Pregnancy 1st Trimester

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You’re pregnant! This news can be both a surprise or something thing you have been focusing on and working towards for a long time, either way there have been an enormous amount of automatic processes happening behind the scenes in order for your egg or eggs to become fertilised. 

Now the next phase of your journey begins, your first trimester, this may be your first experience with being pregnant or you may be a seasoned veteran by now. This information is designed to get you prepared for the changes that are going to happen to your body and how you can best support both yourself and your bubs health.

What body changes you can expect...

Most of the changes in our first trimester happen internally so much so that people in the outside world often can’t tell that we’re pregnant, but being pregnant yourself, you can expect these important and pretty cool changes: 

  • Increase in progesterone and hCG leading to most of your early ‘morning sickness’ feelings
  • Weight gain is really negligible
  • Increase in your white blood cells
  • Rapid blood plasma increase by 40-50% – So you may feel more puffed or whoozy.
  • Increase in cardiac output and heart beats (by around 15 beats per minute)
  • Chest volume increases and you enter a state of hyperventilation to help get more oxygen to your bub(s). 
  • Carb metabolism changes so you start to burn glucose as your predominant fuel because your baby uses it at 3x the rate of an adult.

 

Signs & Symptoms to expect

Due to the high influx of hormones in the beginning stages of pregnancy, we can often feel very different. Common symptoms you may experience are: 

  • Increase mood disturbances/ irritability
  • Tender swollen breasts
  • Constipation/ bloating due to decreased gut motility
  • Feeling hot and having less resistance to the heat
  • Fainting/ light headedness due to decreased peripheral resistance
  • Morning sickness- thought to be due to our rising hCG levels (this hormone is released and keeps rising with a thriving embryo)

Risks to be aware of...

  • Bleeding- If you have any spotting or bleeding consult with your doctor. It may be a sign of implantation bleeding however it can also be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, especially when accompanied by lower abdomen pain on one side and cramp like feeling. 
  • Soft cheese and deli meats- The reason why women are told to avoid these foods is because some of them can be effected by a bacteria called Listeriosis, however this is rare, sort of like thinking you can get salmonella poisoning from that chicken kebab you had for lunch. It can happen however its pretty rare. The trouble with this specific bacteria is that it can cross the placental barrier and infect your baby. Many experts are now saying that if avoiding these foods causes your daily intake of calcium, vitamin D and other important nutrients than the risks do not outweigh the benefits. So don’t go hell for leather, but a little blue cheese and salami never hurt anybody. 
  • Hyperemesis (aka uncontrollably spewing your guts up)– This is diagnosed from loss of 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and ketosis. If this occurs it can be dangerous to you and your baby, hospitalisation in the short term and long term use of anti-vomiting medications may be necessary. 
  • Early Pregnancy Loss- 20% of all clinical pregnancies end in miscarriage and if you’re over forty that number increases to 50%. Miscarriages occur most often in the first 6-9 weeks gestation. Just because they are common it doesn’t take away the pain of losing a baby. Please see our designated page on miscarriage for more information. 

 

Medical Process

When we fall pregnant especially for the first time, it can be confusing to know what to do next and what to expect. Should I go to the doctors? Do I need a midwife? What about an obstetrician? Will a really Sh*t myself? There are loads of questions we have, but it’s comforting to know that literally tens of thousands of people fall pregnant on any given day, so the experts know what’s up!

This is the rough process you will go though in your first trimester: 

  • Positive pregnancy test followed by a trip to the doctor to confirm pregnancy with blood test
  •  Then early pregnancy bloods that look for things like if your blood and your babies blood are compatible (rhesus -‘ve), any viral/infection, urine test to check kidney function, pap smear if needed. 
  • Other tests that are recommended but not always tested are: Iron, vitamin D, iodine and thyroid function.
  • Ultrasounds: You may receive one or two ultrasounds in your first trimester. The first is a dating scan and to check and see where the embryo is positioned. The second is an ultrasound you can do from around 9-12weeks if you wish to check the structures of the baby and risk of genetic disorders before 20 weeks. This scan can also be done in the 2nd trimester around 20 weeks when the baby has grown more. 
  • If you are high risk aka you have a pre-existing kidney, heart or autoimmune disease often times you will be receiving more assessments and closer attention to manage both the health of you and your bub(s). 
  • Above all… Educate yourself and communicate with your GP.

How to support your body naturally

This is the beginning of quite literally growing, nurturing and supporting another human being. This process takes a lot of our own nutrient reserves so it is important to make sure we’re getting enough of our essential nutrients to support the healthy growth of our baby/babies and to really nourish and support ourselves. 

  • DHA (Fish oils)- This fatty acid is essential for brain, eye and nervous system development in your baby, and because our stores are stored in our brain and our baby steals them, this is thought to be a main reason for ‘baby brain’. Be sure to eat plenty of fish or supplement with 3g of DHA across the week. 
  • Folate- Be careful with this one, many Folate pre-natals and natal supplements claim folate, make sure to check the back of the jar and see the ingredients, if it says folic acid avoid purchasing this supplement. Unfortunately there is a common genetic variant and lifestyle changes that make it hard for our liver to break down folic acid to its active form – folate. So long story short, just take folate. 
  • Magnesium- This should really be called the ‘MVP’. It makes sure everything in the body gets done and everything is happening as it should. Proper function of all of these other vitamins and minerals is dependent on appropriate magnesium levels. Magnesium requirements go up when we become pregnant  (320 mg) and then again if we choose to breastfeed (360 mg)
  • Iron- Important for the energy production process in your body. It helps the growth and development of bub and coping with the changes to your blood volume throughout pregnancy. It also helps your liver in breaking down toxins, which is increased due to the increased used hormones needing to be detoxified. Your ferritin levels should be above 25 mcg/L if not, you’re deficient.The recommended daily intake for pregnant women is 27mg, 9mg more than the recommended amount for non-pregnant adult women. 
  • Zinc- Among many things, zinc is needed for immune system protection, creating DNA and making your balanced brain chemicals. The minimum recommended daily intake is 8mg for a healthy adult woman, 11mg for pregnant women and 12mg for breast feeding women. So you can see that throughout your pregnancy and post partum your needs for zinc increase.
  • Vitamin B12- This is a super vitamin, needed for things like energy production and detoxification to building and repairing tissues (kind of important when you’re growing a literal human inside of you). The Recommended daily intake for adult women is 2.4 pg, pregnant woman 2.6 pg and breast feeding woman 2.8 pg. You can get injections form your doctor or take a sublingual tablet. Taking normal digestible tablets cannot be absorbed as effectively.
  • Vitamin D- This amazing vitamin is best absorbed from 20 minutes of exposed sunlight everyday, providing you’re not getting burnt and your skin isn’t super sensitive to the sun. If that is the case taking supplements is often necessary. It helps to increase absorption of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. It is also critical in minimising inflammation in the body. If you’re deficient it is recommended to take 5000 IU daily for 6 weeks and then re-test your levels.
  • Vitamin C- This little power house packs a punch and is super important for our immune health, stress response and brain. All of which are rapidly changing and under pressure when we’re pregnant. Our recommended daily dose increased by 10mg to 85 mg when we’re pregnant and then to a whopping 120 mg when breast feeding. Some experts recommend 1000 to 2000 mg a day for at least 6-12 weeks. 
I know what you’re thinking… WOW that is a lot! I’m not saying that you have to go an fill up your shopping basket with supplement jars galore, but it is super important to start looking at your body as a different vehicle. Just like when you were 20-30 years old you felt like you were driving a mini 4WD that was diesel, now you’re driving a petrol minivan thats packing at least one passenger, so you need to learn how to drive it differently. 
 
Food is always the best source of vitamins and minerals because they never exist by themselves naturally, so when we ingest real food we’re experiencing the full effect of the whole nutrient profile. 

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B.hsci. B.app.hsci Chiropractic. Masters womens health medicine (studying)

Dr. Anthea 

When we stop and break down all of the changes that are happening automatically in our body as a result of falling pregnant, it is truly un-freaking believable how powerful and amazing the female body is. 

References

Fritz, M. and Speroff, L., 2010. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology And Infertility. 8th ed. Lipponcott Wilkins & Williams.

Post Natal Depletion Cure- Dr. Oscar Serrallach 2018

RANZCOG College statement. Screening in early pregnancy for adverse perinatal outcomes (C-Obs 61, July 2015: Currently under review)