first trimester
First Trimester,  Pregnancy Trimesters

First Trimester of a pregnancy – All you need to know

First Trimester of Pregnancy

The first trimester of a pregnancy is extremely important. It also can be difficult to cope with as the woman generally feels unwell during this time. The first trimester is calculated from the day of conception to the 12th week of pregnancy.

The first trimester is the time when several hormonal changes take place in the body. Women in their first trimester tend to experience nausea, fatigue, food cravings, and dizziness. Some women also go through intense food aversion. They may be a change in their complexion. The frequency to urinate also increases. It is important that women take nutritious diet during this time, and give up smoking and drinking.

first trimester
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Week 01

The first day of a woman’s menstrual cycle is considered to be the commencement of week 1 of her pregnancy. This is the start of the first trimester. Week 1-12 make up the first trimester of pregnancy. Although this is not the time when conception occurs, the process of ovulation will begin on the 14th day of her menstrual cycle. So, before the woman conceives, she should start planning her health accordingly. It is important that the woman starts taking vitamins and minerals that aid pregnancy. A dose of folic acid is a must. She should also include vegetables and fresh fruit into her diet. Smoking and drinking adversely affect a pregnancy; therefore, the woman should put a stop to these habits completely. Any form of medication should also stop.

Many women start using the pregnancy calendar from the 1st week. It helps the couple understand and keep track of the developments taking inside the woman’s body, and within the fetus. In other words, it is a week-by-week guide to pregnancy. Women can make notes on the calendar such as the day they conceived, right till they deliver their baby. This calendar can even be customized with ultrasound pictures of the fetus.

Medical experts also give a lot of emphasis on the health of the man during this time. According to them, the health and well-being of the man also affects the pregnancy. Men, therefore, are advised to give up on smoking and drinking.

Week 02

Week 2 of the pregnancy is the time the woman’s uterine lining starts to thicken. Her body starts getting ready for the process of ovulation. If the ovaries release more than one egg, it may result in twin or triplets. Reports suggest that the probability of twins is about 1 in 89 cases. During this week, the uterus also starts preparing a tissue to house the embryo. This tissue is rich in blood.

Some women may experience one-sided pain called ‘mittleschmerz’ during this time. They may also feel a little tenderness in their breasts. Nausea or drowsiness is also common during this time. They will also observe an increase in their frequency to urinate. It will help if the women inform themselves about their family’s health history during this time. Doctors say that knowing one’s family history can help curtail about 75% of complications in the initial stage of pregnancy itself.

The woman should continue to take a healthy time. This is help build up her strength which is imperative for a successful pregnancy.

Week 03

Third week is the time when the sperm comes into contact with the egg inside the fallopian tube. An embryo is formed, when the sperm fertilizes the egg, . This is the beginning of the pregnancy. This is also the time when the gender of the baby is determined. The man’s chromosomes are responsible for the baby’s gender. Some women may experience spotting during this time. The spotting takes place because of the movement of the fertilized egg into the uterus. This spotting is referred to as ‘implantation bleeding’. During this time, the woman’s body releases an immunosuppressant protein called ‘Early Pregnancy Factor’ or EPF. The EPF prevents the woman’s body from treating the embryo as an invader.

After the ovulation has occurred, women are advised to visit their gynecologist to confirm their pregnancy. Doctors usually prescribe women folic acid tablets during this time. Iron tables are also administered. Women may experience bouts of nausea during this time. Acidity too, is a common symptom.

The baby also registers growth during the third week. It is housed inside the uterine walls. At this stage, the baby is about 0.2-0.5mm in size, with its head measuring about 0.006in in size. Despite its small size, it is visible to the naked eye. It starts to develop its head, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract during this time.

Week 04

Week 4 marks one month of a woman’s pregnancy. By this time, tests can definitely tell if she is pregnant. This also marks the beginning of the most difficult period of a woman’s pregnancy. The fetus, during this time is susceptible to various forms of abnormalities. Therefore, it is extremely important that the mother takes very good care of herself. She should start taking a healthy well-balanced diet. She also needs to do some exercises during this time. However, taking adequate amount of rest is also equally important. She is also advised to give up smoking and drinking during this time.

A positive frame of mind helps in a successful pregnancy. The woman is encouraged to make herself aware of her family health history. She should also read up on pregnancy, in order to prepare herself both physically and mentally for a baby.

In the fourth week of her pregnancy, a woman generally starts to experience morning sickness. She may also experience some dizziness. Tender or sore breasts are a common symptom during the fourth week. She may also experience other symptoms during this time such as nausea, fatigue, and mood swings.


Your Baby’s Development

Meanwhile, the embryo too goes through several changes. The embryo, in the fourth week of pregnancy, is made up of three main layers. They are called the ‘ectoderm’, ‘mesoderm’, and ‘endoderm’. The ectoderm develops into the baby’s nervous system. The mesoderm develops into its circulatory system, bones and muscles, and kidney and the reproductive system. The endoderm develops into the baby’s lungs, intestines, and bladder. Also, the fetus grows to a size of about 0.4mm during this time. This is also the time when the placenta and the umbilical cord develop. They aid in supplying oxygen and other nourishments to the fetus.

 

Week 05

Your Baby’s Development

By the fifth week of first trimester of pregnancy, both the mother and the baby are going through rapid developments. The embryo, in the fifth week of pregnancy, grows as much 5-6mm long. It starts to form its limbs and ears. Another important development the fetus registers is that of its eyes. While its eyes begin to appear, the head also starts forming a mouth and nostrils.

How Your Body Changes

Women, in their fifth week of pregnancy, may start craving for certain types of food. Morning sickness, dizziness, and nausea are common during this time. The mothers-to-be may also experience mood swings. This is a normal symptom. Apart from tenderness in breasts, some women also might feel bloated. There may be a tendency to urinate quite frequently, caused by the increasing size of the uterus. First-time mothers tend to be apprehensive during this time. This too, is quite common. For women in their second or third pregnancy, this may be an exhausting time as they have to manage their children. The symptoms however, vary with pregnancy.

What to Do

According to medical experts, women should continue taking a healthy diet, rich in vitamins, minerals, and calcium. They should also exercise regularly, and take good rest.

Week 06

Your Baby’s Development

By the sixth week of first trimester of pregnancy, the embryo starts to resemble a small bean. In an ultrasound picture, one can make out its various facial features that are developing. For instance, one is bale to make out the location of the eyes and the nose. Ears, hands, and legs in their various stages of development can also be seen.

The baby’s brain, at this time, divides itself into its three regions, while the heart also charts out its right and left chambers. The heart pumps at the rate of 150 heart beats per minute. The baby also starts to develop various organs such as the lungs and liver. Glands such as the thyroid and pituitary gland also begin developing during this time. The baby’s respiratory and digestive system also starts to take shape. Medical experts say that the baby starts making its first movement during the sixth week of pregnancy. But these movements, say doctors, are so slight in nature that the mother is unable to feel them.

How Your Body Changes

The mother-to-be, meanwhile, continues to experience symptoms such as morning sickness, fatigue, and cramps. While some women feel extremely sleepy during the initial stages of their pregnancy, there are some cases where women have experienced sleeplessness. They may continue to feel tenderness in their breasts. Some women may also see an increase in their weights during this time.

What to Do

This sixth week is also the time when most miscarriages occur. Therefore, in case of spotting or bleeding, a gynecologist should be contacted immediately.

Week 07

Your Baby’s Development

When women are in their seventh week of first trimester of pregnancy, their baby is in the process of developing most of its body parts and organs. This includes the hair on its head, eyelids, and the tongue. Its head continues to grow, and is relatively larger than the rest of the body. At the same, the umbilical cord continues grow during this time, therefore, allowing the baby some movement in the womb. The baby may just be about the weight of a small tablet this time.

Other developments in the baby include functioning of its nerves. Its abdomen and thorax develop fully by the seventh week. The baby is able to open its mouth. Its lungs also are in the process of developing.

How Your Body Changes

Even though the baby grows at a rapid rate during this time, women do not seem ‘pregnant’. Some women may gain weight, while others may lose it. This varies with women and their respective pregnancies, and is perfectly normal. Symptoms such as morning sickness, nausea, dizziness, mood swings, and frequent urination may continue. The tenderness in the breasts persists, with the areolas becoming darker in color. This is due to the hormonal changes occurring inside the body. Some women may experience constipation during this time. They are advised to drink lots of water.

What to Do

Doctors advise women to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. According to them, symptoms such as nausea can be relieved by eating watermelons or sniffing lemons. It is important that women suffering from nausea avoid oily or fried food.

In some cases, the bouts of vomiting become severe. This condition is called ‘Hyperemesis Gravidarum’. Women tend to experience weight loss also during this condition. While most cases can be normalized by prescribing antacids, in more severe cases, women have to be hospitalized.

Week 08

Week 8 of pregnancy is almost the end of the first trimester. The risk of miscarriage is very low at this stage of pregnancy. The waist, by about the eight week, seems somewhat expanded. This is due to the growing size of the uterus. Women are advised to wear loose-fitting clothes.

Your Baby’s Development

By the eight week, the baby too is fast developing its bones and muscles. Its facial features such as the eyelids and nose start becoming more defined, and the embryonic tail too starts to disappear gradually. In this second month of pregnancy, the baby’s gender gets confirmed, even though the genitals remain in the process of development. All the vital organs of the body are in place by this time, and keep developing further.

How Your Body Changes

Women may feel bloated up, caused due to water retention. Some may experience indigestion during this time. Despite the symptoms, the women undergo numerous changes both internally and externally during this time. The blood count of pregnant women, at this time, goes up by almost 40-50%. Some women may even develop dark-colored veins around their breasts at this time. These are called ‘varicose veins’, and they are caused by an increase in the blood supply. The areola also darkens as the pregnancy progresses. In some cases, the breasts may discharge a thick yellow liquid called ‘colostrum’. Due to the growing size of the uterus, women may experience cramps in their abdomen, especially in the lower part.

But, by and large, by the eight week, the body has adjusted to the changes occurring due to pregnancy.

Week 09

Your Baby’s Development

In the ninth week of the first trimester, the baby goes from being an embryo to a fetus. The baby’s embryonic tail finally disappears. The heart valves begin to develop at this stage. Body parts such as the eyelids, wrists, elbow, knees, and ankle become fully developed by this time. In the ninth month, the baby begins to open its mouth and suck its finger or thumb. New parents find this development very exciting. Its body also starts to develop vocal chords.

How Your Body Changes

Women tend to feel tired, and nauseated during their ninth week of pregnancy. Although, the appetite may increase during this time, they do have to contend with an increased bout of morning sickness. Some women may experience ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ – gum infections and cavities that occur during pregnancy. Gum infections should be taken seriously by pregnant women, as this leads to premature and underweight babies. Slight spotting which may occur during this time should not be viewed with concern. Sex drive may get adversely affected. Symptoms such as indigestion, heartburn, and mood swings may continue.

Week 10

Your Baby’s Development

The baby, by the time the pregnancy enters its tenth week of first trimester, has grown enough to weigh almost five grams. Its height also increases. The baby, at this stage, is in the process of developing its taste buds. Its toes get separated from each other. While the external genitals are still developing, a male child’s body starts producing testosterone by this time.

How Your Body Changes

Mothers, on the other hand, continue to experience symptoms such as morning sickness, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Women tend to become sensitive to smells. Some women develop a craving for, or an aversion to certain types of food. Symptoms in pregnancy vary with the case; therefore, while some women may feel very sleepy, others may experience sleeplessness. Mood swings are also common during this time.

As the pregnancy furthers, a woman’s body will experience even more changes. Therefore, it is important that she take care of her diet. Her daily diet should include vegetables, fruits in good measure. Light exercises would be beneficial. Good mental health is also equally important. Women are advised to do breathing exercises in order to keep stress at bay.

Week 11

The 11th week is nearly the end of the first trimester. The stomach start to slowly grow, and the weight of some women may have gained. But women with morning sickness may not have put on weight. As most women start putting on weight from week 11 onwards, this should not be a cause of worry.

The baby is also developing at a very fast rate. Its bones become hard, and almost all major body parts develop by this time. But, all these organs are developing still. The baby is now able to swallow. Its abdomen starts to develop intestines. Tooth buds also appear on the gums. The baby also starts to kick around at this stage. The placenta, meanwhile, keeps up the supply of blood and nutrients to the baby. Its skin is thin and transparent at this stage.

Some women may seem to have developed a paunch by their 11th week. Women generally experience a rapid rate of growth in their finger and toe nails. This is mainly because of the hormonal changes taking place in the body. The heart pumps more blood at this time, and therefore, some women may feel warmer than before.

Week 12

Week 12 is very close to the end of the first trimester of pregnancy. Near the end of the first trimester, some women may have swollen faces; this is due to water retention in their body. Most women see a decline in symptoms such as nausea and fatigue. Heartburn however, persists even in the 12th week, and may even increase. Taking light, fibrous food at small intervals may bring some relief. The food potions must be small. Women also feel more energetic around this time. In some cases, they may see some pigmentation of the skin as a result of pregnancy. Patches of brown skin may also develop in some women.

This is also the time when a molar pregnancy can be detected. A molar pregnancy occurs due to the abnormal positioning of the placenta. Symptoms of molar pregnancy are spotting and continued morning sickness.

Your Baby’s Development

The baby, by the 12th week, is able to swallow food. Its kidneys produce urine. One of the important developments of this time is that the muscles start responding to the brain signals. This results in movements such as clenching and unclenching of the fists, and bending of its arms by the baby. The features of the face also become more defined.

Week 13

Week 13 is the end of the first trimester of a pregnancy. At this stage, symptoms such as nausea and fatigue generally subside. The morning sickness will also decline by this time, and the women may see an increase in their appetites. Due to the uterus; increasing size, some women may feel some pain in their abdomen. Also, the ligaments that surround the uterus will also stretch, and this may lead to ‘round ligament pain’. This is likely to occur when women suddenly change their positions. This can be brought under control by changing positions carefully.

Although chances of a miscarriage in the second trimester are slim, some cases may still take place. One reason of miscarriage in the second trimester is ‘incompetent cervix’. Incompetent or weak cervix refers to a cervix opening which is more than 2.5cm. Incompetent cervix causes women to deliver their babies quite early in their pregnancy, when the baby cannot survive. However, women diagnosed with incompetent cervix may seek ‘cerclage’. This is a process where the cervix is stitched. Cerclage is performed usually in the 14th or the 15th week, helps women have a full-term pregnancy.

Your Baby’s Development

Around the 13th week of pregnancy, the baby’s pancreas starts the production of insulin in the body. Hair starts to develop on its eyebrows and upper lip. The baby also passes its first motion at this stage. It is a tar-like substance, black-green in color, and is referred to as ‘meconium’.

Read more about;

Second Trimester of a pregnancy – All you need to know

Third Trimester of a pregnancy – All you need to know

Pregnancy Clinic-Everything you need to know!

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