While every woman, and pregnancy, is unique, our first trimester pregnancy checklist will see you through the basics from the time you find out you’re pregnant right through to the second trimester.
By the time you’ve missed your first period and your pregnancy test is positive, you’ll be two, or more, weeks pregnant. If you’re having fertility treatment, your pregnancy may have been confirmed earlier with a blood test.
Your first step is to decide who you would like your healthcare provider to be – obstetrician, gynaecologist, doctor or midwife – and where you would like to have your baby.
Book your first appointment. If you need to take time off work, give yourself at least two hours in case you’re kept waiting, and because your first appointment is longer than usual. Your healthcare provider will take a full obstetrical history and run a few tests. You will be given a follow-up date to get these results and a schedule of regular appointments.
Your health and personal care
- No more alcohol, smoking or over-the-counter medicines without speaking to your healthcare provider first.
- Early pregnancy can play havoc with your teeth. If you’re struggling with morning sickness, brush your teeth after vomiting or chew sugar-free dental gum. Use a good-quality toothpaste, floss your teeth regularly and buy a soft-bristled toothbrush to help with tender or bleeding gums.
- Focus on eating a healthy diet.
- Get into the habit of taking your multivitamins and minerals every day.
- Empty the fridge of sugar-loaded drinks, soft cheeses, raw fish and processed cold meat.
Chemical and germ hazards
The first trimester is when your baby’s vital organs are developing. Chemicals and viruses are especially dangerous. Avoid these by:
- Getting your partner to clean the cat litter
- Wearing gardening gloves when working with soil
- Avoiding chemicals – especially if you’re a hairdresser, lab technician or working in a chemical factory.
Breast changes are one of the first signs of pregnancy. It’s important to wear a comfortable, well-fitting bra, so you may need a bigger cup size at the beginning of each trimester.
Dealing with early pregnancy symptoms
Early pregnancy can leave you surprisingly exhausted. This lack of energy may be nature’s way of slowing you down, keeping you away from the crowds (and germs) and giving your body the chance to focus on growing your baby. There’s no harm in bowing out for a while. Energy will be restored in your second trimester.
Including your partner
Your second appointment with your healthcare provider may well include a scan. Bring your partner along for this special occasion – it will help him feel part of your pregnancy and he will have the chance to meet your doctor and ask questions.
PBS (porridge-brain syndrome)
Elevated hormone levels during pregnancy may make it seem as if your brain is turning to mush as you find yourself forgetting important things. Buy yourself a little notebook to jog your memory, or use an app on your phone as a daily reminder.
Don’t be surprised if one day you’re bursting with happiness because you’re pregnant, but the next you’re throwing pots at your partner because he got you into this situation. This is when you need a bestie who has worn holes in her motherhood T-shirt and can offer a shoulder to cry on and some reassuring words.
At the close of your first trimester your baby, about the size of your thumb and weighing about 19g, is still tiny, but is fully developed. This means that, although complications can still arise, your pregnancy has been given the all-clear, and now is the time to start getting paperwork in order.
Medical aid and insurance cover
Contact your medical aid to clarify what your policy covers. Ask them about ICD (international classification of diseases) and procedure codes, and keep a record of these codes where they’re easily accessible. Clarify
what’s covered under childbirth, baby care and complications.
Providing you have been contributing to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), mothers can claim up to six months unemployment benefits (after birth/stillbirth/adoption). Forms can be downloaded from the department website or collected from your nearest Labour Department centre. You can also pay a private company to check that all forms are correct and submit them on your behalf.
Documents you will need:
- 13-digit certified ID document or passport
- Form UI.2.8 banking details
- Form UI.2.7
- Form UI.2.3 registration
- Medical certificate from doctor or birth certificate of baby
- Form UI.4
Finances and other paperwork
- Find out about maternity benefits from your company’s HR department or your boss.
- Ask about outstanding annual leave – will you be paid out or can this be added to your maternity leave?
- Make sure all debit orders are going through.
- Check licences and annual renewals in case they coincide with your baby’s due date (when you’ll be needing at least six weeks recovery time).
Top tips for the first trimester
- Only tell immediate family and close friends about your pregnancy when you’ve had your first scan or have reached the second trimester.
- If you have a child in school, tell the staff so you can be informed about viral infections and communicable diseases.
- Have a full bladder when you go for a scan, which will make the picture of your baby clearer.
- Make a list of questions – you’re guaranteed to forget them when you see your healthcare provider.
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