The first trimester is exciting! Congratulations, you’re pregnant! And now your mind is probably swirling as you think of all the things you need to do. For this reason, we’ve prepared a first trimester checklist to help you get through your first twelve weeks of pregnancy.
1. Remove stress from your life.
Yes, this is our first item on the list! Here is why. Stress has negative effects on your physical and mental well-being. Now that you’ve got a bun in the oven, you will want a happy and healthy environment for your baby to thrive in. Say no to stressful projects, events or people. Prioritize your peace of mind.
2. Sleep as much as you can.
You are making a little person with ten fingers, ten toes and a whole cardiovascular system in that belly of yours! This is your super power and it’s no surprise that you’re tired. As you get further along in pregnancy, the changes you’re going through may have an impact on your quality of sleep. Once your baby is here, you’ll have little control over how much sleep you get. So, please sleep while you still can!
3. Drink more water.
Staying hydrated has never been more important. You’ll need to increase your water intake by 50%. Your blood volume nearly doubles throughout pregnancy making fluid intake vital to your health. Keep your reusable water bottle filled throughout the day. Don’t leave home without it!
4. Get some light exercise daily.
In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, staying active will help you with point #1 above, reducing stress. Exercise and movement releases endorphins in your body which helps regulate your mood. Take a walk or do some prenatal yoga for reduced anxiety and more happiness.
5. Eat nutritious foods.
Although your cravings may lead you astray, eating healthy food is essential fuel for your body and your baby’s growth. Of course, it’s okay to splurge on that chocolate brownie now and again. However, make sure you incorporate those leafy greens, wholesome proteins and all the other colors of the rainbow into your diet for your developing little seedling!
6. Take a good prenatal vitamin.
While most of the important vitamins you need will come from the healthy foods you are eating, taking a good prenatal vitamin that includes folic acid, can help to fill in the gaps. If you haven’t started yet, now is the time.
7. Do some reading and research!
The first trimester is a great time to start learning about what to expect during your pregnancy and beyond. There is a lot to learn, but don’t get overwhelmed! You have plenty of time to get everything figured out and the sooner you start the better. Pick up some pregnancy books, join online pregnancy groups, and sign up for newsletters with blog articles from your favorite doulas! We love the Dr. Sears birth and baby books, Expecting Better, Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn and Breastfeeding Made Simple. The website Evidenced Based Birth is also a wealth of knowledge when you’re looking for the facts on specific topics.
8. Start considering which approach to birth appeals to you.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s too early to be talking about the birth! I thought this was a first trimester checklist? However, knowing the kind of experience you want to have will influence your choice of care provider and birth location. These things are very much intertwined. You don’t have to decide all of the details of your birth plan now, but it’s worthwhile to start thinking about your preferences. Are you planning to have a low-intervention, natural approach to birth? Would you prefer a medically managed birth? Do you think you’ll want pain medication? Do you have health complications that will affect your choices? Begin putting your vision together. Keep in mind that some flexibility is necessary should unexpected situations arise or you choose or need a different approach once you are in labor.
9. Interview maternity care providers.
Ensuring that you and your care provider are on the same page is extremely important. You will remember this experience for the rest of your life. Your care provider’s style of practice will shape events that happen. Ask for recommendations of OBGYNs or midwives and interview them. Ask them questions to learn more about their standard policies and protocols. For example, do they do routine inductions? Will they let you get up and move around in labor? Trust your gut and look for a provider that is respectful and collaborative.
10. Consider the birth facility they deliver at too.
Each provider has privileges to deliver at a specific facility or hospital. The local hospitals each have their own own policies, protocols and birth climate. You can look at their c-section rates and their visitor policies. Do their visitor policies allow doulas to be present? Feel free to call the hospitals directly and ask questions. You can usually find a phone number for the labor and delivery unit on their website and speak with the nurses to get more information. Here is a list of things to consider when choosing your hospital. Get feedback and recommendations from people in your community.
11. Choose a care provider and birth location that aligns with your vision.
After doing your research and interviews, choose your OBGYN, midwife and hospital or birth facility. Knowing that you’ve got a birth team that is on your side will make a world of difference in the outcome of your big day!
12. Go to your first prenatal appointment with your provider.
It’s time to start your prenatal care! This first meeting usually happens anywhere between 8 – 12 weeks of pregnancy. Bring your list of questions and get ready to listen to the glorious sound of your little one’s heartbeat.
If you haven’t had time to do these earlier research and interview steps you can start prenatal care with your existing provider. We do recommend that you follow up by learning more about their style of care to ensure it’s a good fit for your vision. Don’t be afraid to look for a new provider and make a change later if you need to.
13. Start your baby budget.
How much is this going to cost, you ask?! Little baby, big budget! Start setting aside and financially planning for your pregnancy needs, medical bills and baby essentials. Your spending priorities may need an overhaul as you adjust to this new life of parenting. Call your insurance company and find out what they cover and what they don’t. Don’t forget to ask them about how to get your free breast pump!
14. Get some maternity clothes.
I still remember shopping for my first maternity outfits. This is when it all started to feel so real! Don’t get too carried away because you’re only going to fit into these clothes for a few short weeks as your baby grows. But do treat yourself to some adorable items and embrace your new pregnant body. Be proud and show it off!
15. Take some pictures!
Let’s not take it for granted, this pregnancy journey is special. While you may not have much of a bump just yet, you can capture the “before” look now. Keep all of those ultrasound pics. Get in front of the camera and make memories. When you look back on them years later you’ll be so glad you did.
16. Learn to manage morning sickness.
Fingers crossed you won’t have much morning sickness! With my first pregnancy it was very minimal. However, with the subsequent two pregnancies, I was truly doubting how I was going to make it through. During the first trimester I ate small meals and snacks throughout the day, never letting my stomach get empty. I tried lots of natural remedies: ginger treats, peppermint, wearing sea bands and more. Avoiding and removing strong smells from your environment is really helpful. For many people the morning sickness fades as you enter the 2nd trimester. Keep in mind, this is temporary and it will all be worth it in the end.
17. Start looking for your doula team!
A birth doula is a coach, friend and guide that can help you with all of your pregnancy, labor and birth questions. They are available to provide support throughout your pregnancy as you are making major decisions. It’s really never too early to hire your birth doulas as long as you are pregnant. The sooner the better because you get more time to engage their prenatal support. After your baby is here, postpartum doulas come to your home to take care of you and the whole family as you recover and transition to your new life. It’s best to book your postpartum doula team in advance to ensure you can get availability on their calendar. Postpartum doulas are in high demand! This is why it’s never too early to start looking for your doula team.
18. Take more naps.
We’re bringing up this topic yet again. You deserve and need that nap. Your body is working on overdrive and plenty of rest is necessary. Take the naps with pride, because while you were napping, you were also making a baby!
19. Have fun with your pregnancy announcement.
When and if you decide to share the news with friends and family is a personal choice. Some may choose to wait until they’ve made it through the first trimester and others can’t keep the secret in for long! Celebrating this event with friends and family is one of the great joys of the first trimester. Have fun and be playful with your announcement. You only get one chance to break the news.
20. Treat yourself.
Self care takes on a whole new meaning when you are pregnant. Make time for the things you like to do, schedule a massage, take a day off, read a book by the pool, plan a mini vacation. You are making a tiny human with your body! You deserve to indulge!