With a little planning, you can improve your pregnancy experience and sail through those three trimesters.
Shaun DMello is a writer who has worked with a wide range of health and wellness brands for over a decade. His main areas of expertise are nutrition, fitness, parenting, public health, and health care technology.
It’s a bit of an understatement to say that pregnancy can feel overwhelming: not only are you prepping for the arrival of a little one, you’re experiencing a whole slew of unprecedented changes to your body, not to mention an entirely new handbook of rules and regulations. And what about those ten billion pregnancy manuals—how to make sense of it all? Well: one step at a time, week by week. Here, seven simple organizational tips to keep yourself healthy, happy, and prepared as your pregnancy unfolds.
- Check a due date calculator
A due date calculator is your very first stop once you find out you’re expecting, and it can help you know what you have in store as you progress through your pregnancy. It will provide you with an estimated due date, which is generally 280 days or 40 weeks from the first day of your last period. There are several methods to calculate your due date–if you have been tracking your ovulation, it will be easier to determine the date of conception and due date. If you are not tracking your ovulation, you can use the date of your last period to calculate your due date. A reliable due date calculator will also provide information on your trimesters, which you can use to track various aspects of your pregnancy on a week by week basis.
- Plan your pregnancy diet
Pregnancy means that you’re “eating for two,” but this doesn’t mean that you need to double your food portions. Your nutritional requirements will change slightly during each trimester so you should plan your pregnancy diet accordingly. Your baby weighs less than an ounce during the first trimester of pregnancy, so you don’t need to increase your calorie intake during this time. Your baby develops further during the second and third trimesters, which is why you need to increase your intake by about 340 calories in the second trimester and approximately 450 calories in the third trimester. Similarly, you will need to double your intake of iron during your second and third trimesters to support the extra blood in your system. No matter what trimester you’re in, your pregnancy diet should include at least 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit a day.
- Prepare for pregnancy symptoms
Almost all women experience some pregnancy symptoms (morning sickness, anyone?). However, pregnancy symptoms change throughout pregnancy, with symptoms appearing or miraculously disappearing as the pregnancy progresses. For instance, morning sickness is a common symptom during the first trimester of pregnancy (typically beginning around week six), but it usually vanishes during the second trimester. Similarly, women tend to experience food cravings towards the end of their first trimester, which peak during the second trimester and typically disappear during the third trimester. Backaches and body aches are most common in the third trimester of pregnancy, when your baby is biggest, and will start to subside after you give birth.
- Track your baby’s development
“This week, your baby is as big as a mango!” Pregnancy is an exciting and magical time as you eagerly await the arrival of the newest member of your family. If you have children, they’ll be fascinated with your pregnancy and want to know more about their future sibling. You can use a pregnancy app to help your kids understand how big your baby is by using a simple fruit comparison. You can also keep tabs on your baby’s growth from week to week, and learn helpful scientific facts about each stage of development.
- Create an exercise schedule
There was a time when pregnant women were told to rest throughout their pregnancies to avoid harming their babies. Studies during the last few decades have found that exercise during pregnancy can improve the health of the mother and child. Furthermore, regular exercise can help to reduce the risk of miscarriage, pre-term birth, preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications. If you have a regular exercise schedule, you can continue it through your first trimester. If you haven’t been active for a while, you can start a daily workout but make sure that you start slow and increase the duration of your workouts gradually. During your second trimester, avoid exercises that require you to lie on your stomach or back, though you can still do exercises that require you to lie on your side. You are likely to find it a little more difficult to exercise during your third trimester due to your growing baby—but gentler exercises like prenatal yoga can help relieve some of those end-of-pregnancy aches and pains. You can also schedule several shorter exercise sessions, rather than fewer longer sessions.
- Go on a babymoon
Don’t forget—de-stressing is a key part of a healthy pregnancy! A babymoon is a great way to improve your pregnancy experience and enjoy some much-needed one-on-one time as a couple. A babymoon also gives you a chance to relax, reflect, rejuvenate and prepare for the changes that come with motherhood. The ideal time for a babymoon is second trimester—it’s post-morning sickness for most, and before the third trimester body aches set in—and you can use your due date calculator to determine your trimesters and plan your holiday. If you’re unable to go on a babymoon holiday, you can still plan a staycation at home. (Pro tip: ask your spouse to treat you to an at-home spa session using safe, nontoxic skincare made with expecting moms in mind.)
- Expect the unexpected
No matter how detailed your birth plan or meticulously packed your hospital bag is, there’s no predicting exactly how—or when—it will all go down. Remember that each pregnancy is unique and it can last anywhere from 38 to 42 weeks. In fact, only 1 in 20 babies are born on their actual due date, so there’s no reason to panic if your baby is born a little earlier or later. There’s something freeing about accepting the utter unpredictability and mystery of childbirth—and letting go of what you can’t control will ultimately lower your stress levels, which is good for both baby and mom.
The information provided by Pipette is intended solely for educational purposes. The information is not to be used for medical diagnostic purposes and is not intended to serve as a recommendation for treatment and/or management of any medical/surgical condition. Most of all, this information should not be used in place of a physician or other qualified health provider. If you believe you or your child have a medical condition, please contact your physician immediately.