Guide to the First Trimester of Pregnancy

Window to the Womb Guide to First Trimester

You might not look pregnant but it’s very likely that you feel it! That is due to the surge of pregnancy hormones getting your body ready to host baby for the next nine months. You could be in line for a few aches and pains, from fatigue to flatulence. We know you might be less than thrilled with some of these symptoms but remember that these discomforts are only temporary and they’re a part of the amazing process that is happening inside: you’re growing a human!

How Long is the First Trimester?

The first trimester starts on the first day of your last period and lasts until the end of week 12. This means that by the time you know for sure you’re pregnant, you might already be five or six weeks along! A lot happens during these first three months.

Baby’s Growth During the First Trimester

In the first trimester alone, your baby changes from a single fertilised call (a zygote), to the embryo that implants itself in your uterine wall, to a peach-sized bundle of growing limbs and body systems. Organs take shape and baby starts to move. Here are a few of the big highlights happening in this exciting time:

  • Baby’s Bones: By about week 6, baby starts to sprout arms, legs, hands and feet – and fingers and toes around week 10.

  • Hair & Nails: Skin begins forming between weeks 5 and 8, with hair follicles and nail beds forming around week 8.

  • Digestive System: By about week 8, baby’s intestines will begin forming, and your baby will have already gone through two sets of kidneys (with the third and final set on its way!)

  • Sense of Touch: Your baby will have touch receptors on their face (mostly lips and nose) around week 8. By week 12, they’ll have receptors on their genitals, palms and soles of their feet.

  • Eyesight: Optic nerves (which pass information from the eyes to the brain and back) and lenses begin to form by week 5, with the retina beginning to form around week 8.

  • Heart: By week 5, the tube that will become your baby’s heart begins to beat spontaneously. It will become stronger and more regular, and you’ll be able to hear it around week 9 or 10! (Though sometimes later depending on your baby’s position in your uterus).

  • Brain: By about week 8 of pregnancy, your baby’s brain will be wiggling their developing limbs.

  • Sense of Taste: Your baby will have developed taste buds that connect to his brain by about week 8, but they’ll need taste pores before they can taste the surrounding amniotic fluid (which, by the way, tastes like your most recent meal).

Other major first-trimester milestones include the formation of muscles, the production of white blood cells to fight off germs and the development of vocal cords.

Changes in Your Body

A lot happens for you in the first trimester, too. A couple of the most common early symptoms of pregnancy that you may experience are:

  • Morning Sickness: Unfortunately, it doesn’t just strike in the morning – and it picks up by about week 5 of pregnancy. Ginger tea or drops might help, as can small but frequent meals. It it’s severe, you might want to consider talking to your doctor about medications to treat the symptoms of pregnancy-related nausea.

  • Tender Breasts: So tender, so tingly and so big! You might be wondering where your old boobs went by about week 6.

  • Mood Swings: You may (or may not) feel up, then down, then up again by week 7. If you have a history of depression or think it might be more serious, talk to your doctor about getting screened for prenatal depression.

  • Weight Gain: Your baby is still very small which means you only need to gain about three to four points in your first trimester. If you’re suffering from appetite loss, you might even lose a couple of pounds. That’s okay too, as long as your pregnancy weight gain picks up steam in the second and third trimesters. For the moment, just focus on eating frequent light means of any high-density nutritious foods (e.g. Avocados, yoghurt, bananas, whole grain bread or crackers) when you can stomach it.

As your pregnancy progresses this trimester, you may experience plenty of other pregnancy symptoms – heartburn, constipation, metallic taste, food aversions and headaches. Hang in there, the second trimester will offer some welcome relief! Don’t forget that every woman is different, so just because your mum or sister reported cramping or frequent urination doesn’t guarantee either symptom will happen to you too.

Symptoms to Have Checked Out

With all of the changes going on in your body during pregnancy, you may woman what’s normal and what’s not. In many cases, the odd twinge is not a cause for concern. However, it is also important to understand that the risk for miscarriage is at the highest during the first trimester. Here are a few symptoms that do always warrant a call to your doctor:
• Heavy vaginal bleeding
• Severe abdominal pain
• Sudden thirst
• Painful urination
• High temperature, chills and/or backache
• Severe puffiness in the hands/face
• Vision disturbances

If you experience any of the above, call your midwife right away. If you have no success on the phone, head to your local hospital.

First Trimester To-Dos

  • Start a Pre-Natal Vitamin: If you haven’t already, start taking Folic Acid immediately as it has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

  • Visit Your GP: They will put you in contact with a midwife. They will then go through your medical history, arrange your first tests such as blood type, urinalysis, any infections and then will set up your first ultrasound. This confirms a heartbeat and dates our pregnancy and confirms things are progressing as they should. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask!

  • Consider Genetic Tests: You’ll be offered a nuchal translucency screening to look for Down syndrome and congenital heart defects.

  • Make a Budget: Growing your family is an excellent – and necessary – time to re-evaluate your monthly expenses.

  • Eat Right: Now’s the time to cut down on caffeine, as well as learn which foods to avoid and which to feature in your pregnancy diet, so you can stock your kitchen! Try to get 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

  • Start Thinking About Baby Names: If you don’t have a baby name in mind, it’s never too early to start tossing around ideas.

  • Plan to Announce Your Pregnancy: Think about how and when you want to tell your friends and family the good news, and if and when you’ll announce it on social media. Most woman wait until the end of the first trimester to do so, when risk of miscarriage is lower. And if you’re employed, start thinking about when to tell your boss your pregnant. Do your research in advance to understand your company’s maternity leave policies.

Window to the Womb also offer Early Pregnancy Scans between 7-15 weeks at our Newcastle & Surrey studios. Please check our website for more information.