After my last two posts on my first trimester experience (if you missed them, check out Being Superwoman…Later and Grand-parental guidance is advised on my blog), I wanted to share some tips that helped me survive my first trimester and set the tone for the rest of my pregnancy. Without further ado, let’s get stuck in it!
1. First Check Up
So, if you did a home pregnancy test and it showed that you’re expecting just like I did, I’m sure you want to run to Google and find the first gynaecologist in town for a check-up. Initially, I wanted to do this but don’t! It’s best to first confirm the pregnancy with your GP through blood tests. Buy some time and in the meanwhile decide what kind of specialist you want to use (OBGYN, doula, mid-wife or go directly through the hospital). Do your research on what each specialist offers, what type of pregnancy and birth experience you want and most importantly, what can your pocket afford. All these people are referred to as specialists and they also come at a “special” price. This is a marathon, so budgeting is really crucial to a stress free pregnancy.
I chose to use a OB/GYN. I found my gynae through recommendations from my medical aid/insurance. This is one avenue I highly recommend you explore to find your specialist. It helped me so much because I didn’t spend a cent more than my usual medical premium on medical expenses for the entire pregnancy and birth. I explain how I managed this in my next point!
2. Know your medical bills
This was one of my biggest wins. If you’re on medical aid/insurance, before you even book your first appointment with any specialist:
a) Know what each visit/scan will cost
b) Know what you can claim back from your medical aid.
Some specialists charge at a higher rate than the amount claimable from your medical aid/insurance, so you might face paying a monthly premium + co-payments every single time you see your specialist! Many of us assume that since we have medical aid/insurance, all the costs of the pregnancy are covered and this is the biggest mistake. Make very sure what is covered by your scheme.
How I avoided paying any additional medical bills during my pregnancy was by reading my terms and conditions. I am covered by Momentum Health and they have a maternity program which, if used correctly, leads to no additional medical bills. The trick to this benefit is you must register when you are between 8 and 12 weeks pregnant. So, mark your calendar and set your alarm! This will then open up all the benefits mentioned in the program. Now, here’s the part where terms and conditions play, this program works best if you use specialists and hospitals associated with the medical scheme. If you want a certain hospital and a certain specialist who’s not on their associated list, expect to be paying a co-payment. I played by their rules and used an associated gynaecologist and hospital. I was thoroughly happy and felt safe with my gynae and hospital stay. This really gave us the freedom of enjoying the pregnancy without financial stress.
3. Budget for some bloodwork
During your specialist visits, you will be required to do an extensive number of blood tests. This is sometimes not covered in some maternity programs or medical benefits. This is usually claimed through your medical savings (if you have) but if not, it’s a cost you should budget for. Be prepared. Oh and prepare for the pain if you’re not a fan of needles like me.
4. Keeping up with the nausea
The only major side effect I had besides tiredness during the first trimester was nausea. Nothing made those first couple of weeks more horrible for me than the constant nausea I had. To add some salt on the wound, I am not a big fan of medication, mostly because at my very big age I still don’t know how to swallow pills. It’s either I crush them or ask for alternatives from the doctor….yes, judge me. So, if you are like me and you’re not a big fan of medication and struggle with nausea, here are a couple of foods to keep in stock and keep the nausea down:
- Plain crackers
- Rice cakes
- Ginger tea or Ginger ale
- Rooibos tea
During this nauseating time, I made sure I was constantly snacking and ate small meals throughout the day, rather than 3 larger meals. A big must that you should do is to keep hydrated at all times.
If this doesn’t work for you, keep yourself distracted and busy. Usually my nausea would kick up a notch in the quiet moments of my day. And if that doesn’t work… take a nap. You can’t experience something if you’re not conscious!
5. Dressing your new body
The first trimester is quite a difficult time because you’re not exactly ready for maternity wear but your current wardrobe is starting to squeeze in all the wrong places. I would recommend to all expecting moms to not immediately dive in and buy maternity wear, but rather purchase regular clothing which they love in a bigger size. One or two sizes up should do.
This works out because these clothes will have a much longer wear than maternity clothing. You can wear these clothes until your 3rd trimester and you can also wear them right after birth whilst you’re still carrying some baby weight (which will shed off, don’t worry). During your heavier months, you can then supplement with some maternity items to accommodate your growing bump. I am not a fan of maternity wear to be honest, as most stores make it more expensive than regular clothing but no effort is put into make maternity wear anywhere near the word nice. We won’t talk about stylish. It’s very frumpy chic.
6. Over Planning
I read many articles during my first trimester on what to do and most of them had crazy long lists which were overwhelming. For instance, they would suggest you start preparing the baby room, the baby’s name, the hospital bag, etc. in week 8. Woah!
I am all for planning and being organised but I found this stressful, especially as a first time mom and a non-millionaire! The process seemed so daunting and costly! My main aim was to enjoy my pregnancy and now that I am on the other side, I would say, do enjoy the pregnancy and take things easy. Be mindful of the things that baby needs but you have approximately 7 months to get yourself in order, take it step by step. Like I said, this is a marathon with a little human partner. Enjoy it!
If you have any great tips and advice for other moms out there or if you have questions for me and other moms please leave a comment.