Congratulations on your pregnancy, mama! An exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking experience awaits! Regardless of whether this is your first pregnancy or your fifth, you might be surprised at what happens along the way since no two pregnancies are the same! We'll be covering the pregnancy journey through three separate blogs, starting this week with the first trimester.
Your first trimester is considered as weeks 0-13. During the first three or so months of pregnancy, you might find yourself exhausted or more tired than normal, and for a good reason! Your baby's vital organs are developing and taking shape during those first few months, and your body is putting a lot of effort into this. If you weren't taking prenatal vitamins before you fell pregnant, it's really important to start now, as supplements like folic acid and iodine help with the development of your baby's nervous system (which is one of the first things to develop) and reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
At this point, it's also a good idea to start looking for a midwife, as their schedules tend to fill up incredibly fast! Your midwife will be your guide throughout your whole pregnancy as well as 4-6 weeks postpartum. They will be your go-to for any questions you might have, so it's important that you feel comfortable around them and establish a trusting relationship with them. If you feel like you and your midwife aren't "clicking", it's absolutely okay to look for another one! It's as simple as contacting the new midwife and letting them know you want to shift to them. As long as they have space, they'll be able to get all your paperwork and details transferred over to them. You don't need to give a reason to your current midwife as to why you're moving - sometimes you just aren't feeling it, and that's okay! However, it does pay to notify them once you have signed up with your new midwife so that they can open their books back up and create space for another mama.
During these early months, you'll need to have a consultation with your GP or Lead Medical Carer (LMC) as they will be able to give you advice on maintaining a healthy pregnancy. They'll also refer you to a local medical lab to have an antenatal blood screening. This will be the first of several blood tests and checks your blood sample for the presence of things like hepatitis B, syphilis, HIV, iron levels, red blood cell count and quite a few other important factors. As you progress through pregnancy, you will be offered a range of various tests and scans, any of which you may decline if you feel uncomfortable having them. However, they are often recommended to monitor the health of you and your baby.
If you have a regular cycle and can pinpoint the beginning of your previous period, then you may be given an estimated due date at your initial consultation. Your LMC may refer you for a dating ultrasound if you are unsure of your last period or have an irregular cycle. This is where they measure your baby's "crown-rump length" or "CRL" to more accurately date when your little one was conceived and provide you with an estimated due date. A bonus to having a dating scan is it lets you see your little one extra early! If you're at or over six weeks along, then you might even be able to see their tiny fluttering heartbeat!
What Symptoms Might You Experience Week By Week?
Every woman is different, and you may experience all, some or no symptoms. However, some of the more common pregnancy symptoms along the way include:
- Weeks 1-3: This phase occurs around your time of ovulation, so it might be that the tiny fertilised egg is still making its way down your fallopian tube before implanting in your uterus. Once implantation occurs, some women might notice a small amount of implantation spotting or very light bleeding. Be sure to advise your doctor or midwife if you begin bleeding or spotting heavily or if you ever feel like your symptoms are becoming unmanageable.
- Week 4: You might notice around this time that your period hasn't arrived. Some women start to notice symptoms such as tender breasts, fatigue or nausea, which can sometimes be mistaken for PMS symptoms.
- Week 5: Alongside week four's list of symptoms, you may now also experience frequent urination, mood swings and food cravings or aversions. Your favourite foods and smells might now make you nauseous.
- Week 6: Some women can really feel exhausted by week six and have a heightened sense of smell. Vomiting may accompany your morning sickness - which actually can be all-day sickness! While nausea and vomiting are unfortunately pretty common symptoms, extreme nausea and vomiting are not and could indicate a more serious issue, known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, often requiring hospitalisation and IV fluids.
- Week 7: With the fluctuations in your hormones, you may feel quite emotional this week. You may also notice some acne - particularly on your face, back and chest. Your breasts may begin to feel heavier than normal as well.
- Week 8: Your uterus has doubled in size by this week! As a result, you might find yourself running to the toilet more than normal since there is now increased pressure on your bladder.
- Week 9: Did you know that your blood volume has increased significantly at this stage to accommodate your growing baby? As such, some women may feel hotter than normal or even dizzy, so be sure to take care and rest when you need. You may also notice that your areolas become larger and darker, which is thought to help your newborn find their way to your breasts for their first feed once they are born.
- Week 10: Lost your libido? Don't worry; it's common around this time to lose interest in sex. However, some women find the opposite occurs and their libido skyrockets!
- Week 11: Some women notice thickening of their gums during pregnancy, which can impact their dental health. It's always important to maintain your oral hygiene, but particularly during pregnancy. If your teeth feel more sensitive or sore during this time, have a chat with your dentist or LMC to make sure everything is okay.
- Week 12: Your baby's organs have almost finished developing, and soon they will be focused on growing and gaining fat reserves for birth, so they will have good insulation for when they are born. Some women find the nausea and fatigue of previous weeks begin to wane at this point.
- Week 13: By now your baby is around the size of a lemon and will be focusing on maturing and growing for the rest of your pregnancy. You might even be able to feel the top of your uterus just above your pelvic bone as your baby continues to grow! It’s also around now that many women get their first glimpse of their little one at their first-trimester scan!
Congratulations on making it to the end of the first trimester! While you've still got a while to go, you're one-third of the way down and that much closer to meeting your gorgeous little babe.