Your First Pregnancy is an Exciting and Challenging Experience

Your first pregnancy is an experience to be treasured and enjoyed, but of course that doesn't mean that being pregnant is worry-free. Most first time mothers-to-be have a lot of questions about pregnancy: what's the best pregnancy diet for a first pregnancy? When can I expect to have morning sickness, and how bad will it be? What are the early signs of pregnancy? There's a ton of pregnancy help on, so take the opportunity to become better informed and feel more in control of your first experience of being pregnant.

Preparing For Your First Pregnancy

Whether you're trying to conceive "naturally" or undergoing fertility treatment to help you with getting pregnant, there are a number of ways to prepare for pregnancy.

A good diet is required for pregnancy and for women's health in general. If you're overweight, then a healthy diet combined with a sensible exercise routine will help you shed some pounds and even boost your fertility. Furthermore, women who're interested in getting pregnant should take folic acid supplements. These help to prevent birth defects in babies.

You should quit your bad habits, such as smoking and excess drinking. Both these activities can reduce your fertility, and both are dangerous to babies in the womb.

Many couples also attend preconception counseling sessions with a doctor. As part of these sessions, you'll discuss pregnancy in general, your medical history, and the potential impact of your lifestyle on fetal development. You'll also undergo certain tests to assess your reproductive health. Preconception counseling is a good way of predicting and preventing pregnancy problems, such as thyroid function disorders.

Early Signs Of Pregnancy

A missed period is the classic early sign of pregnancy, but other symptoms may appear even before your period becomes overdue.

Pre-Missed Period Symptoms

These include:

- A drop in your temperature on the day on which the fertilized egg implants in the uterus - this happens 8 to 10 days after ovulation, which usually takes place around mid-cycle)

- Implantation bleeding - pink or brown bleeding or spotting caused by the implantation of the fertilized egg. Again, this usually takes place around 8 to 10 days after ovulation.

- Cramps in the lower abdomen around the time of implantation, as well as possible hot flashes.

Not all women experience these pre-missed period symptoms. The missed period itself is the most reliable indicator of pregnancy. After you've skipped a period, a home pregnancy test can confirm whether or not you are indeed pregnant. After a positive pregnancy test result, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.

Post-Missed Period Symptoms

So now that your period is late, what are the other early signs of pregnancy?

By the time you are 5 weeks pregnant, you should be experiencing some of the early pregnancy symptoms described below...

- Discomfort in the breasts - tenderness, swelling, fullness, heaviness

- Fatigue (caused by rising levels of progesterone, falling blood sugar levels, low blood pressure and increased blood production during early pregnancy)

- Changes in appetite - cravings for certain foods and aversions to others

- Headaches

- Bowel problems - typically constipation

- Mood Swings

- Fainting and dizziness

- Consistently elevated basal body temperature (your oral temperature first thing in the morning)

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is the pregnancy symptom that all pregnant women dread. Everyone has heard of it, but not everyone knows that morning sickness may strike at any time of the day or night. Some women suffer more than others from nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. You may be lucky and experience only mild morning sickness.

Morning sickness can begin two weeks after conception and last right the way through the first trimester of your pregnancy. It should dissipate once the second trimester begins.

Morning Sickness Relief

The best way to relieve mild morning sickness is not to skip meals, but to snack lightly throughout the day on foods that you find appealing. Avoid spices, strong tastes and odors. Listen to your body, if the sight or smell of a certain food makes your stomach feel uncomfortable, don't eat it. If your morning sickness is severe, see your doctor.

How Pregnant Are You?

Now that you're experiencing your first pregnancy symptoms and you've had a positive pregnancy test, you may not be sure just how pregnant you actually are. Pregnancy symptoms can begin to appear after just a 2 week pregnancy, but by the time you're 5 weeks pregnant the symptoms should be in full swing.

Unfortunately, the variable nature of pregnancy symptoms means that they're not the best measurement for determining if what you have is a 2 week, 3 week or 4 week pregnancy - it's best to leave this to a medical expert.

Of course you probably have a reasonable idea of when you got pregnant, but a doctor's estimate will be more accurate. He or she will ask you questions and carry out tests and a physical exam to determine the length of your pregnancy and the date on which you're due to give birth.

Pregnancy Diet And Pregnancy Weight Gain

Weight gain during pregnancy is a concern for many women. Most women worry about putting on weight, but it's actually necessary for a healthy pregnancy - within reason. Pregnancy weight gain varies, but somewhere in the range of 25 to 35 pounds is considered safe and healthy.

If you're overweight at the beginning of your pregnancy, you may be advised to aim for a smaller pregnancy weight gain. You and your doctor should track your weight gain as your pregnancy progresses. Your doctor will let you know if you're on target.

Doctors recommend weight loss during pregnancy only in cases where a woman is very overweight at the beginning of the pregnancy. It's always best to lose weight for pregnancy before you become pregnant.

Your diet during pregnancy should not only be healthy and balanced, but should include only limited amounts of certain foods - such as caffeine. It's also best to avoid raw eggs, non-pasteurized dairy products and large quantities of canned tuna. These may be potentially harmful to your baby. Ask your doctor for a recommended safe pregnancy diet for you.

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