< During this week you will likely discover you are actually pregnant. Seeing the positive sign on the test is confirmation that your journey into motherhood has begun. Implantation of the fertilized egg onto the wall of the uterus occurs during this week. You may experience slight cramping and/or spotting when implantation happens, and many women report feeling as if they are starting their period (breast tenderness, nausea, and abdominal bloating are common). The implanted egg divides into two parts, which become the placenta and the embryo. The developing embryo causes an increase in the amount of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCg). HCg helps maintain the uterine lining, and is the chemical that makes the pregnancy test positive.
Many women decide to keep a pregnancy journal to record what is happening to them as they go through the changes of pregnancy. Some options include online journaling, recording a video, or just writing in a notebook. Include your thoughts and emotions, as well as your physical symptoms—pleasant or unpleasant. You can also keep lists of any ideas and future plans for yourself and your baby. Record what is going on in your life and in the world during this time. Journaling can provide you with a way to stay in touch with all you have been through and make you realize all you have yet to experience!
A Mom’s Suggestion: Schedule an Appointment with your Doctor or Midwife.
Your first visit will usually be set for the eighth or tenth week of pregnancy, although some doctors (and midwives) prefer to see you sooner. You may want to write down a list of concerns and questions to ask at your first appointment. If you don’t have an obstetrician, or would like to see a midwife, ask your gynecologist and friends for referrals. It’s important to feel comfortable with the person you will be spending a lot of time with for the next nine months!
Fast Fact: Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles can weaken and stretch during childbirth, so doing these special exercises during pregnancy and after birth will help keep the important pelvic muscles strong. To do a kegel exercise, pretend you must stop urinating quickly (you’ll feel a squeeze), count to ten and then release. It may feel awkward at first. Try not to squeeze your buttocks or hold your stomach in while doing them. Experts suggest doing a few a day until you feel stronger—then aim for three sets of ten a day.
Q&A: Laura Roe Stevens, Parenting Editor for DivineCaroline, researches and interviews experts to find answers to readers’ questions.
Q: I drank alcohol before I realized that I was pregnant. In fact, I was a bit tipsy the night we conceived. Will this hurt the baby?
A: According to the FDA and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), no level of alcohol intake is considered safe for the baby. What is important, however, is that you stop drinking now that you know you are pregnant in order to avoid fetal alcohol poisoning.
According to the CDC, each year between 1,300 and 8,000 babies in the United States are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which can cause a combination of physical and mental birth defects. Sarah Maddison, MD, an experienced obstetrician from Raleigh, North Carolina, says:
“With other things that cause birth defects, called teratogens, early exposure in the first six weeks seems to have an all or none effect. That is to say, if you don’t have a miscarriage, there is no damage. That is not true later on (in your pregnancy), but people who have a few accidental splurges (with alcohol) early on are off the hook.”
Eating For Two: Iron
Iron helps your body make new blood to carry oxygen and nutrients to the baby during pregnancy. Your need for iron will increase 100 percent over your pre-pregnancy requirements. The Food and Drug Association (FDA) recommends 27 micrograms of iron a day when you’re pregnant. If you have too little iron in your diet, you may become anemic. To avoid this, your physician may suggest you take iron supplements, especially if you are a vegetarian. If you are feeling extremely lethargic, discuss this with your doctor— it may be more than pregnancy tiredness and a sign of anemia. Note: iron supplements can make you constipated—so eat those apricots and prunes and drink lots of water! Here are some foods that are high in iron:
- Lean red meats (beef sirloin, lean ground beef, ground chuck)
- Green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale, bok choy)
- Beans (black, pinto, navy or kidney beans, chick peas, lentils, black-eyed peas, tofu)
- Whole grain bread and cereal
- Brown or converted rice
- Dried fruit (apricots, raisins, prunes)
- Enriched pasta
Amrit’s Vegetarian Lentil Chili
- 1 cup uncooked lentils, rinsed and drained
- One (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- One (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- One green bell pepper, chopped
- One medium onion, chopped
- One carrot, chopped
- One garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Boil lentils in a medium saucepan with 4 cups water. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes, until the lentils begin to soften.
2. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and continue to simmer about forty minutes, until the lentils are tender.
3. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese, or serve over brown rice.
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