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First Trimester Overview

During your first trimester - the first three months of pregnancy - big changes are happening inside your body, with no outward signs of pregnancy. You may not even be aware you’re pregnant until you have missed your period.

Most women use home pregnancy tests to confirm a pregnancy. These tests are often as reliable as the pregnancy test performed by your WellStar physician. However, a home test does not mean you should put off seeing an obstetrician. Prenatal care is important for your baby’s health and your own. Call WellStar for an appointment as soon as you know you’re pregnant.

Physical Changes

While there are many common symptoms of early pregnancy, not all women experience all symptoms.

  • Changes in hormone production may make your breasts sensitive and feel fuller and heavier. A sports bra or more supportive bra may help.
  • Nausea comes from hormonal changes and tends to be worse in the morning, giving rise to the name “morning sickness.” But don’t be fooled by the name. It can last all day. To help relieve nausea eat several small, low-fat meals throughout the day and keep food by your bed for late-night or early morning snacking. Call your WellStar physician if the nausea is severe, you can't keep liquids down or you vomit blood.
  • You may feel unusually tired as your body prepares for the pregnancy. Rest as much as you can, and try to exercise daily, with a brisk walk for example. Make sure you're getting enough iron and protein.
  • Visits to the bathroom become more frequent as your growing uterus presses on your bladder. The same pressure may cause you to leak urine when sneezing, coughing or laughing. Urinating whenever you feel the urge is important to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.
  • The movements that push food from your esophagus into your stomach will slow down, and your stomach will take longer to empty. This slowdown allows more nutrients to be absorbed into your bloodstream and reach your baby. It may also lead to heartburn and constipation. You may find some relief by eating small meals with lots of fiber throughout the day.
  • Circulatory changes may cause occasional dizziness. Avoid prolonged standing, and rise slowly after lying or sitting down to prevent dizziness. If dizziness is severe or accompanied by abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, call your doctor immediately. These can be signs of an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus.
  • Average weight gain is three to five pounds, though you may gain less if you are experiencing nausea.

Your WellStar obstetrician can help you overcome many of these symptoms if they become a problem.

Your Baby

  • The critical development from embryo to fetus (the official name change occurs around week 10) takes place in the first trimester, as all of your baby’s physical processes progress.
  • At the end of the first trimester, your fetus will be about 2.5 in. in size and fully formed. Over the next six months it will grow larger and stronger.
  • The fetus will kick and move. You won’t be able to feel it yet, but an ultrasound will show the movement.

The chance of miscarriage drops at the end of the first trimester. So, now is the time when many parents-to-be begin to tell people the news.

Routine Exams and Tests

For your first prenatal visit, be sure to schedule plenty of time for discussion as well as a physical exam. Your WellStar healthcare provider will ask about many things, including:

  • Details about your menstrual cycle
  • Use of contraceptives
  • Past pregnancies
  • Allergies or other medical conditions
  • Prescription or over-the-counter medications you take
  • Family history of congenital abnormalities or genetic diseases

In addition, during your first visit your physician will:

  • Establish your due date by counting ahead 40 weeks from the start of your last period.
  • Perform a physical exam, which will include checking your weight, height and blood pressure and assessing your overall health.
  • Discuss the importance of nutrition, prenatal vitamins, exercise, your work environment and other lifestyle issues.
  • Perform some or all of the following:
    • Blood tests to determine:
      • Your blood type
      • Rh factor
      • Exposure to syphilis, measles, mumps, rubella or hepatitis B, and HIV, if you choose
    • Urine tests to check for:
      • Bladder infection
      • Kidney infection
      • Diabetes
      • Kidney disease
    • A pelvic exam to:
      • Check your vagina and cervix for infections or abnormalities
      • Perform a Pap test if needed, which screens for cervical cancer
      • Confirm the stage of your pregnancy by changes to the uterus and cervix

Other first trimester prenatal visits will not be so long or involved, but may include these tests:

  • First trimester screen combines a maternal blood test with an ultrasound of the fetus to identify risk for chromosomal abnormalities, including Down’s Syndrome. This test, if recommended by your WellStar physician, is performed between weeks 11 and 13.
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a diagnostic test for identifying chromosome abnormalities and other inherited disorders. Your healthcare provider may recommend CVS if you or your partner have family medical histories with potential risks. CVS is performed between 10 and 13 weeks.

Don’t Forget!

Talk to your physician about:

  • Prenatal vitamins for your baby’s health as well as your own
  • A healthy diet for your baby’s growth and development
  • Stopping smoking and drinking
  • Consider taking a Prenatal Nutrition Class.

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