Congratulations on your pregnancy and welcome to one of the most exciting experiences of your life!
While this is a happy, joyous time, it also can feel a little scary, especially for those who are pregnant for the first time. There are so many new things to learn!
Your body is about to undergo changes to accommodate a brand new life, and it may be helpful to understand some of those changes as you head into your first trimester of pregnancy so you know what to expect.
What Are the First Trimester Weeks?
Out of about 40 weeks of pregnancy, each week is grouped into one of three trimesters. The first trimester takes place in the time between fertilization of the egg (conception) and week 12 of pregnancy.
Changes During the First Trimester
Your baby undergoes rapid changes during this time as the fetus begins to develop things like a brain and spinal cord, and the baby’s heart forms and begins beating during this period as well. By the end of eight weeks, your baby will already have formed a head, arms, legs, all vital organs, sex organs, and on average will be just three inches long and weigh about one ounce.
At this point in the pregnancy, the placenta will be formed. This organ provides nutrients and oxygen to your baby and helps keep your baby’s blood free of waste products.
The placenta is attached to the womb (or inside wall of the uterus) at one end and to the umbilical cord on the other, which ultimately attaches to the baby’s belly button. It is through the umbilical cord that your baby receives all the nutrients he or she needs via your bloodstream.
What You May Expect During Your First Prenatal Visit
The physicians at Moreland OB-GYN believe in providing newly pregnant women the information they need and providing an early assessment of their pregnancy. We do this by having each pregnant woman participate in a Pregnancy Consult appointment with one of our specially trained RN’s. This visit occurs prior to the doctor consultation appointment.
At the first visit, you’ll discuss your estimated due date — about 266 days from the first day of your last menstrual cycle — and any abnormal results from your screening lab.
At about 10 - 12 weeks, you’ll have your first prenatal visit with your doctor. At this visit, your doctor will take a full health history to identify any possible complications that could affect your care and/or delivery. Your doctor will generally perform a pelvic examination, take your vitals, check your weight, and screen for risk factors like anemia. Following this initial appointment, you should expect to see your doctor once a month throughout this first trimester.
Common Pregnancy Discomforts
There are some common, normal discomforts that you may notice during pregnancy. Most of these are caused by hormones. They may include:
Shortness of Breath Without Chest Pain
It is common to feel “winded” because your uterus is increasing in size, it may be pushing against your internal organs with resulting pressure on your diaphragm. This symptom generally resolves near the end of pregnancy when the baby drops lower into the pelvis.
Hormones relax joints and muscles during pregnancy, so you may feel as though your joints feel achy and that they pop or feel loose.
This is a very commonly reported discomfort, even during the first trimester of pregnancy. If you have burning or discomfort with urination call your physician.
This can be an especially uncomfortable side effect of pregnancy. There are safe over the counter medications and treatment options, so ask your doctor if you’re experiencing significant constipation during your pregnancy.
If you’re wondering what over the counter medications are safe to take while pregnant, we have the perfect guide for you! Click here to download a PDF chart to hang in your medicine cabinet.
You may experience this at different times of your pregnancy. It may be caused by hormones initially and by decreased stomach capacity later. Again, there are safe over the counter medications and treatment options, so ask your doctor if you’re experiencing significant heartburn.
Many women report a decrease in energy levels and it is very common in early pregnancy. However, most women notice an increase in energy levels in the second trimester.
Breast Tenderness and Growth
As your body prepares for lactation, your breasts can grow larger and also become tender. This is a perfectly normal — but sometimes an uncomfortable side effect of pregnancy. Wearing supportive bras may help alleviate some of this discomfort.
Nausea in Pregnancy
We’ve reserved an entire section for this side effect of pregnancy since it’s common (and unpleasant!)
Especially during the early stages of pregnancy, nausea and vomiting are common. Although it often resolves at the 12-13 week mark, for some women, this side effect can last throughout the whole pregnancy.
We’ve all heard the term “morning sickness,” but nausea and vomiting can occur at any time during the day or night. Increased levels of hormones produced by the ovaries in the early stages of pregnancy are suspected to be the culprits.
Tips to Help Nausea and Vomiting
You may find some or all of the following helpful in alleviating nausea and vomiting:
- If feeling nauseous in the morning, try eating a plain piece of bread or crackers before getting out of bed.
- Avoid sudden movements, when in bed or sitting down. Changing positions slowly can help as well.
- Eat several small meals throughout the day (about every two to three hours). High protein foods like eggs, cheese, yogurt, and meats/protein should be included in each meal.
- Increase fluid intake. Sip caffeine-free carbonated soda such as 7-UP, Sprite, and Ginger Ale. Try fresh lemon slices in your water. Ginger tea may also help or suck on hard candy, like lemon drops.
- Avoid spicy, heavily seasoned, greasy, or fried foods.
- Take vitamin B6 supplements to help.
Take 25 mg, 3-4 times a day (up to 200mg/ day). It may take several days to see if it will help.
- Take deep breaths and be sure to get fresh air. Take a walk or sleep with the window open, or try opening a window when cooking. Avoid smells that cause you to feel nauseous, and rest when you’re able.
Tests In the First Trimester
Routine lab tests that are done in early pregnancy is often called an OB Panel. An OB Panel is a blood draw and includes tests that give your doctor information about your red blood cells (an indicator of anemia), white blood cells that tell about your disease-fighting cells, and your clotting ability in your platelets count. This test will also show your blood type and immunity to certain infectious diseases like Rubella (German Measles).
There are some optional non-invasive genetic tests that a woman may choose to do that look for abnormalities. One group of tests is called Carrier Testing and may be done prior to or during pregnancy, which looks for inherited disorders and other tests that look at the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the baby during pregnancy. These tests would be discussed with you by your nurse or doctor if you are interested in them.
Nutrition and Supplements for Pregnancy
When it comes to over the counter nutritional supplements, there are a few to consider and a few that you should avoid. Here are some of these considerations, below.
- Consider taking an over the counter prenatal vitamin that contains at least 400-800 mcg of folic acid.
- Try to have a healthy food intake and taking a daily prenatal vitamin which is all that is needed unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.
- Avoid exceeding 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. You may want to look for one that also has 150 mcg iodine, 27 mg iron, and 200 mg DHA (a type of fish oil).
- Avoid any prenatal vitamin that contains any type of herbal supplements and/or essential oils, as these have not been studied for safety in pregnancy.
Finding the Right Obstetrician Near Me
There are so many things to consider during pregnancy, and choosing the right doctor for you is a big decision.
An experienced doctor should act as your trusted guide throughout your pregnancy, and it’s important that you share the same concerns, so be sure to get his or her viewpoint on the issues that matter most to you.
At Moreland OB-GYN, we specialize in women's healthcare and always prioritize the needs of our patients. Our team is a trusted source of information.
Connect with us here, call us and schedule an appointment, today!
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