First Trimester | Fit Pregnancy

First Trimester

Exercise Warning Signs


Since the ligaments attached to your uterus are being stretched from all sides, don't be alarmed if you feel pulls and twinges in your groin, side or lower back while exercising or just going about your daily activities. It's also natural to feel more out of breath than usual--just back off the intensity a bit. But heed these warning signs: lightheadedness, contractions or cramping to the point of pain and bleeding. If you experience any of these, contact your doctor immediately.

Couch Potato Exercises


Even if you have no favorite exercise from your past to offer inspiration, there's no time like the present to get off the couch and integrate motion into your life. Start by taking a 15- to 30-minute walk each day. If this sounds daunting, do what you need to make it a more attractive proposition--enlist a friend to join you or listen to a book on tape. If it still doesn't appeal to you, try swimming--it's one of the most beneficial activities for pregnant women. Also consider taking a prenatal exercise or yoga class.

Flu Shots


Pregnant women are at higher risk of suffering from pneumonia and other complications of the flu, so you are specifically encouraged to get the influenza vaccine (so are the elderly, health-care workers and people with compromised immune systems). Getting immunized also may help protect your baby: The antibodies generated by the vaccine cross the placenta, so it's likely that the baby will have some degree of protection following birth. Ask your doctor about thimerosal-free vaccines.

Electric Blankets


Overheating has been associated with pregnancy loss and birth defects, but using an electric blanket at a comfortable setting has not been shown to be unsafe for you or your baby. That said, if you were to become so warm that you perspired a great deal, you would be at risk for dehydration. To avoid any risks, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women use their electric blankets to heat up their beds prior to bedtime, then turn them off when sleeping, to avoid any risk of overheating.

Painful Breasts


This is perfectly normal. Breast tenderness is caused by the increased volume of blood and other fluids, as well as the heightened hormone production, of pregnancy. While it may be uncomfortable, this sensitivity is considered one of the most reliable signs that your pregnancy is progressing well.

Cold Weather


Yes, you can safely enjoy being outdoors, watching your child's first venture on the slopes. In fact, because most pregnant women's bodies run a bit hotter than before pregnancy, you may even be more comfortable than usual. Just be sure to drink plenty of water to head off dehydration and altitude sickness. And be extra careful while walking in the snow; your shifting center of balance makes it easier to take a tumble. You're also more susceptible to sunburn during pregnancy, so use plenty of sunscreen and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. This goes for your child, too.

Nausea and Gender


For centuries, expectant parents have been trying to determine the gender of their babies in utero by scrutinizing everything from morning sickness to how the mother is carrying to fetal heart rate. While looking for clues to this mystery may be part of the fun and excitement of pregnancy, none of these factors has been shown to accurately predict gender.

Nausea Drugs


Bendectin was first marketed in the United States in 1956. In 1983, because of numerous lawsuits claiming that the drug caused birth defects, its producer, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, voluntarily withdrew Bendectin from the market. After reviewing 30 years of research, however, doctors and scientists now believe that Bendectin poses no detectable risk of birth defects. The medication was and is safe to use, and many women who suffer from unrelieved nausea and resultant dehydration may want to take it to relieve their symptoms.

Migraine Relief


First, avoid dietary triggers such as alcohol, aspartame (an artificial sweetener), aged cheeses, and nitrates (used as preservatives in bacon, sausage and lunchmeats). Environmental triggers include strong odors such as perfumes and cleaning products.

High-altitude Hiking


There is evidence that exercise at elevations higher than 6,000 feet may cause changes in heart rate, lung capacity and other cardiopulmonary measures that could potentially cause pregnancy complications. But that research does not necessarily apply to women who are used to exercising at higher elevations. I feel that your regular hikes probably are fine (but do check with your doctor). Still, I recommend modifying the intensity in your second and third trimesters. Be aware of overexertion; symptoms include uterine contractions, excessive perspiration and increased shortness of breath.