The first trimester is the period that a woman is pregnant for the first time. It begins on the first day of your last cycle — before you're even pregnant — and continues until the 13th week. For both you and your son, this is a time of great anticipation and rapid change.
You'll be more prepared for the months ahead if you know what to expect.
Every woman's pregnancy is special. During the first three months, some women shine with good health, while others are unhappy. Here are some of the changes you can see, as well as what they mean and which symptoms should prompt you to contact your doctor.
During the first trimester, about 25% of pregnant women experience minor bleeding. Light spotting early in the pregnancy could indicate that the fertilized embryo has implanted in your uterus.
Call your doctor if you have heavy bleeding, cramping, or sharp pain in your stomach. These symptoms may indicate a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy, i.e. a pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside of the uterus.
2. Breast Tenderness
One of the first symptoms of pregnancy is sore breasts. They're brought about by hormonal shifts that prepare your milk ducts to feed your infant. During the first trimester, the breasts will most likely be tender.
Wearing a support bra and going up a bra size will help you feel more relaxed. You won't be able to return to your normal bra size until your baby is no longer breastfeeding.
High levels of the hormone progesterone slow down the muscle contractions that drive food through your system normally during pregnancy. When you add in the extra iron from your prenatal vitamin, you're likely to experience painful constipation and gas, which can make you feel bloated during your pregnancy.
To keep things going more smoothly, eat more fiber and drink more water. Physical exercise can also be beneficial.
If constipation is causing you a lot of trouble, speak to your doctor about which mild laxatives or stool softeners are safe to use while pregnant.
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Early in your pregnancy, you can see a thin, milky white discharge known as leukorrhea. If it makes you feel more relaxed, wear a panty liner, but don't use a tampon because it might introduce germs into your vaginal area.
Contact your doctor if the discharge smells unpleasant, is green or yellow, or if there is a lot of clear discharge.
Fatigue is a common occurrence. Your body is putting in a lot of effort to help a growing baby. This means you'll tire out more quickly than normal. During the day, take naps or rest as needed.
Check to see if you're getting enough iron in your diet. Anemia will develop if you consume too little iron, making you even more tired.
6. Altered Liking to Food
While you may not want a bowl of ice cream topped with oreo biscuits, your preferences will change when you're pregnant, contrary to popular belief. Food cravings affect more than 60% of pregnant women. More than half of people have foods they despise.
It's fine to give in to cravings every now and then as long as you consume balanced, low-calorie foods the majority of the time. Pica, a craving for nonfoods like clay, soil, and laundry starch, is the exception, and it can be unhealthy for both you and your son. If you have a craving like this, make an appointment with your doctor right away.
7. Excessive Urination
Although your baby is still small, your uterus is expanding and placing pressure on your bladder. As a consequence, you might feel compelled to use the restroom frequently.
Don't stop drinking fluids; your body requires them. However, caffeine, which stimulates your bladder, should be avoided, particularly before bedtime. When nature calls, respond as quickly as possible. Don't keep it back any longer.
Heartburn is a common complaint. The hormone progesterone is produced in greater quantities during pregnancy. Smooth muscles, such as the ring of muscle in your lower esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth and stomach, relax. Food and acids are usually held down in your stomach by these muscles. Acid reflux, also known as heartburn, can occur when they loosen up.
To prevent a fire, follow these steps:
● Throughout the day, eat a few small meals.
● After you eat, don't lie down right away.
● Foods that are greasy, salty, or acidic (like citrus fruits) should be avoided.
● When sleeping, try raising your pillows.
9. Mood Swings
Increased exhaustion and fluctuating hormones will send you on an emotional roller coaster, ranging from happy to sad, optimistic to terrified in a matter of seconds.
It's fine to sob, but if you're feeling stressed, seek out a sympathetic ear. You can discuss your concerns with your partner, a friend, a family member, or even a specialist.
10. Morning Sickness
One of the most common pregnancy symptoms is nausea. It affects up to 85% of pregnant women. It is caused by changes in your body's hormones and can last the entire first trimester.
Some pregnant women experience only minor nausea. Others can't get out of bed without puking. The morning sickness is typically the worst. Tiny, bland, or high-protein snacks (crackers, meat, or cheese) and water, clear fruit juice, or ginger ale will help you feel better. You may want to do this even before getting out of bed.
Some foods that make you sick to your stomach should be avoided. Nausea isn't dangerous in and of itself, but if it's serious or won't go down, it may reduce the amount of nutrition your baby receives. If you can't avoid vomiting or can't eat anything, see the doctor.
11. Weight Gain
Pregnancy is one of the few occasions in a woman's life that gaining weight is encouraged; just don't go overboard. You can gain between 3-6 pounds during the first trimester. Your doctor may suggest you adjust your weight gain up or down if you started your pregnancy underweight or overweight.
Despite the fact that you're bringing an extra human, you're not eating for two. During the first trimester, you only need an additional 150 calories a day. Add extra fruits and vegetables, milk, whole-grain bread, and lean meat to your diet to get those calories the healthy way.
Your baby develops from a fertilized egg to a fully developed fetus within the first 13 weeks. Many of the main organs and structures are coming into their own. That means if you use street drugs, get sick, or are exposed to radiation, your baby may be harmed. Here's what's going on:
● The fertilized egg divides quickly and implants in your uterus as a cluster of rapidly dividing cells. The amniotic sac, placenta, and umbilical cord all begin to develop.
● The nervous system of your baby develops from an open neural tube to a brain and spinal cord. Nerves and muscles begin to cooperate. Your baby will move on its own, but you won't be able to feel it because it's too early.
● The heart starts to take shape and rhythm. As early as week 6, you can hear it on ultrasound. The formation of red blood cells is underway.
● Your baby's digestive system, which includes the intestines and kidneys, grows.
● With arms, legs, fingers, and toes, the infant begins to resemble a baby. Eyes, ears, a nose, and a mouth are added to their heads. Tooth buds and a tongue grow. Your baby's eyes are covered by eyelids, and by the end of the third trimester, they also have fingernails.
● The genitals begin to grow, but it's too early to tell whether you're having a girl or a boy with an ultrasound.
Your baby will be around 2 ½-3 inches long by the end of the first trimester.
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Many women consider having a child to be one of the most joyous events of their lives. The anticipation is palpable, from imagining the day you'll carry your baby home to deciding on a name and nursery colors.
During the first trimester, however, you must take certain practical measures, such as:
● Select a physician. Do you want an obstetrician or a midwife to deliver your baby? Find out what the health insurance covers and get referrals.
● As soon as you find out you're expecting, make an appointment for a prenatal visit. In the first meeting, you'll cover a lot of ground. The doctor will take a complete medical history and discuss your lifestyle and health habits with you. They'll find out when you're due. You'll also be subjected to blood and urine checks, and a possible pelvic examination.
● Prenatal appointments should be scheduled every four weeks. The doctor will examine your weight and blood pressure, as well as monitor your urine and listen to the heartbeat of your infant.
● Find out what other tests and scans you may need, such as genetic testing for your infant.
● To help your baby's brain and spinal cord develop properly, start taking a prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid.
● Inquire with your doctor about which prescription and over-the-counter medications you can still take safely.
● Examine your diet and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that you and your baby receive enough nutrition. Be sure to drink plenty of water.
● Smoking and illicit drug use are two bad habits to break. Eliminate alcohol and caffeine from your diet.
● Maintain your exercise routine, but pay attention to your body's signals. It's possible that you'll need to adjust the type of workout you do or take it easier.
● Find out how much it costs to have a child and begin making adjustments. Will you be responsible for paying for child care? Can you reduce the workload? Make a new budget to account for the new addition.
● Have a plan for when and how you'll break the news. You may want to hold off until you've heard the baby's heartbeat or passed the first trimester safely. It's also a good idea to hear about your company's maternity leave policies and your rights before telling your boss.
Any of these signs may indicate that something is seriously wrong with your baby. Don't wait for your prenatal appointment to bring it up. If you have any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor right away.
1. Abdominal discomfort
2. Heavy bleeding
3. Severe dizziness and vertigo
4. Weight gain that is too fast or too slow
During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, a woman's body undergoes several changes. Women also begin to be concerned about:
● What do they eat?
● What kinds of prenatal tests should they think about?
● How much weight are they likely to put on?
● What should they do to keep their baby safe?
Understanding the progression of a pregnancy week by week will assist you in making educated decisions and preparing for the significant changes ahead.
During the first trimester, body changes offer plenty to think about, but raising a baby can have an effect on other aspects of your life as well. There are a lot of things to do during the first few months of your pregnancy to help you plan for the future.
Plan carefully about the following additional aspects of life:
● When to let your family members, friends, and employer know
● Where you would like to give birth
● Whether you have a high-risk pregnancy
● How you would pay for medical care
Becoming a mother is a unique and amazing experience and the first trimester has an immense role to play in the progression of pregnancy right till the birth of your child.
A motivated student of Medicine & Surgery (MBBS) at R. G. Kar Medical College & Hospital, Kolkata, having a knack for reading and composing medical literature. When he's not writing content for MEDtalks, Swapnil is usually looking up the latest trends and innovations in Medicine.