First Trimester: What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Your first trimester is an exciting time when huge changes take place in your body as well as with your emotions. As you begin your journey towards motherhood, here’s what to expect during this time, including how long the trimester lasts for, the symptoms you may experience and your baby’s growth. Take note of the things you need to avoid as well as the positive action you can take to ensure you’re fully prepared for your pregnancy.

What is the first trimester?

As the earliest stage of your pregnancy, your body is flooded with pregnancy hormones. This prepares your body for the incredible changes that will happen during the 9 months as your baby grows inside you.

How long does it last for?

Your pregnancy lasts for 9 months and is split into three trimesters, each of which has distinct differences when it comes to the changes that both you and your baby experience. The first trimester starts at conception although, as it’s often hard to tell when this was, it’s usually counted from the first day of your last period. It lasts until the end of the 13th week so that the first trimester is from the first to the third month of your pregnancy.

The symptoms you’ll experience

This is a huge time of change for your body and you’ll notice several changes both physically and emotionally. Not everyone suffers from the same symptoms but here’s a list of what you may experience:

  •       Morning sickness (nausea)
  •         Tender and swollen breasts
  •         Fatigue
  •         Frequent urination
  •         Discharge
  •         Heartburn
  •         Mood swings
  •         Light bleeding
  •         Mild cramping
  •         Weight gain
  •         Food cravings or aversions
  •         Constipation

Your baby during this time

Your baby grows rapidly during the first trimester, from a fertilised cell to a fully formed foetus that’s the size of a peach. During this time, your baby develops a digestive system, a soft skeleton, a brain, a beating heart, taste buds, eyesight and a sense of touch as well as skin, hair and nails. The limbs begin to develop too as do the lungs, other organs and the vocal cords.

Things to avoid

As this is such a crucial stage of development for your baby, you need to take incredible care with what you do — or rather don’t do. It’s important to avoid:

Alcohol: It’s essential to stop drinking alcohol completely. You may have heard that it’s okay to have the odd glass here and there but, unfortunately, it’s not. Studies have shown that no amount of alcohol is safe to consume while you’re pregnant.

Undercooked or raw food: Food that is raw or undercooked can carry parasites and bacteria that can cause infection. Avoid eating any undercooked or raw meat as well as seafood and eggs during your pregnancy.

Smoking: This can contribute to complications that can include an early delivery of your baby or a low weight at birth. It’s essential to avoid smoking altogether while you’re pregnant.

Caffeine: You don’t need to avoid caffeine altogether but it’s important to cut down on the amount you have.

Some medications: Not all medications can cause harm to your baby but many can. Consult your doctor to check which medications you take are safe to continue taking during your pregnancy, including over-the-counter medications, supplements and vitamins.

Action to take

There are several things you can do to prepare for a successful pregnancy. First, choose who you’d like to look after you during your pregnancy, whether it’s your doctor, a midwife you’re already familiar with or an obstetrician. Start taking a prenatal vitamin if you haven’t already and make sure it contains folic acid as this is essential for your baby’s health.

Arrange your first prenatal appointment during which you’ll have a physical check and your practitioner will review your medical history. This is the perfect time to ask any questions you may have on what to expect during your pregnancy. While you’re there, find out what screenings you may need, such as those that check for chromosomal abnormalities and congenital heart defects.

Other actions to take are ensuring your vaccinations are up to date, that you eat healthily and that you exercise during your pregnancy.

More fun activities that will add to the excitement of being pregnant are starting to think of names for your baby as well as how and when you plan to announce your good news to your family and friends. You may prefer to wait until the end of the trimester when there’s less risk of having a miscarriage or you may be excited to share the news as soon as you hear your baby’s heartbeat.

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