The First Trimester
August 16, 2016
The first trimester of pregnancy can be a smooth time with very few pregnancy symptoms as highlighted in our previous article, or it could be the most uncomfortable and nerve racking time. Whatever the case may be take comfort knowing that the 2nd trimester is usually smoother.
This trimester lasts for about 12 weeks out of your total 40 weeks (280 days) pregnancy
cycle. It is the time when your baby, who starts of as hundreds of tiny cells, does the fastest growing as compared to the other stages. Unfortunately, it is also the stage with the highest chances of miscarriage; so in case of any sudden and excess bleeding, sever lower abdominal pain or any form of concern contact your doctor as soon as possible.
The moment you suspect that you are pregnant you should begin to make some lifestyle changes. For instance, you should avoid alcoholic beverages, smoking and caffeine. If you had consumed these for a while before you realized you were pregnant, don’t be too worried just stop taking them as soon as you find out and talk it over with your doctor during your antenatal visit.
During your first antenatal visit your doctor will assess your overall health to spot out any potential pregnancy risks and also determine your baby’s gestational age. S/he may also prescribe some prenatal vitamins to help keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. Feel free to write a list of questions to ask your doctor to help relieve any anxiety you might have.
As your baby grows and develops you might gain around 1 – 3 kgs by the end of your first trimester. Your expected weight gain, however will be determined by the weight you were before you got pregnant. If you were overweight or underweight beforehand your doctor might recommend a different appropriate weight gain target. You may also experience some heartburn caused by the increase in progesterone which relaxes the muscles in your esophagus. This prevents it from keeping food and other acids down in your stomach causing acid reflux (heartburn). To deal with the heartburn eat small but frequent meals and avoid spicy and acidic foods and fruits.
We have described the changes you should expect during this period. Now we will go through the estimated week by week changes your baby will go through during this trimester.
Week 1 & 2:
During this period ovulation occurs allowing for your egg to be fertilized. This fertilized egg attaches itself to the walls of your uterus where it shall continue to grow.
At this stage the fertilized egg becomes a tiny ball filled with multiple cells called a blastocyst.
The blastocyst then splits to form an embryo and the placenta. The placenta will be tasked with nourishing the fetus throughout the pregnancy as well as help transfer oxygen to the fetus and carbon dioxide and other waste products from the fetus.
At this stage your baby’s heart and circulatory system have begun to develop. Pregnancy discomfort might also set in at this stage, if it hasn’t already. A home pregnancy test is also bound to be able to confirm your suspicions at this point due to the increased hormone levels in your body.
By now the embryo is around the size of an orange pip/seed. His/her tiny face has already started to form with a tiny nose and eyes already taking shape. Arm and leg buds may also appear.
At this point the embryo begins to form hands and feet though there is still a small tail while his/her brain begins to grow.
By now your uterus will have doubled in size and your baby is constantly moving though you might not feel it.
At this stage the fetus is around the size of a strawberry and his/her muscles also begin to develop.
By now the fetus is around 3cm long as s/he begins to build his/her bones and cartilage.
Your fetus now looks more like a baby with his/her hands able to open and close into fists. Tiny tooth buds also begin to show underneath the gums. This is often the point where anxiety kicks in and you begin to worry if your baby is developing well. Your baby bump may also begin to show at this point.
This is the last stage of the first trimester. Your baby’s genitals, organs, bones and muscles are complete and waiting to grow with the kidneys already excreting urine. Your baby is also able to move his/her toes. With the end of the first trimester most of your pregnancy symptoms may also begin to subside.