The ﬁrst trimester beginnings
From that exhilarating moment when you read your positive pregnancy test, to the 13th week of pregnancy, Tips for the first trimester is a period of astonishing physical and emotional change. Your baby will grow from a single, microscopic cell into a tiny human being with eyes, nose, ears, mouth, and moving limbs, while your body starts to change to accommodate his needs and support his development.
Expect your emotions to wobble and energy levels to fluctuate as your pregnancy
hormones kick into action—you may feel everything from exhaustion and anxiety
to excitement and elation over the coming weeks
YOUR BABY’S HEART begins to beat as early as 22 days after fertilization—before you might know you are pregnant.
Some women experience a shortness of breath known as “air hunger” when they first become pregnant. Until eight weeks your baby will have a tail that is about one-sixth of his length. It will eventually recede to form his tailbone
About 20 percent of women will experience “implantation bleeding,” when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. | Tips for the first trimester |
Your baby’s brain waves can be recorded just six weeks after conception. JEANS FEELING TIGHT? At six weeks your uterus has already expanded from the size of a plum to the size of a small orange.
By ten weeks, almost all of your baby’s organs will be formed and some are already functioning. By 11 weeks, your growing baby has 20 tooth buds in place, and soft nails start to form on his fingers and toes
Your baby has his own unique fingerprints at 13 weeks
The rate of twin pregnancies in some African countries, such as Nigeria, can be as high as 1 in 25. Whereas China has the lowest rate of twin births—1 in 300—in the world
The New begins
Your baby started off as a single, tiny cell, packed with potential.
This lone cell undergoes an incredible, intricate process of multiplication until you have a baby made of trillions of cells
Your baby’s development is a complicated process, and yet her entire being derives from a single microscopic, three-layered ball of cells.
The ﬁrst stage of her development is when these cells differentiate and specialize, during which time your baby is referred to as an embryo.
Once she has been developing for eight weeks, and for the rest of your pregnancy, she will be termed a fetus.
By the end of the ﬁrst trimester, your baby has a human face and resembles a tiny person, with most of her body systems in place. | Tips for the first trimester |
She grows rapidly in the second trimester, and in the third, her body ﬁne-tunes itself ready to enter the world. Ofﬁcially, your baby’s development is dated according to her “gestational” age. So when doctors talk about how many weeks pregnant you are, they are counting your pregnancy not from conception, but from the ﬁrst day of your last period.
So, when you are ofﬁcially 12 weeks pregnant, your baby will have only been developing for ten weeks
Journey to the uterus
Within 24 hours, the fertilized egg divides in two, then continues to split until a 100-celled ball (blastocyst) enters your uterus about six days later. Its inner layer of cells will form the embryo, while the outer layer burrows into the uterus lining. A placenta will develop from this outer layer of cells, but in the meantime, the embryo is nourished from a yolk sac in the cavity | Tips for the first trimester |
Laying the foundation
Laying the foundations At week five of pregnancy, this tiny ball (now called an embryo) divides into three layers. Each layer gives rise to different parts of your baby’s body. Her brain, spinal cord, skin, nervous system, eyes, ears, and connective tissues will be molded from the top layer. The middle layer will give your baby her heart, bones, muscles, and much of her reproductive system. The inner layer creates her lungs, bladder, and intestines | Tips for the first trimester |
Full speed ahead
By week six, your baby’s body shape is forming. She is 1⁄16 in (4 mm) long and curves gently in a “C” shape, with a head and tail-end. Her simple heart pumps and arm and leg buds sprout from her body. Dotlike eyes form and on either side of her head, tiny pits appear, from which ears will develop. By week eight, she is the size of a raspberry, her “tail” begins to disappear, her limbs lengthen, and little webbed fingers and toes start to appear. | Tips for the first trimester |
Body systems are going
Between weeks 6 and 10, work on all your baby’s major organs is in full swing. Cells in her body constantly divide and specialize in different roles. The first system to function is her cardiovascular system vital so her heart can pump life-giving nutrients around her body to support her growth. This system constantly adapts and matures as she develops
From embryo to fetus Congratulations! After eight frenetic weeks of rapidly dividing, specializing, and remodeling itself, the embryo has graduated to become a fully-fledged fetus. At about 1 in (3 cm) long she looks more like a human now as her face is taking shape. Her eyes are not yet covered by an eyelid, and she has a mouth and tongue. | Tips for the first trimester |
And ready to grow…
At 12 weeks your baby is fully formed although only the size of a plum. She has reflexes and may respond to gentle pressure on your tummy. She may suck her thumb, swallow amniotic fluid, and pass urine. Your baby has made it through the most vulnerable stages of her development and from here on her body must grow and mature so that when the birth comes she is ready for the world. | Tips for the first trimester |
Not quite yourself
You may feel different when you’re pregnant—even before a test reads positive. If you suddenly cannot stand the taste of your regular coffee, or your partner’s scent makes you queasy, this might be a clue that changes are already underway
An unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth, known as dysgeusia, can be caused by higher estrogen levels, as well as the effects of water retention on your taste buds. Weirdly, eating sweet foods can exacerbate the mineral taste in your mouth, but brushing your teeth and tongue with mint toothpaste can help, as can eating acidic foods or sprinkling vinegar on your salad or french fries. | Tips for the first trimester |
Does your food need more salt or taste bitter? Higher estrogen levels can have a real effect on your sense of taste: reduced sensitivity to saltiness and increased sensitivity to bitter food is common (see pages 38–39). Many women naturally have a distaste for coffee and alcohol in the first trimester, but this is probably a good thing.
If you are prone to motion sickness, unfortunately, this may be more acute when pregnant and you are more likely to experience morning sickness. Low blood sugar levels seem to trigger nausea, so eat regular meals and snacks, particularly before a long trip or commute. Travel wristbands may help since they press on an acupressure spot at the inner wrist. For general tips on beating nausea, see right.
Stand well back
Your breasts are likely to feel supersensitive—pity the partner or toddler who accidentally brushes your chest. This is a result of your breast swelling in preparation for breast-feeding. Wearing a supportive bra without an underwire should help them feel more comfortable.
What’s that smell?
Your sense of smell is intertwined with your sense of taste and is also affected by your estrogen levels. Many pregnant women report heightened sensitivity to smell: avid gardeners may find the scent of certain plants intolerable and vintage fiends may find the smell of second-hand shops revolting. Other women report “phantom” smells, or notice ones from a long-distance away. Try masking nauseating scents with refreshing lemon: place two drops of essential oil of lemon on a cloth and sniff when you need to.
Drooling like a baby
Extra saliva is a classic symptom of early pregnancy and may be caused by the increased levels of human chorionic gonadotrophin, the hormone that sustains pregnancy. This is at its peak in the first 8 to 11 weeks, but should calm down after that. Chew gum, drink plenty of water, and eat little and often to make yourself feel more comfortable.
Need A Quick Nap?
Pregnancy fatigue can be especially overwhelming at this early stage. It’s caused by increased progesterone and your body working hard to grow a new life. In preparation for the new baby, your body needs to increase its blood volume and is busy consuming more oxygen— this is tiring work! Take every opportunity for a daytime nap, take it easy when you get home from work, and ease up on your social calendar.
Beat The Sickness
Nibble an oat or ginger cookie before you get out of bed in the morning. Eat oats for breakfast in oatmeal, granola, muesli, smoothies, or pancakes. Their slow-release energy boosts energy levels, builds stamina, and staves off nausea. Eat little and often to stabilize your blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates, such as pasta, bread, and rice, can help so include them in your meals. Try ginger in tea, smoothies, juices, or capsules to beat nausea. It encourages good digestion and counters constipation and indigestion. Drink diluted lemon juice to encourage your appetite. Get plenty of fresh air since stale air can make you feel tired and queasy.
Once the news has sunk in, you’ll find yourself reassessing certain aspects of life that once seemed set in stone. Don’t panic—a calm, rational look at your options will reassure, and may even open doors.
Many parents-to-be don’t announce news of pregnancy until the second trimester when the risk of miscarriage declines. However, it is nice to share your excitement with a few select loved ones. This can be tricky to arrange—it may not be possible to tell both sets of your parents together, but will one feel insulted if the other ﬁnds out ﬁrst? If you tell one friend, must you then tell another? Don’t let this wonderful moment be clouded by emotional politics—be positive in your decisions and don’t bow to any pressure. It is your baby and your choice
I’m worrying about money already
Uncertainty can lead to anxiety and even depression, so make ﬁnancial plans now. First ﬁgure out your incomings and outgoings, then ﬁnd out what maternity beneﬁts, tax credits, and time off you are entitled to. Look into child-care costs and the pros and cons of ﬂexible or part-time work.
It’s cause to pause my career?
Not necessarily, but many women ﬁnd that pregnancy forces them to rethink their working lives in a more family-friendly way. This doesn’t have to be a detriment to a career, and freelance or part-time work can open up new and unexpected opportunities.
The trip to work seems exhausting. Traveling in the ﬁrst 12 weeks can feel overwhelming while.
your body is working so hard at growing a baby. Could you arrange to work more ﬂexibly to avoid rush hour? Even though no belly bump will be evident, most people will offer you a seat if asked—don’t hold back, this is not a time to struggle.
Will I turn into my mother?
Becoming a parent forces you to look at how you were parented and make choices about which elements of your childhoods to replicate, let go, or rework. The process starts in pregnancy, when families throw all sorts of advice your way. You choose how much to take on, don’t feel obliged to accept their views as your own. Remember it is your baby!
Try to see your pregnancy as a liberating time when you can throw everything up in the air and make exciting decisions about your future.
Our relationship feels different
It’s bound to—your lives are linked together forever as a result of your pregnancy, and now there are three people in the relationship. Many parents-to-be feel closer, but some can feel a little trapped. Make sure you talk openly about any anxieties— good communication is vital and you may ﬁnd that your partner is experiencing similar worries.
My apartment is tiny.
How will we all fit in? Be reassured that babies are tiny and don’t need quite as much paraphernalia as magazines suggest. Be organized and ﬁgure out what you’ll need for just the ﬁrst three months, then you can make an informed decision on what more to get. What can you borrow from friends or family? Take advice from friends who are parents whose opinion you trust.
Keep things in perspective: you and your baby have to come ﬁrst now, and the rest of life will have to adapt to accommodate that.