Today I hit the 20 week mark and I’m officially halfway through my pregnancy! I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. The good news is I am well and truly into my second trimester and feeling much better than my last baby blog update. I’ve also learnt a lot over the past few months and I thought I’d share some things I’ve picked up along the way with any other first time mothers!
Ok. So you’ve peed on a stick and gotten a positive result.. what on earth do you do now?! Before you start pinning nursery ideas and buying cute outfits, there’s a lot you need to think about and do before the little bub actually graces you with its presence.
Head to the doctor for a blood test confirming your positive test and get some blood work done
My initial blood work revealed I was anaemic, so I was put on Ferrograd C iron tablets pronto, along with the pregnancy multivitamin Elevit. You will also find out your blood type, if you don’t already know it. This can be important, as I am O Negative. This can be a problem during pregnancy if my baby is a positive blood type. If my blood and the baby’s blood mix during pregnancy or birth, my body will start to make antibodies which can damage the baby’s red blood cells. Sorry, baby!! But the good news is with the invention of anti-D injections, this problem can be resolved.
Eat as well as you can – at this stage whatever stays down!
I’ve always eaten a well balanced diet, and assumed I would do this even more intensely once I found out I was pregnant in order to nourish the baby. However when intense morning sickness and round the clock nausea hit around the 6 week mark, I kept things simple and only ate what I knew would stay down. In my case, it was Vegemite on toast and mandarins. Just looking at vegetables made me dry retch, so I ate what I could but I didn’t force it. My main advice to pregnant ladies is to just do what you can to get through the first trimester. Try and not subsist solely on McDonalds, but if toasted cheese sandwiches are the only thing you can keep down, then eat them. It’s better than nothing at all. You’ve got 2 more trimesters to load up on all the good stuff! A lot of the other dietary tips for pregnant ladies are fairly well known – no soft cheese, no rare or cured meats, no raw seafood, steer clear of salad bars etc.
Detox your beauty cabinet
I did a lot of research into my skincare when I found out I was pregnant, and found out that Vitamin A was a big no-no for pregnant ladies. Some studies have shown that taking high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy can be harmful to an unborn child. This ingredient was in my pigment-reducing serum which I stopped instantly. I also read that doctors suggested avoiding salicylic acid during pregnancy, so I discontinued my toner as well.
If pigmentation is a concern, Vitamin C serum is still ok in pregnancy, so I have been added a few drops to my moisturiser at night. I have also switched to a zinc sunscreen to prevent new pigmentation forming (Zoe Foster said so, and I listed to pretty much everything she says).
Buy yourself some nice pregnancy-friendly products that nourish your face and body. I love Sukin’s face cleanser, moisturiser and night cream as they are all free of all the nasty additives such as parabens and artificial fragrances. I also bought some Gaia belly butter for my stomach – make sure you use this on your growing breasts too! I am honestly not sure if a cream can prevent stretch marks, but I am rubbing it on myself every day in vain hope.
Double check your medication with the doctor
A big “whoah” moment was finding out that Nurofen (ibuprofen) was a very bad idea in pregnancy after a passing comment from my doctor. I honestly had no idea that taking this seemingly innocent pain killer could increase the risk of miscarriage. I then discussed other medications I took with my doctor (and occasionally the pharmacist) to triple check everything I took. If you have a headache, take Panadol instead. For painful gas (a fun side effect of pregnancy) I have been told De-Gas is ok. You also can’t take a decongestant during a head cold such as Sudafed which is a huge pain when sick!
Medication in Australia is categorised from Category A (no harmful effects on the fetus having been observed) to Category X (medication carries a high risk of causing permanent damage to the fetus). Please do your research.
Assess your exercise routine
I went from doing yoga, pilates and barre class 5 times a week to nothing in the first trimester. Partially this was due to feeling extremely tired and nauseous most of the time, and partially because a lot of my research indicated that it best to avoid these types of exercise in the first trimester. Every person is different, so please speak to your doctor about continuing your exercise throughout this period – things such as strong ab work and closed twists are best avoided regardless. I just focused on walking every day, I tried to get to 5000 steps a day when I was at my most tired (I’ll be honest, it was a real struggle sometimes) and then gradually worked my way up to 10,000 steps/day when I started to feel a bit better.
At week 18 I started doing prenatal yoga twice a week at InYoga in Sydney. I LOVE it. It helps stretch my sore muscles, maintain a level of strength and relax my mind. I am currently on the hunt for a nearby prenatal pilates class to build some more strength in the lead up to my delivery.
Look into your maternity leave options
I am extremely fortunate to work for a company who offers 6 months maternity leave at full pay or 12 months leave at half pay. I know this is not the case for everyone in Australia, so I am very appreciative I have this offered to me. My work requires a note proving I am pregnant (as I guess a bump is not proof enough?!) which you can obtain from your OBGYN at your appointment. Australian women also can access 18 weeks maternity leave at minimum wage.
This is a good time to discuss with your partner how much time you will be taking off and how you will budget around the partial loss of one wage. I highly recommend setting up a savings account now!
Book your first midwife appointment at the hospital
I am giving birth at RPA in Sydney and booked in my first midwife appointment around the 8 week mark. They will send you an email confirming your booking, which won’t occur until around the 14-16 week period. I also recommend booking the fetal morphology/anomaly scan as early as possible too. This happens around the 18-20 week mark and can book out quickly if you’re giving birth in the public system – it’s always worthwhile being organised and booking everything as far out as you can!
Fine print – I am not qualified to give medical advice. All of the above is from information I learnt from my doctor or things I have researched myself. Every pregnancy is different and you need to speak with your specialist for information to suit your circumstances. Oh and this post is not sponsored by Chemist Warehouse, I just linked a bunch of their stuff as I have brought pretty much everything pregnancy-related from there!
Ok I think that is enough pregnancy babble for the moment – I hope you’ve learnt a thing or 2 and if you have any more tips for a first time mother, please leave them in the comments below!