Few things in life are more exciting than learning you're pregnant for the first time. The rush of emotions that most women feel during pregnancy usually include a boatload of joy and anticipation, but also a lot of questions and some anxiety and apprehension as well. Below are a few things that first-time moms-to-be should know that will help you feel more informed and prepared for this exciting journey.
1. You'll Probably Feel Sick, and it's Totally Normal
Some women are lucky enough to never experience morning sickness, but for the majority of pregnant women (some estimates put the total at just over 50 percent while others estimate up to 90 percent of women deal with the issue), morning sickness strikes early in the pregnancy (around week six) and lingers until around week 12. Although it's named "morning" sickness, these uncomfortable feelings of nausea can occur any time of day. Aside from feeling unpleasant, morning sickness won't harm you or your baby. However, if the feeling of nausea is accompanied by actual vomiting, your body will be losing precious fluids, so do your best to drink as much water as possible to stay healthy and hydrated.
2. Strange Cravings Aren’t Just a Stereotype
Cravings during pregnancy are very real. They can start as early as two to three weeks into your pregnancy and can range from healthy foods like fruits and vegetables to sweets like cake and cookies to bizarre cravings for non-food substances like dirt or chalk. Don’t worry – while those strange cravings for dirt are a real occurrence (known as “pica”), the vast majority of women don’t experience them. You will certainly find yourself craving edible food, though, and a lot of it is going to be unhealthy, so do your best to fight those middle-of-the-night cravings for fast food or chocolate.
3. You'll Have to Alter Your Diet
So long, sushi and wine. Women have to sacrifice a wide variety of their favorite foods during pregnancy to ensure the health of their developing baby. Alcohol consumption should be eliminated, and pregnant women should stay away from raw and undercooked foods. That means that all meat should be cooked medium-well to well-done (no pink). Listeria is also a concern during pregnancy, so avoid foods like ready-to-eat deli meats, hot dogs, and any unpasteurized products. In addition, be sure to wash fruits and vegetables very well before eating them.
4. Sleeping Can Be Difficult and Uncomfortable
Everyone knows that once their baby is born, they aren't going to get much sleep, but for many women, the lack of sleep starts well before birth. There are a number of reasons why a woman's typical sleep habits are thrown out of whack during pregnancy, including:
Many women have trouble sleeping while they're pregnant. From feeling nervous or anxious about the pregnancy to back pain and nausea to hormonal changes, there are many reasons that sleep is tough to come by during pregnancy. Experiencing insomnia is completely normal, so don't stress out about it. According to the American Pregnancy Association, nearly 80 percent of pregnant women deal with insomnia at some point during their pregnancy. To help combat insomnia, try exercising during the day to wear yourself out, or take a relaxing bath shortly before you plan to go to bed.
Once you do manage to fall asleep, there's a chance you might be jolted awake by painful leg cramps. Leg cramps are a common side effect of pregnancy, and they often strike in the middle of the night. While doctors aren't sure exactly why, there are a number of contributing factors that can cause them, like dehydration, lack of exercise, and low magnesium levels. Be sure to drink plenty of water (which you should be doing anyway) and consider a magnesium supplement to help stave off leg cramps. Just be sure to consult with your doctor before taking any pills or supplements.
A Big Belly
Later in the pregnancy, it can be quite difficult to get comfortable in bed with a big pregnant belly. You can't lie on your stomach while pregnant, and you shouldn't lie on your back for long periods of time, either, because the weight of the baby in your uterus will restrict circulation and blood flow. The best option is to sleep on your side, and even then, it's hard to get or stay comfortable. Many women like to bend their knees place a pillow between their legs so they can get more comfortable sleeping on their sides towards the end of the pregnancy.
5. You're in Good Hands
For as exciting of a time in your life as pregnancy is, it can also be overwhelming. There are so many things you haven't experienced before and it's only natural to have doubts and questions. That's one of the reasons we're here! In addition to providing you with quality medical care throughout your pregnancy, we are happy to be a resource for you to answer any questions you may have and provide advice if there's anything you're unsure of. Don't hesitate to contact us for anything you need during your pregnancy.