All About the First Trimester
For most women, the first 12 or so weeks of pregnancy are the most consuming because everything is all so new, so exciting, even overwhelming. To satisfy the little voice inside your head that keeps asking questions, here's a primer. Keep it handy.
Extreme fatigue is very common in the first trimester of pregnancy. “Your metabolic rate—the amount of energy you burn just to exist—is way above normal then,” explains Low. The emotional ups and downs can also take their toll on you. Fatigue should let up in your second trimester. But if it doesn’t, you may be anemic—more than 50 percent of pregnant women are iron-deficient to some degree by week 28, according to Susan Watts, M.D., an obstetrician-gynecologist at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas.
If you’re at risk for having a baby with an inherited disorder, counseling can help you and your partner decide whether to undergo tests to determine if either of you is a carrier or to see if your fetus is affected. Age and personal and family medical histories are just a few factors to consider when deciding on testing.
You may be surprised—and concerned—if your doctor prescribes antibiotics to treat a condition such as a simple gum or bladder infection. But infection anywhere in the body may lead to preterm labor. If your obstetrician prescribes antibiotics, it’s likely because the benefits outweigh the risks. If another physician prescribes them, get your OB’s approval before taking them.
Before the first trimester is over, visit your company’s human resources department to find out how much maternity leave you’ll have and whether it will be paid, unpaid or a combination of both. “You also need to think about your work environment, including chemical exposures, stress and physical demands,” says nurse-midwife Low. Try to avoid heavy lifting or standing for long stretches at a time.
Stress-related risks, such as demanding deadlines, long commutes and grueling hours, are less tangible but shouldn’t be ignored. Put your feet up on a footstool several times a day, ask for help and delegate, if possible.