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Guide To The First Trimester Of Pregnancy For Expecting Moms

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

This article is written by Dr Veena H (MBBS.DGO). Dr. Veena is a gynaecologist with 10 Years Of Clinical Experience

first trimester of pregnancy

Introduction

Pregnancy and giving birth can be some of the most joyous and trying times of your life simultaneously. During pregnancy, you will experience many physical changes in your body which in turn also affect you emotionally. Expectant mothers are often curious to know about the expected changes in their bodies during pregnancy and also about the process of development of their baby.

For simplification, the 9-month term of pregnancy is divided into 3 trimesters (one trimester lasting for 3 months each). Let’s learn some interesting facts about the first trimester, the initial three months of your pregnancy. 

Did you know?

  • Approximately 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage during the first trimester. source: CDC
  • The risk of birth defects is highest during the first trimester, with 3-5% of babies being born with a major birth defect. source: CDC
  • The risk of miscarriage decreases significantly after the first trimester, with less than 5% of pregnancies ending in miscarriage. source: CDC
  • During the first trimester of pregnancy, women need about 340 extra calories per day. source: health.gov

First Trimester of Pregnancy 

The confirmation of pregnancy comes as surprising news to some couples. This is because the first trimester starts from the first day of your last period. It lasts up to the 12th week of pregnancy. Many physiological changes will occur during this trimester. It is often considered one of the most important phases of pregnancy.

What Changes Does the Mother Go Through?

Each body is different. So every individual woman will carry and experience her pregnancy differently. During the first trimester, a woman can expect the following-

1. Morning Sickness

Nausea and vomiting are very commonly experienced during pregnancy. Every woman experiences it differently – mild, moderate or severe. Do not fear vomiting and do not take any medication on your own. Your doctor will advise you on ways to manage this and if required appropriate medicines will be prescribed.

Nausea is a well-known symptom of pregnancy, affecting at least 70% of expecting mothers. Also called morning sickness, nausea usually begins at around six weeks, peaks between weeks 8-11, and typically fades near the end of the first trimester.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

2. Spotting

Women may experience instances of light spotting, particularly in the early period of their pregnancy. Sometimes, it can be an indication of the embryo implanting itself in the uterus.

3. Cravings

A common sign of early pregnancy is food cravings. Your taste preferences may change during this period. Though food cravings are usually harmless, women should keep a lookout and try to eat healthy food. Eg. Choose a fresh fruit when craving sweets.

4. Tenderness of the Breasts

Pregnancy alters the hormonal levels in the body. Soreness and tenderness of the breasts are common signs associated with pregnancy, due to this hormonal change.

5. Change in Urination Habits

As the baby continues to grow inside the uterus, it may lead to pressure on your bladder from within. This could result in the need to urinate more frequently.

6. Tiredness

Pregnancy can be demanding on your body because essentially one body is growing inside another. This process of developing a baby inside the womb may be exhausting leading to fatigue during the first three months.

7. Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge is a common and natural phenomenon in pregnant women. 

8. Constipation

Among the most common conditions experienced by women during pregnancy’s first trimester is constipation. High levels of progesterone hormone are released which tends to slow down the digestive system. Your body will host a growing baby for the coming nine months. So you can expect to feel multiple changes (both internally and in the outer appearance). Heartburn, mood changes and increased weight are a few changes you can expect as well as an upset tummy, headaches, nausea and more.

Problems in early pregnancy are most likely to be due to pregnancy not attaching or forming properly. Usually, if a pregnancy is not going to be viable it will miscarry. Caution and regular consultation with the gynecologist are always recommended.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D.

Also Read: Implantation Symptoms: Evidence-Based Guide to Early Pregnancy Signs

Developing Baby in the First Trimester?

During the first trimester of pregnancy, fertilization of the eggs takes place, resulting in an embryo forming. It is the period when the foundation is laid for the growth of your baby. 

In this first trimester, the organs begin to develop in the body of the fetus. You can expect the following to happen:

  • Bones: The bones of the baby’s legs, arms, hands and feet will begin growing by 6 weeks.
  • Heart: The baby’s heart will first develop as a tube initially and begin beating.
  • Digestive system: The baby’s intestines will begin to form by week 8.
  • Touching sense: It is known that touch receptors are also formed in this period.
  • Brain: The developing limbs in a baby’s brain will be formed during the first trimester.

Besides this, the fetus acquires various senses including taste and eyesight with hair and nails also beginning to grow.

Also Read: Eating Right: Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

The Do’s and Don’ts During the First Trimester of Pregnancy

Here is a list of some do’s and don’ts to having a healthy first trimester:

Do’sDont’s
Take a healthy and nutritious dietStop alcohol consumption and quit smoking
Exercise regularlyDo not consume undercooked seafood or meat
Visit your gynaecologist regularly and follow their adviceAvoid junk food
Eat prenatal vitamins as advisedDo not engage in rough intercourse
Practice some relaxation techniques and breathing exercises Do not take any medicine or herbal supplements without first speaking with your doctor
SleepwellDo not lift heavyweights
Maintain good hygieneDo not miss your follow up appointments with your doctor
Stay hydratedDo not take unnecessary stress

Click here to know more about mother care products

When Do You Visit the Doctor?

The first visit to the doctor must be made once you realize, suspect or expect pregnancy. Once your pregnancy is confirmed, consult regularly with your doctor as advised. Some people require follow-up visits to the hospital more frequently than others. This may differ from person to person. 

Apart from regular follow-ups, consult your gynaecologist or doctor if you experience anything unusual. Note that-

  • Heavy bleeding is not normal. If a woman has major pain or bleeding, she should visit the doctor immediately.
  • Normal vaginal discharge is typically white. If you notice that your discharge is yellow or has a foul smell, you may need a gynaecologist’s advice.
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Painful urination
  • Any other illness (do not ignore any signs of illness and remember that self-medication is to be avoided strictly during pregnancy and breastfeeding)

The most important thing about the entire pregnancy journey is your happiness and well-being. Love yourself and take good care of your health. Follow your doctor’s advice and don’t wait to ask even the silliest question that may be bothering you. Being aware and informed can take away all your worries related to pregnancy.

Also Read: Constipation in Pregnancy: Causes and Research-Based Remedies

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What to eat when pregnant in the first trimester?

During the first trimester of pregnancy, it’s beneficial to eat nutrient-dense foods such as leafy greens, lean proteins, whole grains, and fruits. Include foods rich in folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D to support fetal development and maternal health.

What are the Symptoms of having a boy in the first trimester?

Symptoms often associated with carrying a boy during the first trimester include minimal morning sickness, craving salty or savory foods, and a faster fetal heart rate, although these are not scientifically proven indicators. Each pregnancy is unique, and these symptoms can vary widely among individuals.

What helps morning sickness in the first trimester?

To alleviate morning sickness in the first trimester, try eating small, frequent meals, staying hydrated, and avoiding strong odors. Consuming ginger, such as ginger tea or ginger candies, and taking vitamin B6 supplements can also help reduce nausea.

Can coffee cause miscarriage in the first trimester?

High caffeine intake during the first trimester has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. It is generally recommended to limit caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams per day, which is about one 12-ounce cup of coffee, to reduce any potential risks.

Can you have sex in the first trimester?

Yes, it is generally safe to have sex during the first trimester of pregnancy unless advised otherwise by a healthcare provider due to specific medical conditions or complications. Always consult your doctor if you have concerns.

Can you fly in your first trimester?

Yes, flying during the first trimester is generally considered safe for most pregnancies. However, it’s always best to consult with your healthcare provider before traveling to discuss any potential risks or precautions based on your individual health and pregnancy.

What tests are done in the first trimester of pregnancy?


During the first trimester of pregnancy, common tests include pregnancy confirmation through urine or blood tests, blood tests to assess blood type, Rh factor, and screen for infections, and an optional ultrasound to confirm pregnancy, estimate gestational age, and check for fetal heartbeat. Other tests may include nuchal translucency screening and first-trimester screening for chromosomal abnormalities.

What to eat when pregnant in the first trimester?

During the first trimester of pregnancy, it’s beneficial to eat nutrient-dense foods such as leafy greens, lean proteins, whole grains, and fruits. Include foods rich in folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D to support fetal development and maternal health.

What helps morning sickness in the first trimester?


To alleviate morning sickness in the first trimester, try eating small, frequent meals, staying hydrated, and avoiding strong odors. Consuming ginger, such as ginger tea or ginger candies, and taking vitamin B6 supplements can also help reduce nausea.

Can coffee cause miscarriage in the first trimester?

High caffeine intake during the first trimester has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. It is generally recommended to limit caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams per day, which is about one 12-ounce cup of coffee, to reduce any potential risks.

Can you have sex in the first trimester?


Yes, it is generally safe to have sex during the first trimester of pregnancy unless advised otherwise by a healthcare provider due to specific medical conditions or complications. Always consult your doctor if you have concerns.

Can you fly in your first trimester?

Yes, flying during the first trimester is generally considered safe for most pregnancies. However, it’s always best to consult with your healthcare provider before traveling to discuss any potential risks or precautions based on your individual health and pregnancy.


Can you get a massage in the first trimester?

Yes, you can get a massage during the first trimester, but it’s important to ensure the therapist is trained in prenatal massage techniques. Always consult with your healthcare provider beforehand to ensure it is safe for your specific pregnancy situation.

Can the first trimester cause diarrhea?

Yes, diarrhea can occur during the first trimester of pregnancy due to hormonal changes, dietary changes, increased sensitivity to certain foods, or prenatal vitamins. However, if diarrhea is severe or persistent, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to rule out any underlying issues and ensure proper hydration and nutrition.

Can the first trimester cause depression? 

Yes, the first trimester can trigger or exacerbate depression in some individuals due to hormonal fluctuations, physical discomfort, and emotional stressors associated with pregnancy. Seeking support from healthcare providers or mental health professionals is essential for managing symptoms effectively.

Does the first trimester make you hungry?

Yes, increased hunger is common in the first trimester due to hormonal changes and the body’s increased energy needs to support early fetal development. However, individual experiences vary, and some may also experience nausea or food aversions alongside hunger.

Does the first trimester cause insomnia?

Yes, insomnia can occur in the first trimester due to hormonal changes, increased urination, and anxiety. Difficulty sleeping is common, but establishing a bedtime routine and consulting with a healthcare provider for advice can help manage it.

Does your belly grow in the first trimester?

In the first trimester, most women experience only minimal belly growth due to the small size of the fetus. However, some may notice slight changes due to bloating or the body’s adjustments to pregnancy.

Is cramping normal in the first trimester?

Yes, cramping in the first trimester is generally normal and often results from the uterus expanding and ligament stretching. However, severe or persistent cramping should be discussed with a healthcare provider to ensure there are no underlying issues.

How long can first trimester spotting last?


First-trimester spotting can last a few days to a couple of weeks. While it’s often harmless, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to rule out any potential complications.

Is it normal to lose weight in the first trimester?

Yes, it can be normal to lose weight in the first trimester due to factors like morning sickness and changes in appetite. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure that the weight loss is not affecting the health of the pregnancy.

Are first-trimester symptoms worse with twins?

Yes, first-trimester symptoms can be more intense with twins due to higher levels of pregnancy hormones. Common symptoms like nausea, fatigue, and breast tenderness may be more severe compared to a singleton pregnancy.

What tests are done in the first trimester of pregnancy?

During the first trimester of pregnancy, common tests include pregnancy confirmation through urine or blood tests, blood tests to assess blood type, Rh factor, and screen for infections, and an optional ultrasound to confirm pregnancy, estimate gestational age, and check for fetal heartbeat. Other tests may include nuchal translucency screening and first-trimester screening for chromosomal abnormalities.


Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

Links and product recommendations in the information provided here are advertisements of third-party products available on the website. PharmEasy does not make any representation on the accuracy or suitability of such products/services. Advertisements do not influence the editorial decisions or content. The information in this blog is subject to change without notice. The authors and administrators reserve the right to modify, add, or remove content without notification. It is your responsibility to review this disclaimer regularly for any changes.

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