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Caring for Yourself in Each Trimester of Pregnancy

First Trimester: Business as Usual (More or Less)

For most of your first month of pregnancy, you're unlikely to notice much of a change in your body or your feelings. In fact, many women (especially women who have somewhat irregular periods) don't begin to suspect they're pregnant until close to the end of that first month. Soon enough, however, the physical changes make themselves felt. This can be a time of wonder and excitement—but it's also the time of your most raging hormone-based symptoms (particularly morning sickness).

The Second Trimester's Activity Spurt

The second trimester, which runs from the fourth to the sixth month of pregnancy, is always a time of increased energy. This is when you run the risk of boredom if you have nothing to do—and is a great time to have some fun before nature stops you in your tracks.

Third Trimester—Time Out

For most of the third trimester you usually can keep pretty active, but you really do slow down in the last few weeks before delivery. You could do worse than to treat yourself like a cat during this time before delivery: Have you ever noticed how cats do nothing they do not want to do. They luxuriate in their laziness and always seem to know something we humans have yet to figure out.

Womanly Wisdom

Use your pregnancy as a time to revel in your womanhood and to try to mature into the role you will soon accept. Get to know yourself as a separate entity, so you can bring all your strength and wisdom to being a mother. You will be better equipped to handle all the situations that come your way.

Here are a few cat-like self-indulgences that can make the final weeks more comfortable:

That last point is really true: If you think you will have the luxury to do what you want when you want after the baby is born, think again. Once you have a baby, you realize that for the next 18 years—and well beyond—you will never again have the luxury of thinking only of yourself. This is not the same as suggesting that you lose your personal identity—it's just a recognition that, in ways different from any other relationship you've ever had, the mother-child tie is lifelong and profound.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motherhood © 1999 by Deborah Levine Herman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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