Growing a Baby
Part 2 First Trimester
Awesome feeling, isn't it? Knowing a baby is growing inside of you? Have you caught yourself with a small grin on your face yet just thinking about what the rest of your pregnancy will be like? What it will feel like to go through birth? Meet your baby? Boy? Girl? TWINS? Aaahh!
Early Pregnancy Signs
You might still even be experiencing some of the early pregnancy symptoms and signs from when you noticed your first missed period. Oh, the tenderness in your growing breasts and even some minor cramping, the nausea that we talked about in Part 1, the glory of knowing you won't have a period for months (high five!), a super sonic sense of smell, and the almost unexplainable need for a nap. Or two. Oh, come on. Let's be honest, you could really use three solid good naps per day and still be dragging it through the rest of the day and hitting your head on the pillow at 8:00 PM every night. Late night Netflix binges are a thing of the past. That fatigue that comes with growing a human is for real like nothing else on earth.
The apprehension and building excitement of your new pastime probably led you to share the news with some of your best friends, or even the world, so others can share in your joy. But with that news comes all the opinions, and sometimes the horror stories, and the lists of things you simply must do or can't do anymore. Pregnancy almost immediately puts people in a position where others feel free (more like obligated) to share the absolute worst of the worst of what happened to them or stories they heard, and dampen what should be a time of absolute joy for you and your partner.
Take a deep breath
You're going to be alright. Your body is fantastically creating and forming a whole other human being right now. Here is where you can 100% adjust how people talk to you. Take a cue from Hypnobabies and hold your hand up in the universal "stop" position and say, "We are planning a positive pregnancy and birth experience" or "Shhhh....my baby is listening" or even "That may have been your experience, but we are choosing to not listen to negativity during this pregnancy. Any positive stories to share?" You may be surprised how people change how they speak to you and enjoy interactions with others so much more!
Okay, let's get through some of your most talked about questions that you have during the first trimester.
How do I get my partner involved in the pregnancy?
The most important thing you can do is recognize that your partner is a separate person than you. He most likely has a different, and complimentary, personality to yours, makes decisions differently than you, and let's be honest, he isn't the one that is actually growing the baby.
He is very much experiencing this pregnancy and the eventual birth. But he is experiencing it in his own unique way.
Give him some time. Let him process the news. Sometimes pregnancy is a hard concept to grasp when you haven't even started to show yet. Around 12-16 weeks, you'll start to have a little bump, but equating bump with baby is still surreal. Sometimes the connection doesn't happen until after the baby is born and is an actual, tangible thing on this side of the womb.
Share your joy together in your own unique ways and respect the fact that he may not want to even talk about cutting the cord, what you are going to do with your placenta, or even the gritty details of the fluids of birth itself.
Big news here, moms!
It doesn't mean he doesn't love you or the baby. It means he doesn't want to cut the cord, or talk about placentas, or the fluids of birth. Don't push him into being more hands-on or educated than he wants to be. Maybe look into choosing a private childbirth class in the comfort of his own home. That way he can actually relax in his own environment and really learn about the amazing process of childbirth without being pressured, overwhelmed, awkward and uncomfortable for 8-12 weeks in a group setting.
Learn how to communicate in a way that gets both of your needs met and feelings heard. Communication is your best defense to rocky starts when growing your family. Start practicing now. *Here's a hint. That private childbirth class we just talked about teaches you how to start this process. Okay, moving on!
Why do I need to change what I eat and drink?
That's a great question. Your body has very different needs during pregnancy and now your baby has different needs too. Some of the big stuff that experts say to limit or eliminate may be harder to limit than others. The American Pregnancy Association gives a thorough list of foods and drinks to avoid during pregnancy including raw and undercooked meat, deli meat, soft cheese, sushi, alcohol, drinks with caffeine and unwashed fruit and vegetables.
The reasons they give are valid
Your baby is protected by the amniotic sac and the placenta provides nutrients to your baby and allows it to grow. When potential toxins are introduced to that environment of growth, it makes it much more difficult for you and your baby to remain healthy. While sandwich meat may seem like the most harmless substance, it is important to weigh the benefits and the risks before you dig into that ham sandwich as listeria can cross the placenta and potentially infect your baby.
If you are as devastated as I was about losing out on sandwiches, switch to a grilled sandwich and warm your deli meat up to steaming to prevent any remaining bacteria from being present.
High amounts of caffeine during pregnancy has actually been linked to a higher rate of miscarriage, than those that avoid larger amounts of caffeine. The reason is because "caffeine crosses through the placenta to the fetus, but can be difficult for the fetus to metabolize because of the under-developed metabolic system. Caffeine also may influence cell development and decrease placental blood flow, which may lead to an adverse effect on fetal development."
Decaffeinated coffee still has some caffeine in it. Just keep track of what you are drinking including tea, hot chocolate and pop. Keep your caffeine under 200 mg/day to help reduce your risk of miscarriage from too much caffeine.
When can I find out the sex of the baby?
The anticipation is building. If you thought the wait to find out whether or not there were two lines was tough, the wait to learn the gender of the baby can be excruciating. If you are one to wait until birth for the gender reveal, what an amazing way to discover the gender. If you are one to want to know ahead of time, what an amazing way to discover the gender.
I took to the social media world and asked for people to respond with their gender reveal pictures and stories on Tulsa Family Doulas facebook page. A couple of these will be included in next week's Part 3 blog, so make sure you come back and see some of these ingenious ideas.
ultrasounds are the new pregnancy evil
Okay, but the way to find out the gender ahead of time includes using an ultrasound, right? Why would I even talk about gender reveals? Aren't I advocating for the use of a service that has the potential for harm to the baby? Well, not really.
The FDA came out in December of 2014 with a warning about Avoiding Fetal "Keepsake" Images, Heartbeat Monitors so how in the world can I suggest using ultrasound to help learn about gender? There is a little bit of difference between the use of an ultrasound under the skilled hand of a doctor and spending an extended and prolonged amount of time utilizing ultrasound and heartbeat monitor equipment.
Most doctors utilize the 20 week anatomy scan to also take a peek at the baby's parts - if the parents are interested in knowing. But this level 2 ultrasound provides more than just a hamburger (girl) or an outie (boy). It also details important information on the placement of the placenta, the health of the baby and the placenta, potential abnormalities and health risks, organ function, visible defects, and an estimation on the size and the growth of the baby. Some doctors provide this service in their office and others send their patients out to a facility that utilizes ultrasound technicians to gather the requested information.
Wait, there's more
But did you catch the title of the FDA's warning? It includes heartbeat monitors. This is the same tool that is often perceived as the safer alternative. A quick google search of fetal dopplers has many retailers selling these medical devices. However according to the FDA, "These devices, which are used for listening to the heartbeat of a fetus, are legally marketed as 'prescription devices,' and should only be used by, or under the supervision of, a health care professional."
Dopplers use similar high frequency sound waves to be able to grasp the heartbeat of the baby although they aren't capturing the real-time image of the baby.
Too much time under either of these devices can increase the risk to your baby including "heating the tissues slightly. In some cases, it can also produce small pockets of gas in body fluids or tissues (cavitation). The long-term consequences of these effects are still unknown."
more than normal. who's normal?
So what if you have a high risk pregnancy or an emotional, medical or physical need to have more ultrasounds? Enjoy each and every heartbeat and movement your baby makes and soak in the beautiful connection that is provided because of advancements in technology. Always make the right choices for you and your baby and discuss with your care provider what is and isn't a safe number of ultrasounds for you and your unique situation.
Did you miss Growing Your Baby, Part 1? Enjoy it here.
Tune in next week for Part 3 and some pretty fantastic gender reveal ideas!