I Am Pregnant!!! Now What??!!
You are pregnant! Whether this is first time you have gotten a + test or have had others, early pregnancy can be filled with excitement, anxiety, and confusion on what to do versus not do and what is normal. Often times you may not see your doctor or midwife until the latter part of the first trimester. So what to do in the meantime??!!
First, know that your body is doing amazing things right now and working really hard to create this new life! Your body is adjusting to increased hormone levels and blood volume and all of your baby’s major systems and organs are starting to form! Crazy and amazing, isn’t it?! As a result of all of these changes, common symptoms of early pregnancy include:
Breast tenderness and swelling
Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, lack of appetite, food aversions, and bloating
Constipation (or for some loose stools or alternating between the two)
Increased urination and vaginal discharge
Headaches, dizziness, and sinus congestion
Mild abdominal cramping (often described as twinges)
* If persistent cramping with bleeding or pain that is getting worse, contact your doctor or midwife.
Anxiety, irritability, and insomnia
For most women, many of these symptoms improve as they make their way into the second trimester. Be sure to listen to your body and try some of these suggestions to ease the journey of the first trimester:
(* These are not meant to take the place of your doctor’s advice)
Fluids: Avoiding dehydration is so very important in pregnancy! Drink plenty of filtered water (avoid plastic water bottles that contain BPA). You can also try teas such as ginger, peppermint, chamomile, or rooibos throughout the day or we often recommend sipping on bone broth as it is good for digestive health! *Play around with ginger and peppermint if you have nausea or digestive issues to see if one might help more than the other;)
Diet: Eat small, frequent meals with protein to help stabilize your blood sugar which can help with fatigue, nausea, and headaches. You might find eating a snack high in protein before bed helps while eating something higher in carbs helps first thing in the morning. Many women gravitate towards bland, easy to digest foods during this time.
Foods to avoid: Raw meat, deli meat, fish with high mercury levels, smoked seafood, raw shellfish, raw eggs, soft cheeses, unwashed vegetables and fruit, alcohol, caffeine. From a Chinese medicine perspective, we also recommend avoiding cold food and drinks as this can be more taxing on the digestive system. Pregnant women are also prone to “dampness” and can benefit from avoiding added sugar (often in fruits juices), refined carbohydrates, and fried foods.
Nourishing foods to include: Try and eat whole foods versus processed foods and snacks. Eat cooked easy to digest foods to lighten the load on your system (ask us for a recipe for congee:). As mentioned above, try eating protein with each meal (meat, fish such as salmon, poultry, lamb, eggs, and bone broth). Get in healthy fats such as avocados and nuts and a variety of vegetables such as dark, leafy greens, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, celery, and radishes(ideally organic).
Sleep/Rest: You may find that you are tired and ready for bed by dinner or need to take a nap during the day. Listen to your body! Rest when you can and become a friend of catnaps. If you find that getting comfortable for sleep at night is challenging, we suggest a pregnancy pillow such as the Snoogle!
Exercise: Regular exercise is great in pregnancy and so important to prepare for birth, but in the first trimester in particular you may need to take it down a notch, especially if you have a history of miscarriage. Listen to your body and if anything causes discomfort, take a break and talk to your doctor. We don’t recommend starting a new, intensive exercise program that your body is not used to or sweating too aggressively. Walking, swimming, tai chi, and prenatal yoga are great options if you are just getting started with regular exercise.
Stress Reduction: Pregnancy can bring on emotions that you may not have expected. While exciting, it can often bring up fears and anxiety about the health of the pregnancy and have you second guessing every little sign or symptom (or lack of). Often women don’t start to feel baby move until between 18-22 weeks in their first pregnancy so it can be helpful to add in stress reduction techniques to calm your fears when they come up. Meditation, breathing, and positive affirmations can be helpful and are also a great preparation for childbirth. Programs created by companies such as Circle +Bloom or Expectful are great! (I had spotting throughout most of my first trimester and found that creating an affirmation helped when I started to get anxious.)
Vitamins/Supplements: We suggest checking with your healthcare provider to go over your supplement list as some supplements used to improve fertility may be best to stop during pregnancy. We recommend a high-quality prenatal vitamin with folate versus folic acid. See our blog post for more details. In addition, we also encourage women to continue fish oil, probiotic, and vitamin D as a baseline. Depending on one’s health history and symptoms, there are other supplements that may be beneficial! Ask us for more info!
Acupuncture: Acupuncture can be a wonderful addition to your pregnancy care plan. We encourage patients to come in weekly through the first trimester to support early pregnancy, prevent miscarriage, and reduce uncomfortable symptoms. An ideal treatment plan often follows a similar schedule to your OB or midwife as your pregnancy progresses.
Toxins: Avoid plastics and BPA exposure as well as “non-stick” cookware. Make sure to give over the cat litter box duties to your partner to avoid any risk of toxoplasmosis and avoid exposure to toxic chemicals and fumes. Especially during the first trimester, it is best to avoid painting, hair dye, manicures, and toxic cleaners. Check out this article for some additional info.
Miscellaneous: Keep your feet warm and avoid walking on cold floors this winter!
Let us know if you would like to schedule a phone call to learn more about how acupuncture can help support your pregnancy:)