Congratulations! If you are reading this article, chances are you must already be a few weeks pregnant. Firsts are always special, and they do come with their own moments of thrill, joy, anxiety, skepticism, and confusion. Relax, it is normal to feel so, especially, when your body is overwhelmed with a surge of hormones and mind with myriad emotions. This post is the first part of Our About Your Pregnancy Series, which is a trimester-based series where you will find information about what you should expect in various stages of your pregnancy. You will find answers for all your hows, whys and what-ifs? Read this post to get answers to all your questions on the First Trimester of pregnancy.
As you are reading this, you may not look pregnant yet, but chances are you’re already feeling it. That’s because a flood of pregnancy hormones is prepping your body to host the baby for the next nine months. Be prepared for some aches and pains and slight discomfort but believe me when I say it is going to be worth the incredible process that is happening inside you: You’re nurturing a life!
Since most of us have variable monthly cycles so when you miss your cycle for the first time, you may not realize that you are pregnant. In fact, many women don’t realize that they are pregnant even in the 4th week of pregnancy and it is perfectly normal.
First Trimester of Pregnancy
How long is the First Trimester of Pregnancy?
The first trimester lasts from Week 1 to Week 13 of the pregnancy. The first week is considered to be only a technical pregnancy and not the official one because in the first week, the doctor calculates the first day of your last monthly menstrual cycle (also called as LMP) and it is from this day that your nine month or 40 weeks pregnancy term is calculated. Calculation of LMP gives an idea about the expected delivery date.
Very Early Signs of of Pregnancy?
The body changes during pregnancy may vary in each individual but there are a few common changes that you may experience in the first few weeks of pregnancy which are a good indicator that a new member may be added to your family soon.
Here is a list of symptoms that might give a signal to go ahead and take a pregnancy kit test:
1. Missed Period: The most obvious pregnancy sign is a missed period, but a missed period doesn’t always mean a baby is on the way. Stress, diet, or an irregular schedule can also be the cause of this false alarm. So it’s best to wait for at least a week after a missed period before you take your pregnancy test.
- Cramps and Tender Breasts: You might feel cramps in lower abdomen and breasts will feel tender and hurt when pressed. This happens because body prepares the breasts to produce milk in later stages. However, you might not notice the tenderness if you have been on birth control pills.
- Darkening of areolas:For many women, hormones can cause the areolas, the circles around nipples, to widen and darken during pregnancy. This occurs as the body prepares itself for breast-feeding.
- Spotting: About five to ten days after conception, some women may notice light spotting when the embryo implants in the uterus. This happens when uterus shed its lining through vagina to facilitate implantation of embryo. This may be mistaken as a light period by some ladies. Hence, if you’ve had a very light period this month, you might still be carrying a little bundle of joy.
- Increased urination or constipation: When you’re pregnant, your uterus presses directly on the bladder leading to more frequent urination. This added pressure and changes may also cause constipation.
Of course, as the pregnancy progresses and baby grows, the uterus expands and presses against the bladder and other organs. However, that happens in the later stages.
- Nausea or Morning Sickness: About 80% of women feel nausea in the morning during the first trimester of their pregnancy. This happens due to a sudden surge in hormones. While for many women morning sickness isn’t confined to the morning they may feel it all day long, some women may tend to feel nausea in late evenings.
- Fatigue: Feeling very tired is one of the first and most common signs of being pregnant. It takes a lot of energy to create a baby and the frequent throw-ups, not being able to eat properly, lack of energy adds up to this fatigue. However, if you are pregnant, expect this tiredness to lessen by the 12th week when the placenta is fully formed.
- Sensitivity for smell: Many women have an increased sense of smell during pregnancy. This symptom is one of the most common early signs that you could be pregnant. For some, the smell of some peculiar dishes like Dal or non-veg may cause nausea. However, smell sensitivity may vary from woman to woman.
- Unusual hunger or cravings: Pregnant bodies are working hard to grow that baby inside you. It requires close to 300 extra calories every day. Your body needs a constant supply of energy due to which you might feel hungry all the time. Some women find themselves craving food that they would never normally dream of eating while some may not experience anything of this sort.
- Headaches and lower back pain: The frequency of migraine headaches can increase with pregnancy. Lower back pain is a very common symptom in pregnancy which can alleviate the passage of trimesters. This usually occurs due to the pressure being built up on lumbar areas.
- Mood swings: With the upsurge in hormones, it is common to experience irritability throughout pregnancy. The emotional mood swings are caused due to the adjustment of the body according to the varying levels of hormones in the body.
- Feeling dizzy or fainting: Shifting hormones, combined with the need of the heart to pump more blood through the body can cause blood pressure to gradually decrease early in pregnancy. As a result, many women experience episodes of dizziness or feeling lightheaded. Lack of nourishment may also be a cause behind fainting or dizziness.
Baby Development in the First Trimester
While you now know what is happening to your body when you get pregnant. I am sure you want to know what happens to the little life inside you. Here’s a week wise brief about how your little baby grows inside you during the first trimester-
Week 1– You may not be officially pregnant in the first week. Your body actually prepares for the actual conception during this week. Uterus is thickening so it can house and feed your fertilized egg once it implants.
Week 2– If a sperm can make its way to the egg waiting in your fallopian tube, conception takes place. A few days later, you could notice some light spotting. It might look like your period, but it’s actually a sign that the fertilized egg has attached itself to the wall of your uterus.
Week 3– Finally, you’re pregnant! Sperm and egg have officially merged into one single cell, called a zygote. Inside that cell, a lot of genetic activity takes place to decide baby’s gender, hair, personality etc.
Week 4– A sonography may be done now to confirm the pregnancy and your baby may be big enough to be visible on ultrasound now, but just barely. The embryo is smaller than a grain of rice.
Week 5- This week your baby’s tiny face starts to form. Nose and eyes begin to take shape.
Week 6– You can now listen to your baby’s heart beats during sonography. The lungs and digestive system are also starting to branch out, forming the organs that will help your baby breathe and eat in just a few months.
Week 7- Your baby now is almost the size of a grape now. Even though you’re only in your second month, your baby’s body is already forming every organ it will need including the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, and intestines.
Week 8– Here comes a growth spurt and your little one will double in size this week.
Week 9– You can now compare your baby to a strawberry. Baby’s head is still huge compared to the body, but it will get more proportional in the weeks to come.
Week 10- Your uterus is the size of a large orange now, and your baby is around 3cm long. Your baby now has a real profile with well-defined eyes, mouth, and ears. The neural connections in brain start to develop rapidly.
Week 11- First trimester is now approaching its end and your bump may start to show soon. The baby’s head and body will now become proportionate.
Week 12- Everything is now in place – the organs, limbs, bones and muscles are in place and growing. You’ve reached the end of your first trimester — a major milestone! By the end of this week, your risk of having a miscarriage drops significantly, and you might want to start telling friends and family that you’re expecting. By now the baby looks like a fully formed person with more organs developing like fingers with nails, kidney ready to produce urine.
Week 13- Hopefully you’re over any morning sickness you had. Now, you should be putting on weight. Baby bump will now be quite evident.
What to Eat in your First Trimester of Pregnancy?
Eating healthy should be a lifestyle especially more so in pregnancy. During pregnancy, the mother-to-be should consume extra protein and calcium for the needs of the growing baby.
Ensure that your food includes a lot of dairy products, legumes, sweet potatoes, salmon, eggs, broccoli and dark leafy vegetables, lean meat, fish liver oil, berries, whole grains, avocado and lots and lots of water.
Watch out for any foods you are allergic to. Load your meals up with food that will supply folate, zinc, calcium, iron, and fiber to your body. If you are unable to get these five critical nutrients from the food, you eat then don’t forget to consult your doctor for supplements.
Read here How to stay Hydrated in Pregnancy
Do’s and Don’ts in the Initial stages of Pregnancy
The initial weeks of pregnancy is a time of joy and anticipation both. You should keep few things in mind:
- The moment you realize that you are pregnant or if you observe any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult an Ob-Gynae to understand all the essential tests you might need to undergo. These tests are conducted for both the partners and rule out any complications related to genetic diseases.
- Start the intake of prenatal vitamin supplements as advised by your doctor.
- Follow your doctor’s advice and bring any suggested lifestyle changes or dietary habits.
- Don’t take any over the counter medicine. Consult your doctor before continuing any previous medication.
- Drinking alcohol, smoking or having any other drugs is an absolute no for a healthy pregnancy.
What to Shop For in the First trimester?
This is the most exciting part of any pregnancy. In the first trimester, there isn’t really too much to shop for however, you may like to consider buying the following:
- Some good books on pregnancy.
- Comfortable cotton bras.
- Good moisturizer for your skin
- Body pillows to soothe back and neck pain
- Subscription of some good Garbhsanskar music or any meditative music to calm your mind.
You now know what to expect in the first trimester of your pregnancy journey and also how to be prepared. Hope you are able to sail through well in the first important weeks of your pregnancy.
You can checkout this article on Must Have Products in Pregnancy.
Read further about your pregnancy : Second Trimester Pregnancy
Content Contribution : Kriti Gupta