Now I've had a couple of weeks to get used to the idea, I've given myself a good talking to and decided that I also now need to get serious about ensuring my baby has the best start possible. This week, I've made some lifestyle changes – some easy and some really difficult.
To begin with, I had my last cigarette four days ago. Admittedly, in the days following the confirmation of the pregnancy, I cut down significantly to one or two a day – no mean feat for a proper 20 a day smoker who's had the habit for the last 17 years or so. I just felt terrible every time I had one – angry with myself, guilty for being selfish and ashamed for being so weak. Now this is just my feelings, ok? This has nothing to do with anyone else's choices – each to their own – we all know what we can and can't live with.
Some women feel that the stress of giving up while pregnant is worse for the baby than the smoking itself and that is their choice. I also don't expect to be awarded some sort of prize for giving up – the reactions to my decision have been very different from non-smokers and smokers – smokers are in the main sympathetic and understanding of how difficult it must be. Non-smokers simply think that of course I should do it – I'm pregnant – what's the big deal?
Well it's hard breaking a habit of so many years, a habit that's been my crutch and my solace in times of stress and celebration, and I have to admit that I've not been the easiest person to be around but I'm getting there. There is no way another cigarette will cross my lips during my pregnancy and I know I have done the right thing for both of us.
The other change I've made is to commence taking pregnancy vitamins. I've opted for a "pregnancy and breastfeeding" multi-vitamin but I'm told the most important thing at this stage is to ingest at least 400mg of folic acid a day. This supplement has been proven to reduce the risk of spina bifida and other neural defects. You can also up your folic acid intake by eating lots of green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach. Speaking of fibrous veggies, I've also been eating a few more helpings of these anyway (as well as prunes and dried apricots) because I've recently been feeling a bit, well, congested in the bowel area. Constipation is one of the first side effects to expect, due to the relaxation of the intestinal muscles. Thankfully, this symptom isn't supposed to last for much longer, but I'm reliably informed that it may well return more definitely than ever in the last trimester!
What lifestyle changes did you make when you fell pregnant?