Congratulations! You’re pregnant and have officially entered the first trimester of your pregnancy. Chances are, you are buzzing with excitement (and worry). The first trimester is a precious time as your little baby goes from a tiny egg and sperm cell to a baby with eyes, a heartbeat, and arms. How cool is that!
You might be a bundle of emotions. Pregnancy hormones will do that to you. One minute you want to scream at the rooftops from excitement, and then you cry the next minute. It’s normal, but just a bit annoying. Try to remind yourself that you’re growing a child.
Over the next few weeks, your body will undergo a lot of changes, and your baby is busy growing. The changes from conception to the end of the first trimester is mind-boggling. By the end of the first trimester, your baby goes from the size of a pencil tip to a peach. Crazy, right?
How Long is the First Trimester?
The first trimester goes from week 1 until the end of week 12. Week 1 is when your menstrual cycle began. It’s a bit confusing at times that they count before the baby is conceived, but it’s all based on your menstrual cycle!
Week 2 of pregnancy is the week that you conceived your little baby. This time is when your body ovulated and you managed to catch the egg in time. Week 3 is the time that it takes for the fertilized egg to travel down the fallopian tubes and implant into your uterus. This can take anywhere from 4 to 8 days.
Once the fertilized egg reached its final destination – aka your uterus -, it had to quickly implant into the walls of your uterus and start to grow. You had no idea this was happening. Now, your body starts to create HCG – the pregnancy hormone. It’s this hormone that pregnancy tests look for in your urine or blood. It takes 24 to 48 hours for HCG levels to increase, so you were pregnant a few days before you were able to determine via pregnancy test.
First Trimester Pregnancy Symptoms
Everyone knows that the first trimester brings along with it some major pregnancy symptoms. With so much happening in your body, you would expect to feel something, right?
Most pregnancy symptoms are caused by progesterone and HCG, the pregnancy hormone. Let’s take a look at the most common pregnancy symptoms in the first trimester.
Morning sickness is the most common symptom associated with pregnancy and the one we dread the most. It’s like having a hangover all the time without having the fun night of partying before.
Nausea during pregnancy is caused by the rising levels of pregnancy hormones, such as progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin, and estrogen. You might find that you have some serious nausea and vomiting. Despite the name “morning sickness,” there is no rule that it has to stick to the morning. In fact, many women experience all day sickness or just at random times throughout the day.
Luckily, morning sickness doesn’t last forever. For most women, it begins around the 5th or 6th week of pregnancy. It tends to be the worst between the 8th and 9th weeks, then it should be gone by your second trimester.
Some unfortunate women will experience nausea that lasts their entire pregnancy. Despite the annoyance and overall feeling badly, morning sickness is considered normal in most cases. However, if you aren’t able to hold down anything, including water, you risk dehydration which is dangerous. Speak to your healthcare provider!
A few tips to help reduce morning sickness include:
- Eat small, frequent meals. An empty stomach leads to more nausea.
- Sniff lemons or suck on lemon-flavored candy.
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
- Try some sports beverages, like Gatorade
- Eat a protein-rich snack before bedtime. Protein helps you stay fuller for longer, and it should help you feel better in the morning.
Do you feel tired down to the bone? Would you rather sleep all day or find yourself falling asleep as soon as you sit down on the couch? Welcome to the first trimester.
Your body is creating more progesterone to increase your uterus lining to prevent a miscarriage and help grow your baby. High levels of progesterone can lower your blood sugar and blood pressure, making you feel tired all the time. It’s normal to feel more tired than ever before.
Unfortunately, we all have to complete our normal tasks, and that means going to work and taking care of day-to-day tasks. Since you probably aren’t telling anyone about your pregnancy just yet, it can be hard to explain why you’re so tired to friends and family.
A few tips to handle pregnancy fatigue include:
- Take naps as often as possible
- Keep your bedroom dark
- Turn the TV off in the bedroom and try to decrease screen time before going to sleep.
- Go to bed earlier
The best thing is that the overall fatigue will start to go away as you get closer to the second trimester. Most women find the second trimester a breath of fresh air and a burst of energy.
Throughout the first trimester, your emotions will be all over the place. At first, you might feel excitement, joy, and nervousness. You’ll feel some fear as well. Add in nausea and fatigue, and you have a mess!
Being worried, overwhelmed, and nervous is normal. It’s impossible to see what’s happening in your uterus, so you have no idea if your baby is developing properly. The fear of a miscarriage is real, but don’t allow yourself to get caught up in fear and stress. Neither is good for you or the baby.
Your breasts know something is coming in their future. You might notice your breasts getting bigger, sorer, and sensitive to the touch. All of this is thanks to your pregnancy hormones hard at work!
The tenderness typically decreases as you enter the first trimester. Your breasts will continue to grow and change throughout your pregnancy as you prepare to breastfeed.
To help reduce this tenderness, invest in a comfortable, supportive bra. Underwire bras tend to make your breasts feel worse. Look for a nursing or pregnancy bra, but make sure you get a bigger size so you can adjust it as your breasts grow.
You might feel like your period is coming with all of the annoying bloating. Bloating occurs in early pregnancy, mostly due to hormone changes. These hormones slow down your digestive system, and it can make you feel bloated. It’s never fun, but it’s quite normal.
At this point, frequent urination is not caused by your baby pressing onto your bladder. That comes later in pregnancy. Right now, frequent urination is caused by fluctuation of hormones. Are you noticing a trend? Also, at the same time, your body sends more blood to your uterus as it is already starting to grow.
Even though you feel more at home in your bathroom than ever before, you need to stay hydrated. Pregnant women need to increase their fluid intake, even if you need to pee more!
You’re not alone! Feeling backed up in common in pregnancy. All of those pregnancy hormones make it harder to become regular.
To combat pregnancy constipation, increase your fiber intake. Try snacking on foods like fresh fruits and dried fruits, and whole grains.
Average Weight Gain in the First Trimester
Most women don’t gain a lot of weight in the first trimester. A majority struggle just to consume the right amount of calories because of nausea and vomiting.
You can expect to probably gain 3 to 4 pounds during the first trimester. However, don’t be alarmed if you lose a few pounds instead. When you struggle to keep food down, that’s okay. Your healthcare provider will monitor your weight gain and will let you know if they’re concerned.
Do remember that pregnancy is not the time to start a new diet. Instead, you want to focus on eating as healthy as you can. Pregnant women should eat from all the food groups. A varied diet helps ensure your body receives all of the necessary nutrients.
Congratulations! Week 4 is when most women will miss their menstrual cycle and take a pregnancy test. Now that you know you’re expecting a child, you’re probably a whirlwind of emotions.
Let’s take a look at all the exciting things happening during week 4 of pregnancy!
Your baby is about 0.05 inches long, the average length of a poppy seed!
- Splitting in Two: All of the cells that will become your baby soon enough are turning from a blastocyst (a collection of cells) into your placenta and an embryo (a fertilized egg). To start this process, it must first split into two.
- Getting Ready to Develop: An ultrasound couldn’t show what’s happening with your baby at this point. It’s still way too small! The gestational sac holds all the secrets for your baby’s future, like your baby’s toes, eye color, and arms.
Is it Normal to Spot in Week 4?
Seeing any blood when you find out you’re pregnant is concerning. However, spotting can be normal in early pregnancy. Up to 30% of women experience implantation bleeding, which is caused when the embryo attaches to the wall of your uterus.
It can be hard not to become concerned but try to relax. A bit of blood can be normal. However, if it gets heavier, turns bright red, and comes with cramps, call your healthcare provider.
Throughout pregnancy, you might have some light spotting. A few other reasons you might have pregnancy spotting includes:
- Vaginal Sex: Your cervix is sensitive right now! Sexual intercourse can irritate your cervix and cause spotting. This typically happens right after sex or the hours afterward.
- Transvaginal Ultrasound: An internal ultrasound can irritate your cervix as well, leading to bleeding. You should know this is the culprit because it will happen soon after the ultrasound.
- Doing Too Much: If you’re lifting or doing too much, your body might send the signal to slow down by spotting. Kick your feet up or avoid exercising as much.
Welcome to week 5! A lot is happening with your babe at this point. The shock may have worn off, as you’ve had a week to process it. Excitement and joy are still part of week 5 as well as all the nervousness and fears that come with pregnancy.
Your baby is between 0.09 and 0.13 inches long, the size of an apple seed.
- The Beginnings: In week 5, your baby consists of three germ layers. It sounds weird, but it’s true! The ectoderm is the beginnings of your baby’s brain, spinal cord, skin, and nails. The mesoderm turns into your baby’s heart and circulatory system. The endoderm will become your baby’s lungs, intestines, and other major organs.
- Organ Development: It might seem crazy, but your baby is already starting to develop organs! Major organs, such as the heart, stomach, liver, and kidneys are starting to develop.
Remember that light cramping is considered normal. There is a lot happening there because of implantation and the stretching of your uterus which starts almost immediately. Severe cramping, as you might feel during your period or worse, isn’t normal and means you need to call your doctor.
Week 6 might be the week when morning sickness kicks in if it hasn’t already. Did you know that by week 6 your risk of miscarriage drops if a heartbeat begins and can be seen on an ultrasound? That should make you feel better!
Your baby is between 0.15 and 0.25 inches long, the size of a sweet pea.
- Like a Little Tadpole: If you could see your baby right now, he would look like a little tadpole that’s scrunched up. He has a tail, but don’t worry, it’ll go away soon! Your baby sits scrunched up, so doctors measure from head to rump for right now.
- Heart Starts to Beat: Can you believe that blood is starting circulating? A faint heartbeat can be seen on an ultrasound soon. Between week 6 and 7, you will be able to see a heartbeat. Right now, your baby’s heartbeat is around 150 beats per minute.
- Arms and Legs: In week 6, your baby’s arms and legs are starting to make their debut! Tiny little buds develop that will eventually be your child’s arms and legs.
- Umbilical Cord: Your body is doing more than just growing your baby right now. The umbilical cord, amniotic sac, and placenta are developing, and those are key components to keeping your baby safe and sound throughout the pregnancy.
You’re in your second month of pregnancy now, and probably really feeling pregnancy. Morning sickness should be in full swing by week 7, so you might be feeling crummy.
Your baby is around 0.51 inches, the size of a blueberry.
- Doubling in Size: Your baby has grown a lot since last week. In one week, your baby has doubled in size. If you think that’s no big deal, imagine dealing YOUR size in a week! Not only has your baby grown a lot, but he sprouted arms and legs. Joints are starting to form.
- Digestive System: During week 7, his intestines are getting bigger and starting to extend into the umbilical cord. Over time, everything finds its proper place. Don’t worry.
- Developing Brain: A baby’s brain at this stage is growing rapidly. 100,000 new cells every minute to be exact – crazy! At this stage, his brain two hemispheres and is growing more complex every day.
Other Pregnancy Symptoms You Might Experience
We listed a few common early pregnancy symptoms before, but that wasn’t all you might experience! A few other pregnancy symptoms that are common in week 7 include:
Some women experience the opposite of constipation – diarrhea. You might also have a stomach bug, but if you have no other symptoms and diarrhea persists for days, chances are its pregnancy related. Make sure that you work to stay hydrated if you have diarrhea. Drink water and juices, and have brothy soups.
Is your mouth watering more often these days? Believe it or not, excess saliva happens in pregnancy, and it can be an annoying pregnancy symptom. Your body produces extra saliva to protect your mouth and throat from those stomach acids that can bother you during the first trimester. Try drinking more water and brushing your teeth often to help with the saliva!
Do you feel like a teenager with pimples breaking out all over your skin? Pregnancy hormones are at work again. Those hormones can cause your skin to create extra sebum, a natural oil, that can clog pores. Talk to your doctor to discuss what acne treatments are considered safe. Many are not because benzoyl peroxide has yet to be fully studied for safety during pregnancy.
Some women experience no symptoms at all! If you’ve made it this far without any symptoms, you might be questioning if everything is okay. Lack of symptoms doesn’t mean anything is wrong or that your pregnancy is anything other than fine. You might have more symptoms later or you could just be lucky.
The 8th week tends to be a big one because you usually head to your first doctor’s appointment! You will get to see your baby for the first time on ultrasound. By now, you’re definitely feeling pregnant, with nausea and fatigue in full swing.
Your baby is 0.63 inches, the size of a raspberry.
- The Heartbeat: By now, your baby has a strong heart rate between 150 to 170 beats per minute. That’s double the rate of a typical adult. By 8 weeks, you will be able to see this heartbeat on an ultrasound.
- Gender: Even though your baby’s gender is already determined, you aren’t able to see on an ultrasound this early. In the next few weeks, you may be offered a blood test that can determine your baby’s gender. If not, you have to wait until between 15 and 20 weeks, when the boy or girl parts are visible on ultrasounds.
- Little Details: Right now, your baby’s lips, nose, and eyelids are forming, becoming more distinct. His fingers and toes are developing as well. They might be webbed, but that will go away. That tail is gone now, so that’s a perk.
Your First Prenatal Visit - What to Expect
Most providers will see you for the first time between 8 and 12 weeks. What happens at your appointment will depend on if you’re seeing a midwife or an OBGYN. Here are some things you might expect.
- Review Medical History: Your appointment will involve your doctor going over your health history, including general health and past gynecological health. You will be asked questions about your family health as well.
- Physical Exam: When you first arrive, a nurse will take your blood pressure, height, and weight. Then, your doctor might perform a pelvic exam and a pap smear. If you had one during your preconception meeting, then you won’t need another.
- Ultrasound: If you’re 8 weeks, most OBGYNs will order an ultrasound to check for a heartbeat and to get an idea of how far along you are. They’ll use this and the date of your last menstrual cycle to determine your due date.
- Urine Test: You might as well get used to peeing in a cup. For this appointment, they will test for pregnancy. Each appointment, they will test your urine for protein, glucose, white blood cells, and more. Expect this at every appointment.
- Blood Work: Doctors will want to have your blood drawn so that they can determine your blood type and RH status. They will want to check your iron levels, and some doctors check for STDs as well.
You’re quickly heading towards the end of your first trimester. Nausea tends to be the worst this week, so try to hold on. Relief is headed your way. If you’re really struggling with morning sickness, here are some survival tips to try.
Your baby is 0.9 inches, the size of a cherry.
- Heart Development: Now, your baby’s heart has four chambers, just like yours. The valves are forming, and you might be able to hear the heartbeat with a fetal doppler!
- The Small Details: So many small details forming right now. By week 9, your baby’s eyes are fully formed, but they won’t open for some time. Eyelids are fused shut until around 27 weeks. Bones in your baby’s arms are developing and little muscles are forming! If you had a window to look in your uterus, you would see your baby moving those little legs and arms around. It’ll be a few more weeks before you can feel, but your baby is active in there.
- Rapid Weight Gain: Over the next few weeks, your baby is about to grow rapidly. In the next three weeks, your baby will double in length and weight. That’s a lot of development in a short period of time!
- Bone Development: You might have noticed that your baby is now developing bones, and you want to do whatever you can do support bone growth. Calcium and vitamin D are important as your baby undergoes a lot of development and changes.
Your baby will receive calcium through the placenta to harden and strengthen his bones. Try to intake 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. If you don’t provide your body with enough calcium, your body will take from your own supply of calcium, leading to bone loss or dental problems.
Vitamin D is just as important because it helps your body absorb calcium properly. Make sure you take 200 to 400 IUs daily. Look at your prenatal vitamin to ensure it has the problem amount.
Hello, little fetus! Up until now, your baby was classified as an embryo. Now, he is a fetus. The classification changes because all of his organs are developed and starting to work. Now, those organs will continue to grow and develop more for the next 30 weeks of pregnancy.
Your baby is 1.2 inches long, the size of a strawberry.
- A Busy Heart: That little heart is pumping at full speed! The heart has all of its necessary parts now, and it’s working to send blood throughout your baby’s body as he grows. It will continue to beat two to three times faster than yours for the entire pregnancy.
- Building Bones: The extra calcium and vitamin D you take are working. Bones and cartilage form and joints start to develop. Now, your baby can bend his elbows and knees.
- Digestive System: His stomach has digestive juices flowing through it. Kidneys increase urine flow. He is getting ready to digest all that yummy breast milk!
Is Extra Discharge Normal?
Do you notice some extras in your panties? Pregnancy can leave us some extra surprises down there, so it’s important to know what’s normal and what warrants a call to your doctor.
Pregnancy does increase the amount of discharge that your body creates because your body produces more estrogen and blood flow increases. Women have discharge every day of their life, but pregnancy makes it more noticeable than before. Invest in pantyliners!
Normal vaginal discharge is clear or milky white. Sometimes, it’s thicker or it could be thin, almost watery. It will have little to no odor.
Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
If you have any of these weird signs, you need to talk to your OBGYN.
- Accompanied by itching, burning, or inflammation. These are signs of a yeast infection.
- Thin white or grey with a fishy smell. This might indicate a vaginal infection called bacterial vaginosis.
- Yellow or green discharge with a strong odor, or redness with itchiness. This might be an STD called trichomoniasis.
- Any sudden change in thickness, color, or quantity. This might be a sign of preterm labor.
Remember when your baby was very oddly proportioned with a tail? That is no longer! Your baby’s head is finally about the same size as the rest of his body. Even though his head is a strange size, it’s starting to come together and will reach the right proportions by birth.
Your baby is 1.6 inches long, the size of a fig.
- Hair: Your baby has hair! By week 11, hair follicles are forming on your baby’s head and body. If your baby is going to be hairy at birth, it starts now.
- Fingers and Toes: A few weeks ago, your baby’s hands and feet were webbed like a duck. Now, at week 11, his fingers and toes are no longer webbed! They’re separate like yours, and he is gearing up to be able to open and close his fist.
- Teeth: No, your baby won’t come out with teeth. In fact, it’ll be months, perhaps a year, after birth until your baby develops his first tooth. Right now, your baby is growing tooth buds under the gums preparing for their final appearance.
This week is your final week in your first trimester. You made it! The risk of miscarriage now has significantly dropped, which should ease any fears you have. You’ve seen your baby, and you’re starting to really feel pregnant. If you haven’t, you’re probably planning to tell everyone the great news!
Let’s not forget the huge growth spurt. Your baby doubled in size over the past three weeks. At 9 weeks, your baby was an inch or so long. Now, he is two inches long. That’s crazy!
Your baby is 2 inches long, the size of a lime.
- Digestive Progress: By week 12, your baby’s intestines are fully developed. Now, they start to change positions, leaving the umbilical cord and moving into the abdomen, where they belong.
- Cute Face: Your baby is finally looking more like an adorable baby. His ears and eyes are moving to their permanent spots, preparing for the next ultrasound!
Do You Have Heartburn?
Morning sickness should be on its way out. Now, the rest of your pregnancy will probably be filled with heartburn. Progesterone, the hormone during pregnancy, relaxes the valve between the stomach and esophagus. This allows stomach up to come up, sounds lovely, right? Eventually, some of this heartburn will be crowded by your large baby.
To help get rid of some of this heartburn, here are some tips.
- Try to eat small, frequent meals.
- Don’t lie down after you eat for an hour. That means you need to plan your eating before you go to bed!
- Chew food extra before swallowing.
- Try to avoid eating spicy, greasy, and heavy foods. All of these trigger heartburn. Look at what triggers your heartburn. It might be coffee (darn), chocolate, carbonated beverages, or certain foods.
Are you ready to make it to your second trimester? Keep reading our next guide on what to expect in your second trimester!