Welcome to your first trimester! This week, preconception, commences your 40-week pregnancy journey beginning with the first day of your last menstrual period. So, technically speaking you are not pregnant the first week or two of your pregnancy. Get ready.
Please speak with your health care team soon about your diet and supplements. You may want to enhance your diet by including more leafy vegetables, less sugars, less processed foods, and eliminating caffeine, deli meats and unpasteurized cheeses such as types of feta and goat.
Take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid as a regular daily supplement. There are some medical conditions that would call for specific types of prenatal vitamins with much higher doses of folic acid. One such medical condition would be a type of blood clotting disorder. Please consult your health care team for the best recommendations for you. Lastly, avoid handling the cat litter box or gardening, as mom can pick up Toxoplasmosis, a neglected parasitic infections, from either activity.
A study conducted by the NIH and the Ohio State University recently published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found a worrisome link between caffeine consumption and miscarriage. Quite simply, the data proves that couples who drank more than two caffeinated drinks a day during the weeks prior to conception had a greater risk that the woman would miscarry.
That’s correct – the research found that both Mom’s caffeine and Dad’s caffeine consumption could play a role in miscarriage! This study also confirms previous research showing that women who drink more than two caffeinated beverages each day during the first seven weeks of pregnancy are also more likely to miscarry. On the bright side, this study did show that women who took a daily multivitamin before and after conception appeared to greatly reduce miscarriage risk!
Call them what you will, but Pregnancy Folklore, Myths and Old Wives Tales have survived the test of time. PAK will now put the record straight on what is fact and what is fable. You’ll find more info on every fact mentioned as you explore our trimesters week by week. We’re giving you a “heads up” with lots of great info before you’re pregnant so you’ll proactively reach your delivery day well informed and confident! Let’s go…
#1. Experiencing heartburn during pregnancy means your baby will be born with hair or if you have a lot of heartburn, your baby will be born with a head full of hair.
Oh boy, this myth buster cannot be busted! It’s actually TRUE to some extent. Interestingly enough, folklore comes into being by uncovering a genuine association involving unrelated events that are immortalized through oral tradition. A small study uncovered that women who experienced mild to severe heartburn delivered babies with hair. Researchers believe there is a shared biologic method involving a dual role of pregnancy hormones in both the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter and the variation of fetal hair growth. That makes sense, right?
So, if you experience heartburn that is more than mild, research shows us that you may deliver a baby with a full head of gorgeous hair!
#2. Don’t Pet Your Cat During Pregnancy.
Meow, meow, and meow. This myth can and will be busted! Of course, you can pet your cat during pregnancy but the two things you shouldn’t do are change the litter box and play with your children in their sand box as kitties like to use the sandbox a litter box! But why?
Toxoplasmosis is an infection that a mom may pick up from something as simple as cleaning a cat litter box or making a hamburger patty. Although usually asymptomatic, symptoms accompanying toxoplasmosis may be similar to those of the flu with swollen lymph glands or muscle aches and pains that last for a month or more.
If you have been recently infected, it is advised you wait six months before becoming pregnant. The great news is that usually, if you have been infected with toxoplasma before you became pregnant, your unborn child is protected by your immunity. Your health care team may advise a blood test be drawn to check for antibodies to toxoplasma if you are pregnant.
If you become infected during pregnancy, medication is available. You and your baby should be closely monitored during your pregnancy and after your baby is born.
Unfortunately, this infection may possibly result in miscarriage prior to 20 weeks or a stillbirth after 20 weeks. Find out more info on Toxoplasmosis at Week 8!
#3. The size of the placenta cannot be tracked during pregnancy; as long as my baby is growing fine, the placenta is also growing fine.
Of course, your baby’s placenta can be tracked during pregnancy; BUSTED!
So why measure the placenta? Did you know that a standard prenatal ultrasound typically measures the baby, internal organs and placenta location – but not placenta size? It’s a scientific fact that a baby can outgrow his or her placenta anytime during pregnancy. A small placenta will not provide the nutrients and oxygen necessary to survive and thrive in utero. It is a risk factor for complications such as Preeclampsia, Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) and Stillbirth.
Estimated Placental Volume (EPV) is a simple, free placental screening tool that’s easily calculated during ultrasounds between Weeks 7 and 40 by your health care team. The potential to save lives by drawing attention and awareness to EPV will help close this alarming gap in prenatal care. Check out Week 7 and say YES to EPV!
#4. Don’t lift your hands above your head or the umbilical cord will get tangled around the baby’s neck and it will choke.
Let’s call this myth buster ~ Umbilical Cord 101 or The Excellent Eight! Many moms are not familiar with the Umbilical Cord and the major role it plays during pregnancy. So let’s address The Excellent Eight…
#5. Babies’ movements slow down the closer you get to delivery day because the baby has less room.
Absolutely NOT! We have to bust this old wives tale STAT! Yes your baby is growing but your baby’s movements and heart rate will basically stay the same during your last trimester. Your baby’s movements should still be occurring every hour and should not decrease in number. Movements may or may not become less defined as specific punches and kicks; they can feel more like twirls, twists and jiggles.
#6. Hiccups are a sign your baby has healthy lungs!
Another busted myth! Babies love to hiccup! Light, recurring and sequential patterns are what you will notice at first. Later in your pregnancy, your baby’s hiccups will become robust and recognizable. Although most babies have hiccups and they are harmless, some fetal hiccups may be a reason for concern. According to Obstetrician-Gynecologist Dr. Jason Collins, MD, MSCR, of The Pregnancy Institute, even though your baby’s hiccups can be recurrent, once the Week 32 gestational marker is reached, your baby’s hiccups should lessen and not be present on a daily basis. So, when your baby continues to hiccup every day with hiccups lasting longer than 15 minutes or a series of hiccups 3–4 times with 24 hours, alert your health care team and have your baby evaluated for possible umbilical cord concerns.
#7. You can’t fly during your first or last trimester because it’s not safe.
Nope, we can’t totally bust this one! To be perfectly honest, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), “Pregnant women should be informed that the most common obstetric emergencies occur in the first and third trimesters.” So keeping this in mine, usually pregnant women are encouraged to fly during their second trimester when the dangers of common pregnancy emergencies are at their most minimal. Let’s bring you up to speed on air travel!
Occasional air travel during pregnancy is normally safe. According to the Mayo Clinic, commercial air travel up to Week 36 is considered safe if your pregnancy is healthy and uneventful. Tatnai Burnett, M.D., Assistant Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota advises that it’s always a wise decision to check with your health care team before you fly. If you have been having any pregnancy issues or complications, you may be cautioned against air travel as some conditions are worsened by air travel or may necessitate emergency attention. Many airlines:
It’s always a proactive step for you to check with your individual carrier for specific pregnancy requitements and limitations. Your health care team will want to know your air travel plans and the length of your flight. They’ll most likely encourage you to fly during your second trimester when the dangers of common pregnancy emergencies are at their most minimal.
Every expecting mom should know what will enhance her and her expected baby’s safety during a flight. ACOG advises mom to keep her seatbelt fastened at all times as severe air turbulence may be unforeseen; the seatbelt should be belted low on the hipbones, between the protuberant abdomen and pelvis. As there is little evidence correlating lower extremity edema and venous thrombosis events occurring with air travel, mom should occasionally move her lower extremities and be faithful in following proactive pregnancy recommendations when flying.
When you’re considering a flight, remember to:
Radiation exposure linked with high altitude air travel is not believed to be problematic for the majority who fly when pregnant and this includes the risk to the baby. The questions arise for pilots, flight attendants and frequent fliers that may be subjected to a potential higher degree of cosmic radiation when pregnant. The Federal Aviation Administration and the International Commission on Radiological Protection believe aircrew to be occupationally open to ionizing radiation and advise they are educated about radiation exposure and health dangers. So, if you need to fly repeatedly during your pregnancy, discuss this with your health care team. You may be asked to limit your over-all flight time throughout your pregnancy. Civilian and military aircrew members who become pregnant should check with their specific agencies for regulations or restrictions to their flying duties.
Reassuringly, if you have no obstetric or medical complications, occasional air travel is safe for you. Flying safely and observing the same precautions as the general public for air travel is key. For more information on air travel when you’re pregnant, please visit ACOG and the Mayo Clinic.
#8. An Itchy Body Is Totally Normal During Pregnancy.
Absolutely not. Busted!!! Although some itching in pregnancy may be normal, the most commonly noticed symptom of Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) is itching which can be moderate to severe. While ICP has been reported early on in pregnancy by some, it commonly begins in the third trimester when hormone concentrations peak.
Itching due to ICP does not typically respond to antihistamines. The itching is usually not associated with a rash, but a rash can, in some cases, develop as a result of scratching. The severity and location of the itching can vary greatly. The most common location of itching is your hands and feet, but some women experience itching on the arms and legs, the scalp, or all-over itching. Some women with the disorder itch everywhere except the hands and feet. In the majority of cases, itching is the only symptom reported. Other important symptoms of ICP to be aware of include:
ICP affects 1 – 2 women per 1000. So, if you notice itching, primarily at night which typically increases in severity, speak with your health care team. If diagnosed with ICP, you will be at a higher risk for pregnancy complications that may include:
Working closely with your health care team is vital and with active management, it is believed that the risk of stillbirth is similar to that of an uncomplicated pregnancy (less than 1%).
Be proactive and learn everything you can about ICP if you are itchy or diagnosed with ICP. To find out the latest and most up-to-date information and how ICP could possibly impact your pregnancy, please visit ICPcare.org and Mayo Clinic.
#9. You should abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.
YES! This is 100% true. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is not safe, no matter what the amount for you or your baby according to FamilyDoctor.org. Did you ever wonder why consuming alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy is the most dangerous time for your baby?
When you drink, alcohol moves from your blood through the placenta and to your baby. A baby’s liver is one of the last organs to develop and does not mature until the later stages of pregnancy. Because of this, your baby cannot process the alcohol and this exposure may seriously affect the baby’s organs thereby altering development. It’s at this time that your baby’s brain begins developing and alcohol can interfere with this vital growth that is taking place. Complications such as birth defects, miscarriage and premature birth, and your baby’s chance of having a low birthweight are amplified when alcohol is consumed.
Drinking after your first three months of pregnancy fuels the potential risk of learning difficulties and behavioral problems for your baby following delivery day. However, consuming alcohol heavily throughout pregnancy can cause your baby to develop a serious condition called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD). FASD is a group of problems that may happen to your baby when alcohol is consumed. These may be physical, mental, or behavioral, and range from mild to severe. They may surface before birth or during childhood.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the more serious type of FASD and is totally preventable. Symptoms of babies who have FAS include:
These babies may exhibit behavior problems as they grow into childhood. Learning disabilities, trouble with memory and attention, and hyperactivity may worsen as they get older; the most severe challenge is developmental delay. Sadly, FAS is the leading cause of preventable developmental delays in the United States.
Even if you don’t imbibe on a daily basis, your baby is still at risk for FAS via “Binge Drinking!” If you are a binge drinker, (drinking 3 or more drinks at a time) both you and your baby’s blood alcohol levels will increase rapidly with this particularly dangerous way of drinking.
The best thing you can do is stop drinking when you are thinking about getting pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises women to stay on the wagon throughout their pregnancy! If you do become pregnant, quit drinking alcohol immediately. Remember, no amount of alcohol can be considered safe during pregnancy.
Lastly, if you are pregnant and have been ingesting alcohol, let your doctor know. There is support available to help you stop before your baby is affected. For more information on pregnancy and alcohol, please visit the American Academy of Family Physicians and ACOG.