The first trimester is the most critical time in your pregnancy. Although the fetus at the end of three months is only about 4 inches long and weighs less than 1 ounce, all of its functions have begun to form — major organs and nervous system, heartbeat, arms, fingers, legs, toes, hair, and buds for future teeth.
This is not a time to skimp on food or count calories. You’re not quite eating for two people, but you do need extra nutrients for your growing fetus. The general recommendation is to eat about 300 extra calories a day. You’ll need to gain 25 to 35 pounds during your pregnancy. This will allow you to nourish your fetus and store nutrients for breast-feeding. Expect to gain at least 3 to 4 pounds during the first trimester.
Exercise is important during the first trimester of pregnancy and helps by:
- Preventing/easing back pain and other discomforts
- Boosting mood and energy levels
- Preventing excess weight gain
- Increasing muscle strength
- Walking helps the heart and lungs work more efficiently with minimal stress on your joints
- Other choices: swimming, low impact aerobics and cycling on a stationary bike
- Strength training exercises; avoid lifting very heavy weights
- Combination of aerobic exercise like swimming or walking and strengthening exercise like yoga
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity, on most, if not all, days of the week
Signs which mean stop exercising
- Chest, leg, joint or stomach pain
- Shortness of breath
- Vaginal bleeding or loss of fluid from vagina
- Difficulty with walking
- Uterine contractions
- Discuss with your doctor before starting any exercise
- Although exercise is generally good for you as well as your baby, your doctor might advise you not to exercise if you have:
- Any heart or lung disease
- Pregnancy related high blood pressure
- Problems related to uterus
- Vaginal bleeding
- History of preterm labor during previous pregnancy
- Multiple pregnancies increasing the risk for preterm labor
Exercises to Avoid
Some exercises are never good during pregnancy. Avoid any contact sport in which someone could injure you or the baby with the force of a ball or her own body. Skip the slopes as you could collide with someone, something or suffer altitude sickness — restricting your baby’s oxygen supply. Put gymnastics, water skiing, scuba diving and horseback riding on hold during pregnancy. The jolts from riding can harm the baby.
Exercising With Caution
Even when you’re just going for a power walk, you need to take more than just your favorite tunes loaded onto your mp3 player. Dress appropriately in a supportive sports bra, loose-fitted clothing and athletic shoes with good traction. Take a bottle of water to stay hydrated. Warm-up beforehand and cool-down after. You should not feel hot or winded. Overheating is especially dangerous in these first three months.