What Exercises Are Safe in the First Trimester?

Staying fit during early pregnancy

Staying healthy and fit when you’re pregnant is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby. Even if you have morning sickness or other discomforts of early pregnancy, getting up and moving around will often help you feel better. You should rest when you need to rest, however.

Exercise will also help you regulate weight gain, prepare you for bearing more weight, and get you in shape for childbirth. It’s good for mood and sleep, too.

You probably aren’t noticing many major bodily changes yet, other than feeling like you need a little more rest. The most important rules for first trimester exercise are to pay attention to those new limits on your energy and to avoid falls. Make sure your doctor knows what exercise you’re undertaking, and talk to them about anything new you start.

Now is a good time to add a low-impact exercise that you’ll be able to do as your pregnancy progresses. For example, if you run for exercise three times a week now, substitute one session of water exercise for one weekly run during your first trimester. That way, you’ve got a head start on water workouts if and when you give up running.

WHERE TO START

Where to start

If you didn’t exercise regularly before you got pregnant, now is the time to get in a habit that could serve you for a lifetime. Begin with a low level of exertion and work up to 30 minutes per day, 3 to 5 times per week. If possible, work with a trainer who has expertise in working out during pregnancy.

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. If going to the gym isn’t for you, don’t beat yourself up about it. Go dancing with friends or splash around in the pool. Any exercise is better than none.

PILATES

Pilates

Pilates can help you address two of the challenges you’ll experience during pregnancy: balance and lower back pain.

Pilates builds core muscles through a series of equipment and floor exercises. Your first sessions will focus on building strength. Later sessions challenge that strength and your balance.

Avoid poses where you lie on your back as well as any twisting of your midsection. Don’t overexert yourself during Pilates or other belly-focused exercise, or you could cause diastasis recti, a condition in which the parallel panels of your abdominal muscles temporarily separate.

How much?

A prenatal Pilates workout once per week will help you build strength and balance.

ADVERTISEMENT

YOGA

Yoga

Welcome to one of the best exercises you can do for yourself during pregnancy and for the rest of your life. Yoga builds strength and balance, keeps muscles limber, reduces blood pressure, and teaches you breathing rhythms that will help during delivery. Long after childbirth, as you enter menopause, yoga can help prevent osteoporosis by building bone mineral density, according to research.

If you already practice yoga and your prepregnancy routine is comfortable in your new condition, keep it up.

You should avoid:

backbends
poses that twist the abdomen
any position where your feet are over your head, such as headstands
lying on your back
Bikram or “hot” yoga
How much?

Any amount of yoga is healthy, as long as you’re not overexerting by pulling muscles or getting overheated. A half hour of yoga per day is great, as is one 30-minute session per week.

WALKING

Walking

Walking is what our bodies are made for and it makes for great pregnancy exercise. An easy stroll gets you moving, and you can build upper body strength by swinging your arms. Get your heart pumping by picking up the pace.

How much?

If you aren’t already an exercise walker, start with 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 times a week. Work up to 30 minutes a day. To help prevent falling, stay off any broken sidewalks or rocky pathways.

SWIMMING

Swimming and water aerobics

The pool is your friend during pregnancy. The water is soothing, the exercise is low-impact, and you won’t fall over. Water exercise expert Sara Haley has a helpful series of prenatal exercises that focus on building core strength.

If you’re already doing water exercise, there’s no need to change your routine. As in all exercise, avoid twisting your middle too much, and pay attention to your energy limits. If you get tired, it’s not time to push yourself — it’s time to get out of the pool. If you’re starting water exercise during pregnancy, ask a swim coach or trainer at your pool about safe routines.

How much?

Try 3 to 5 times per week, 30 minutes at a time.

ADVERTISEMENT

RUNNING

Running

If you’ve never been a runner, consider other pregnancy exercise. While it’s very unlikely that running in your first trimester will cause a pregnancy problem, you will eventually need to give it up in the next several months, and there are many other ways to get a healthy workout.

If you were a runner before pregnancy, you can probably continue to follow your safe running routine in your first trimester. The same cautions apply about falls and energy: Run on flat tracks or a treadmill with safety bars to prevent falls, and stop when you’re tired, not after. Now is not the time to push yourself.

How much?

If your prepregnancy routine still feels good, keep it up, aiming for 30 minutes of running at least 3 days per week.

WEIGHT TRAINING

Weight training

Weight training will help build strength throughout your body to prepare you for carrying more pregnancy weight and to help you deliver. You can lift free weights and work out on weight machines at a gym. Avoid any maneuvers that hold weights over your belly and that have you lying on your back. You should also take care not to strain your breathing. Work with a trainer on a prenatal routine.

How much?

A study in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health reported that low to moderate intensity strength training twice per week was safe and helpful for pregnancy.

BIKING

Stationary bike and spin class

The problem during pregnancy is not getting on a bike — it’s falling off. Or, in the case of riding a bike on the streets, having an accident. That’s why stationary bikes and spin class are good options during your first trimester. Both are low-impact and get your heart moving without the dangers of the road.

Be careful not to fall prey to the competitive atmosphere of some spin classes. Go at a pace that feels right for you.

Late in your first trimester, you may notice your center of gravity changing. Whether you’re on a stationary bike or spinning, check to see if the height of your handlebars is properly supporting your back, and adjust if needed.

How much?

Try 2 or 3 sessions on a bike or spin classes per week in sessions of 30 minutes to an hour.

ADVERTISEMENT

TAKEAWAY

Exercising safely in the first trimester

In your first trimester, you probably don’t look pregnant yet, so make sure your exercise coaches and workout buddies know that you’re expecting.

It can help to do a warm up. Five minutes of stretching before your workout will help your muscles prepare for exertion. You should also do a cool down. For the last 5 minutes of a 30-minute workout, switch to slower exercise and stretch any tight muscles.

You should take a break from exercising if you:

feel nauseated
get too hot
feel dehydrated
experience any vaginal discharge, bleeding, or abdominal or pelvic pain
Hydrate regularly during pregnancy, whether you’re exercising or not. Eat quality snacks after exercising. There isn’t any recommendation for the ideal heart rate during first trimester exercise, but a good rule of thumb is that you should work at a pace where you’d able to carry on a normal

Tests During Pregnancy: Abdominal Ultrasound

Prenatal check-ups and tests

Your prenatal visits will probably be scheduled every month until 32 to 34 weeks. After that, they will be every two weeks until 36 weeks, and then weekly until delivery. This schedule is flexible, depending on your pregnancy. If you experience any complications between your scheduled visits, call your doctor immediately.

FIRST-TRIMESTER ULTRASOUND

First-trimester ultrasound

Ultrasound is an essential tool for evaluating your baby during pregnancy. An abdominal ultrasound is a procedure where a technician slides a transducer that emits high-frequency sound waves, over the abdomen to project an image (sonogram) to a computer screen.

Whether or not you receive an ultrasound during your first trimester of pregnancy depends on a number of factors, including your risk for complications. Common reasons for receiving an ultrasound examination in the first trimester are to confirm that the fetus is alive (fetal viability) or to determine gestational age. Ultrasound determination of gestational age is helpful if:

your last menstrual period is uncertain
you have a history of irregular periods
conception occurred during oral contraceptive use
if your initial pelvic examination suggests a gestational age different from that indicated by your last period
You may not need an ultrasound if you:

have no risk factors for pregnancy complications
you have a history of regular periods
you are certain of the date your last menstrual period (LMP) began
you receive prenatal care during your first trimester

ULTRASOUND PROCEDURE

What happens during the ultrasound?

Most ultrasounds obtain an image by sliding a transducer over the abdomen. A first trimester ultrasound often requires a higher resolution due to the small size of the fetus. Endovaginal ultrasound examination is another option. This is when a probe is inserted into the vagina.

ADVERTISEMENT

RESULTS

What will a first trimester ultrasound show?

A first trimester endovaginal ultrasound typically reveals three things:

gestational sac
fetal pole
yolk sac
A gestational sac is the sac of water containing the fetus. A fetal pole means that the arms and legs developed to variable extents, depending on gestational age. A yolk sac is a structure that provides nourishment to the fetus while the placenta is developing.

By about six weeks, an ultrasound can show other things as well. A fetal heartbeat is noted, as well as multiple fetuses (twins, triplets, etc.). Evaluation of the anatomy is extremely limited in the first trimester.

SAC WITHOUT A FETAL POLE

What if the ultrasound shows a sac without a fetal pole?

The presence of a sac without a fetal pole usually indicates the presence of either an extremely early pregnancy, or a fetus that has not developed (blighted ovum).

An empty sac in the uterus may occur with a pregnancy that implants somewhere other than the uterus (ectopic pregnancy). The most common site of an ectopic pregnancy is the fallopian tube. This is a potentially life-threatening situation, due to the risk of hemorrhage. Whether or not it’s an ectopic pregnancy can be further determined by checking for a rise in the amount of the hormone beta-hCG in the blood. A doubling of the level of beta-hCG over a period of about 48 hours is considered normal and normally excludes the diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy.

FETAL HEARTBEAT

What if there isn’t a heartbeat?

A heartbeat may not be visible during an ultrasound if the examination is performed early in pregnancy. This would be prior to the development of cardiac activity. In this situation, your doctor will repeat the ultrasound later in your pregnancy. The absence of cardiac activity may also indicate that the fetus is not developing and may not survive.

Checking blood levels of beta-hCG can help to distinguish between fetal death in the first trimester and a normally developing, early pregnancy.

ADVERTISEMENT

GESTATIONAL AGE

How can an ultrasound determine gestational age?

Usually, determining your baby’s gestational age and your due date is calculated from the first day of your last menstrual period. An ultrasound can help estimate this if your last menstrual period is unknown.

Estimating a gestational age through an ultrasound is most effective during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Measurement of the fetal pole from one end to the other is called the crown-rump length (CRL). This measurement relates to the actual gestational age within five to seven days. Typically, if the due date suggested by the CRL falls within about five days of menstrual dating, the due date established by the LMP is kept throughout pregnancy. If the due date suggested by the CRL falls outside this range, the due date from the ultrasound is usually kept.

What Bodily Changes Can You Expect During Pregnancy?

Hormonal Changes During Pregnancy
The hormonal and physiologic changes during pregnancy are unique in the life of women.
Pregnant women experience sudden and dramatic increases in estrogen and progesterone, as well as changes in the amount and function of a number of other hormones. These changes can not only affect mood, they can also create the “glow” of pregnancy, significantly aid in the development of the fetus, and alter the physical impact of exercise and physical activity on the body.

Estrogen and Progesterone Changes

Estrogen and progesterone are the chief pregnancy hormones. A woman will produce more estrogen during one pregnancy than throughout her entire life when not pregnant. The increase in estrogen during pregnancy enables the uterus and placenta to improve vascularization, transfer nutrients, and support the developing baby. In addition, estrogen is thought to play an important role in helping the fetus develop and mature. Estrogen levels increase steadily during pregnancy and reach their peak in the third trimester. The rapid increase in estrogen levels during the first trimester may cause some of the nausea associated with pregnancy and, during the second trimester, plays a major role in the milk duct development that enlarges the breasts.

Progesterone levels also are extraordinarily high during pregnancy. The changes in progesterone cause a laxity or loosening of ligaments and joints throughout the body. In addition, high levels of progesterone cause internal structures to increase in size, such as the ureters (which connect the kidneys with the maternal bladder). Progesterone also is important for transforming the uterus from the size of a small pear in its non-pregnant state to a uterus that can accommodate a full-term baby.

Pregnancy Hormones and Exercise Injuries

While these hormones are absolutely critical for a successful pregnancy, they also can make exercise more difficult. Pregnant women may be at greater risk for ankle or knee sprains and strains because the ligaments are looser (however, no studies have documented an increased rate in injury during pregnancy).

A pregnant woman’s entire posture changes. Her breasts are larger, and her abdomen transforms from flat or concave to very convex, increasing the curvature of her back. The combined effect shifts the center of gravity forward and may lead to changes in one’s sense of balance.

Weight Gain, Fluid Retention, and Physical Activity

Weight gain in pregnant women increases the workload on the body from any physical activity. This additional weight and gravity slow down the circulation of blood and body fluids, particularly in the lower limbs. As a result, pregnant women retain fluids and experience swelling of the legs, feet, hands, and even face. This water weight is another limitation to exercise.

Many women begin to notice slight swelling during the second trimester, which often continues into the third trimester. This increase in fluid retention is responsible for about 25% of the increase in weight women experience during pregnancy. It can be alleviated in some cases through rest, avoiding long periods of standing, avoiding caffeine and sodium, and increasing dietary potassium.

The increase in weight is usually the primary reason that the body cannot tolerate pre-pregnancy levels of exercise, even for the seasoned, elite, or professional athlete. Round ligament strain, increased size of the uterus, and pelvic instability from laxity of the ligaments may lead to increased discomfort during exercise in the pregnant woman.

Tip: For fun, take a photograph of yourself from the side profile early in your pregnancy, using your best posture. Take another photo near your due date and compare these side profiles. The changes are remarkable, aren’t they?

Part 2 of 5

Physiological Changes

Because of the hormonal changes that begin in the first trimester, many physiological changes take place throughout the body. These changes help prepare the mother’s body for pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. In addition, they can dramatically alter how a woman experiences the world through sight, taste, and smell.

Hair and Nail Changes

Many women experience changes in hair and nail growth during pregnancy. In some cases, hormone changes can cause excessive hair shedding or hair loss (especially in women with a family history of female alopecia). Many women experience hair growth and thickening during pregnancy, however, and may even notice hair growth in unwanted places. Hair growth on the face, arms, legs, or back can occur and can be removed cosmetically. Most changes in hair growth return to normal after the baby is born; it is common, however, for hair loss or increased shedding to occur in the first few months or first year postpartum as hair follicles and hormone levels regulate themselves without the influence of pregnancy hormones.

Many women also experience faster nail growth during pregnancy. Although some women may find the change desirable, many may notice increased nail brittleness, breakage, grooves, or keratosis. Healthy dietary changes to increase nail strength can help prevent breakage without the use of chemical nail products.

Breast Changes

Pregnant women’s breasts often undergo a series of significant changes during pregnancy as their bodies prepare to supply milk to the newborn baby. Pregnancy hormones that affect skin pigmentation often darken the areola, or the darker skin around the nipple. As the breasts grow, pregnant women may experience tenderness or sensitivity and notice that the veins are darker and the nipples protrude more than before pregnancy. Some women may develop stretch marks on the breasts, particularly if they undergo rapid growth, and many women will notice an increase in size of the nipple and areola.

Small bumps on the areolas often appear, and most women will begin producing (and sometimes “leaking”) small amounts of a thick, yellowish substance known as colostrum during the second trimester. In addition to producing the colostrum for the baby’s first feeding, milk ducts in the breasts expand to prepare to produce and store milk. Some women may notice small lumps in the breast tissue, which can be caused by blocked milk ducts; if the lumps do not disappear after a few days of massaging the breast and warming it with water or a washcloth, a doctor should examine the lump at the next prenatal visit.

Cervical Changes

The cervix, or the entry to the uterus, undergoes physical changes during pregnancy and labor. In many women, the tissue of the cervix thickens and becomes firm and glandular, and the cervix produces a thick mucus plug to seal off the uterus. The plug is often expelled in late pregnancy or during delivery. Up to a few weeks before giving birth, the cervix may soften and dilate slightly from the pressure of the growing baby. Prior to delivery, the cervix dilates significantly, softens, and thins, allowing the baby to pass through the birth canal.

Vision Changes

Some women experience vision changes during pregnancy, characterized by increased myopia (nearsightedness). Although researchers do not know the precise biological mechanisms behind changes in vision, most women return to pre-pregnancy vision after giving birth. Common changes in vision during pregnancy include blurriness and discomfort with contact lenses. Pregnant women often experience an increase in intraocular pressure, and women experiencing preeclampsia or a diabetic pregnancy may be at an elevated risk of rare eye problems, such as retinal detachment or vision loss.

Taste and Smell Changes

Most women experience changes in their sense of taste during pregnancy, preferring saltier foods and sweeter foods than non-pregnant women and having a higher threshold for strong sour, salty, and sweet tastes. Dysgeusia, a decrease in the ability to taste, is most commonly experienced during the first trimester of pregnancy. Certain taste preferences may vary by trimester, and although many women experience a dulled sense of taste for a short period of time postpartum, women typically regain full gustatory capability after pregnancy. Some women also experience a metallic taste in the mouth during pregnancy, which can aggravate nausea and may indicate a nutrient imbalance.

At times, pregnant women also report changes in their sense of smell, describing a heightened awareness and sensitivity to a variety of odors. Although there is little consistent and reliable data indicating that pregnant women actually notice and identify certain odors and intensity of odors more than non-pregnant counterparts, the vast majority of pregnant women report a perceived increase in their own sensitivity to odors.

Part 3 of 5

Skin Changes

Many women will experience changes in the physical appearance of their skin during pregnancy. Although most are temporary, some – like stretch marks – can leave permanent changes in the skin. In addition, women who experience some of these skin changes during pregnancy are more likely to experience them again in future pregnancies or even while taking hormonal contraceptives.

Mask of Pregnancy and Hyperpigmentation

The vast majority of pregnant women experience some type of hyperpigmentation during pregnancy, which consists of a darkening in skin tone on body parts such as the areolas, the abdominal linea alba, genitals, and scars. Hyperpigmentation can occur in women of any skin tone, although it is more common in women with darker complexions.

In addition, up to 70% of pregnant women experience a darkening of skin on the face, known as the “mask” of pregnancy, or melasma. This skin condition can be worsened by sun exposure and radiation, so a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen should be used daily during pregnancy. In most cases, melasma resolves after pregnancy.

Stretch Marks

Perhaps the most well known skin change of pregnancy, stretch marks (or striae gravidarum) are caused by a combination of physical stretching of the skin and the effects of hormone changes on the skin’s elasticity. Up to 90% of women develop stretch marks by the third trimester of pregnancy, often on the breasts and abdomen. Although the pinkish-purple stretch marks may never fully disappear, they often fade to the color of surrounding skin and shrink in size postpartum.

Mole and Freckle Changes

The hyperpigmentation caused by changes in hormones during pregnancy can cause changes in the color of moles and freckles. Although some darkening of moles, freckles, and birthmarks can be totally benign, it is always a good idea to see a dermatologist or physician about changes in size, color, or shape. Pregnancy hormones can also cause the appearance of dark patches of skin that are often unpreventable. Although most skin pigmentation changes will fade or disappear after pregnancy, some changes in mole or freckle color may be permanent. Regardless of the type of change in skin pigmentation, it is a good idea to have a skin check for potential skin cancer or pregnancy-specific skin conditions during pregnancy if any changes occur.

Pregnancy-Specific Rashes and Boils

Small percentages of women may experience skin conditions that are specific to pregnancy, such as PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) and folliculitis. Most conditions involve pustules and red bumps along the abdomen, legs, arms, or back. Although most rashes are harmless and resolve quickly postpartum, some skin conditions (such as intrahepatic cholestasis and pemphigoid gestationis) may be associated with premature delivery or problems for the baby.

Part 4 of 5

Circulatory System Changes

Huffing and puffing while climbing stairs, feeling dizzy after standing quickly, and experiencing changes in blood pressure are common during pregnancy. Because of rapid expansion of the blood vessels and the increased stress on the heart and lungs, pregnant women produce more blood and have to utilize more caution with exercise than non-pregnant women.

Heart Beat and Blood Volume During Pregnancy

During the second trimester of pregnancy, the mother’s heart at rest is working 40% harder. Most of this increase results from a more efficiently performing heart, which ejects more blood at each beat. Heart rate may increase up to 15% during pregnancy. Blood volume increases progressively during pregnancy, beginning in weeks 6-8 and continuing until weeks 32-34. The volume of plasma increases 40-50% and red blood cell mass 20-30%, creating a need for increased iron and folic acid intake.

Blood Pressure and Exercise

There are two types of circulatory changes that may have an impact on exercise during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can suddenly affect the tone in blood vessels. A sudden loss of tone may result in the feeling of dizziness and perhaps even a brief loss of consciousness (passing out), because the loss of pressure sends less blood to the brain and central nervous system.

Additionally, vigorous exercise may lead to decreased blood flow to the uterus while diverting blood to muscles; however, this has not been shown to have a long-term impact on the baby. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that individuals who exercise have improved blood supply to the placenta at rest, which may be beneficial to placental and fetal growth.

Dizziness and Fainting

Another form of dizziness can result from lying flat on the back. This dizziness is more common after 24 weeks, but can happen earlier during multi-fetal pregnancies or conditions that increase amniotic fluid. Lying flat on the back compresses the large blood vessel (vena cava) leading from the lower body to the heart, decreasing blood flow to and from the heart. This leads to a sudden and dramatic decline in blood pressure-and possibly dizziness or loss of consciousness. Understandably, after the first trimester, it is not recommended to do exercises that involve lying on the back due to the impact from blood vessel compression. Lying on the left side may help relieve dizziness.

Women experiencing any of these conditions, particularly during exercise, should consult their doctor.

Part 5 of 5

Respiratory and Metabolic Changes

Because of increased demand for blood and the dilation of blood vessels, pregnant women experience increases in the amount of oxygen they transport in their blood. This growth also forces increases in metabolic rates during pregnancy, requiring women to up energy intake and use caution during periods of physical exertion.

Breathing and Blood Oxygen Levels

During pregnancy, the amount of air moved in and out of the lungs increases by nearly 50% due to two factors. Each breath has a greater volume of air, and the rate of breathing increases slightly. As the uterus enlarges, the movement of the diaphragm may be limited; therefore, some women report the feeling of increased difficulty in taking deep breaths. Even without exercise, these changes may cause shortness of breath or the feeling of being “air hungry.” Exercise programs may increase these symptoms.

Overall, pregnant women have higher blood oxygen levels. Studies have shown that pregnant women consume 10 to 20% more oxygen at rest. This does not seem to have an impact on the amount of oxygen available for exercise or other physical work during pregnancy.

Metabolic Rate

Basal or resting metabolic rate (RMR), the amount of energy the body expends while at rest, increases significantly during pregnancy. This is measured by the amount of oxygen used during periods of total rest and helps estimate the amount of energy intake required to maintain or gain weight. Changes in metabolic rates explain the need to increase calorie consumption during pregnancy – the body of a pregnant woman slowly increases its energy requirements to help fuel the changes and growth taking place in both the mother and baby.

Metabolic rates increase substantially by just 15 weeks gestation and peak in the third trimester. This increased metabolic rate may put pregnant women at a higher risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Although the metabolic rate may drop slightly as the pregnancy reaches term, it remains elevated over pre-pregnancy levels for several weeks postpartum (and will remain elevated for the duration of breastfeeding in women producing milk).

Body Temperature Changes

An increase in basal body temperature is one of the first hints of pregnancy, and a slightly higher core temperature will be maintained through the duration of pregnancy. Women also have a greater need of water during pregnancy, and can be at higher risk of hyperthermia and dehydration without caution to exercise safely and remain hydrated.

Hyperthermia – Overheating During Pregnancy

Heat stress during exercise creates concern for two reasons. First, an increase in the mother’s core temperature (hyperthermia) can be harmful to the baby’s development. Second, loss of water in the mother (dehydration) can decrease the amount of blood available to the fetus and lead to increased risk of preterm contractions.

In non-pregnant women, moderate aerobic exercise causes significant increases in core body temperature. Pregnant women, whether they exercise or not, experience a general increase in base metabolic rate and core temperature. Fortunately, pregnant women regulate their core temperature very efficiently. Increased blood flow to the skin and the expanded skin surface release increased body heat.

It has been shown that pregnant women do not have as much of an increase in body temperature during exercise as those who are not pregnant. However, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid exercising in non-breathable clothing and in very hot or humid conditions, since the impact of hyperthermia can be severe. Using fans during indoor activity, swimming, and wearing light colored, loose fitting clothing may all help in dissipating heat during exercise.

Dehydration

Most women who exercise for 20 to 30 minutes or who exercise during hot and humid weather will sweat. In pregnant women, loss of body fluids from perspiration can decrease the blood flow to the uterus, the muscles, and some organs. Because the developing fetus needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients carried through the blood, injury may result from a lack of fluid.

In most conditions, uterine oxygen consumption is constant during exercise and the fetus is safe. However, exercising can be dangerous for women with pregnancy-induced hypertension, which limits uterine blood volume as the vessels clamp down and deliver less blood to the area.

If you are cleared for exercise during pregnancy, be sure to use common sense:

Indoors/Outdoors

Avoid outdoor exercise during excessive heat and humidity; go indoors to a controlled environment.
Workout in areas with excellent air circulation; position a small fan near your equipment.
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise since body heat is easily dissipated.
Fluids

Drink plenty of fluids during exercise, both indoors and outdoors.
Always have handy a bottle of water or containers of decaffeinated beverages, diluted fruit juices, or diluted sports drinks.
Drink and rehydrate even if you are not thirsty.
Clothing

Wear light clothing that breathes.
Always wear a good exercise support-bra.
General

Avoid saunas and steam rooms.
Limit hot tubs and whirlpools to only a few minutes-and only after you’ve cooled down from your primary exercise routine.
Do not exercise when you are sick or have a fever.

Early Pregnancy Symptoms: 17 Signs to Look For

When do the symptoms start?

Though it may sound odd, your first week of pregnancy is based on the date of your last menstrual period. Your last menstrual period is considered the first week of pregnancy, even if you weren’t actually pregnant yet. The expected delivery date is calculated using the first day of your last period. For that reason, the first few weeks where you may not have symptoms also count toward your 40-week pregnancy.

Signs and symptoms Timeline (from missed period)
mild cramping and spotting week 1 to 4
missed period week 4
fatigue week 4 or 5
nausea week 4 to 6
tingling or aching breasts week 4 to 6
frequent urination week 4 to 6
bloating week 4 to 6
motion sickness week 5 to 6
mood swings week 6
temperature changes week 6
high blood pressure week 8
extreme fatigue and heartburn week 9
faster heartbeat week 8 to 10
breast and nipple changes week 11
acne week 11
noticeable weight gain week 11
pregnancy glow week 12

IMPLANTATION BLEEDING

Cramping and spotting during early pregnancy

From week one to week four, everything is still happening on a cellular level. The fertilized egg creates a blastocyst (a fluid-filled group of cells) that will develop into the baby’s organs and body parts. About 10 to 14 days (week four) after conception, the blastocyst will implant in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. This can cause implantation bleeding which may be mistaken for a light period.

Here are some signs of implantation bleeding:

Color: The color of each episode may be pink, red, or brown.
Bleeding: Bleeding is usually compared to your regular menstrual period. Spotting is defined by blood present only when wiping.
Pain: Pain may be mild, moderate, or severe. According to a study of 4539 women, 28 percent of women associated their spotting and light bleeding with pain.
Episodes: Implantation bleeding is likely to last less than three days and doesn’t require treatment.
Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, or using illicit drugs, which are associated with heavy bleeding.

ADVERTISEMENT

MISSED PERIOD

Missed period during early pregnancy

Once implantation is complete, your body will begin producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone helps the body maintain the pregnancy. It also tells the ovaries to stop releasing mature eggs each month.

You will likely miss your next period four weeks after conception. If you have an irregular period, you’ll want to take a pregnancy test to confirm. Most home tests can detect hCG as soon as eight days after a missed period. A pregnancy test will be able to detect hCG levels in your urine and show if you are pregnant.

Tips
Take a pregnancy test to see if you’re pregnant.
If it’s positive, call your doctor or midwife to schedule your first prenatal appointment.
If you’re on any medications, ask your doctor whether they pose any risk to your growing baby.
Read more: Which tests can you use to confirm a pregnancy? »

TEMPERATURE

Raised body temperature during early pregnancy

A higher basal body temperature may also be a sign of pregnancy. Your body’s core temperature may also increase more easily during exercise or in hot weather. During this time, you’ll need to make sure to drink more water and exercise cautiously.

FATIGUE

Fatigue during early pregnancy

Fatigue can develop any time during pregnancy. This symptom is common among the early symptoms of pregnancy. Your progesterone levels will soar, which can make you feel sleepy.

Tips
The early weeks of pregnancy can make you feel exhausted. Make an effort to get enough sleep.
Keeping your bedroom cool can also help. Your body temperature may be higher during the early stages of pregnancy.

The First Trimester of Pregnancy

What Is the First Trimester?

A pregnancy lasts for about 40 weeks. The weeks are grouped into three trimesters. The first trimester is the time in between fertilization of the egg by the sperm (conception) and week 12 of a pregnancy.

A woman’s body goes through many changes during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. Women often start to have concerns over:

what to eat
which types of prenatal tests they should consider
how much weight they might gain
how they can make sure their baby stays healthy
Understanding a pregnancy week by week can help you make informed decisions and prepare for the big changes that lie ahead.

BODY CHANGES

What Happens to a Woman’s Body During the First Trimester?

In the first trimester, a woman’s body goes through many changes. The body releases hormones that affect almost every single organ in the body. The first sign you may be pregnant is missing a period. As the first few weeks pass, some women experience the following:

tiredness
upset stomach
throwing up
mood swings
tender breasts
heartburn
weight gain
headaches
cravings for certain foods
revulsion to certain foods
constipation
You may need to rest more or eat smaller meals during this time. Some women, however, don’t feel any of these symptoms at all.

ADVERTISEMENT

FETAL DEVELOPMENT

What Happens to the Fetus During the First Trimester?

A baby develops rapidly during the first trimester. The fetus begins to develop a brain, spinal cord, and the organs begin to form. The baby’s heart will also begin to beat during the first trimester.

Arms and legs begin to bud in the first few weeks, and by the end of eight weeks, fingers and toes start to form. By the end of the first trimester, the baby’s sex organs have formed. According to the Office on Women’s Health, the baby is now about 3 inches long and weighs almost 1 ounce.

DOCTOR VISIT

What Can Be Expected at the Doctor?

When you first learn you are pregnant, make an appointment with your doctor to begin caring for the developing baby. Women normally see their doctor once a month during the first trimester.

During your first visit, a doctor will take a full health history and perform a full physical and pelvic exam. The doctor may also:

perform an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy
perform a Pap test
take your blood pressure
test for sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and hepatitis
estimate your date of delivery or “due date,” which is around 266 days from the first day of your last period
screen for risk factors like anemia
check thyroid levels
check your weight
At around 11 weeks, the doctor will perform a test called a nuchal translucency (NT) scan. The test uses an ultrasound to measure the baby’s head and thickness of the baby’s neck. The measurements can help determine the chance that your baby will be born with a genetic disorder known as Down syndrome.

Ask your doctor whether or not genetic screening is recommended for your pregnancy. Genetic screening is a test used to find out your baby’s risk for specific genetic diseases.

21 Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

It’s amazing how quickly co-workers, strangers, and even family members forget that a pregnant person is still, well, a person. Curious questions, while understandable, often cross the boundary from pleasantly interested, to judgmental. For example, your parents may be dying to know whether you’ll quit your job after baby, and your neighbor wants to know whether you intend to breast-feed or not. When in doubt, remember that intrusive questions are usually better left unasked.

Here’s a list of the top things you should never ask a pregnant woman. Share with your family, friends, and go ahead, even share with that nosy co-worker.

1. “Wow, you’re so small!”

I know you mean that in a complimentary way, but all I hear is, “Wow, are you sure your baby is OK?” Which leads me to freak out about the size of my baby and start Googling whether or not my baby is OK. And that never ends well.

2. “Wow, you’re so big!”

I don’t care if I blow up like the Goodyear Blimp. Keep it to yourself. I am pregnant. Being pregnant tends to make a girl gain a little bit of weight.

3. “Was it a surprise?”

Well, no. By my age, I hope I am smart enough to have figured out the whole birth control thing. Plus, I really don’t want to divulge to you whether this was premeditated or the accidental result of a quickie in the backseat of my boyfriend’s Mustang.

ADVERTISEMENT

4. “Can I touch your belly?”

No. But since you asked and didn’t just go for it, I will let you live. You’re welcome.

5. “Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?”

I am hoping for a baby. That is my only real pony in this pregnancy race. Oh, and maybe a pony. I am hoping for a pony too.

6. “You know, it’s really 10 months.”

You know, it’s really annoying when people point that out.

7. “Well, when I was pregnant…”

Let me just stop you there. I am going through this like I’m the only person who has even been pregnant in the history of the earth. So I don’t want to hear about your negligible weight gain or horrendous hemorrhoids.

8. “Have you picked out a name yet?”

Yes, but I don’t want to know if you dated someone with the same name in high school and that they broke your heart or whatever, so let’s just go with “No.”

9. “You really shouldn’t eat/drink/do that when you’re pregnant.”

You really shouldn’t give a pregnant woman advice. I could sit on your face and smother you to death.

10. “Well, elephants are pregnant for 22 months, so you don’t have it that bad.”

*Blank stare followed by me walking away.*

11. “Are you sure it isn’t twins?”

Well, when that leprechaun under the bridge held a rock over my belly and told me there was only one, I believed him. But apparently you have some sort of sixth sense about these things, so I will have him check again.

12. “By the way you’re showing, I bet you’re having…”

A puppy. How did you guess!?

13. “Do you plan on breast-feeding?”

Thanks for asking, but I really don’t want to discuss the future state of my nipples with you, weird lady from accounting.

ADVERTISEMENT

14. “Are you going to quit your job when the baby comes?”

Thanks for setting women back a century by asking that. Now please excuse me while I fetch Mr. his slippers.

15. “Sleep now because you will never sleep again.”

This person is dead now.

16. “Enjoy your life while you still can.”

I know, right? This ball and chain in my belly is about to make an appearance and ruin everything.

17. “Are you going to have a natural birth?”

No. I plan on being higher than Willie Nelson when I’m bearing down. God put someone on this planet smart enough to invent the epidural and I am surely going to take advantage of that invention while I try to push a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon.

18. “I thought you didn’t want kids!”

Yes. Based solely on that conservation we had 10 years ago while drunk at a frat party, that is totally true. I am such a liar.

ADVERTISEMENT

19. “Good luck. My labor was terrible.”

Thanks for sharing. Because it’s not like I’m going to have to go through it anytime soon or anything, or that I constantly wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night fearing that I’m going to poop on the table.

20. “Aren’t you a little young/old to have a baby?

*Insert sounds of crickets here.*

21. “You’re still pregnant?”

What Do You Want to Know About Pregnancy?

Pregnancy occurs when a sperm fertilizes an egg after it is released from the ovary during ovulation. The fertilized egg then travels down into the uterus, where implantation occurs. A successful implantation results in pregnancy. On average, a full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. There are many factors that can affect a pregnancy. Women who receive an early diagnosis and prenatal care are more likely to experience a healthy pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. Knowing what to expect during the full pregnancy term is also important for monitoring your health and the health of the baby. If you would like to prevent pregnancy, there are also effective forms of birth control to keep in mind.

Pregnancy Prevention and Birth Control

Women who are sexually active with male partner(s) should consider forms of birth control if they are not interested in becoming pregnant. Some methods of pregnancy prevention work better for some individuals. Talk to your doctor about birth control that is right for you.

Condoms

Using a condom to prevent pregnancy is known to be 98 percent effective. However, that statistic is based on “perfect” use in ideal conditions. This means that there are a handful of factors that may go wrong and lower the effectiveness of condoms. These include:

using expired condoms
storing condoms improperly
condoms tearing during use
If you’re relying on condoms to avoid getting pregnant, you may want to consider using an additional method of contraception such as spermicide or a hormonal birth control pill.

The Pill

Hormonal birth control pills are a popular method of contraception. Available by prescription, these pills work by controlling the hormone levels in a woman’s body. Birth control pills work in three ways:

They prevent ovulation.
They thin cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching an egg if it was released.
They thin the uterine lining to prevent implantation.
Birth control pills vary in their success rate. They are considered 99 percent effective when used perfectly and 91 percent effective when human error is taken into consideration (such as forgetting to take your pill at the same time every day).

Natural Family Planning

Natural family planning (NFP) is a method of birth control with the highest rate of failure. It works by tracking the symptoms of a woman’s cycle, predicting when she will ovulate, and avoiding intercourse during the woman’s fertile window. There are many variables that can affect a woman’s cycle from month to month, and accidental pregnancies can occur. According to Planned Parenthood, the failure rate of the NFP method is 24 percent.

Emergency Contraception

There are several “morning after” pills that are available, both over the counter and by prescription at drugstores. These pills are not intended as regular forms of birth control. Instead, they act as a second option when your regular birth control method fails. They must be used within 72 hours of sexual contact to be effective.

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small devices placed in the uterus to interrupt the process of insemination. IUDs are currently the most effective form of birth control, with a 99+ percent rate of preventing pregnancy.

How Will I Know if I’m Pregnant?

Before you take a pregnancy test, you may notice early symptoms. Some of the most notable signs of early pregnancy include fatigue, nausea (also called “morning sickness”), swollen or tender breasts, and constipation.

Some women may also experience cramps and light bleeding. This light bleeding is called implantation bleeding, and most often occurs within one to two weeks of fertilization. Spotting may follow, but the bleeding is not as heavy as a typical period. In some cases, implantation bleeding is mistaken for menstruation.

Symptoms vary between women. Some women may experience different symptoms between pregnancies. For example, you might experience morning sickness in your first pregnancy but not your second. Early pregnancy symptoms should not be your sole source of pregnancy confirmation. The Mayo Clinic points out that many of these signs are also related to other health conditions, including PMS.

How Can I Confirm a Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is diagnosed by measuring human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels in the body. Also referred to as the pregnancy hormone, hCG is produced upon implantation, but it may not be detected until after you miss a period. Levels of the hormone increase rapidly after your missed period.

The hormone hCG is detected through either a urine or blood test. Urine tests may be provided at a doctor’s office, but these are the same as home pregnancy tests. When taking a home pregnancy test, read the instructions carefully. Repeat the test after a few days if you get a negative result and still do not get your period. The biggest advantage to doing this type of test is privacy as well as affordability.

A blood test is another option. The hormone hCG may be measured at a lab through a blood sample. The results are about as accurate as a home pregnancy test. The difference is that hCG is detected through the blood more easily, even in miniscule amounts. A blood test may be ordered as soon as six days after ovulation.

Pregnancy Care Plans

Home pregnancy tests are very accurate after the first day of your missed period. If you get a positive result on a home pregnancy test, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. An ultrasound will be used to confirm and date a pregnancy. The timing of your first appointment may also depend on your overall health. Doctors may give special evaluation to patients who are considered high-risk. This includes women who are over the age of 35, as well as women with heart disease or diabetes.

The sooner you find out you’re pregnant, the better you can care for your baby’s health. Regular checkups are essential to ensuring your health and to detecting any potential problems with your pregnancy.

In the United States, all health insurance plans are required to offer prenatal care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, the details of these prenatal care provisions differ greatly between healthcare providers. Once you know for sure that you are pregnant, call your insurance provider and get an idea of what is covered under your prenatal care. If you do not have health insurance when you find out you are pregnant, speak to your doctor about steps you can take to get coverage.

Things to Keep in Mind

For the most part, women can go about their lives as they normally would while they are pregnant. However, there are some important things to consider while your baby is growing inside you.

Your doctor will give you tips for healthy eating and regular exercise that will benefit both you and your baby. A prenatal vitamin can help provide the folic acid and other nutrients your baby needs for healthy brain development. While you are pregnant, it’s also critical to avoid any alcohol or tobacco products. Drugs not specifically approved as safe for pregnant women should also be avoided. Certain exercises and foods that are normally safe are not necessarily good for a developing baby.

Research on what creates a healthy pregnancy is ongoing, which is why it’s critical that you find and speak to a medical professional that you trust about lifestyle changes and diet recommendations.

What Are the Risk Factors?

You are most likely to get pregnant if you have sexual intercourse with a male partner without using birth control. It’s important to remember that even having sex once is enough to get pregnant.

Most women in their early 30s or younger have a high chance of a normal pregnancy. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), women over the age of 35 are at higher risk for health problems during pregnancy. High-risk pregnancies are monitored more closely to detect potential problems.

Other risks that can affect an otherwise healthy pregnancy include:

giving birth to multiples
high blood pressure (hypertension)
cardiovascular disease
diabetes
cancer
kidney disease
infections
Prognosis

A healthy pregnancy typically lasts for 40 weeks. Premature births can result in many health problems, from low birth weight and jaundice, to a lack of development of the organs.

First Trimester

Every pregnancy is different, but there are some medical milestones that doctors use to predict how a pregnancy is going. During the first trimester of pregnancy, the chance for a miscarriage is still quite high. More than 1 in 4 pregnancies result in miscarriage before the 12-week mark. After 12 weeks, the odds of miscarriage drop dramatically. Also during the first trimester, your doctor will check to make sure the developing fetus has a heartbeat by using a Doppler machine.

Second Trimester

During the second trimester of pregnancy, an anatomy scan ultrasound will likely be performed. This milestone checks the tiny body of your developing baby for any developmental abnormalities. This test also can reveal the gender of your baby, if you wish to find out before the baby is born. Somewhere in the middle of the second trimester, you will most likely be able to feel your baby’s movement inside your uterus in the form of little kicks and punches.

Third Trimester

At 27 weeks, a baby in utero is considered “viable,” meaning that it would have a good chance of surviving outside of your womb. During the third trimester, your weight gain will accelerate and you may feel more tired. As labor approaches, you may feel pelvic discomfort. Excess blood and water retention may cause your feet to swell. Contractions that do not lead to labor, known as Braxton-Hicks contractions, may start to occur in the weeks before you deliver. While you may be anxious to meet your baby, induced labor should generally only be used if a doctor deems it medically necessary.

Preparing for Labor

There are many ways to mentally and physically prepare for labor. Many hospitals offer birthing classes prior to delivery so that women may better understand the signs and progression of labor. You may also want to prepare a “ready to go bag” of toiletries, sleepwear, and other everyday essentials in the third trimester. This bag would be ready to run out the door with you when labor begins.

During the third trimester, you and your doctor should discuss your labor and delivery plan in detail. Knowing when to go to the hospital, who will be assisting in the birth, and what role your doctor will play in the birth process can all contribute to greater peace of mind going into the home stretch of pregnancy.

Natural Alternatives To Glucose Drink – Glucola For Pregnancy Glucose Screening Test

When I first found out I was pregnant one of the first things I began researching was about all of the prenatal tests and procedures.

There are many more tests and procedures done now compared to over 30 years ago when I was born.

One of the tests that I researched was the pregnancy glucose screening test. I wanted to find natural alternatives to glucose drink that’s required for the test.

At first, I researched online and found that many women just consume 50 grams of sugar as a natural alternative to the pre-made glucose drink called glucola. Then they take the glucose blood just as they would when you drink the glucola.

My OB, who actually delivered me when I was born, said that I can have anything with 50 grams of sugar an hour before the test instead of drinking the gluocla. He said that if it was him, he would just have a fruit smoothie containing 50 grams of sugar for the test.

Before I talked to him about natural alternatives to the glucose drink, I was prepared for him to tell me that I had to drink the gluocla and there were no other options. I was surprised that he supported drinking something else instead of the glucola.

Even though drinking glucola isn’t healthy, I would if I needed to. But, when you’re already nauseous from pregnancy and want to try to avoid processed/chemically laden foods, why not choose the healthier option with less side effects as long as it’s just as effective.

How The Pregnancy Glucose Screening Test Works:

The pregnancy glucose screening test is recommended some time between 24 and 28 weeks of your pregnancy. It is a test used check for pre-diabetes and diabetes. The test results reveal your body’s ability to use glucose, a type of sugar.

The test involves drinking a sugary drink called Glucola that contains 50 grams of sugar. Then, one hour later, your blood will be tested to measure your blood glucose level. Many recommend taking the test while fasting, however; that is not necessary.

Risk Factors For Gestational Diabetes And Is It Necessary To Do The Glucose Screening Test?

When I first asked my OB about the pregnancy glucose screening test, he said that he was not concerned with me having gestational diabetes because I have no risk factors. He said that he can almost guarantee I will not have gestational diabetes, but due to the less than 1% chance of me having it, just because doctors don’t want (the liability) to be sued, they have to recommend testing all pregnant women. He stated that 40 years ago they wouldn’t have even tested me for gestational diabetes because I have no risk factors. Before 1973, pregnant women were only screened for gestational diabetes and not tested unless they had risk factors.

Risk factors for Gestational Diabetes Include:
– Family history of gestational diabetes
– Prior diagnosis of pre-diabetes or diabetes
– Overweight

Can You Refuse The Glucose Screening Test?

Yes, as with any tests or procedures, you can refuse it or ask to use a natural alternative to glucose drink. I would definitely ask your OB or midwife about using an alternative glucose drink if you don’t want to drink glucola. They may be more open to it than you think, such as with my doctor.

Why Do They Want You To Drink Glucola Instead Of Eating 50 Grams Of Sugar?

The drink makes it easier for doctors and patients as it is a pre-made drink with an exact amount of 50 grams of sugar. When you eat or drink other foods in place of it, it makes it harder for doctors to determine if you had the exact 50 grams of sugar. However, for conscientious patients, it is an easy task to determine what foods or drinks to consume that contain 50 grams of sugar. Finding natural alternatives to the glucose drink is actually very easy! Many fruit smoothies contain nearly the exact 50 grams of sugar amount.

What’s In Glucola?

The drink contains artificial flavoring and preservatives. These include; dextrose, food starch modified, glycerol ester of wood rosin, brominated soybean oil, FD & C Yellow # 6, sodium hexametaphosphate BHA and sodium benzoate.

Study Shows consuming 50grams of sugar instead of glucola is just as effective with less side effects

A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that jelly beans were an effective alternative to the 50 gram glucose drink (glucola) when used to test for gestational diabetes. There was no significant difference in the one hour serum glucose levels for those that had jelly beans instead of glucola. The jelly beans were preferred by 76% percent of patients in the study. There was also 38% less side effects reported with the jelly beans compared to the glucola drink.

Natural Alternatives To Glucose Drink – Glucola

You can really have any sugary food or drink as an alternative to the glucose drink, glucola as long as it contains 50 grams of sugar. Or you can have a combination of foods/drinks that will bring you to the 50 grams of sugar level.

Just prepare ahead of time, days before the test, by looking at food and drink labels to decide what you’re going to have and make sure it contains close to the 50grams of sugar level.

It doesn’t have to be perfectly 50 grams of sugar, just as close to that as you can get.

For my pregnancy glucose screening test, my alternative to the glucose drink was a fruit smoothie and muffin, which together was about 50 grams of sugar. This was much more appetizing than drinking glucola – a sugary orange drink, especially when you’re already nauseous from pregnancy.

  • This is the fruit smoothie I drank. It contains 49grams of sugar. So, it’s a perfect alternative to the glucose drink. That’s all you need to have because it is close enough to the 50grams of sugar level, which makes it easy! I drank half of it (25grams of sugar) along with muffin (25grams of sugar).

Also, for someone like me that never drinks sugary drinks, it was a better option. Over the last 10 years, pretty much, the only drinks I have are water, lemon water or tea. For people that are used to drinking soda and all kinds of sugary drinks, drinking glucola may not give them as many side effects as it would for me.

How To Talk To Your Doctor About Using Natural Alternatives To Glucose Drink – Glucola

Your doctor may be more open to you using an alternative to the glucose drink than you think. I was very relieved when my doctor approved of me using an alternative to glucola. When I went to my doctor’s appointment, I brought a printed out copy of the study to show him (although I never had to take it out). I felt confident that I was well informed about alternatives to glucola and that there was research showing that it was effective.

My Results With Using Natural Alternatives To Glucose Drink

I was glad I opted for using natural alternatives to glucose drink, glucola. It was much easier for me to get down a smoothie and have a muffin as opposed to the glucola drink (which made me nauseous even just thinking about something similar to soda)