Last modified: August 2, 2019
Richard Honaker M.D.View Full Profile
Congratulations are in order now that you’re finally pregnant! Remember that the first weeks of your pregnancy are very important. Here are the key stages of your first trimester.
The first trimester starts on the first day of your last period and lasts until the end of week 12. So by the time that you know for sure that you’re pregnant, you may already be around five or six weeks in your pregnancy.
Plenty of things happen during the first trimester. From the fertilized egg rapidly dividing into layers of cells and implanting it in the wall of your womb where it carries on growing, to those layers of cells becoming an embryo.
During the first trimester, your baby grows faster than at any other time. You can usually hear a heartbeat by the time you reach six weeks. And by the end of week 12, your baby’s bones, muscles, and all the organs of the body have already formed. By this time, your baby looks like a small human being and is now called a fetus.
Lifestyle Changes in the First Trimester of Your Pregnancy
There will be some changes that you would have to make now that you’re pregnant. You would need to avoid specific foods and medicines to keep your baby safe and healthy. You would also have to quit drinking alcohol and smoking. And you would need to minimize your intake of caffeine. Remember that caffeine is not just found in coffee, but also in tea, chocolate, and energy drinks.
It’s common for women during pregnancy to go through symptoms like morning sickness, cramps, and indigestion during the first trimester. You don’t need to worry as these symptoms just mean that your baby is growing strong and healthy.
Be reminded that your mental health is very important as well, just like your physical health. It’s only natural to feel some anxiety and stress and it won’t be an ongoing thing. But if what you’re feeling is not normal for you, consult your doctor or midwife about it. They will help you understand your conditions better. Mental health problems that could arise are not limited during the first trimester only but during the entire pregnancy or even after birth.
Before Week 4
Conception is most likely to happen in the middle of weeks one to four if your periods are fairly regular. But at this stage, it’s unlikely that you would know that you’re pregnant. Pregnancy is measured from the first day of your last period instead of the day you actually conceived because it’s not always easy to be sure when was the exact date you became pregnant.
A fertilized egg may have implanted in your womb two weeks ago, but if the first day of your last period was four weeks ago you are officially four weeks pregnant. It might seem odd to think that you can definitely date the pregnancy more recently.
What Would Your Baby Look Like?
The small person inside you is the size of a poppy seed, which means it will look like a dot of about 2mm in size. That may seem small to you but big things are happening. Your baby’s nervous system and heart are developing. Blood vessels and blood starts to circulate. And a string of these blood vessels connects you to your baby, which will later on become the umbilical cord.
As of now, your little dot is known as an embryo. Energy and nourishment are taken from a yolk sac until the placenta takes over in a few more weeks. So your baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid within the amniotic sac. This provides a comfortable cushion for them all throughout your pregnancy.
First Trimester Symptoms to Expect
You may notice some very light bleeding or spotting, also called implantation bleeding. Such bleeding can be caused by your little dot burrowing into the lining of your womb. It usually happens around the time your period would be due. This is actually common during the first trimester.
You may also experience some cramping in these early weeks. These will be like the ones that you have whenever you have your period.
If you notice any bleeding at whatever stage of pregnancy you’re in, it’s very important that you have it checked by your doctor or midwife.
A surge in progesterone can make your boobs feel tender, heavy, and sore. It would almost feel like when you are about to get your period. These are pregnancy hormones that are already preparing your body to produce milk. The tenderness commonly eases off by the end of the first trimester.
Actions to Take as Early as the First Trimester
Stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol, and stop taking street or recreational drugs. If you’re struggling to stop any of these, ask your doctor for some advice on stopping safely. You may also be referred to another professional that specializes in helping people quit.
STIs or Sexually Transmitted Infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and genital herpes can negatively affect your baby’s health either during pregnancy or at birth. If you suspect you or your partner may have an STI, immediately go for a check-up.
Your doctor or midwife can give you information on where you can find the nearest sexual health clinic. You need not worry as nobody will judge you there. It’s more important to get the check-up as soon as possible to determine the necessary steps that need to be taken to maintain your baby’s health.
Take your supplements. There are actually two vitamins that are essential in every pregnancy. These are Folic acid and vitamin D. Folic acid can be found in leafy vegetables, fruits and berries, beans and wholegrain products. It would still be best to take folic acid supplements too at least until week 12. It will help in the formation of your baby’s nervous system and minimize the risk of spina bifida, which is a condition where a baby’s spine doesn’t close up properly.
Pregnant women are advised to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day all throughout your pregnancy until you are still breastfeeding and 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. The latter needs to be taken from before you get pregnant until you are 12 weeks pregnant.
The moment you are sure that you’re pregnant, schedule an appointment with your doctor or midwife to receive any advice that you need and most especially to be checked and booked in for your pregnancy care appointments. Talk about any health issues you have to make sure everything goes well with your pregnancy. Tell your doctor about any medication that you may be taking, especially long-term ones for conditions that are related to diabetes, hormone therapy, heart problems, and others.
If you have an existing mental health condition and are taking medication, immediately notify your doctor and your therapist that you’re pregnant. They will tell you if your medication is safe to take during pregnancy or whether you should take a different form of medication or treatment.
Chances of Miscarriage
One out of five pregnancies ends in miscarriage during the first trimester. This is a definite sad statistic. So if you experience light bleeding, spotting, or stomach pains, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will miscarry. But you should consult your doctor or midwife and ask for advice, just to make sure.
Your tiny baby’s face is starting to form. A nose and eyes are also starting to take shape.
Your Baby Will Look Like…
… a tiny person around 9mm in size like a little fingernail. Hands and feet will be like little buds. Skull bones close around the baby’s tiny brain. The outer layer of the amniotic sac develops into the placenta. The cells grow deep into the wall of your womb, which creates a rich blood supply.
Your placenta will provide your baby nutrients and oxygen through the umbilical cord. It’s composed of three vessels. One is a thick vessel that carries oxygenated blood and nutrients to the baby. Then, there are two thinner vessels that carry blood containing waste-products back into your circulatory system. This amazing lifeline maintains your baby’s health by keeping bacteria and viruses away.
First Trimester Symptoms to Expect
Have you been craving crazy combinations of foods and drinks? Have you suddenly developed a dislike to one of your favorite foods? Cravings are common during pregnancy but don’t panic if you don’t get any. It’s also normal to not have any crazy cravings.
Actions to Take as Early as the First Trimester
Even if you don’t feel pregnant yet, start taking care of yourself and your baby. Research on which appropriate foods you should eat while you’re pregnant. It would be best to start as early as the first trimester. And you don’t need to eat for two. Your body may be working hard to grow a baby but it’s very efficient.
You will only need to add calories in your final trimester, but that will just be 200 calories per day. Deal with your pregnancy munchies by eating small meals often to maintain a steady blood sugar level. If you eat a healthy balanced diet during pregnancy, this will give you more energy and it will make sure your baby gets all the nutrients it needs.
Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat like sausages or minced meat. There’s a risk of toxoplasmosis, which is a small parasite that lives in raw meat, soil, and cat poo. This can be harmful to the baby. Stay away from unpasteurized milk and dairy products because aside from an increased risk of toxoplasmosis, there’s also listeriosis and Campylobacter. Avoid eating liver and other foods containing vitamin A because too much of vitamin A can harm your baby.
Stay away from pate, even vegetable pate because of listeriosis. This can cause severe illness in a newborn baby. Keep away from mold-ripened soft cheeses and soft blue-veined cheeses to prevent listeriosis. Avoid eating undercooked ready meals, raw eggs or undercooked eggs, and certain kinds of fish that have high levels of mercury.
It’s definitely possible to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet during pregnancy. Just remember to make sure that it’s varied and that all the food groups are included.
Limit your intake of caffeine. Try the decaf variant, fruit juice, or just water.
It is absolutely vital to consult with a doctor before doing or trying anything new during your first trimester of pregnancy. Your OBGYN can give you the professional advice you need to ensure you and your baby stay healthy during the entirety of your pregnancy.
If you have pregnancy questions, you can also talk to a doctor online for free today . . .
Submitted by Dr. Richard Honaker: http://www.independentmedicalexaminer.com/IME-Directory/Virginia/Dr-Richard-A-Honaker-MD.asp
Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.