"I Can't Believe It. I'm Pregnant!"
All I kept saying was, "I can't believe it. I'm really pregnant."
We were going to have our own little baby and become a family. I wanted to tell the whole world. I was so thrilled and excited. I know some people say you're supposed to wait until after the twelfth to thirteenth week, but I couldn't help myself.
I'm from a big Catholic family. My mom and dad had four girls and one boy, and all my sisters and my brother had had children. I knew I always wanted to have kids. Having a family was the most important thing to me. I never wanted to be just a career woman. Jeff is from a big family, too; he's one of five kids. So we couldn't imagine life without building our own family.
There were already lots of grandchildren on both sides, so my family was never pushing me to have a baby. It was usually my friends. I share everything with my sisters, so of course this was a "big topic." Even before I went to the doctor, I called my sisters and told them the pregnancy test was positive. They screamed! They were so happy for us. Since I talk to my sisters almost every day, they got the details of both pregnancies, and I mean everything -- so let me share it with you!
One of the fears I shared with them was having to get into a leotard for my work. But guess what! Some of my biggest career accomplishments and successes came while I was pregnant. So if you are a career woman, don't worry that motherhood will interrupt your career path. It won't. In fact, it will probably make you a more efficient, as well as happier, person. Nurturing a child will bring you the greatest rewards, and love will never seem richer.
If you think you're in love with your husband now, just wait until you experience the complete joy of having a child together. It will enrich both your lives and your marriage.
After I took the home pregnancy test, I went to the doctor for a blood test. It was positive. Wow! I'm going to be a mother. Now it was for real. He gave me my due date, which was August 11. I thought to myself, well, that would give me six weeks to get back into shape after delivery because I was scheduled to begin filming my television show on October 1.
Like you, I had hundreds of questions for the doctor; he also had questions for me. He wanted to know about my medical history. I told him everything I knew, and fortunately there was nothing in my family background to suggest I would not have a healthy baby or healthy pregnancy.
My biggest concern was whether I would be able to continue exercising and keep up my travel schedule while filming my television show. Would it be safe to do aerobics? I didn't want to do anything that would harm my baby, and I even told my doctor I would quit my job to have a safe pregnancy. He assured me that I did not have to stop everything. I could continue my regular 30-minute-a-day exercise routine and continue traveling as long as everything was going well.
In fact, research by James F. Clapp, M.D., the world's foremost researcher in the area of exercise and pregnancy, has documented that exercise can reduce labor time by two hours. Exercise during pregnancy can decrease the incidence of C-section by 24 percent, reduce the usage of forceps by about 14 percent, and help babies have higher APGAR (responsiveness) scores when born. Dr. Clapp was also recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics documenting that children of women who exercised when they were pregnant had significantly higher general intelligence and better language skills! Exercise is not only healthy for the mother but also important for the child's future.
One detail researchers now suggest is that obstetricians be aware of whether you were a premie. According to a recent University of Utah study, women born before thirty-seven weeks' gestation have nearly a 20 percent greater chance of delivering prematurely -- and the risk more than doubles for women born before thirty-two weeks. Since premature births account for nearly 70 percent of newborn deaths of otherwise normal babies, it's important for your doctor to monitor you. So remember, tell your doctor everything!
I continued exercising on a regular basis, and kept up my schedule. The good thing is, I gave up junk food right away and made every calorie count. That's what I can help you do, too.
You -- and your baby -- are worth it!
Many women say they know they are pregnant almost from the moment they conceive. I didn't know. I even thought I felt menstrual cramps. My period was always "on time," so when I was just one day late I ran out and bought the home pregnancy test. But I still felt a slight bit of cramping those first few days after I knew I was pregnant.
Did you know...that cramps signal a change in the uterus? The placenta begins growing before the baby does and is the first functioning organ of the fetus. For the first three weeks of pregnancy (before you even realize you have conceived) only the placenta grows -- the embryo stays just two or three layers of cells. In addition, some women may even spot a little during this time. This is quite normal.
Fetal growth begins after this stage. Cells in the placenta stimulate production of progesterone from your body, which is needed to maintain the pregnancy.
The placenta is not completely attached, so if you haven't taken the best care of yourself yet, don't worry.
There were other changes.
By eight weeks I was having morning sickness that lasted well into the afternoon and evening. On and off, for the next four weeks, the nausea continued. Mostly it was dry heaves; I never actually threw up. I ate so much bread and noodles and carbohydrates just to make me feel better. I felt as though I had a permanent hangover, and the bread would soak up the acid in my stomach. The thought of spaghetti sauce or anything with tomatoes would make me gag. Tomatoes are high in acid and acid made me queasy. I remember not being able to stand the smell of broccoli cooking or hamburger meat. I discovered ginger actually helped and ate ginger snaps and put ginger root into my fruit smoothies. Ginger tea is also soothing to the stomach.
Antinausea tip...To calm a queasy tummy, try a simple fruit dish of chopped crystallized ginger mixed with a teaspoon each of honey and lime juice, mixed with watermelon balls. It's so refreshing and can be stored in an airtight container and snacked on during the day.
I also tried root beer, which one of my friends swore by, and sometimes it helped. And it has no caffeine.
Keep crackers everywhere: on your nightstand, in the car, and at work.
Did you know...that research now shows that as few as three cups of a caffeinated beverage a day may increase your chances of having a miscarriage and may place the fetus at risk for growth retardation and increased heart rate? Caffeine encourages dehydration, which is a way to lose water-soluble vitamins. Because caffeine is an acid, it promotes calcium secretion in the urine.
I kept eating rice, whole-wheat bread, and plain pasta noodles to feel better, and sometimes it worked. I also gained five pounds, very quickly. Don't be afraid to gain weight. Hormones are stored in body fat.
Fresh air always made me feel better. A walk around the block cleared my head. I often felt nauseated riding in the car. I couldn't sit in the backseat. I had to drive or be in the passenger seat. I would always open up the car window. Jeff would be freezing, and I would say, "But I need fresh air."
Even that winter, I opened the windows of my house every day for several hours to get fresh air.
I've been eating oatmeal and Raisin Bran cereal for dinner every night for the first three months. I'm afraid I'm not getting enough nutrients for the baby. Help!
Don't worry. If you are concerned enough, ask your doctor. But the baby will get enough nutrients during these first few months without overloading on calories. You don't need to eat a lot more, just one hundred to two hundred calories extra per day, depending on how active you are.
You will need one hundred more calories if relatively sedentary, two hundred more calories if exercising fifteen to twenty minutes.
To calm my stomach, I also began eating smaller meals instead of concentrating on three main ones. To keep your blood sugar and energy levels up, try snacking during the day on wholesome foods.
Decide now how you want the rest of your life to turn out. Pregnancy is a time of hope. Believe you can have more than you do, and you will.
FIRST TRIMESTER EATING TIPS
* KEEP DRY CRACKERS ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND AND EAT A FEW BEFORE YOU GET OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING.
* EAT SMALL AMOUNTS OF BLAND FOODS THROUGHOUT THE DAY.
* IF IT DOESN'T APPEAL TO YOUR SENSE OF SMELL, IT WON'T APPEAL TO YOUR STOMACH.
* TAKE YOUR PRENATAL "HORSE PILL" AT NIGHT OR SPLIT IT AND TAKE HALF WITH BREAKFAST AND HALF WITH DINNER.
* TAKE FOLIC ACID.
* TRY SUCKING ON A NATURAL LICORICE DROP OR BLACK LICORICE CANDY. IT WILL SOOTHE YOUR STOMACH.
* CEREAL IS ALWAYS A GOOD BET, EITHER WITH SKIM MILK OR DRY. CHEERIOS IN A PLASTIC BAG CAN BE A QUICK SNACK. OR A PIECE OF SWEET FRUIT, LIKE A RIPE PEACH, WEDGES OF CANTALOUPE, OR CUBES OF WATERMELON.
I haven't had any morning sickness at all. Is there something wrong?
No! My sister Donna felt great in her first trimester and actually worried that her pregnancy wasn't normal. But she just delivered a healthy baby boy and never once felt any morning sickness. (Lucky her!) Remember, every pregnancy is different, and every woman responds differently to hormonal changes in the body.
PREGNANCY IS A time to play it safe, especially in the crucial first few months. Do me a favor and call your doctor if you have any questions. It will be a tremendous relief for you and everyone around you. Promise me you will never feel embarrassed: you deserve to know.
TIPS FOR A WORRY-FREE PREGNANCY
Pregnancy is a time of excitement, but also of caution. I get many letters from pregnant women asking if certain things are safe to do, and not just exercise and diet. Remember, ask your doctor if you have any concerns. But there are a few guidelines to follow:
If you or a family member have exotic pets like lizards, snakes, or other reptiles, check with your doctor about handling them. Many health care providers warn that they carry infections (like salmonella).
Avoid the use of pesticides and fumigants, and also avoid contact with flea collars and insecticide strips.
If you must use a spray, wear gloves and keep windows and doors open.
Avoid oven cleaners and dry-cleaning agents.
Have someone else in the family change the kitty litter box; cat feces can contain a parasite that causes a rare but serious blood infection, toxoplasmosis.
Most doctors recommend that you postpone having X-rays of any kind during pregnancy.
Wash produce before eating.
Don't exercise outdoors on overly humid or smoggy days.
If you live in a farm area, or drink from a household well, make sure the water has been tested, especially for pesticides and nitrates.
Avoid eating shellfish or fish caught in contaminated waters.
FIRST TRIMESTER HEALTH QUESTIONS
Q. What are the changes I should make in my diet during the first trimester?
A. Common sense tells you to give up caffeine, alcohol, and, of course, smoking and drugs. Don't take aspirin or antibiotics without consulting your doctor.
Here's a way to calculate your due date: Count back three months from the first day of your last period, then add seven days to that number. Or just ask your doctor.
You will need extra calcium, found in milk or skim milk, low-fat cheeses, and low-fat yogurt. Your doctor will likely give you a food chart at your first visit and a prescription for a vitamin supplement. It's important not to skip meals or starve yourself.
Time is something you can never get back. It's more valuable than money. Focus your time on happy, upbeat, healthy activities. Take time out to spend with friends now, especially ones who are not married or do not have kids. Let them know they are important to you and will be important once the baby arrives.
Copyright © 1999 by Denise Austin