Experiencing pregnancy for the first time is a whirlwind moment in any woman’s life.
Some of the aspects of a first-time pregnancy are truly miraculous – like feeling your child kick for the first time or hearing your baby’s heartbeat. Other parts can be extremely terrifying. You’ll worry about your finances, making sure your nursery is ready, eating the right foods, and a long list of other concerns that come up because you just haven’t experienced this before.
No matter how many friends or family members you have who’ve gone through the same thing, you’ll still probably feel lost your first time being pregnant.
If one thing is true, it’s that being a new mom-to-be is one of the most overwhelming periods in your life, and you’re bound to make some mistakes along the way. The good news is, you won’t be the first person to mess up.
Take note of these five common mistakes women make during their first pregnancy so you can have a healthy pregnancy.
1. Eating incorrectly
Pregnancy may seem like a great excuse to lower your inhibitions and indulge on more food than usual because you know you’re gaining weight anyway. Unfortunately, “eating for two” throughout your pregnancy endangers both you and baby. Gaining more weight than you should while you’re pregnant makes you susceptible to gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and labor complications if your baby grows larger than he/she should.
Realistically, your body doesn’t require that many more calories when you’re pregnant. In fact, during the first trimester, you should be sticking to your usual calorie count. In the second and third trimester you should increase your calorie intake by only about 340 and 450 calories more respectively.
This being said, it’s also important that you don’t under-eat during pregnancy. You don’t want to endanger your growing baby to malnutrition. This may seem like a tricky line to balance on between under- and over-eating, but as long as you don’t aim for one extreme you’ll probably be in the safe zone. You can closely consult with your doctor along the way to make sure you’re doing what’s best for you and baby.
Bonus tip: There are some foods that should definitely be taken out of your diet during pregnancy for your baby’s safety. Check out this guide to know what foods to avoid.
2. Sacrificing sleep
Between the need to run to the bathroom, added stress, new aches and pains, nausea, heartburn, trouble breathing, and a changing body, it’s no wonder pregnant women have trouble sleeping at night. No matter how challenging it can be, you need to make sure you’re getting the restorative, quality sleep your body needs in this time.
To ensure you’re sleeping properly, you may have to make some changes. If you’re a back or stomach sleeper, it may be time to roll over to your side. Eventually, as your uterus expands, sleeping on your back puts pressure on a major artery on the right side of your backbone and you can experience cold sweats, breathlessness, and even heart palpitations. Sleeping on your stomach will start to feel like you’re resting on a huge ball. Your left side will likely be the most comfortable and healthy position for your rest.
You may have to take larger measures and make further adjustments to get better sleep. Making changes to your diet and water intake can help you avoid extra bathroom trips during the night or bouts of heartburn. If your growing body is the issue, a pregnancy pillow can help you find the comfort you need as your body changes. If you’ve exhausted all your options, it may be a sign your mattress type isn’t right for your new body. Avoid a bed that is too hard or too soft if it doesn’t offer ample support and help you get restorative sleep.
You’ll be sacrificing plenty of your sleep once you have a baby waking you up for feedings each night, so make sure you’re getting the rest your body needs while you can.
3. Skipping exercise
Some women do it out of fear. Others do it due to fatigue. But every expecting mother should try to stay active during pregnancy.
While you shouldn’t be training intensely, you can still exercise lightly to keep your body and your baby healthy. There are countless benefits of working out during pregnancy. Exercise helps increase your circulation, boost your energy, combat stress hormones, sleep better at night, lift your mood, and decrease your risk of labor complications.
You’ll be especially grateful that you maintained a cardio routine and picked up the dumbbells once you get into labor. Working out helps to prepare your body for labor and can even help shorten your time in delivery.
Long story short: Don’t let being afraid or tired stop you from exercising when you’re expecting.
4. Overstocking on supplies
It’s not unnatural to go into nesting mode and want to have a ton of items ready for your baby, but it is a bad idea to go overboard.
It’s not necessary to go out and acquire all of the latest and greatest baby gear. Save those items for your shower registries if you must. But when you’re preparing for your first baby, you should really just focus on the essentials.
If you’re prepared with diapers, bottles, outfits, and a nursery, you’re off to a great start. Be intentional with your purchases too. Everyone is going to be excited to buy cute outfits for your baby, so you may want to avoid buying those if the amount from gifts is enough. Besides, your baby will be quickly growing out of them.
5. Overdosing on prenatals
Yes, you can overdose on vitamins during pregnancy. In your panic to make sure your baby is growing healthily, resist the temptation to take every over-the-counter medication you see recommended all at once.
Taking too many vitamins and pills can have an adverse effect on your baby, especially if you already are on medications for your own health conditions. Consult with your doctor to make sure you avoid any nutritional or chemical imbalances.
Everyone you ask will have a different opinion on how you should be preparing when you’re expecting your first baby. Take precautions, do your research, stay in contact with a medical professional, and trust your body and intuition to do what’s best for you and your baby.
Laurie Larson is a freelance writer from Durham, NC. She writes about living a healthy and happier lifestyle.