Diary of a Pregnancy Nutritionist – Weeks 4-6
Trimester 1: weeks 4-6
Even though this pregnancy was planned, I was still extremely surprised, as I had taken a couple a early pregnancy tests that turned out to be negative. In fact, the only reason I took another test was because I was due to have my first COVID vaccination the next day, and I wanted to check one last time if I was pregnant before having it, as I was still unsure about the risks involved with the vaccine and pregnancy. I was definitely expecting another negative, so it was a shock to see the positive result!
A difficult decision
This now brought up the issue of whether getting the vaccine during early pregnancy was safe, as I had been hearing stories about miscarriage and vaccination. As I had an early pregnancy miscarriage in 2020, I felt I needed to be extra cautious. This led to weeks of me sifting through media articles and scientific papers. It was completely overwhelming. I spoke with my GP about my concerns, and she assured me that the vaccine was not linked to any pregnancy issues such as birth defect, and that it did not appear to increase the risk of miscarriage, however there was still limited research around the vaccine in the first trimester and that I should make my own decision about it. This led to me delving more into the literature and clinical studies, analysing the results very carefully, and from what I could see, there was in fact no association of increased miscarriage risk following vaccination.
Furthermore, the pregnancy guidelines had now been updated to specify that the vaccine was safe for all stages of pregnancy, including pre-pregnancy (planning pregnancy). I was so relieved after I had completed all vaccine doses, got through the first trimester, and had an ultrasound showing a healthy baby. It’s such an uncertain time and knowing your choice could affect your baby makes the decision so much harder, especially when there is just so much misinformation on the internet and spread via word of mouth.
Time to cut down on caffeine
Cutting out coffee is a real struggle for me, especially with two toddlers. I NEED that morning coffee to start my day. And the afternoon coffee is what gets me through the rest of the day and bedtime routine (which is hectic!). But my intake is too high for pregnancy, so it’s time to wean off. This is a struggle, as I’m left feeling extremely tired and grumpy. I start by reducing the strength of my coffee and cutting out the second one for the day or replacing it green tea (which has a lower caffeine content). Getting through the afternoon is hard, and sometimes having a decaf coffee helps trick my brain into thinking I’m getting a caffeine hit. For me, this is the worst part about being pregnant. I’m also especially concerned about the increased risk of miscarriage which is (and this is research backed) associated with high caffeine intake (the risk is greater the more caffeine you have).
The pregnancy guidelines allow for no more than 200mg of caffeine daily, however new research suggests there may in fact be no safe level of caffeine intake during pregnancy. I just can’t though. I just can’t give up my morning coffee. Seriously. So, I’m very careful in counting my caffeine intake each day to ensure I stay at a safe (or lower risk) level.
Check up with the doctor
The other important step to take in trimester 1, is to have a check-up with my GP. She orders a range of blood tests to check my iron, B12, vitamin D, thyroid function, blood sugar and screening for any infections. As I have been supplementing my low iron with Max Biocare Iron Up for the past few months, my levels were good, although still a little low for pregnancy. So my doctor advised I continue to take a low dose iron throughout my pregnancy, which will be checked again in a few months. As pharmacy brand iron supplements give me a sore stomach and constipation, I’m grateful to have Iron Up which doesn’t cause these side effects . I’m also taking a prenatal multivitamin and omgea-3 DHA/EPA oil.
Keeping it natural
While most of the products I use on my skin and in my home are natural, at times I do get lazy and might use a chemical cleaner or non-natural shampoo here and there (because let’s face it, all the good shampoos are filled with chemicals). However, now I have a growing baby to look after, I’m extra careful about my exposure to toxins.
The first trimester is a critical time for baby’s development. While the vital organs and body parts are developing, it’s important to me to steer clear as much as I can from anything that might have a negative impact on foetal development. This includes products I use to clean the home, as well as everything I put on my skin – haircare, skincare, nail polish etc. It also means, I can’t colour my hair. Now, this is not a guideline, but having a heap of toxic chemicals sitting on my head for 30 minutes absorbing into my bloodstream is not something I want to do during pregnancy. The trouble is, we’ve been in lockdown all year and I have some serious regrowth! I’d love to say I can go the whole pregnancy without colouring my hair, but especially after the year in lockdown and feeling like a yetti, I just want to feel GOOD. So, I’m waiting until I’m through the first trimester and past the vital foetal development stage to colour my hair.
Join me next month for more pregnant nutritionist updates.