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  • First Trimester: Everything You Need To Know About Prenatal Care During COVID-19

    If you got a positive pregnancy test during COVID-19, the first thing to do is not to panic.
    by Rachel Perez .
First Trimester: Everything You Need To Know About Prenatal Care During COVID-19
PHOTO BY iStock
  • The global pandemic has restricted everyone's movement, including doctors and patients who have non-COVID-19 concerns. Particularly vulnerable are pregnant women, and especially those who are expecting for the first time.

    If you've just found our you're pregnant, you're not alone. The first step is to inform your doctor, but don't worry if he or she doesn't schedule you for an in-person consultation yet. Those are reserved for high0risk patients and emergency concerns for now. Teleconsults or online prenatal checkups, however, are equally crucial for you and your baby, so keep in touch with your doctor.

    Preggos are also encouraged to have prescribed diagnostic and laboratory tests done in non-hospital but reputable clinics or centers, due to COVID-19. Still, whenever you go out, act like you, and everyone else is infected. Wear a mask, and wash your hands or sanitize with alcohol frequently.

    Everything you need to start your prenatal care at hom

    Dr. Gino Santos, obstetrician-gynecologist, ultrasonologist, and Lamaze-certified teacher, answers preggos most common questions via the Lunch Lockdown, a series of online webinars by WholeHealth Integrated Health Services (facebook.com/wholehealthph).

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    1. Am I really pregnant?

    "A positive pregnancy test is even more accurate than a negative pregnancy test," says Dr. Santos. Pregnancy tests are generally accurate so long as you follow the instructions that come with the kit. Not all women would need a blood test to confirm a pregnancy.

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    2. How many weeks or months is my pregnancy?

    The easiest way to calculate for your estimated date of delivery (EDD) is by using the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). You just add seven to the date and backtrack three months. This can be your guide until your doctor instructs you to get an ultrasound.

    If, say, your last menstruation is on March 18, add 7 to the date, which is equal to 25. Then, backtrack three months before March, which is December. Your EDD is on December 25.

    A typical pregnancy lasts between 37 to 42 weeks, so based on your EDD, you may give birth two weeks before or after.

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    3. What body changes should I expect?

    In the first trimester? Not too much. You're not expected to gain a lot of weight, and your tummy won't be showing until around five months into the pregnancy. You'll also start to feel your baby's movement only at about four to five months.

    A pregnant woman's body is working double-time to nourish and sustain the developing fetus. But pregnancy symptoms are different for every woman. Typical ones include fatigue and frequent urination since your uterus is expanding and pressing on your bladder. Most preggos also experience an increase in body temperature, having tender breasts, darker body areas, mood swings, and morning sickness or nausea and vomiting. (Click here to read more about pregnancy symptoms and here for morning sickness relief.)

    Only one percent of women may experience hyperemesis gravidarum or extreme morning sickness. "If you're one of the women who does not have morning sickness, consider yourself very lucky, but it doesn't mean you don't need prenatal care," Dr. Santos said.

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    4. What are the instances that I should alert my doctor?

    "Cramping and spotting in the first trimester of pregnancy are two of the most common problems. It's very important to tell your doctor of these episodes," Dr. Santos warns. Be aware and note any spotting or bleeding and discomfort or pain (how much bleeding, is it stopping, how often), and always tell your doctor about it.

    "There are normal occasions wherein some spotting can occur. This is what we call implantation bleeding and can occur around the time when you missed your menses," Dr. Santos explains. "Usually, implantation bleeding is minimal and light. If you're bleeding looks like your menses, that's not normal," he said.

    Some discomfort can occasionally happen, too. But when discomfort turns into pain, your doctor must know about it so he can check on your pregnancy, stresses Dr. Santos.

    5. Do I need a blood pressure monitor, glucometer, or fetal doppler?

    Because of COVID-19, your doctor may ask you to check your blood pressure on your own at home. If it's going to mean not having to go out of your house to have your blood pressure checked, invest in one. Dr. Santos recommends one that takes your blood pressure in the forearm instead of on the wrist.

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    Hold off on buying a glucometer, or blood sugar monitor. Wait till you're diagnosed with gestational diabetes and for your doctor's go signal, advises Dr. Santos. Having a family history of diabetes makes a pregnant woman more prone to developing the condition, but it's not always the case.

    A fetal doppler can start detecting our baby's heartbeat as early as three months. Still, Dr. Santos does not personally recommend buying one. At five months, fetal movement is generally reassuring enough that your baby is doing okay inside, he explains. Talk to your doctor about it. (Click here why most doctors don't typically recommend fetal dopplers.)

    6. What vitamins should I take, medicines I need to avoid?

    "If there's a vitamin or medication you need, it'll be folic acid. As for medications, if it's not absolutely essential, don't take it," Dr. Santos advises. If you find yourself in pain, paracetamol is safe for pregnant women. Avoid decongestants and health supplements that have not been tested for pregnant women. Better to be safe than sorry. (Click here for natural remedies for cough and colds to try.)

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    7. Are there foods or drinks I am not allowed to consume?

    If you can't totally skip coffee, only have one to two cups of coffee at the maximum. As for teas, the darker the tea, the more caffeine it contains. You can also try cutting in half the time a tea bag is submerged in your cup to lessen its caffeine content.

    Levels of mercury in canned tuna should also be controlled, limiting your intake to no more than two cans of tuna in a week. Artificial sweeteners are also okay except for Sweet'N Low.

    Raw food, such as sushi, is a no-no due to possible bacteria it may contain, Dr. Santos says. Soft cheeses, such as brie, fets, blue, are unpasteurized and may contain bacteria, too.

    Avoid alcoholic drinks and tobacco smoke, whether first-hand or exposure to second-hand smoke. If you have cats, have another person clean the cat litter for you, and if you're gardening, always wear gloves and wash your hands before you eat or prepare food.

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    A lot of deliberation was done so even when prenatal visits have been reduced, don't worry. "Surround yourself with positive stories of pregnancy. This is what will empower you," Dr. Santos says. "Trust in your ability to carry your pregnancy and birth your baby. Generations before us have done so successfully without any of the contraptions and extra information," he adds.

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