7 Vitamins and Minerals for a Healthy First Trimester

Are you eating everything your baby needs at this early stage? We’ve prepared a list of vitamins and minerals that are essential for your health and for your baby’s development during the first trimester of pregnancy.

1. Folate

Folate, or folic acid, is of critical importance in stages like pregnancy or infancy, due to its significant aid to rapid cell division and cell growth. Folic acid is recommended during the preconception period – just before and after the moment of conception – as well as during the first trimester. Also known as Vitamin M or Vitamin B9, folate intake is important for preventing congenital malformations and is required in the formation of all bodily cells for both you and your baby.
Rich sources are leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, asparagus and turnip greens. Other folate-rich foods are bananas, avocado, broccoli and fortified grain products.

2. Vitamin D

Intake of Vitamin D increases the bioavailability of calcium. Also called the „sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D can be synthesized by the human body when exposed to sunlight, so enjoy sunny afternoons outdoors as often as possible. Your baby’s spinal cord and bones start developing during the first trimester. It is important to have plenty of Vitamin D during this period, as it helps with the calcification of foetal bones. Foods rich in Vitamin D are fortified milk products, mackerel, button mushrooms and Shiitake mushrooms. Don’t forget sun exposure!

3. Calcium

Calcium is essential in the formation of bones and teeth, as well as for other cellular processes. There is evidence indicating that deficit of maternal calcium can lead to hypertension and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Milk, cheese and yoghurt are the most popular sources of calcium. Other calcium-rich foods include: sesame seeds, soy products (especially tofu), sardines, herring, almonds, flax seeds and Brazil nuts.

4. Iron

Iron intake contributes to the increase in maternal blood volume and is crucial for increasing the rate of haemoglobin. Red meat and poultry, lentils, beans, leaf vegetables, tofu and pumpkin seeds are particularly rich in iron. Iron found in meat, however, is absorbed more easily that the iron found in vegetables.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C prevents infections by increasing the immune response and contributes to the absorption of iron in the organism. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, these are the richest natural sources of Vitamin C. Green pepper, parsley, broccoli and kiwi are just a few of the most popular plants that are rich in Vitamin C.

6. Omega-3 (DHA)

DHA Omega-3 supports the normal development of the foetal brain, which already begins in the 5th week of pregnancy. There is also evidence that Omega-3 fatty acids might play an important role in reducing inflammation throughout the body. DHA Omega-3 is commonly found in marine oils. Sardines, salmon and halibut are a tasty and popular source, but you will also find Omega-3 in flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans and grass-fed beef.

7. Zinc

Zinc helps your body shield from infection and from contracting infectious diseases. Some evidence suggests that adequate levels of zinc in the organism help reduce the incidence of prolonged labour. This is especially beneficial since newborns of prolonged labour can be more agitated and cry more than others. Foods which are rich in zinc include beef, lamb, venison, turkey, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts and green peas. It is recommended to consume zinc rich foods such as seed and nuts in their raw form, where possible.

Keep in mind that you can obtain all these vitamins and minerals from eating natural foods, which is always a healthier option than taking supplements. It’s a good idea to listen to your cravings, yet try to eat a large variety of foods in moderate amounts. Don’t forget to spend time in the sunlight and relax.

The sixth week of pregnancy

By the sixth week of pregnancy, the changes that occurred in both the mother and the unborn child are now visible. The mother is now fully aware that a new human being is growing fast inside her. The future mum’s lifestyle is highly important at this point since the following weeks are a very critical point in fetal development. Therefore, it is more important than ever to stay healthy and avoid smoking, alcohol, medication as well as any other toxic habits that can interfere with your baby’s early development.

Your baby is growing fast, reaching now the size of a small bean. Since its head is oversized and appears bigger than the rest of its body, the basic elements of its face can be distinguished. Your baby’ has now little limb buds that are starting to lengthen into shoulders, arms, hands, and even the beginnings of fingers, which are linked by a tiny membrane. The same happens with the little leg buds which are lengthening into thigh, leg, and foot parts.

Your baby’s heart beats at about 100 to 130 beats per minute, almost twice as fast as an adult’s heart. This means that blood has already begun to move through the main vessels. At this point, intestines as well as rudimentary bronchial buds start developing. The neural tube along the baby’s back is now closed and the cerebral development of the baby is in progress.

Due to the development of joints and first muscle tissues, your baby may experience its first movements by the end of this week. It is however too early to feel these movements, but if you are willing to see your baby’s “aware activity” inside your womb, we advise you to have a baby scan done, perhaps a 4D ultrasound to have a clearer image of your child-to-be, at our London clinic where our highly qualified personnel is more than pleased to assist you.

The digestive and respiratory systems are also developing. Therefore, this period is crucial for the baby’s future evolution. But how do these changes affect you? Definitely, your body undergoes more than just physical changes, so it’s better to know what to expect next.

First of all, you will gradually gain weight but this should not be a reason to worry about because the extra weight you gain during pregnancy provides nourishment to your developing baby, being also stored for breastfeeding your baby after delivery. You may also experience morning sickness, muscle cramps, fatigue, abdominal and pelvic discomfort. These symptoms are frequently similar to the premenstrual syndrome. However, keep in mind that women are different and so are the symptoms!

Mood swings are very common during the sixth week of pregnancy. You may experience extreme mood swings and can feel sad one day and joyful on the other. These fluctuations are normal because the levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone in your body change dramatically, and these changes have a significant effect on your brain’s chemistry.

This is the time to schedule your first prenatal checkup to see if everything is all right. Be optimistic and avoid stress as much as possible, because this period is one of the happiest moments in a woman’s life!

The 5th Week of Pregnancy

Until now, we have talked about the importance of the first trimester of pregnancy and particularly, about the need of your unborn baby to stay in a warm, healthy and serene place, considering the fact that the baby’s vital organs are developing now. Therefore you, as a mum-to-be, have to make sure that your unborn child has everything it needs for a proper development. Technically, you have to follow now several basic rules: start eating a healthy well-balanced diet, live a healthier life, be more responsible and avoid stress. The risk of genetic abnormalities is increased during the first trimester of pregnancy, so pay attention to your lifestyle!

Your baby undergoes a rapid development during the 4th and 5th week of pregnancy: if, at the beginning of the 4th week of pregnancy, it was no bigger than a poppy seed, by the end of the 5th week, it easily reached the size of an orange seed (5 or 6mm). After conveniently settling in its new home, the embryo starts developing a rudimentary placenta while the yolk sac is being gradually replaced by the umbilical cord; both the placenta and the umbilical cord are in charge of delivering nourishment and oxygen to the baby.

Your tiny baby has already formed its head and small buds are signalling the “location” of the future limbs. The heart starts beating for the first time and the neural tube, which forms into the brain and spinal cord eventually, begins to form. This is also the time when the baby’s gender starts developing. However, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of your unborn baby’s gender by the end of the 16th week of pregnancy. Nevertheless, some ultrasounds will be able to pick out the baby’s major developments, such as the ears, mouth and nose. Therefore, you are more than welcome to make an appointment to our London clinic to actually see these changes and to have your pregnancy properly and constantly monitored by our highly qualified physicians.

Except for the early pregnancy signs you’ve experienced by now, your body is not showing yet any major changes so most people won’t be able to tell, by looking at you, that you’re 5 weeks pregnant. However, you should consider starting an exercise routine now. Exercises will help you develop good muscle tone, strength and endurance and why not, manage the extra weight you’ll put on. Choose a safe, moderately vigorous activity you like: yoga, walking and swimming are fine when you’re pregnant.

Also, if this is your first pregnancy, you should pay attention to the hormonal changes you’re undergoing, since they may lead to depression. Do not panic! This may not necessarily happen to you but it’s good to know and the sooner you’ll determine the root cause of depression, the better you’ll fight against it!

You may also notice significant changes in your breasts: they may be tender to touch, sore and even swollen. Spotting, especially at night, is also a sign of pregnancy, indicating that the embryo has successfully reached and implanted into the uterus. However, all mums talk about this period as the most beautiful period of pregnancy because now you’re actually feeling that you’re expecting.

Most parents-to-be chose to withhold this wonderful news until after the third month because the risk of miscarriage is pretty high during this period. Remember: this is your private news for as long as you choose! However, if you’ve decided to share this great news with your friends and family, choose an original manner to do so! We’ll come back later on with several ingenious ways to let the world know that a tiny you it’s on its way!!

 

The first medical examination and the first baby scan

Medical exams, prenatal care as well as the office visits to the healthcare provider are very important because they help to permanently monitor your pregnancy, they are designed to keep you posted on the development phases of your baby and help you, as a mother, to make sure that everything is alright. Contact or visit us anytime at our clinic inLondonto schedule your prenatal appointment.

The prenatal check-up is usually scheduled after finding out that you’re pregnant and, considering its multiple benefits, it’s better to schedule your prenatal check-up as soon as possible.

During your first prenatal check-up, your GP may tell you the estimated due date, may exclude the probability of an ectopic pregnancy, can verify whether you’re carrying more than one baby and can accurately determine the embryo’s gestational age.

Before heading to the medical office, make sure you bring your complete medical history information. This may be records from your previous pregnancies, surgeries or anything you think your doctor or midwife might want. If this is not your first prenatal visit then be sure to let your practitioner know if anything has changed in your medical history since your last appointment. It is essential to present all medical records as well as any other medical-related information (such as medications or vitamins you’re currently taking or you have recently taken) to exclude any possibilities that might affect your pregnancy.

The baby scan is a very important non-invasive procedure (as we highlighted in our previous articles) that allows you to first meet your baby – you may see how it looks like and how it moves, stretches and even smiles at you. This is a unique, bonding experience you will forever cherish in your heart. Therefore, you’re always welcome to come to our baby scan clinic to enjoy these magic moments in a professional, friendly environment.

 

 

The fourth week of pregnancy

The fourth week of pregnancy or the second week after the conception

 

By now you’ve probably learnt that you’re pregnant. Your body have sent you sufficient signals, the pregnancy test has confirmed your hunches and you’ve most likely found a doctor to attend and manage your pregnancy. However, if finding an obstetrician seems quite a problem, we’re welcome pay us a visit to our clinic in the heart of London to have your first prenatal checkup done.

Also, if you haven’t started yet, it’s time to take the prenatal vitamins because the following five weeks are also critical for the development of your future child. Your body is working hard to take care of the new human being developing inside you and therefore, it’s important to drink enough fluids (at least 2l/day); choose water or nutritious drinks, such as skim milk, low-fat milk, 100% fruit juices instead of sodas and coffee.

As you’ve probably found out, during the early stages of pregnancy, and especially during the fourth week, the hCG levels rise drastically. This change of your hormonal balance may cause headaches, faintness, dizziness, flatulence and nausea, especially in the morning, so be prepared and hang in there! Breath mints are sometimes helpful after these unpleasant episodes.

We’re pretty sure that you’ve already started to browse the internet for finding answers to all your questions and it’s almost certainly that you’ve often heard new terms such as the gestational age and fetal age. But…what exactly do these new terms mean?

Gestational age (also known as the LMP – last menstrual period) refers to the length of time since the first day of your last period. So, when the doctor says your gestational age is four weeks, it just means that it’s been four weeks since your last period started.

Fetal age refers to the age of your developing baby, counting from the estimated date of conception. The fetal age is usually two weeks less than the gestational age. Therefore, a four weeks pregnancy means a fetal age of the unborn baby of only two weeks.

Let’s go deeper and find out what’s happening inside you. Don’t be afraid of this technical data! No bigger than a poppy seed, the fertilized egg that will develop into your baby has ended its miraculous journey from your fallopian tube to the uterus. Once conveniently settled in its new home for the following nine months, it undergoes its first major division – the splitting into two groups of cells. The inner group of cells, reaching by now 1-2cm in length and known at this stage as the embryo, will become your baby. The outer group starts forming the placenta, your baby’s lifeline until delivery.  Until the tenth week of pregnancy, the multilayered embryo will grow into specialized parts of your baby’s body: the inner layer will develop into your baby’s digestive system, liver and lungs; the middle layer, will soon be your baby’s heart, sex organs, bones, kidneys and muscles and the outer layer, will eventually form your baby’s nervous system, hair, skin and eyes. Even though, the organs are not completely functional until birth.

In the first trimester and particularly during this period, your future baby is highly vulnerable since it undergoes the critical development stage. Consequently, it is essential to begin your “eating-well and healthy” campaign and to consider a few lifestyle changes. Making positive choices to give up some much loved vices will assist your body to nurture your new baby, as well as minimise the chances of them developing birth defects and/or being unwell after the birth. Bear in mind that smoking, alcohol consumption and medications, either on prescription or over-the-counter, are not recommended! Therefore, the future mum must switch over to healthier lifestyle with good dietary intake, regular exercise and adequate rest along with peaceful sleep.

Right now, the placenta is still forming and therefore it cannot completely discharge all its functions. However, it has already developed two layers and its main role is to provide the nutritive and the respiratory support for your future baby, by means of the umbilical cord, and to protect the baby against numerous harmful factors. The amniotic sac (which fosters the embryo) has formed as have the amniotic fluid and the yolk sac (or the yolk duct). The yolk sac produces the red blood cell and also helps to provide the nutrients to the baby until the placenta will have fully developed and took over this function.

 

As a future mum, you’ll pay a special attention to your pregnancy. We all know that the happiness of a mum is enormous! Well, it’s time to actually feel it and the changes have begun are natural.

Bear in mind that every pregnancy has its own particularities, so don’t worry if some of the moments we presented in this blog are not actually applying to you! Our information is strictly informative and tries to give you a general picture on the development of your future baby.

 

 

How should I prepare for my gender scan?

By the 16th week of pregnancy, you may probably want to know the gender of your future child. The best choice is to have a gender scan. This ultrasound scan is able not only to give you a 95% accurate answer to your question but also to render essential information on the health and proper development of your baby.

We want to be your reliable companion in this wonderful and exciting journey and therefore we thought that several recommendations might be useful for your preparation for having a gender scan.

Drinking water is an essential requirement during your pregnancy. Therefore, we advise you to drink as much liquids as possible, every day starting the week before your gender ultrasound as well as about 20 minutes prior to the scan. The amount of water you have drunk increases both the quantity of the amniotic fluid, leading to an enhanced quality of the images displayed on the screen, and the proper operation of the ultrasound waves.

At the same time, we recommend you to have a sweet juice or chocolate or cake before taking the ultrasound. The sugar will make the baby move and the gender identification will be easier.

Relax yourself! Take into account that you might not find out your baby’s gender at the first baby scan appointment. So, again, relax! At the end of the appointment, whether you know or not the sex of your baby, you should be happy because you’ve just had the first encounter with your tiny beautiful child!

Gender scan is one of the first types of baby scans you can take at this point. It is also a memorable way to share a bonding experience with a new life growing inside you.

The third week

Although you’ve entered the third week of pregnancy and by now you’ve experienced an amalgam of new sensations (tiredness, mood swifts, breast aching, sudden urges to pee every 10 minutes), you may probably have no idea that you’re pregnant. So, now is the right time to visit your gynaecologist. Once with the positive results and especially if this is your first pregnancy, we’re pretty sure that the news overwhelmed you, but whether you are ecstatic or shocked and overwhelmed and your head is probably spinning with a million questions, take a deep breath and think of what you should do next: look for an obstetrician whom you’ll be meeting regularly during the following nine months.
It is the obstetrician who will closely supervise the proper development of your unborn baby, by recommending different types of baby scans, further investigations, vitamins and/or dietary supplements. At the same time, your Ob will monitor your weight as well as any present of future health condition(s) that might affect the health of your baby.
A lot of miraculous things have been going on inside you and although you cannot actually see, your body is now experiencing a series of rapid changes. After the momentous meeting of the egg and sperm, the fertilized egg starts its miraculous adventure: even though it’s very small, about the size of the head of a pin, your embryo, which is just a group of hundreds of cells multiplying and growing madly, is really there! It may be hard to believe, but during this third week of pregnancy, your soon-to-be baby’s brain, heart and even spine column are beginning to develop. But the magic of nature doesn’t stop here: the baby’s heart begin to beat in spite of the extremely small sizes of your baby: 1,5 and 2,5mm.
Now that you’ve found out what is happening with your soon-to-be baby, it’s time to learn something about the changes you may notice to your body. Some women may actually lose weight during this period, especially due to the potential morning sickness and loss of appetite caused by hormonal changes. Some women may also experience twinges and/or small amount of bleeding, especially during the night, as the future baby implants in the cushy uterine lining. So, there’s nothing to worry about! At this point, your scale may show the smallest value of your weight while being pregnant. By the time you come to give birth, the average weight gain may vary between 10 to 16 kg (22 to 35 lbs) out of which 3-3,5kg (6,6 to 7,7lbs) represents your future baby’s weight and about 3 kg (6,6lbs) represents the maternal fat deposits which will help you during the nursing period. However, the amount of weight gained during pregnancy may be higher if you’re carrying twins or triplets. Anyway, keep in mind that every woman is unique so these values may vary depending on a number of factors such as height, body type, pre-pregnancy weight, etc.

Music therapy for dynamic and perceptive babies

Music is one of our best friends, we always know it will be there whenever we’re feeling blue and need a shoulder to cry on or we are bursting with joy.  As Plato said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

Each of us has found at least one song which completely identifies us and which conveys in words or notes our deepest feeling and emotions: (“Music . . . can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.” ― Leonard Bernstein).

Therefore, we strongly recommend the music therapy during your pregnancy. It has been proven that the mothers-to-be who listen to music are less likely to feel the less pleasant moments of pregnancy. Music therapy is also a helpful factor when giving birth and having a more perceptive baby.

Music therapy is a branch of psychotherapy which uses music as a means of communication. Music has been used even since ancient times for curing different diseases and, to that effect, the history acknowledges that Plato was one of the first promoters who discovered and promoted the music therapy. Starting with the 19th century, the music therapy has been used for treating different mental and emotional disorders, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, pregnancy discomfort, etc.

Music therapy may take two forms: an active form, which involves playing a music instrument, and a passive one, which involves listening to music.  Studies have reported that the persons who listen to Mozart, Bach, Beethoven or Chopin are far less stressed, depressed, nervous or anxious.

Music can also help you through the bio-resonance induced by the vibrations of sounds produced by the classic and instrumental music. It can rebalance your energy fields, it can wipe away your stress and tiredness and can significantly change the capacity of your baby to assimilate food through the umbilical cord

In our next articles, you’ll find out several tips for efficient music listening sessions and best playlist suggestions for your pregnancy term.

Nature vs. morning sickness

Although pregnancy may be the best time of your life, it sometimes brings forth some inconveniences, such as the morning sickness (nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, also known as the NVP symptom). Most cases of morning sickness occur during the first trimester of pregnancy (reaching its peak during the 9th and 10th weeks) and last until the 14th to 16th week when the NVP usually clears up. Over 60% of new moms to be do experience this discomfort, which is accounted for by the buildup of the HCG (human chorionic gonadotopin) hormone in your system, also known as the pregnancy hormone.

Although morning sickness usually occurs during morning, NVP can affect you at any time of the day or night, and some women feel sick all day long. Frequently, the morning sickness is accompanied by bouts of nausea and vomiting, to varying degrees, affecting thus the nutrition which is highly important during pregnancy.

However, morning sickness isn’t all bad since recent studies have suggested that mothers who experience morning sickness have fewer miscarriages so there IS a bright spot in the midst of your morning, or in some cases, all day miseries.

What can I do to cure my morning sickness?

We live in a world full of quick and highly-reliable solutions for almost everything. If, for example, a headache is about to ruin my day, all I have to do is to take a pill and wait for a few minutes. However, when it comes to morning sickness, both the doctors and the new moms to be are reticent in using medicines since these may be harmful to your pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Therefore, the natural remedies are one of the safest methods to tackle the pregnancy ailments, without bringing about any unpleasant side effects.

And….we come back to Mother Nature who offers plenty of natural remedies, such as:

Ginger

Ginger is a safe and effective natural treatment for women suffering from morning sickness, during pregnancy. Health care professionals recommend the use of fresh ginger roots: a teaspoon of grated ginger root is steeped in a cup of hot water. You can drink this tasty juice either cold or hot.

We recommend the consumption of ginger during cold autumn or winter days, when you feel the need to enjoy hot drinks; this fact is also acknowledged by the Chinese tradition which considers it as a hot remedy.

If you’re not fond of the fresh ginger savor, you may purchase either ginger capsules, from specialized stores or special ginger candies.

Due to its potential side effects, characterizing all such similar products, ginger should not be consumed for more than 3 successive weeks.

Mint

While ginger is considered to be a hot remedy, mint is a cold remedy. Mint can be consumed as a cold tea, being expressly recommended for pregnant women claiming hot flashes and similar discomforts. Mint flavor can be also found in chewing gum and different sugarless delicious confections. However, in some cases, the strong mint flavor may aggravate the queasiness and nausea.

Roman Chamomile

The Roman Chamomile tea is recommended for digestion problems and for its easeful and healing effects.

Lemon

The lemon is well known for its positive effects against pregnancy nauseas. Sometimes, all you need to do is to smell the lemon rind.  Also, the lemon, mint or mandarin essential oils are very useful in allaying morning sickness.

 

Besides these natural remedies, here are some useful and practical tips:

–          Never skip your breakfast;

–          Eat less and more often;

–          Don’t forget to take your vitamin B6;

–          Don’t eat chocolate or spicy food;

–          Avoid coffee and all beverages that contain caffeine;

–          Exercise as much as you can;

–          Drink water between meals;

–          Carefully choose your sleeping position.

Pregnant during summer? Delicious, healthy and easy summer recipes!

A possible effect of pregnancy is the increase of appetite. Usually, the pregnancy brings about a general appetite, making you craving for everything you see or think of: chocolate, ice cream, different fruits, cakes, etc. or for a specific meal, vegetable or fruit, such as, for example, the water melon.

If you’re pregnant during summer, you may consider yourself lucky because this season teems with fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables, giving you and your baby the opportunity to enjoy a healthy and tasty diet. Tomatoes, cucumbers, marrows, cabbage, green apples, water melons, forest fruits, all fresh and tasty may be eaten during this season. However, all you need to do is to carefully wash them before consumption.

What can be more refreshing and relaxing, in a hot summer day, than a cold, delicious vegetable or fruit juice? And you talk about the orange juice, which is highly recommended for all pregnant women, due to its rich contents of vitamin C and folic acid. It is also rich in potassium which helps to the decrease of the blood pressure, a frequent problem of pregnancy.

Here is one of our healthy, quick and delicious recipes we recommend for summer days:

Frozen fruit yogurt 

Ingredients:

Yogurt

Milk

Fresh fruits or fresh fruit juice

Sugar or saccharin

Ice cream forms

Preparation:

Add yogurt, milk, sugar and fruits in a blender. As long as the resulting cream can be poured in the ice cream forms, the amounts are irrelevant. If the composition is too thick, you may pour anadditional amount of milk. If the fruits you’re using have seeds, you may filter the composition by using a sieve. Pour the composition in the ice cream forms and keep it in the fridge for minimum 2 hours. Bon appétit!