The first trimester of pregnancy can be an exciting but scary time full of questions and uncertainties. To ensure a healthy pregnancy, it is a great idea to educate yourself on what to expect during this time. This will help you to determine what to expect, what is happening inside, what is normal and what may indicate a problem.
The first trimester of pregnancy is the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. It is the first trimester that leaves your baby most vulnerable to outside influences. The University of Virginia Health System warns that alcohol, medications and illnesses all damage a growing embryo more in the first trimester than any other time during the pregnancy. This makes it important to abstain from any potentially harmful substances any time a pregnancy is suspected.
Before you even know you are pregnant, your growing baby is going through a world of change. By the end of the fourth week of pregnancy your baby will have all major organ systems in place. His heart will begin to beat and his limbs will begin to form. By the end of the eighth week of pregnancy your baby has made the transition from embryo to fetus. Your fetus is looking more humanlike than ever even though he is only an inch or two long. By the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, your fetus has fingernails, eyelids and grows sturdier by the day.
During the first trimester of pregnancy your body must go through a plethora of changes to accommodate a growing baby. This results in a rush of hormones that cause an assortment of interesting pregnancy symptoms. These symptoms can include frequent urination, tender breasts, constipation, morning sickness, fatigue and headaches. The Mayo Clinic indicates that these symptoms are all normal parts of pregnancy that typically diminish as the pregnancy progresses.
Unless a pregnancy is considered high risk or complications occur, most women will have only one prenatal doctor’s visit in their first trimester. This first visit is often the longest and most in depth appointment of the whole pregnancy. During this first appointment, you can expect to fill out a lot of paperwork about medical history and the general health of both parents. When finished, your physician will take your vital stats and potentially run some blood tests to check for any potential problems. Finally the doctor will take their time to answer any questions you may have and brief you on what is coming. The most exciting part of this visit, however, is receiving the baby’s due date and a potential ultrasound.
Since this first visit is so in depth, it may be a good idea to prepare ahead of time. Find out if your family has any history of birth defects or other medical problems. Write down any questions you have to eliminate the possibility of forgetting them on the day of your appointment. It is also wise to determine the first day of your last period. This will help you to get an accurate due date.
The first trimester of pregnancy is the most dangerous. Miscarriages and ectopic pregnancy are among the most common problems to be concerned with. In the beginning, both complications appear similar. They will cause severe pain and potential bleeding. The difference is that a miscarriage in the first trimester is basically harmless, long-term, to the mother. An ectopic pregnancy, or a pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus, may need surgical treatment. Either way, any strong abdominal or back pains or heavy bleeding in the first trimester should be addressed immediately.