple and a ta­ble­spoon of peanut but­ter.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

As­sum­ing a healthy lifestyle, with a good diet and reg­u­lar ex­er­cise, most women should be able to con­tinue life as usual while they’re preg­nant. “The healthy preg­nant mother should be able to do all the ac­tiv­i­ties she did prior to preg­nancy,” says Dr Kalian. “Preg­nancy shouldn’t be con­sid­ered a dis­ease.”

If, how­ever, you haven’t been giv­ing your body the at­ten­tion it needs, it’s never too late to start.

The most im­por­tant thing is to take a good preg­nancy mul­ti­vi­ta­min. Ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist for ad­vice. Also you need to add folic acid, a B vi­ta­min that pro­motes healthy red blood cells and helps to pre­vent se­ri­ous birth de­fects. Your body doesn’t make this vi­tal sub­stance – it has to be taken daily through food or sup­ple­ments. “Folic acid sup­ple­men­ta­tion is es­sen­tial in the first 12 weeks of preg­nancy, and should prefer­ably be started be­fore conception,” says Dr Kalian.

How­ever, there are some vi­ta­mins you should not be tak­ing. “Vi­ta­min A, D

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