Archive for the ‘First Trimester’ Category
During the first three months of pregnancy, or the first trimester, your body undergoes many changes. As your body adjusts to the growing baby, you may have nausea, fatigue, backaches, mood swings, and stress. These things are all normal.
Most of these discomforts will go away as your pregnancy progresses. And some women might not feel any discomfort at all! If you have been pregnant before, you might feel differently this time around. Just as each woman is different, so is each pregnancy.
As your body changes, you might need to make changes to your normal, everyday routine. Here are some of the most common changes or symptoms you might experience in the first trimester:
Many women find they’re exhausted in the first trimester. Don’t worry, this is normal! This is your body’s way of telling you that you need more rest. After all, your body is working very hard to develop a whole new life.
For some women, the nausea of the first trimester is so severe that they become malnourished and dehydrated. These women may have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). HG refers to women who are constantly nauseated and/or vomit several times everyday for the first 3 or 4 months of pregnant.
HG keeps pregnant women from drinking enough fluids and eating enough food to stay healthy. Many women with HG lose more than 5 percent of their pre-pregnancy weight, have nutritional problems, and have problems with the balance of electrolytes in their bodies. The persistent nausea and vomiting also makes going to work or doing other daily tasks very difficult.
Many women with HG have to be hospitalized so they can be fed fluids and nutrients through a tube in their veins. Usually, women with HG begin to feel better by the 20th week of pregnancy. But some women vomit and feel nauseated throughout all three trimesters. Visit the Hyperemesis Education and Research (HER) Foundation Web Site for more detailed information on HG.
Frequency of Urination
Running to the bathroom all the time? Early in pregnancy, the growing uterus presses on your bladder. This causes frequent urination.
See your doctor right away if you notice pain, burning, pus or blood in your urine. You might have a urinary tract infection that needs treatment.
During the first trimester, it is normal to gain only a small amount of weight, about one pound per month.
Changes in Your Baby
By the end of the first trimester, your baby is about three inches long and weighs about half an ounce. The eyes move closer together into their positions, and the ears also are in position. The liver is making bile, and the kidneys are secreting urine into the bladder. Even though you can’t feel your baby move yet, your baby will move inside you in response to pushing on your abdomen.
During the early months of pregnancy, regular doctor visits (prenatal care) are especially important. Become a partner with your doctor to manage your care. Keep all of your appointments — every one is important!
During the first prenatal visit, you can expect your doctor or nurse to do the following:
ask about your health history including diseases, operations, or prior pregnancies
ask about your family’s health history
do a complete physical exam
do a pelvic exam with a Pap test
order lab tests
check your blood pressure, urine, and weight
figure out your expected due date
answer your questions
Get more details on prenatal care.
1st Trimester Tests and Procedures
For special genetic or medical reasons, you may need other lab tests, like blood or urine tests, cultures for infections, or ultrasound exams in the first trimester. Your doctor will discuss them with you during your visits.
The most common tests recommended in the first trimester include:
Nuchal translucency screening (NTS)
This new type of screening can be done between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. It uses an ultrasound and blood test to calculate the risk of some birth defects. Doctors use the ultrasound exam to check the thickness of the back of the fetus’ neck. They also test your blood for levels of a protein called pregnancy-associated plasma protein and a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Doctors use this information to tell if the fetus has a normal or greater than normal chance of having some birth defects.
In an important recent study, NTS found 87% of cases of Down syndrome when done at 11 weeks of pregnancy. When NTS was followed by another blood test done in the second trimester ( maternal serum screening test), 95% of fetuses with Down syndrome were identified.
Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy: Things you might notice before you start prenatal care
Are you pregnant? The proof is really in the pregnancy test. But you may suspect — or hope — that you’re expecting, even before you miss a period, if you experience one or more of the following signs and symptoms of pregnancy. These early clues may begin in the first few weeks after conception.
Tender, swollen breasts or nipples
One of the first physical changes of pregnancy is a change in the way your breasts feel. They may feel tender, tingly or sore. Or they may feel fuller and heavier. As early as two weeks after conception, your breasts start to grow and change in preparation for producing milk. The primary cause of these changes is increased production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Changes in your breasts are often most dramatic when you’re pregnant for the first time.
Many women feel wiped out during pregnancy, especially in the early stages. This may be nature’s way of persuading moms-to-be to take extra naps, in preparation for the sleepless nights ahead. But there’s also a physical reason for fatigue.
During the early weeks of pregnancy, your body is working hard — pumping out hormones and producing more blood to carry nutrients to your baby. To accommodate this increased blood flow, your heart pumps harder and faster. Plus, progesterone is a natural central nervous system depressant, so high levels of this hormone may make you sleepy. In addition, the possibility of pregnancy can bring about a range of feelings and concerns that may sap your energy and disturb sleep.
Slight bleeding or cramping
Some women experience a small amount of spotting or bleeding very early in pregnancy, about 10 to 14 days after fertilization. Known as implantation bleeding, it happens when the fertilized egg first attaches to the lining of the uterus. This type of bleeding is usually a bit earlier, spottier and lighter in color than a usual period and doesn’t last long.
Many women also experience cramping very early in pregnancy as the uterus begins to enlarge. These cramps are similar to menstrual cramps.
Nausea with or without vomiting
Morning sickness is one of the telltale signs of early pregnancy. Most women feel some sickness around four to eight weeks of pregnancy, but the queasiness can begin as early as two weeks after conception.
Although nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is commonly called morning sickness, it can occur at any time of the day. It seems to stem from the rapidly rising levels of estrogen produced by the placenta and the fetus. These hormones cause the stomach to empty somewhat more slowly, which could be part of the problem. Pregnant women also have a heightened sense of smell, so a variety of odors — such as foods cooking, coffee, perfume or cigarette smoke — can trigger nausea.
Food aversions or cravings
Turning up your nose at certain foods is often the first hint that you’re pregnant. Even the smell of some foods may cause a wave of nausea in early pregnancy. One study suggests that pregnant women experience a unique aversion to coffee in the early weeks of pregnancy. Meat, dairy products and spicy foods are other common objects of repulsion.
Food cravings are common, too. Like most other symptoms of pregnancy, these food preferences can be chalked up to hormonal changes. Pregnant women typically find that their food tastes change somewhat, especially in the first trimester, when hormones have the strongest impact.
Many pregnant women find themselves running to the bathroom more often than usual. During the first trimester of pregnancy, this is caused by the enlarging uterus pushing on your bladder.
If you’re pregnant, you may be troubled by frequent, mild headaches. Early in pregnancy, headaches may be the result of increased blood circulation caused by hormonal changes.
Constipation is another common early indication of pregnancy. An increase in progesterone causes digestion to slow down, so food passes more slowly through the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to constipation.
You’re a no-nonsense kind of woman — so what’s with this crying over Hallmark commercials? The flood of hormones in your body in early pregnancy can make you unusually emotional and weepy. Swings in your mood, from bliss to deep gloom, also are common, especially in the first trimester.
Faintness and dizziness
It’s common for pregnant women to be lightheaded or dizzy. These sensations usually result from circulatory changes as your blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure drops. Early in pregnancy, faint feelings may also be triggered by low blood sugar.
Raised basal body temperature
Your basal body temperature (BBT) is your oral temperature when you first wake up in the morning. This temperature spikes slightly soon after ovulation and remains at that level until your next period. If you’ve been charting your BBT to determine when you ovulate, its continued elevation for more than two weeks may mean you’re pregnant. In fact, BBT stays elevated throughout your pregnancy.
Are you really pregnant?
Unfortunately, these signs and symptoms aren’t unique to pregnancy. Some can indicate that you’re getting sick or that your period is about to start. And, conversely, you can be pregnant without ever experiencing these symptoms.
Still, if you notice any of the tip-offs on this list, make plans to take a home pregnancy test, especially if you’re not keeping track of your menstrual cycle or if it varies widely from one month to the next. Also take extra good care of yourself. You just might be taking care for two.