You won’t look pregnant yet but it’s likely that you certainly feel it! Pregnancy hormones are surging through your body, getting you ready to cook a baby for the next nine months. You need to be prepared to have aches, pains, twinges, tiredness and gas! We know pregnancy is not the most glamourous time but remember, these symptoms won’t last forever and you’re going on the most incredible journey you could ever imagine. Here is our guide to getting through the first trimester.
How long is the first trimester?
The first trimester starts on the first day of your last period (your LMP) and lasts until the end of week 12. It’s very likely that by the time you discover that you’re expecting, you could be 5 or 6 weeks along. So much happens within the first three months – it’s very exciting.
Baby’s Growth in the First Trimester
During the first 12 weeks, your baby develops from a single fertilised cell (a zygote), to the embryo that implants itself into your uterine wall, to a peach-sized bundle of limbs and body systems. Baby’s organs begin to take shape and baby starts to move! Here are some of the highlights that occur at this exciting time:
- Baby’s bones: By around week 6, baby begins to
grow arms, legs, hands and feet. Their fingers and toes begin to grow around
- Hair & nails: Skin starts to form between
weeks 5 and 8, with hair follicles and nail beds forming around week 8.
- Digestive system: Baby’s intestines will begin
forming around week 8 and your baby will have already had 2 sets of kidneys,
with the third and final set on their way!
- Sense of touch: Your baby will have touch
receptors on their face, mostly their lips and nose, by week 8. By week 12,
they have receptors on their genitals, palms and soles of their feet.
- Eyesight: Optic nerves, which send information
from the eyes to the brain and back again, and lenses begin to form by week 5.
The retina begins to form around week 8.
- Heart: By week 5, the tube that will become your
baby’s heat begins to beat spontaneously. It becomes stronger and more regular
around week 9 or 10. You can hear your baby’s heartbeat during one of our scans
from 16 weeks onwards.
- Brain: Your baby’s brain will be wiggling their
tiny, developing limbs by week 8.
- Sense of taste: Your little one will have developed taste buds than connect to their brain by roughly week 8, but they need taste pores to taste the surrounding amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid will taste like your most recent meal! Yum!
Other huge milestones in your first trimester include the formation of muscles, the production of white blood cells to fight any germs and the development of vocal chords.
Changes to You & Your Body in the First Trimester
So much happens for you in the first trimester. The most common early symptoms of pregnancy that you might experience are:
- Morning sickness: Unlike the name suggests, morning sickness doesn’t only strike in the morning and it generally begins around week 5. Ginger might help, along with small but frequent meals. If you are really suffering badly, we recommend speaking with your GP.
- Tender breasts: So tender, so tingly and so big! You’re likely to be wondering where your old boobs went by around week 6.
- Mood swings: You may (or not) feel very up, then down, then up again by week 7. If you have a history of depression or you become concerned that how you are feeling is more serious than a hormonal change, please speak with your GP.
- Weight gain: Your baby is still tiny at this stage, so you only need to gain about 3 to 4 pounds in your first trimester. If you’re experiencing loss of appetite, you might even most a few pounds. Don’t be worried as long as your pregnancy weight gain increases in the second and third trimesters. For now, focus on eating frequent, light meals of any high-density nutritious food such as bananas or avocados when you can stomach them.
As your pregnancy progresses, you might also experience other symptoms such as heartburn, constipation, a metallic taste in your mouth, food aversions and headaches. Don’t panic, the second trimester will offer you some welcome relief.
Please do also remember that every lady is different, so any symptoms that you have/don’t have can be different your mum, sister or friends.
That being said, it can help to know what is normal and what is not. In many cases, the odd twinge is not a cause for concern however it is also important to understand there are risks during the first trimester. Here are a few symptoms that always require follow up or checking out:
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Severe abdominal pain
- Sudden thirst
- Painful urination
- High temperature, chills and/or backache
- Severe puffiness in your hands/face
- Vision disturbances
If you experience any of the above, call your midwife immediately. If you cannot contact your midwife, head to your local hospital.
Your First Trimester To-Do List
- Start a pre-natal vitamin: If you haven’t already, begin taking Folic Acid immediately as it has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of neural turn defects, such as spina bifida.
- Visit your GP: Your GP will connect you with your midwife. They will also discuss your medical history, arrange your first tests such as your blood type, urine analysis, any infections and then will set up your first ultrasound scan (unless you’ve visited your local Window to the Womb’s firstScan clinic!).
- Consider genetic tests: You will be offered 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: It’s helpful to learn which foods to avoid and which to feature in your pregnancy diet so you’re able to stock up your kitchen. Try to get 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week and cut down on caffeine.
- 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 your exciting news and if you’d like to announce in on social media. Most ladies tend to wait until the end of the first trimester to announce their pregnancy as the risks are much lower. If you’re employed, you’ll also need to think about when you’re going to tell your boss that you’re pregnant. Try to research your company’s maternity leave policies.