The first trimester is a period when the mother’s body undergoes a lot of physiological changes and the foetus’s major organs start developing. During this time the risk of a miscarriage is high and foetal well-being is heavily dependent on maternal well-being. You will find yourself amidst a plethora of advice about what you should and should not do, a lot of which might not make sense. So if you are wondering about what safety measures to actually practice, here is a short list of safety measures.
Food and Beverages
After the foetus attaches itself to the uterine wall, it starts drawing nutrients and oxygen from you. What you consume will not only determine your health but the health of your developing baby too. While it is obvious that you must eat nutritious fibre rich foods, there are some that you must avoid/ minimise.
· Caffeine: Consuming more than 300mgs of caffeine increases the risk of miscarriage.
· Big fish: Although fish is a very good source of protein and omega-2, big fish such as mackerel contain high amounts of methyl mercury and must be avoided.
· Raw and uncooked fish, eggs and meat: Pregnant women are much more prone to infections. Several bacteria like E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella can easily contaminate raw foods. Some of these, like Listeria, can pass on to the unborn baby through the placenta. Always consume well cooked food.
· Unpasteurized milk and cheese
· Avoid alcoholic beverages.
Smoking, both active and passive, must be avoided when pregnant. Cigarette smoke contains many harmful chemicals that can pass through the mother’s bloodstream and reach the growing baby. Smoking narrows down blood vessels and reduces the oxygen supply to your baby. Even a single cigarette a day increases the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery and many birth defects such as low birth weight, still birth and heart defects. So quit smoking as soon as you know that you are pregnant.
The body is unable to lose heat effectively when you use a hot tub, sauna and even a steam room. This causes a significant rise in the body temperature, which is unsafe for the developing baby. Hot tubs must be avoided completely during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
A mother’s body goes through a number of physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy. Fatigue and nausea are very common during the initial weeks. It is recommended that you get plenty of rest. Do not lift heavy weights to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the growing baby. Women can safely continue exercising during early pregnancy but if you have not been exercising before getting pregnant, it is advisable to take it slow. Walking is great. However, if you have any pregnancy complications please consult your doctor before starting anything new.
If you have pets, make it a habit to wash your hands after patting animals to avoid infections like Taxoplasmosis which can affect your unborn child causing brain damage. Wear gloves during gardening and avoid handling pet litter.
According to BabyCenter, “the amniotic sac and the uterine muscles protect the baby and a thick mucus plug seals the cervix to guard against infection”. If you have a normal pregnancy and your doctor has given you the green light then there is no reason to refrain from a pleasurable time as long as you are comfortable.
Pregnancy is a wonderful journey. Make the most of it by making informed and safe choices. Take care of yourself and trust your body. It will tell you what it needs and what feels wrong.