Anticipating the arrival of a new baby is perhaps the most thrilled experience in the life of a married couple. Of the 9 long months, the first three months of pregnancy is the most delicate stage. For nearly all mothers, child-bearing is a roller coaster ride of emotional feelings and physical symptoms. This article is a tough guide to pregnant mothers and mothers-to-be about the first stage of pregnancy.
What Happens During 1st Trimester Pregnancy?
Normal pregnancy runs up to 40 weeks but as of the 37th week, the baby is considered full-term with its body organs fully functioning on its own. The table summarizes the fetal major developments during the first trimester of pregnancy:
… So, what happens during the 1st trimester of pregnancy week by week?
What to Expect in 1st Trimester Pregnancy?
Top 5 Major Symptoms during 1st Trimester Pregnancy
It should be noted that pregnancy symptoms vary from one pregnant mother to another, and every pregnancy experience is relatively different. On the other hand, there are pregnant mothers who have better tolerance to pregnancy symptoms while there are some others who do not have. Below are the 5 major signs of early pregnancy.
- Bleeding: Almost ¾ of pregnant mothers experience slight bleeding during the first three months of pregnancy. Light spots of blood in underwear may signify implantation. When to call a doctor: heavy bleeding, sharp pain and cramping which may indicate ectopic pregnancy.
- Leukorrhea: Leukorrhea is a medical term used to refer white, think discharges from the vagina. When to call a doctor: foul-smelling and green discharge which may indicate bacterial infection.
- Food Cravings: Taste buds can change strangely during pregnancy. This is a very common occurrence and is expected to experience by lots of mothers. When to call a doctor: mothers have strong cravings for non-edible foods such as hair, soil, dirt and similar others. This condition is known as pica.
- Fatigue: Most mothers during the 1st trimester pregnancy experience fatigue and exhaustion. Make sure to get enough sleep and rest. When to call a doctor: when fatigue interferes daily activities significantly.
- Nausea: Also called the morning sickness, nausea is the universal sign of pregnancy which affect nearly all mothers. Nausea starts as early as 2 weeks after conception as a result of hormonal changes in the body. Morning sickness usually clears up by the end of the first trimester. When to call a doctor: frequent episodes of vomiting.
Other early signs of pregnancy include sensitivity to smell, dizziness and headache.
8 Major Physical Body Changes during 1st trimester Pregnancy
- Breast Size and Tenderness: Breasts tend to swell during the early stage of pregnancy.
- Weight Gain: A pregnant mother in her first three months of pregnancy can gain up to 6 pounds weight.
- Frequent Urination: Pregnant mothers are expected to have frequent bathroom visits due to the growing fetus.
- Shortness of Breath: Pregnant mothers experience slight difficulty of breathing because of the increased oxygen demand of the fetus.
- Increased Salivation: Medically termed as ptyalism, saliva glands are overactive during pregnancy, hence explains the increased salivation.
- Skin changes: Acne breakouts, skin tag formation and pigmentation are common skin changes that commence in the first three months of pregnancy.
- Constipation: Infrequent bowel movement is caused by the progesterone hormone.
- Leg Cramps: Pregnant mothers sometimes experience leg cramps due to deficient calcium source.
What and What not to do During 1st Trimester Pregnancy?
The first trimester of pregnancy is a crucial stage for baby’s growth and development. Hence, mothers should gain a better understanding of what and what not to do during the first three months of pregnancy.
- Consume Proper Nutrition: Because of the growing baby, nutrition is top most important. Eat right by eating foods rich in fiber, choline, iron, vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin A. Make sure to take supplements daily.
- Decide when to Announce Pregnancy: Couple should be very discreet on when to reveal pregnancy. Know the right time for this since enthusiasm can turn into fear. One of the most common scenarios is when a mother gets miscarriage only few days after announcing she’s pregnant. Experts recommend holding up pregnancy declaration until the baby grows stronger, and if the pregnancy is positively viable.
- Get Sufficient Rest and Sleep: Pregnant mothers during the first trimester experience hormonal imbalances that can affect their quality of sleep. Make the environment conducive for sleeping by reducing* morning naps, avoid drinking coffee in the afternoon, taking a warm shower before sleep, drinking warm milk and reading books.
- Mild and Gentle Exercise During Pregnancy is Considered Safe: Only pregnant mothers with medical conditions and impending complications are not advised to go for exercise. Exercise for weight loss*, contact sports, jarring activities and deep sea exploration are likewise strongly not recommended.
- Follow Prenatal Visit Schedules: Between weeks 4 and 28, pregnant mothers should see a prenatal visit once a month. Prenatal care is important to ensure the health of the mother and the baby. Pregnant mothers who are considered high risk such as those aged 35 and over, with pre-existing medical conditions and at risk for preterm labor require more prenatal visits.
- Cut off Vices: Pregnancy should be a health and safe journey, thus mothers who are smokers and drinkers should start realizing that vices are by no means healthy to their bodies most especially to their babies’ health. Smoking increases* birth defects in babies, and studies have shown that large dose of alcohol can affect fetal development which may result in facial abnormalities, growth retardation and learning problems. Drug abuse can also lead to serious complications on babies. Avoiding these activities is not enough, it is also important to not be around with people who smoke, drink and use drugs.
- Do not Take Drugs without Prescription or without Doctor’s Advice: The first trimester of pregnancy is a delicate stage since it is where the baby’s body organs are forming. It is strongly advised to not take drugs (unless advised) until 8 weeks of pregnancy especially Aspirin. If you are sick and needs pharmacological intervention, consult your doctor first.