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What to Expect During Pregnancy: The First Trimester

Learn what happens to a pregnant person's body during the first trimester of pregnancy in this article.

Published by Anja Health on

May 3, 2022

— Updated on

August 9, 2022

What is the first trimester?

The first part of your pregnancy journey is categorized as the first trimester, or the weeks in between conception and week 12 of pregnancy. During this time you will be making a lot of decisions and experiencing a lot of changes. The first trimester is the first of the three stages of pregnancy. It is a very critical stage in your journey for both you and your baby's development. Although you may not be able to see the physical changes yet, there is a lot going on for both you and your baby.

During the first trimester, all of your baby's major organ and organ systems are beginning to form. Your baby is developing a brain, spinal cord, heart, hands and feet. This is when your baby is in the most vulnerable state, especially to toxic substances like drugs and alcohol. Along with baby's growth, your body is also beginning to change.

What are first trimester symptoms?

At the time of the first trimester, your body is being flooded with pregnancy hormones like hCG, estrogen, and progesterone. These hormonal changes can prompt symptoms often associated with the first trimester, these include, weight gain, discomfort, food cravings, nausea, headache, and extreme tiredness. Although some women have little to no pregnancy symptoms, others may experience some or all of the symptoms of pregnancy:

  • Spotting: Some women may notice spotting or light bleeding, this is common, especially during the first few days or weeks of pregnancy. It is still good to let your provider know if you are experiencing this symptom so they can monitor it.
  • Diarrhea: This usually doe not cause too much concern, but persistent loose or watery stools can leave you dehydrated.
  • Cramping: In early pregnancy, implantation, or a fertilized egg attaching to the uterus can cause cramping.
  • Back pain: Not uncommon during the first trimester, but tends to be more present during the second and third trimester.
  • Sore breasts: Changes in the breast, including sore nipples and breast tenderness are often one of the early signs of pregnancy.
  • Shortness of breath: Pregnancy causes you to need more oxygen which can often times lead you to feel as if you are out of breath.

The first trimester checklist

There are so many exciting, and sometimes nerve-wrecking decisions to make during the first trimester. Since most pregnant women do not have a confirmed pregnancy test until a few weeks into the first trimester, it can seem overwhelming to prepare for the next weeks ahead. This list will but help ease your mind as you navigate the first trimester and beyond.

  • Start taking a prenatal vitamins and supplements: It is important to start taking a prenatal vitamin right away to ensure you are getting enough folic acid. It is critical to get enough folic acid to reduce your baby's risk of developing birth abnormalities such as spina bifida.
  • Choose a healthcare professional: You may already have an OBGYN or midwife that you love, if not, it is time to do your research. Ask those around you if they have a health care provider that they recommend, even talk to your primary care provider.
  • Get ready to see or hear your baby: Around weeks 9 to 12, you may have the chance to hear your baby's heartbeat thanks to a Doppler fetal monitor. You may also have the chance to see your baby through an ultrasound.
  • Quit: Now is the time to quit any unsafe habits you may have had, this includes, smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs that pose a risk for a healthy pregnancy.
  • Cut down on caffeine: During your pregnancy, it is a good idea to cut back on caffeine as much as you can or limit it to about a one 11-once cup per day.
  • Prenatal testing: During your first trimester, you will be offered various prenatal test . Genetic screening tests may also be offered in addition to routine tests, this will give you information about your baby's risk for chromosomal and or birth defects.
  • Announce your pregnancy: This is where it gets fun. Think about how or if you want to announce your pregnancy.
  • Belly photos: It is never too soon to start documenting your journey. Start taking weekly photos as a way to look back on your journey and see the changes from week to week.
  • Follow your baby's development: Research an app where you can track your baby's development and learn the different things they are going through and developing week by week.
  • Support: Surround yourself with a support system that will be there for both you and your baby.
  • Consider banking your baby's umbilical cord blood, tissue and placenta with Anja Health!

Your first trimester is sure to be one that you will not forget. While planning, picking names, and scheduling appointments, remember to enjoy the moment. This is just the beginning, the second trimester is unique in its own way.

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