The First Trimester of Pregnancy- Everything you need to know

A lot of vital developments and changes happen in the first trimester of pregnancy. Here are the frequently asked questions asked by parents-to-be. All that you need to know is covered here. Feel free to ask any questions or doubts you have in the comments below.

What is the First Trimester of Pregnancy?

From the day a woman misses her menstrual cycle to 12 weeks of pregnancy or the first 3 months from the first day of your last menses is termed as the first trimester of pregnancy. Pregnancy is divided into 3 trimesters each consisting of 12 weeks or three months. Each trimester has different symptoms, tests as well as different requirements of food and vitamins. 

Investigation or tests to be done in the First Trimester of Pregnancy

  • Physical examination by the doctor
  • Vaginal or internal examination to determine the confirm the pregnancy and determine it’s condition.
  • Serum BHcg to confirm the pregnancy in women having irregular menses and where normal checkup does not confirm pregnancy.

Normal Blood parameters like

  • check how much is Haemoglobin level
  • Blood Sugar level
  • Blood Group of both partners
  • Thyroid levels to be done earliest in pregnancy as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism requires treatment in pregnancy.
  • Thalassemia Profile if not done before pregnancy. Thalassemia is a  blood condition in which Haemoglobin remains low. It can be passed from parents to their offspring through a change in genes. Women and partners should do carrier scanning for Thalassemia. It can cause health problems if both partners are carriers of B Thalassemia.
  • Tests for Hepatitis B, HIV, and HCV are recommended to do early in pregnancy.
  • Sonography of the pelvis is highly recommended. Apart from confirming the pregnancy in the uterus, it also helps to determine whether the pregnancy is single or twin pregnancy. Also, at around 7 weeks of pregnancy, documenting heartbeats or cardiac activity ensures viable pregnancy.
  • If women have a history of any medical disorder like asthma, allergies, or Hypertension then additional blood tests are required.

Physical Changes in the first trimester of pregnancy

  • Breast enlargement
  • Tender nipples and darkening of areola.
  • Bloating especially over the abdomen
  • Most of the women have more weight loss than weight gain as they are not able to eat properly due to nausea and vomiting.
  • Few lucky ones have pregnancy glow.
  • Sometime there may not be any visible body changes though almost all women experience breast tenderness.

Emotional changes in the first trimester of pregnancy

  • The out surge of hormones makes pregnant women quite emotional in pregnancy.
  • Few may feel elated in early pregnancy.
  • Quite a few feel depressed in the First Trimester.
  • Continuous nausea or vomiting may make women tired physically as well as emotionally.
  • Women who had unplanned pregnancy have more emotional outbursts than those who have a planned pregnancy.
  • Anxiety is quite common about how pregnancy will progress in the first pregnancy.
  • Sleep patterns may change due to hormonal changes the body is going through. Few may feel sleepy all day while others don’t have sound sleep.

Week by Week Fetal Growth in First Trimester of Pregnancy

Week 1:

You are still not pregnant ladies! Your body is getting ready for it.

Week 2:

Wait! You are not pregnant but you are at the most fertile period of your cycle i.e ovulation.

Week 3:

Hurray! You are pregnant. The sperm and egg have merged to form a tiny bunch of cells called Zygote. And a lot is going inside you, to make your baby’s budding personality.

Week 4:

Now real work begins. Cells are dividing to form different organs of your baby. Your baby is big enough to be barely seen on ultrasound but still smaller than a grain of rice.

Week 5 :

Your baby can be seen as multiple tubules to form the brain n spinal cord. Other tubules take charge of forming the beautiful heart of your baby. You may start feeling pregnancy symptoms at this time.

Read- Early Symptoms of Pregnancy- All your doubts answered

Week 6:

Dhak Dhak…hurray..your baby’s heart started beating now. A lot of work going on inside to form human features which will be showcased in the coming months. Your baby is now half an inch long.

Week 7:

The baby’s body is working overtime to make every organ like the heart, lungs, intestines,  kidneys, and liver. Buds are sprouting to form arms and legs.

Week 8:

Your baby is developing at a rapid pace now. You can see the beginning of a face on bean size baby. You would love to see that! But probably you are juggling with morning sickness and tender breast which starts troubling you.

Week 9:

You can see two little legs and arms. The head is still huge as compared to the body now. Your baby weighs just more than 1/8th of an ounce.

Week 10: 

The baby now has a real profile with well-defined eyes, ears, and mouth. Eyes are wide open for now. New connections are forming inside the brain which will make her/him intelligent like you.

Week 11:

Wow-what an active baby, though you can not feel the movement still. It measures 2 inches from head to rump. The baby is growing fingernails and iris of eyes.

Week 12:

Congratulations on completing a major milestone, the first trimester of pregnancy. Your baby now looks like a fully formed person. Your bundle of joy now has fingers and toes complete with nails. Kidneys are getting ready to produce urine.

Read- The First 1000 Days of Your Baby’s Life- All You Need To Know

Diet during the first trimester of pregnancy

Foods to add to your diet

  • Whether you are vegetarian or non-vegetarian remember to add proteins in your diet. For vegetarians sprouts like Moong and Chickpeas (Kabuli Chana), all types of pulses, Kidney Beans (Rajma), Soya Chunks, and Cottage Cheese (Paneer) are good sources of protein. Non-vegetarians can add eggs, chicken, and lean meat to their diet.
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner should have a portion of proteins.
  • Prefer complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates in your diet. Add multigrain flour, millets like Jawar, Bajra, and Nachni (Ragi) over all-purpose flour.
  • Try to include more greens and leafy vegetables in your diet. Have a colorful plate with beetroot, carrots, and cucumber. Apart from adding iron and vitamins, it gives the required fiber to your digestive system which prevents constipation.
  • Include seasonal fruits in your diet.
  • Small frequent 5 to 6 meals are better than heavy 2 to 3 meals.
  • Those who like eggs can eat them right from the beginning of pregnancy.
  • Food like mutton, the chicken should be properly cooked with fewer spices as it can cause acidity.
  • Add probiotics like curd or buttermilk daily.
  • Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. It flushes your kidneys.
  • Have dry fruits in moderation.

Foods to avoid 

  • Fried food and spicy food can give you acidity. Try to avoid them.
  • Uncooked or not properly cooked non-vegetarian food can cause indigestion.
  • Those who have known allergy to a certain group of food like peanuts, cashews, etc., please avoid it.
  • Avoid too many cups of tea or coffee. One to two cups daily is ok.
  • Avoid drinks like cola, thumbs-up as it may hamper calcium absorption in pregnancy.
  • Fruit juices though tempting and tasty fare quite less on the nutritional scale as it removes fiber from the fruit.
  • Alcohol is a complete No-No in pregnancy.

 Common ailments during the first trimester of pregnancy

A few common ones are

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Few may have continuous vomiting known as hyperemesis gravidarum which can cause dehydration and requires intravenous administration of fluids in the hospital.
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Few women may complain of a feverish feeling though it subsides in due time.
  • Heartburn or acidity
  • Constipation

What your doctor’s advice should be in the first trimester of pregnancy?

  • Your doctor should ask your complete history including your previous menstrual cycles.
  • Any history of allergy to any drugs should be noted.
  • Your doctor may ask you about any medication you took over the counter or otherwise before visiting the doctor’s office.
  • Tell your doctor about your family history of Diabetes, Hypertension, or any other medical disease.
  • Expect your doctor to tell you about diet taking into consideration your dietary habits.
  • The doctor will put you on prenatal vitamins especially Folic acid if not started.
  • Apart from blood tests, they will do your pelvic Sonography, breast examinations, and Pap test. On every visit, your blood pressure and weight will be noted.
  • Apart from assuring you about well being of your baby, your doctor can advise you on the type of exercises you should do in the first Trimester and what you should avoid.

Be active, happy, and healthy ladies! Feel free to ask your doubts in the comments below. I will get back soon.

About the Author

Dr. Meenal Dhabalia

Dr. Meenal Dhabalia, M.D (Gynaecologist & Obstetrician) 

She has a robust experience of 25 years as an Infertility Consultant, Obstetrician, and Gynaecologist, Laparoscopic surgeon. Her expertise in Infertility treatment, High-risk pregnancy, and Gynaec endoscopy is well known. She is the Medical Director of Aditi IVF and Medical Centre, Dattani Park, Kandivali East, Mumbai. She is also the Chief Consultant in Aditi Superspeciality Hospital, Asha Nagar, Kandivali East Mumbai.

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