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First Trimester: Introduction

So, you’ve found out you are expecting recently? Let us be one of the first to congratulate you on your new addition. Whether you took a urine test or a blood test, you have hCG in your system and a little one on the way. We’d like to take the month of March to tell you everything you might need to know about the first trimester, the first 13 weeks of your pregnancy.

We will cover the first steps to choosing a provider and a place of birth, how to calculate your due date, what to do or not do for you and your baby’s health, and the common complaints of pregnancy and what you can do to help alleviate the discomfort.

Welcome to pregnancy! We hope that everything goes smoothly for you, but we’ll warn you, every baby likes to have some kind of bump in the road to be able to have their own unique pregnancy or birth story. We have yet to meet a woman who had everything happen exactly the way the textbooks describe. So settle in, enjoy your new glow, and join us each day as we explore the ins and outs of the first trimester.

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Initial Pregnancy: A Line and a Half

Reading a pregnancy test can be a nerve-wracking experience. You know the insert says to add the urine and then let it rest for 5-10 minutes, then come back and check it. But how many women can just walk away instead of watching the urine creep across the window and trying to determine if a second line is popping up to match the control line? And then, sometimes, a woman is left with a full, dark control line, and this skinny little partial line next to it. There’s nothing in the insert about that!

That skinny little partial line, no matter how light or faint, is a positive. This might be some of the best advice we were given from a doctor ever, but a line is a line is a line. It doesn’t have to match the control line, it just has to be present in some form or fashion. It may be early and the test is only able to detect traces of hCG, or it may be a test that malfunctioned slightly, but either way, any line in the test window is a positive pregnancy test.

You still need to wait the recommended time and check it again. Some tests have streaking that you can misread for a line if you check right away, or some really do need some time to show up. And don’t forget either, because there is a true window, and if you wait hours and then go back and check the test, it could read a line where there wasn’t one before as the urine dried up. But really, who forgets that they were taking a pregnancy test and goes back hours later to check it? Pregnant women, that’s who!

This post is meant to reassure you, so that you can know with certainty that any partial line is a line. Hope the information helps you as much as it helped us. And if you have a second line, faint or not, we’d love to hear from you.

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Initial Pregnancy: The Best Brands of Pregnancy Tests

So, basically, the title of the blog is deceptive. There is no better brand of over-the-counter urine pregnancy test. They all test for hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in the urine, a hormone that is only produced in the body during pregnancy. Some brands may test a day sooner than another, according to the packaging, but we have found that the cheapest generic brand is just as sensitive as the expensive name brand.

The first major difference in urine pregnancy tests is in the testing method. If this matters significantly to you, then choose the brand that you feel is the most user friendly. Some tests come with a little pipette for collecting the urine from a cup and dropping it onto the tester, while others have a stick that you place directly into the stream of urine. The pipette method means that you will need to supply your own clean cup for catching the urine, but the stick method often comes with a little bot of overspray onto your hand. Pardon our sense of humor, but we just had to use this meme here. Either collection method is effective.

The test display is the second major difference between brands of pregnancy tests. Some tests have the control line, which always turns solid, and then a test line, which will display only if the test is positive. Others form a minus symbol (-) when negative and a plus symbol (+) when positive. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Ally once used one of these tests and all she got as a result was a capital “L.” There are newer, even more expensive tests on the market with an LCD display that reads either “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” You will need to decide how comfortable you are with reading your tests results when deciding which test to purchase.

All that being said, the results from each brand of test will be similar, so long as the test is performed within three days of a missed period. In every brand, there will potentially be a test that just doesn’t work, a reject of the production line that somehow made it onto the shelf. So, if you think you are pregnant, and the first test doesn’t show positive, wait a day or two, try a different brand (or the same brand with a different lot number), and make sure to use your first morning pee because it tends to be the most concentrated.

If you find out you are pregnant, give us a call. We’d be happy to talk with you about your journey and get to know you better. Unlike pregnancy tests, all providers are not the same and you will want to find someone that meets you exactly where you are.

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Initial Pregnancy: Dizziness

Dizziness, or light-headedness, is an often overlooked sign that you could be expecting. This can occur at any point during the day, but more frequently it happens when you change positions from sitting to standing, when you have prolonged times of standing, or while taking a hot shower. Combined with another one or two of the early signs of pregnancy that we have talked about this month, it is a good indicator that it’s time to take a pregnancy test.

Dizziness happens during early pregnancy for two common reasons. The first is that hormone progesterone. It helps to relax everything in the body and when it works its’ magic on blood vessels, it can cause enough of a drop in blood pressure to make you feel light-headed, dizzy, or faint. The second culprit is low blood sugar. If you are especially lucky to have a difficult time eating or holding down any food during early pregnancy, it is possible for your blood sugar to drop low enough to cause dizziness, light-headedness, and even some mental confusion.

These symptoms will be discussed again in a blog post in March and we will talk about the prevention of dizziness and ways to combat it once it begins. If you are currently pregnant and experiencing this, feel free to reach out to us and we will gladly share what we know with you.

If the lyrics “You spin me right round, baby, right round…” are swirling in your head, or you have been having episodes of light-headedness, it’s time to see your provider and make sure that a pregnancy test is one of the first things they perform.

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Initial Pregnancy: Quickening

Okay, so maybe this doesn’t happen at the very beginning of a pregnancy, but for some new mothers, this is one of the first signs they notice when they are expecting. Quickening is one of those fancy words we learned in midwifery school, but it really just means feeling those first flutters in your belly as your baby wiggles around. For some women, this can happen as early as 10 weeks, and some women don’t feel any movement until week 16. The exact time that you will be able to feel your baby’s movements depend on a lot of factors, such as where the placenta is located and how many other children you have that you have to pay attention to. Seriously, we felt each baby a little later than the previous ones because we were too busy to notice.

We’ve heard it before, that women have felt their baby super early, and someone in their life responds with “it’s probably just gas.” Well, you’ve felt gas before, and if this is a new sensation to you, then you’re right, you’re feeling little tiny rolls and punches from the human in your womb. By 18 weeks, most women are feeling movement daily, even if it’s just hiccups, and by 20 weeks, most women can not only feel, but see the movements from the outside of their belly.

So, if you are far enough along that one of your first signs of pregnancy is alien movement inside you, it’s time to see your provider, that way you can listen to a heartbeat as well.

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Initial Pregnancy: Congestion

If you feel stuffy, congested, or like you may be coming down with a cold, there is actually a chance that you could be pregnant. Weird, huh? This time, though, we won’t blame progesterone. The likely culprit this time is the hormone, estrogen. Estrogen increases blood flow to the tissues, including your nose, and it also causes thickening of mucus membranes. These two put together cause your nasal passages to feel smaller, but with an increasing amount of drainage. What fun!

Pregnancy congestion affects over a third of pregnant women at some point during their pregnancy, and it’s often one of the very first signs of expecting. To make matters worse, allergies can flare up with pregnancy, and so now your nose is on an even greater overdrive. Keep the tissues handy, and be gentle when wiping. Having a raw nose isn’t comfortable at all!!

Of course, next month, we will discuss natural remedies for your stuffy nose, but if you are experiencing it now, reach out to us and we’ll fill you in on any and everything you can try.

So, if you are congested and seem to have no other reason to be, and there’s a possibility that you could be expecting, you might want to take a test.

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Initial Pregnancy: Food Aversions

Oh man, we remember this one clearly. A great early sign of pregnancy is strong food (or smell) aversions. You know, the one where just the thought of a particular food is enough to make you queasy. It’s always interesting to us how, once again, listening to your body is one of the best choices you can make.

While there is no proven cause of food aversions, although I’m sure those raging hormones have a lot to do with it, we like to think of them as your body’s way of protecting itself and your unborn baby. Food aversions are most commonly towards meats, fish, eggs, and dairy, foods that, if not prepared well, are common causes of food poisoning. Other food aversions are to foods that may not be beneficial to your body. I have yet to hear of a pregnant woman having a strong food aversion to a raw carrot or her favorite fruit. However, I commonly hear of women who turn green at the smell of coffee or vomit at the thought of touching raw chicken.

Amanda has known she is pregnant whenever she has an aversion to seafood. It truly is one of her favorites, yet at the beginning of each pregnancy, something about seafood made her nauseated, so much so that she couldn’t stand to be around it. I guess it was a match made in heaven that her hubby was allergic to shellfish.

While the focus of this blog has been food aversions, smell aversions are just as strong. Again, smell aversions are commonly to toxic fumes, such as cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and strong perfumes. Not only do pregnant women think these things smell gross, they have a much more visceral reaction, literally a turning of the stomach and potential to vomit.

So, if you have been totally turned off by some strong smells or foods recently, ones that typically don’t bother you so much, you might be pregnant!

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Initial Pregnancy: Poor Sleep

To help with the fatigue of early pregnancy, our bodies like to make sure that we are getting very little quality sleep at night. Sometimes one of the initial signs of pregnancy is fatigue during the daytime, but insomnia or frequent waking at nighttime. These two actually work against each other and create a vicious cycle within the body. Not sleeping at well will certainly cause you to be drowsy during the daytime, and when are feeling sleepy, you may either nap or take it easy so much during the day that you conserve too much energy, and then that energy is given back to you when you’d most like to close your eyes.

Poor sleep is most often caused by the changing hormones of pregnancy, progesterone and estrogen. Progesterone can cause respiratory changes that cause more frequent waking. Your changing body and growing uterus cause more pressure on your bladder, prompting you to get up at least a hundred times a night to potty. (I don’t really think I’m overexaggerating here either.) As pregnancy progresses, it becomes more and more difficult to find a comfortable resting position. The list can go on, heartburn, nausea, and anxiety top the list as predominant reasons for sleep disturbances in pregnant women.

Stay tuned in March, or reach out privately, to learn about some great ways to help your body get better quality and quantities of sleep during pregnancy.

So, if you find that you are exhausted but are having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, you could possibly be pregnant!!

Stay tuned in March, or reach out privately, to learn about some great ways to help your body get better quality and quantities of sleep during pregnancy.

So, if you find that you are exhausted but are having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, you could possibly be pregnant!!

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Initial Pregnancy: Amenorrhea

Amenorrhea is just the fancy word for missing a period. We all know that this can mean the beginning of a pregnancy, but it is not a perfect indicator. For this reason, it is still considered a presumptive sign, one that indicates the possibility of pregnancy. Missing your period is a great time to take a pregnancy test, though, to either confirm or rule out a pregnancy.

But let’s explore why it’s not a perfect indicator. Missing a period can happen for a multitude of reasons that have nothing to do with pregnancy. Stress is one of the key reasons for a late cycle, and if you are stressing about whether or not a pregnancy has been achieved, missing that period can really mess with your mind. Exercise and diet, with resulting weight loss, can also lengthen your cycle or even make it disappear for awhile. Other possibilities that could make your period late would be illness, hormone imbalance, birth control, premature menopause, and a few others.

It can go the other way too. Some women who are pregnant experience just enough bleeding to trick them into thinking a period has occurred, even when a tiny baby is growing inside them. Most of the time this bleeding is harmless, often from implantation, the baby making it’s home against the wall of the uterus. It could also be from increased blood flow to the area and activities like sex can cause a small amount of bleeding.

So, yes, it is a great sign to make you aware of the possibility but amenorrhea is not the end all, be all of pregnancy signs. It is merely a guidepost along your journey.

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Initial Pregnancy: Introduction

Woohoo! It’s February! This month, we will be covering initial pregnancy. Pregnancy is such a strange condition because there are a million possible symptoms and you may experience all of them or none of them. And this can change from pregnancy to pregnancy within the same family.

It used to be that symptoms were the only sign of pregnancy and the only way to have it confirmed was a doctor’s visit. With the easy availability of pregnancy tests now, women don’t have to use their symptoms very often to determine if they are pregnant, but it’s still nice to know if what you are experiencing is “normal” for early pregnancy.

So join us this month as we explore a lot of the signs and symptoms of early pregnancy, share some of our stories, and wait to hear yours. We’re really excited about this one!!

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