First Trimester of Pregnancy: Symptoms, Changes, and More

Pregnancy is such a beautiful and intricate part of life. As you probably know, there are three developmental stages during these nine long months that we label as trimesters. Each trimester comes with it’s own unique changes and symptoms, and I will show you just about every single one of them.

The first trimester of pregnancy will open a new chapter in your life and will even change the way you perceive things, especially if it is your first child. In addition to the turbulent changes in the emotional realm of things, pregnancy will also bring you a number of unpleasant physical changes as well. Keep in mind that every woman reacts differently to pregnancy, some much more fortunate than others in terms of health and mood. So to begin, let’s take a look at how your baby makes progress in the first 3 months of pregnancy.

Baby’s Progress In The First 3 Months Of Pregnancy

It’s common knowledge that during your first trimester, you will begin to change, as well as your baby. You may be surprised to find out that up until week four, of your pregnancy, your baby actually resembles more of a tiny raspberry than a baby. But, around week four, your baby begins to change. Here are weekly descriptions of how your baby changes, starting at week four:

  • Week 4: The blastocyst, a dividing ball of cells, separates into two section; the inner group of cells and the outer group of cells. The inner group of cells forms into the embryo, which is your baby. The outer group of cells form a sort of wall, which ensures that your baby is nourished and protected. Around week four, the placenta will also begin to form. The placenta plays a crucial role in ensuring that your baby is properly nourished.
  • Week 5: During the fifth week, your baby’s organs will begin to form. At this point, the embryo has formed three layers; the top, the middle, and the inner. The top layer will eventually form into the baby’s. But, it also serves as the place where the central and peripheral nervous systems develop, as well as connective tissues. Lastly, the top layer will help your baby’s eyes and inner ears develop. The second layer is the middle layer of cells. This layer is crucial in helping your baby’s bones, muscles, kidneys, and most of the reproductive system develop. The last layer is the inner layers of cells. This layer will help your baby’s lungs, intestines, and bladder develop. Although the baby’s organs has begun to form, during this week, you may be surprised to learn that your baby is still very small. In fact, it is the size of the tip of a pen.
  • Week 6: Your baby will experience rapid growth during the sixth week. Your baby’s neural tube, which is located along their back, will begin to close. Also, basic features will begin to form. This even includes the basic passageways and arches that form the inner ears and the jaw. Lastly, your baby will begin to form into a C-shaped curvature, and buds begin to form, which will eventually grow into arms and legs.
  • Week 7: The seventh week is when your baby’s head and face begins to develop, more than it has up to this point. Your baby’s brain will begin to develop, as well as the visibility of tiny nostrils and eye lenses. Also, the arm buds will form into the shape of paddles. But, your baby will still be very small. In fact, by the end of the seventh week, your baby is only slightly larger than the overall size of a pencil eraser.
  • Week 8: During the eight week, changes will occur all over your baby’s body. Firstly, the spuds, where the arms and legs will eventually be, will grow even longer, and fingers will begin to form. Also, your baby’s overall body will begin to straighten out. Lastly, even more of the facial features will form. This includes your baby’s; ears, eyes, lip, and nose. To elaborate more, your baby’s ears will begin to form the shell-shaped areas, and their eyes will finally be visible. Also, there will be a defined upper lip and nose. Although all of these changes are occurring, your baby is only about ½ inch long.
  • Week 9: During the ninth week, your baby begins to grow stronger, and form even more facial features. A huge thing that occurs during the ninth week, is the development of your baby’s arms. The arms will develop bones, bend at the elbows, and grow even longer. Also, toes will begin to form. As for your baby’s facial features, the eyelids and ears will continue to form. Also, this marks the week that your baby begins to grow faster. At the end of the ninth week, your baby will be around ¾ inches long.
  • Week 10: During the tenth week, your baby’s head and neck will begin to develop. Your baby’s head will be a rounder shape, and their eyelids will start to close. Their closed eyelids will help protect their eyes while they develop. Finally, your baby’s neck will begin to form.
  • Week 11: At the beginning of week eleven, your baby is officially described as a fetus. By this time, your baby’s head is about half of its length. But, from this week on, your baby’s body will begin to catch up. During the beginning of the eleventh week, your baby’s eyes will become separated, as well as their eyelids fused, and their ears low set. Also, red blood cells will begin to appear in their liver. Finally, towards the end of the week, your baby’s external genitalia will begin to form. At the end of the eleventh week, your baby will be around 2 inches long, and weight about 1/3 ounce.
  • Week 12: During the final week in month 3, two major developments will happen to your baby. Firstly, your baby will begin to develop fingernails. The second major development is that your baby’s face will look like a human profile. At the end of the twelfth week your baby will be approximately 2 ½ inches long, and weight ½ ounce
    first trimester of pregnancy

Changes To Your Body

The early stage of pregnancy is very unique in that you might now know that you are pregnant until after 3-4 weeks have passed. The fact is that your levels of progesterone, the pregnancy hormone that a woman’s ovaries produces, will rapidly increase and render’s a slew of physical changes in your body. The following are the most common first trimester symptoms that women encounter:

  1. The absence of your period: This sign is the first indication that you are
    on the threshold of pregnancy, and that you should immediately confirm or deny any doubts you have. Take a pregnancy test and the result will be very clear.
  2. Mild bleeding: While you will not have your period during your whole pregnancy, in 25% of cases you may experience slight bleeding that is not a direct cause of your period. Keep in mind that a normal and healthy pregnancy will not be followed by any strong abdominal pain or heavy bleeding for that matter. If this is the case for you however, you need to immediately consult your doctor as it could be attributed to a miscarriage or even an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus).
  3. White vaginal secretion: This is fairly common and perfectly normal in the beginning stages of pregnancy. If you notice a secretion that is yellow, green, or has a pungent smell instead, contact your doctor.
  4. Frequent urination: This occurs because of the imminent growth of the uterus, which exerts extra pressure on your bladder. As a result, constipation
    will occur and you might have some sleepless nights filled with bathroom visits. You can reduce your fluid intake slightly to reduce constipation, but keep in mind that hydration is very important for a healthy pregnancy. What I would avoid instead is caffeine, especially 3 hours prior to sleep.
  5. Morning Sickness: This is associated with early pregnancy and if you are one of the unlucky 85% of women, it will happen to you. Nausea is the most common aspect of morning sickness and a pestering one at that. You can consume ginger or peppermint to combat nausea, so stock up on that tea and start eating your California rolls with ginger!
  6. Dizziness: This occurs when the blood vessels dilate, which can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. Avoid standing up too much and do not get up abruptly as this will trigger dizziness.
  7. Food aversions or cravings: Aversions to certain foods and smells occurs as a result of your nausea. While food cravings are more prevalent during mid to late pregnancy, they can still happen in your first trimester. The key here is to listen to your body as these cravings can have some meaning. For example, if you crave sour food, you might lack sufficient vitamin C. As more of an extreme, if you strongly crave a glass of milk that could be because of a lack of Calcium in your diet. Be vocal to your doctor about these cravings and aversions, and learn to fight that hunger if you constantly have it.
  8. Changes to breasts: This is a very common change and another one that can confirm that you are pregnant if you do not already know. Your breasts might become either or all of the following: larger, harder, swollen, or sensitive to touch. A more comfortable and softer bra is a necessity here.
  9. Fatigue and mood changes: This is an emotional result of all the changes that are happening inside your body. Although you may not feel physically tired that much, your body is actually working harder than before and even while you are resting. Get plenty of rest and try to avoid any stressful encounters.
  10. Gastrointestinal problems: Due to the rapidly increased levels of the hormone progesterone, your intestinal muscles slow down and thus allows better absorption of nutrients. While this may seem great, it can actually lead to side effects in the form of constipation. For this reason, it is very important to consume adequate fluids and foods that are rich in fiber. Furthermore, progesterone relaxes the esophagus and intestinal muscles. These muscles are critical in preventing acid reflux. Due to their weakening, they struggle to perform these functions and you may experience heartburn as a result.
  11. Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a constant ringing or humming in your ears. This can occur as soon as the first trimester and is usually a result of increased blood flow in the body, or increased congestion. It is usually harmless, and there are things you can do to reduce the symptoms.

Warning Symptoms To Pay Attention To

There are certain symptoms that you may encounter in the first 13 weeks that should raise red flags immediately for you. Since your body is going through a lot during this time, it is easy to get lost within changes and it can have a severe impact on you or your baby’s health. Here are the symptoms you should watch out for:

  1. Heavy bleeding in the vagina.
  2. Pain while urinating.
  3. Abdominal pain that is unbearable.
  4. A constant thirst for water that can’t be sated.
  5. Problems with your vision or dizziness.
  6. Fever above 101F with chills and muscle aches.
  7. Either quick weight gain or a lack of.
  8. Lower back pain that comes and goes at regular intervals. ( especially if sharp and followed by cramping ).

If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be at risk of a miscarriage so contact your health care provider immediately or go to a hospital for the more severe symptoms.First trimester of pregnancy

Things To Do During The First Trimester

In the first 3 months of pregnancy, the fetus might be very small but it is still growing very rapidly. This is why all these drastic changes and symptoms occur within your body. Once you find out that you are pregnant, there are steps that you need to take to ensure a smooth and healthy pregnancy. Here are several tips and guidelines on preparing and adapting to your new role as being a mother to be:

  • Talk with your partner about the new role in your life and the changes that pregnancy and the baby can bring.
  • Carefully select a trusted ob-gyn who will lead you through pregnancy and check what your health insurance covers and what it does not. You will be tested with a urinalysis, papsmear, and a blood test to determine hCG levels , Rh status, as well as any infections that you may have.
  • Start taking your prenatal vitamins, such as folic acid and iron. Your physician should elaborate on this, but here is a full list of what you`ll need.
  • Notify your doctor about any medication you are currently taking and consult about appropriate therapy during pregnancy.
  • Stop any and all harmful habits – alcohol, smoking, drugs, caffeine.
  • Be more careful with what you do. Do not expose yourself and your baby to pesticides, toxic chemicals, hard physical work, or strong vibrations.
  • Start learning about and performing your kegel exercises.
  • Start eating healthy. Avoid raw and half cooked fish and meat, raw eggs and everything that is a source of bacteria, toxins, parasites. Only purchase organic fruits and vegetables.
  • Schedule a screening for chromosomal abnormalities; for early detection of deformities in the baby.
  • Look into purchasing a pregnancy pillow and get used to sleeping with one for the near future. It can help you sleep more comfortably at night, as well as prevent sciatica and a host of other physical symptoms due to your belly growth.

The first trimester of pregnancy is a very important one for the formation of a healthy fetus, so you need to get acclimated with proper prenatal control. It is a time of great changes and adaptations in your life. You may experience all or only very few of the symptoms listed above, it all depends on factors outside of your control.

What you do have control over however is being knowledgeable and adequately preparing for your pregnancy in a healthy manner. Most of these symptoms will eventually disappear by the start of the second trimester, and you will experience others until the end of the third trimester. Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life, and you will definitely want to take care of yourself and your baby during the long and enduring 9 months ahead.

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first trimester infographic

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