Pregnancy Calendar

First Trimester

Body Changes | Self Care | Second Trimester

Self Care

Work
Many women continue working through pregnancy. Staying active might help you stay healthier. If you have a question about the safety of your particular job, talk with your health care provider.

Nutrition and Weight Gain
What you eat isn't only important for your own health anymore, but for the current and future health of your baby. Healthy foods are the building blocks for your growing baby since pregnancy is a complex time of developing new tissues and organs. Throughout pregnancy, try to make most of your food choices healthy ones. Eating junk food during pregnancy leads to too much weight gain without meeting your increased need for nutrients.

Key Food Groups: Always remember that you are eating to nourish your baby, and choose a variety of foods from the daily Food Guide Pyramid. Also, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should have at least three servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese to meet their calcium needs. They should also eat more breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, and meat and meat alternatives - up to a total of 2,200 or 2,800 calories. Try to have three meals every day, or six smaller meals if you have problems with nausea or heartburn.

  • Protein-rich foods build muscle, tissue, enzymes, hormones and antibodies for you and your baby. They also have B vitamins and iron, which is important for your red blood cells.
  • Carbohydrates (breads and cereals) give you energy, iron, B vitamins, some protein, and other minerals. Try to eat whole grains (like whole wheat bread) because they have more vitamins and fiber.
  • Milk and other dairy products have calcium, which you and your baby need for strong bones and teeth. Milk and diary products also have vitamin A and D, protein, and B vitamins. Vitamin A helps growth, resistance to infection, and vision. Pregnant women need 1200 to 1500 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day. Try to have nonfat milk and milk products to lower your fat intake. Other sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds, salmon and sardines (with bones), and tofu.
  • Fruits and vegetables with vitamin C help you and your baby to have healthy gums and other tissues, and help your body to heal wounds and to absorb iron. Examples of fruits and vegetables with vitamin C include strawberries, melons, oranges, papaya, tomatoes, peppers, greens, cabbage, and broccoli. A variety of fruits and vegetables also add fiber and other minerals to your diet, and give you energy. Plus, dark green vegetables also have vitamin A, iron, and folic acid.

Water: Water plays a key role in your diet during pregnancy. It carries the nutrients from the foods you eat to your baby, and also helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, excessive swelling, and urinary tract or bladder infections. Most importantly, drinking enough water, especially in your last trimester, prevents you from becoming dehydrated which can then lead you to have contractions and premature, or early labor. Pregnant women should drink at least six to eight ounce glasses of water per day, and another glass for each hour of activity. You can drink juices for fluid, but they also have a lot of calories and can cause you to gain extra weight. Coffee, soft drinks, and teas that have caffeine actually reduce the amount of fluid in your body, so they cannot count towards the total amount of fluid you need.

Folic acid: Folic acid is the most vital nutrient pregnant women need. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects (defects of the spine, brain, or their coverings) and other birth defects like cleft lip and congenital heart disease. By making sure you consume at least .4 milligrams (mg) of folic acid every day before getting pregnant and during the first three months of pregnancy, you can help reduce the risk of these defects. Folic acid is found in dark-green leafy vegetables (like spinach or kale), beans and citrus fruits, and in fortified cereals and bread. But to make sure you consume enough folic acid, it is best to take a daily vitamin that contains it. At your first prenatal visit, your health care provider will talk with you about taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid and iron.

Iron: Iron is needed to fuel hemoglobin (a type of protein in red blood cells that helps take oxygen to body tissues for energy and growth) production for you and your baby. Iron also helps build bones and teeth. A shortage of iron can cause a condition called anemia. Most women do not have symptoms of anemia, but some might have extreme fatigue. Your health care provider can check for signs of anemia through the routine blood tests that are taken in different stages of your pregnancy. If you have anemia, your health care provider will give you iron supplements to take once or twice a day. You can help prevent anemia by eating more iron-rich foods like potatoes, raisins, broccoli, leafy green vegetables, whole-grain breads and iron-fortified cereals.

Smoking, Alcohol, and Drugs
By taking good care of yourself during pregnancy, you're also nurturing the new life inside of you. Quit smoking if you smoke, since smoking during pregnancy passes nicotine and cancer-causing drugs to the fetus. Smoke also keeps your baby from getting needed nourishment while in your uterus, and raises the risk of fetal death and premature birth (a low-birth weight baby born too early). Quit drinking if you drink alcohol. The amount of alcohol needed to cause problems in your baby is not known. But, drinking every day, drinking large amounts of alcohol once in a while but not all the time, or drinking with when you are out with friends or at a party, all have been shown to have harmful effects. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any medications or drugs, since some can be harmful to your baby's development. Only take drugs or medicines prescribed or approved by your health care provider. You should never take illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, speed (amphetamines), barbiturates, LSD, and others. Talk with your health care provider right away if you need help with quitting smoking or drinking, or a drug habit. You can also get help with alcohol and drugs by talking with a member of your faith community, a counselor, or a trusted friend.

Bathing
Baths and showers are fine to take during pregnancy, but very hot baths, hot tubs, and saunas can be harmful to the fetus, or cause you to faint. You also might want to avoid taking frequent bubble baths or baths with perfumed products that might irritate your vaginal area, and increase your risk of a urinary tract infection or yeast infection. Do not use douches, even vinegar-based douches, without first talking with your health care provider. Although vaginal discharge tends to be heavier during pregnancy, you should see your health care provider if you have vaginal itching, burning or a heavy discharge. You could have a urinary tract infection, yeast infection, viral or bacterial infection that needs treatment.

Exercise
If you have no medical problems with your pregnancy, regular physical activity (30 minutes per day, most days of the week), can help you have a more comfortable pregnancy and labor. It also helps to lower your risk for having pregnancy problems like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. And you will have an easier time getting back into a healthy body shape and weight after the birth. Normal, low-impact activities, like walking and swimming, that don't involve a lot of bouncing, stretching your muscles to their greatest extent, or deeply bending your joints, are good for you. Because your connective tissues stretch much more easily during pregnancy, high impact or high resistance exercises that involve a lot of bouncing and extreme muscle stretching can increase your risk of joint injury. If you haven't exercised regularly before becoming pregnant, you can still begin an exercise program. Just start slowly and progress gradually. Talk with your health care provider first about what types of exercise or activities are best for you.

Your Mouth and Teeth
A pregnant woman's teeth and gums need special care. We know that pregnant women with gum disease problems are much more likely to have premature babies with low-birth weight. This may result from the transfer of bacterial microbes in the mother's mouth to the baby during the third trimester of pregnancy. The microbes can reach the baby through the placenta (a temporary organ joining the mother and fetus which supplies the fetus with blood and nutrients), through the amniotic fluid (fluid around the fetus), and through the layer of tissues in the mother's stomach.

Sexual Relations It is fine to have sexual intercourse throughout your pregnancy unless your health care provider tells you not to. Some women who have had miscarriages have to avoid sexual intercourse during the first three months. You should contact your health care provider if you have any of the following symptoms during sexual intercourse:

  • Pain in the vagina or abdomen
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Leaking of water (amniotic fluid) from the vagina