Surprising Facts – Unveiling the First Trimester of Pregnancy

first trimester

What Awaits You ….. ?

Hey are you expecting to conceive and waiting for those two magical lines on your pregnancy tester? Or have you already received the good news! Anyhow this means that you have already begun your pregnancy journey and you have started with what we call the First Trimester of the pregnancy.

Your entire Pregnancy has three trimesters and each trimester constitutes of 13 weeks. The first trimester of pregnancy refers to the initial three-month period of gestation, starting from conception and lasting until the end of week 13. During this crucial phase, significant developments occur as the fertilized egg implants itself in the uterus and begins to grow rapidly.

But with this new beginning comes the anxiety of what to do and what not to do to keep you and your baby safe. Hence with this article we plan on covering all aspects of the infamous and risky ‘First Trimester’.

Understanding First Trimester

Your entire Pregnancy has three trimesters and each trimester constitutes of 13 weeks. Entire pregnancy constitutes of 40 weeks. The first trimester of pregnancy refers to the initial three-month period of gestation, starting from conception and lasting until the end of week 13. Believe it or not but experts say that your pregnancy begins with first day of your last menstrual period. A healthcare provider will calculate your due date by adding 40 weeks to the first day of your last period. So by the time you realise you are pregnant, you are already four weeks along.

The first two weeks of pregnancy encompass the normal menstrual cycle, with the first week being characterized by menstruation and the second week marked by ovulation. After ovulation, if the egg encounters sperm and fertilization occurs, conception takes place.

As pregnancy progresses into the third week, the fertilized egg embarks on a journey towards the uterus. Along the way, it undergoes cell division, forming a cluster of cells. Once it reaches the uterus, it implants itself into the uterine lining, prompting the body to recognize the pregnancy and initiating a series of transformative changes. This process often leads to a missed period, followed by a positive pregnancy test.

What should I do after those two Magical Lines appear…..

So as soon as you conduct a pregnancy test at home and it is confirmed that you are expecting, just fix an appointment. Your first trimester is very important as you might not look or feel pregnant, but lots of changes are happening.

Meet that Midwife……

First and foremost find a Healthcare Provider (Gynaecologist/Obstetrician/Midwife) you trust for your first Antenatal visit. This initial visit will establish a baseline for your health and provide essential information about prenatal care. Getting early pregnancy care can help you avoid any potential complications.

Double check your results…..

Your healthcare provider, in all probability will confirm your pregnancy by doing a Urine Test or conducting a Dating Scan as it is much easier these days and has no harmful effects. Even as early as you may find out, your doctor will be able to see a sac formed inside your uterus confirming your pregnancy.

What is the Crucial Importance of First Trimester?

Your first trimester is majorly critical due to Embryonic Development. During the first trimester, the baby’s major organs and body systems begin to form. This is a crucial period for the development of the brain, heart, lungs, limbs, and other vital structures. Any disruptions or abnormalities during this time can have long-lasting effects on the baby’s health.

foetal growth

Also the vulnerability to Teratogens (substances or factors that can cause birth defects) can pose a higher risk to the baby’s development. The first trimester is when the risk of miscarriage is highest. Many pregnancy losses occur during this period, often due to genetic abnormalities or other factors that prevent the embryo from developing properly.

This is the period where placenta is established which plays a crucial role in providing oxygen, nutrients, and removing waste products. Thus It is a critical time for ensuring the baby’s viability and ensuring a healthy pregnancy.

Telltale Signs of 1st Trimester

Below are some of the most common symptoms you may experience in your first trimester. However again as every body is different, these may differ from person to person i.e. not all women experience the same symptoms, and the intensity of symptoms can vary:

  • Nausea or morning sickness – Feeling queasy or vomiting, especially in the mornings, due to hormonal changes. However irrespective of the name it may continue all day and all night.
  • Fatigue and increased tiredness – As your body works hard to support the growing baby you may feel exceptionally tired, sleepy or lethargic and will be needing more rest.
  • Irritability – Due to increased progesterone women may feel increased irritability in general.
  • Breast tenderness and sensitivity – Increased sensitivity and soreness in the breasts as they prepare for milk production is quite common at this time. You may also observe darkened areolas.
  • Frequent urination – You may feel the need to urinate more often as the uterus expands and puts pressure on the bladder.
  • Food cravings or aversions – Strong desires for certain foods or aversion to previously enjoyed foods is possible due to hormonal changes.
  • Mood swings and emotional changes – The hormonal surge during early pregnancy can lead to rapid shifts in emotions, ranging from anxiety or fear to excitement or tearfulness in a matter of minutes. Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or your partner can provide valuable support and a safe space to discuss and navigate these emotional changes.
  • Increased sense of smell – Having a heightened ability to detect and be sensitive to various smells.
  • Constipation – Difficulty passing stool is possible due to hormonal changes and slower digestion.
  • Bloating and gas – Feeling bloated and experiencing increased gas due to hormonal changes and slowed digestion.
  • Mild abdominal cramping – Experiencing mild, occasional cramping as the uterus expands and adjusts.
  • Slight spotting or implantation bleeding – Light vaginal bleeding or spotting/ brownish discharge may occur when the fertilized egg implants into the uterine lining.
  • Increased vaginal discharge – Experiencing a thin, milky discharge as a result of increased blood flow to the vaginal area.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness – Feeling dizzy or lightheaded due to hormonal changes, low blood pressure, or increased blood volume.
  • Changes in appetite – Experiencing fluctuations in appetite, with some women feeling hungrier and others experiencing a decreased appetite.
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia – Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep due to hormonal changes, discomfort, or anxiety.
  • Changes in skin appearance– Noticing changes in the skin, such as acne breakouts or darkening of the skin in certain areas like cheek, inner thighs, abdomen or breasts.
  • Headaches – Experiencing mild to moderate headaches, often attributed to hormonal changes and increased blood circulation.
  • Nasal congestion or nosebleeds: Experiencing nasal congestion or occasional nosebleeds due to increased blood flow and hormonal changes affecting the nasal passages.

Helpful Tips – Your Do’s for the First Trimester

There are several important steps you can take to ensure a healthy and well-supported pregnancy. We are listing some of them below:

Gulp those Vitamins –

Don’t forget to start with your daily dose of Prenatal Vitamins. Your Caregiver will advise you to take Folic Acid for the first trimester which is a part of Vitamin B complex group, known to prevent the birth defects especially neural tube defects in the baby. Recommended dose is 5 mg /day. Folic acid is one vitamin that is advised to women even as a pre conception medicine to facilitate chances of conceiving as this increases them by 30%.

Maintaining Chronic Conditions

Your caregiver will conduct tests in case you suffer from any chronic conditions like Diabetes, Thyroid or Hypertension issues. They will prescribe you medications according to your current levels and advise you to keep the same well in control.

Avoiding Food Types –

At this juncture a pregnant woman must avoid any oily and spicy foods as the digestion is slower due to constricting intestines and the consumption of such foods will give you immense heartburn, thus making you uncomfortable. In case of excessive acidity you can take Digene, ENO or Pudin Hara which are absolutely safe.

Eat in small Intervals –

Always consume food at small intervals, so that your body can comfortably digest the same. And also so that you are not hungry for a longer stretch.

Eat your Greens! –

As your intestinal motility is reduced due to HCG hormone, always go for Fibre rich foods like green leafy vegetables and fruits. They are nutrient dense and are easy on your stomach.

Don’t eat for two !! –

Your food intake should be good and nutrient dense but don’t take the old folk advice of eating for two. As you only need 300 extra calories during this period and eating for two being completely unnecessary will only make you put unwanted weight.

It’s okay to lose little weight ….

As you are often nauseated and feeling dizzy constantly, your appetite will take a hit. That is why some women will lose little weight in the first trimester which is okay. For this you can always cater to home remedies like Ginger tea or certain lozenges that help with morning sickness.

Take that Nap

As your body is overtired with working overtime for you and your baby, take adequate rest and sleep and never over exert yourself.

Stay Hydrated

Increase your liquid intake and always stay hydrated. Drinking enough fluids helps to maintain proper bodily functions, regulate body temperature, and support the functioning of organs and systems.

Educate yourself –

Take time to learn about pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. Read books, attend childbirth classes, and seek reliable online resources to educate yourself about the changes happening in your body and what to expect throughout pregnancy.

Stay Active –

Resting and not over exerting yourself does not imply that you can lie in bed all day. Always stay active. Walking is always a good and safe activity. You can also do light stretching, Yoga or Pilates to keep yourself healthy and active.

Make Workspace Adjustments –

Evaluate your work environment and make any necessary adjustments to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy. Discuss any concerns or accommodations you may need with your employer.

Reach out for Medical Assistance –

If you experience any unusual symptoms like severe abdominal pain or larger blood stains, fever higher than 100.4 &/or any fainting spell, also if you have concerns about your pregnancy, contact your healthcare provider right away. It’s essential to seek prompt medical attention for any potential issues or complications.

NT/NB Scan –

Your caregiver will conduct this scan in the last lap of first trimester. It has to be typically performed between 11th week upto 13th week plus 6 days for actual benefits. NT/NB scan mainly assesses Nuchal translucency, that is the thickness of the nuchal fold at the back of the fetus’s neck and Nasal Bone length to screen for chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome.

Seek Emotional Support –

As your emotions are everywhere due to hormonal changes, you may seek emotional support by sharing the news with your partner, family, and close friends for emotional support. Discuss your feelings, concerns, and excitement with loved ones who can provide understanding and guidance during this journey.

Things to steer clear of – Your Dont’s for the First Trimester

Here we are listing things you can avoid in your first trimester for a smooth pregnancy :

Avoid harmful substances

Avoid substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs, as they can pose risks to your baby’s health. Consumption of alcohol during pregnancy leads to fatal alcohol syndrome where baby is born with physical, mental and actually behavioural problems. Opt for a nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Stay hydrated and engage in regular exercise, unless advised otherwise by your healthcare provider.

Limit Caffeine –

Caffeine is part of beverages like Coffee, Tea, Soft Drinks etc. It is believed to cause blood vessels in the uterus and placenta to constrict, which could reduce the blood supply to the foetus and inhibit growth. Expecting Mothers should limit caffeine intake to 200 mgs per day which is equivalent to two small cups of coffee.

Don’t self medicate –

Never ever self medicate in case of any discomfort during pregnancy. You may not be aware what medicine might be unsafe during pregnancy as hormonal structure is different. Things like over the counter acne medicines should be avoided. Always consult your caregiver in case of any emergency or medical advise.

Side step that Cat Litter –

Those who are feline lovers should avoid cleaning cat litter ideally or rather wear gloves while doing so to avoid toxoplasmosis (an infection caused due to toxoplasma parasite found in cat’s feces).

Avoid that raw meat or dairy –

Never consume raw, undercooked or processed meat during pregnancy due to the risk of bacterial contamination, specifically with pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. These bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses that can be harmful to the baby.

It is advised to avoid consuming unpasteurized milk and cheese during pregnancy, as they can harbor harmful bacteria like Listeria. Make sure to choose pasteurized dairy products.

You should also avoid certain types of fish, particularly those high in mercury, should be limited or avoided during pregnancy. Examples include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Mercury can negatively affect the developing nervous system of the baby.

Balance those Nuts!

While dry fruits provide essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they should be consumed in moderation to maintain a balanced diet. As they are warm in nature, dry fruits must always be soaked overnight to avoid too much heat in body for it may be risky for your pregnancy.

Some dry fruits, such as almonds, walnuts, or cashews, can be allergenic for certain individuals. If you have known allergies or sensitivities to specific dry fruits, it’s important to avoid them during pregnancy to prevent any potential allergic reactions.

No to Papaya and Pineapple!

You must be thinking that why are we advising to avoid fruits, when they are a finer rich source of energy. However not all fruits are safe to consume. Especially during the first trimester it is advised by experts to avoid Pineapple because it contains Bromelain , an enzyme which breaks down protein. It can lead to sharp uterine contractions and early labor due to softening of cervix.

Papaya is also one such fruit which can cause body temprature to shoot as it is rich in latex that can lead to uterine contractions in your fragile early stage of pregnancy.

Frozen berries should also be avoided.

Slow Pace…

All your travelling should be done at a slower pace in order to avoid any jerks and harm to the uterus. Traveling slowly helps reduce physical strain on your body, such as excessive walking, lifting heavy luggage, or navigating crowded spaces.

No to X-Rays

X-rays involve the use of ionizing radiation, which can potentially harm the developing fetus. High levels of radiation exposure during pregnancy have been associated with an increased risk of birth defects, developmental abnormalities, and childhood cancer. So one should avoid x rays during pregnancy.

Hold that Love Making –

Although it is safe to have sex during pregnancy until and unless your doctor advises you otherwise in case of High Risk Pregnancies, ideal would be to not have sex during your first trimester. Sex does not hurt your baby but may alter or risk the pregnancy in other ways. However it is entirely your personal call.

Don’t Stress –

Stress is bad for you so take care of your mental and emotional well-being. Pregnancy can bring about a range of emotions. Prioritize self-care activities that promote relaxation, stress reduction, and emotional betterment. Engage in activities you enjoy, seek support from a therapist if needed, and communicate openly with your partner or loved ones about your feelings.

A Note from MUMTOT:

Alongside the joy, pregnancy can also bring feelings of anxiety and worry. Concerns about the health and well-being of the baby, changes to one’s body, and the challenges of parenthood can contribute to a sense of unease or nervousness.

Each individual’s experience of pregnancy is unique, and emotions can vary greatly from person to person and throughout different stages of pregnancy. So we implore our expectant mothers to acknowledge and validate their emotions, seek support when needed, and communicate openly with their partner, healthcare providers, or a support network to navigate the emotional journey of pregnancy.

Your Perspective….

We would like to know your views on your journey through the First Trimester, as every journey is unique. What did you go through and how did you cope up with your struggles of the first trimester?

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