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Pregnancy is a magical time but it is also marked by some dramatic physical and emotional transformations. It can be a confusing time, particularly if this is your first pregnancy! Helping you better understand these transformations and what you can do to optimize health is the intent of the articles below.

Your Pregnancy by Trimester
Pregnancy Health & Nutrition
Pregnancy Challenges / Risks


Your Pregnancy by Trimester

A pregnancy trimester is one of three, three-month periods in which your pregnancy is divided. Many women do not even know they are pregnant until the second month. Doctors actually do not consider a woman pregnant until two weeks after a missed period, which is when the egg is fertilized by a sperm cell.

1st Trimester: Weeks 3-8 of growth are called the embryonic stage, during which the embryo develops most major body organs. During these early months, proper nutrition and supplementation are imperative. In the first couple months of pregnancy common symptoms include: morning sickness, slight darkening of the areola, vaginal discharge, raised basal body temperature and constipation.

2nd Trimester: The third month of pregnancy (your second trimester), your baby is now called a fetus, and has grown to about the size of a fist. During this trimester, many of the aforementioned symptoms go away and you will begin to ‘show’. You will also begin to feel the movement of the fetus, which will be slight during this trimester. This is a very important time to focus on your calcium intake, which helps your baby develop strong bones and teeth. Be sure to keep fit with activities such as yoga and eat right during this trimester, your baby’s growth is dependant on how well you take care of your body.

3rd Trimester: Your third trimester is known to be the most physically tiresome. Your baby is almost fully developed at this point and is continuing to grow enough to be born a healthy weight. This growth will cause pressure on your bladder, causing increased frequency of urination. Your legs may become sore and tired, and you may experience lower back pain due to the increased weight of your baby. You may also have trouble sleeping. During this trimester, as your baby grows, you and your family will begin to bond on a deeper level with her. The baby’s hearing is almost fully formed, so talking and singing help to establish a relationship before your baby is born. During this trimester, it is recommended that you stay off your feet as much as possible, and do not engage in heavy manual labor. When your baby is ready to be born, you may notice blood streaks in your underwear, have uncomfortable back pain, a dilating cervix, and finally- contractions. You are soon to become a mother!

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Proper Health and Nutrition

Much like when you are trying to conceive, proper nutrition and health are vital parts of a healthy pregnancy. Paying attention to what you eat, vitamin supplementation, and exercise are all facets of proper health and nutrition that should be addressed while pregnant. During the early months, eating may be difficult due to nausea. It is essential to eat nonetheless, and actually increase your caloric intake by about 300 calories per day. Recommended daily servings for pregnant women are:

  • Vegetables: 4-6
  • Breads and Whole Grains: 5-10
  • Fruits: 2-4
  • Dairy: 4-5
  • Protein: 3

You may have heard that pregnant women have cravings for foods that may not be healthy (pickles, ice cream etc). Acting on a craving that is unhealthy is OK once in a while, but remember; you are your baby’s only source of nourishment. Getting proper nutrition also means avoiding foods that can be harmful while pregnant. Raw meat and eggs should be avoided, along with artificial sweeteners, unpasteurized cheeses, and fish that contain mercury such as swordfish and shark and king mackerel. Also, avoid toxins, including: alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes.

Along with a healthy diet, supplementation of important vitamin nutrients such as calcium, iron, folic acid, vitamin A and C are vital to ensure that you are taking every step possible towards a healthy pregnancy.

  • Calcium is an essential vitamin for pregnant women. The proper formation of healthy teeth and bones for your baby is dependant on your proper intake of calcium. Your own health is equally important. In the first six months of pregnancy, you store calcium in your bones. When its skeletal growth reaches its peak in the last three months, the fetus draws on your calcium store. This is when the consumption of high calcium-containing foods such as milk and milk products must be increased, as well as proper calcium supplementation to ensure that there is no deficiency in you and your baby.
  • Iron intake should be increased during pregnancy. This is because your blood volume increases, and the fetal red blood cells have to be developed. Iron is available in meat, fish, egg yolk, whole-grain products, and vegetables, and may also be fond in recommended dosages in our PregnancyPlus prenatal vitamins.
  • Folic acid is especially crucial within the first weeks of your unborn baby’s development because it helps to ensure proper formation of the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid is contained in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach, wheat germ, tropical fruits, and eggs. However, routine nutrition does not always supply enough folic acid to meet the requirements of a pregnant woman. Additional folic acid intake is necessary in the months before pregnancy and during the first trimester. The optimal recommended daily amount of folic acid for pregnant women can be found in our PregnacyPlus brand Prenatal vitamins.
  • Omega3 supplementation is also very important during pregnancy to ensure healthy fetal development. Omega-3s have been shown to:
  • Offer critical nutrients for the neurological development of your baby.
  • Promote the development of your baby's cardiac and respiratory systems.
  • Support the development of your baby's brain and eyes (development of visual centers).
  • Increase the learning and cognitive function of your child, with effects measurable to age four.
  • Increase the attention span of your child (a measurable component of intelligence early in life) .
  • Support the pregnancy health of the mother, possibly reducing chances of toxemia (or pre-eclampsia).
  • May help prevent pre-term labor and premature delivery.

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Pregnancy Challenges and Possible Risks

While there is nothing more beautiful than bringing new life into the world, there are some complications and challenges that may arise that are important to be aware of. Many challenges during pregnancy come in the form of common symptoms, while others are more individual, and can become serious medical issues. Common symptoms are referenced in more detail in the Pregnancy Symptoms and Your Pregnancy by Trimester sections.

Some more serious challenges and risks include:

Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic means ‘out of place’, and an ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg has implanted outside of the uterus. Also referred to as a “tubal pregnancy”, ectopic pregnancy occurs when the egg settles in the fallopian tubes. Fallopian tubes do not provide enough space or a nurturing environment for a growing fetus, causing the fetus to eventually burst through the tube. This can cause serious internal bleeding, and a serious risk to the mother. Vaginal bleeding is generally the first symptom of Ectopic pregnancies. An ultra sound will confirm the high-risk pregnancy, and in most cases an injection of methotrexate will stop the growth of the embryo, terminating the early pregnancy. If the pregnancy is further along, a surgery may be needed to remove it.

Anemia

While pregnant, your iron requirements rise significantly due to expansion of blood and the fact that much of your iron intake now goes to your growing baby. If you start pregnancy with deficient stores of iron, you are more at risk to develop anemia later in pregnancy. Vomiting from morning sickness will increase your risk of anemia. Be sure to get enough iron during before and during every trimester of pregnancy. The recommended daily amount for a pregnancy woman is 27 milligrams per day.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) may occur because of the many hormonal changes brought about during pregnancy. Some doctors also theorize that as the uterus grows its increased weight can block the drainage of urine from the bladder, causing an infection. While it may cause discomfort, if you think you have a UTI, see your doctor for a diagnosis and medication.

Post-partum depression and psychosis

Most women who give birth experience some form of ‘blues’ afterwards, but about 10% of new moms experience severe depression, known as post-partum depression. Even more rare, a select few women experience what is known as post-partum psychosis. While the ‘blues’ are characterized by symptoms such as: mood swings, sadness and trouble sleeping, women who suffer from post-partum depression undergo: a lack of connection with their baby, loss of sexual interest, and withdrawal from family and friends. Women who suffer from postpartum psychosis can become paranoid, confused and disoriented, masochistic, and delusional.

Thromboembolic disorders

Thromboembolic disorders are characterized by blood clots forming in blood vessels and represent one of the most extreme and rare risks. Thromboembolic disorders are the leading cause of death in pregnant women. Most complications due to blood clots result from injuries that occur during delivery. Women who have had a blood clot during a previous pregnancy may be given heparin (an anticoagulant) during subsequent pregnancies to prevent blood clots from forming.

If you think you are affected by any of these possible risks we would strongly urge you to see your doctor immediately.

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