Becoming a mother is the best thing that happens to a woman. However,the changes that a woman’s body undergoes in a short span of time can be a bit taxing. If you are pregnant and in your first trimester, you are probably excited and anxious at the same time, but a bit of fact finding is all you need to set your worries to rest.
Women who become pregnant for the first time might not be aware of some of the facts. A baby in the womb causes hormonal changes. And the changes come at a fast pace. These hormonal changes can lead to a number of bodily changes and experiences. There are some common physical changes during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Morning sickness: Though termed ‘morning sickness’, bouts of nausea can strike at any time of the day or night. Sometimes you have nausea as early as three weeks after conception. Rapidly rising levels of estrogen and progesterone can make your stomach churn your food slowly making you prone to vomiting.
Tender, swollen breasts - Soon after conception, hormonal changes make your breasts tender, sensitive and sore. You may also feel your breasts feeling fuller and heavier.
Increased urination: Conception also leads to a situation where you may have the urge to urinate excessively and frequently. Sometimes the enlarged uterus might pressure the bladder to the extent that you may pass urine while sneezing, coughing or laughing.
Fatigue and dizziness - Fatigue and dizziness also rank high among first trimester symptoms.
Heartburn and constipation – As pregnancy slows the movement of food through your digestive systems, there is a high possibility that you may have constipation. Moreover, due to the hormonal activity, the valve between your stomach and esophagus can allow stomach acid to leak into your upper gut causing heartburn.
However, as a pregnant woman, these small problems should not unduly worry you. These problems may or may not continue as the pregnancy progresses. It is always advisable to consult your doctor in case these problems persist for long and are not letting you settle down.
Ways to tackle first hiccups of pregnancy!
Common physical changes that you experience during the first trimester of pregnancy can be effectively managed and tackled if one adopts a few simple measures. The most common changes that you encounter as a new would-be mother is having bouts of nausea, morning sickness, fatigue, dizziness, tender and swollen breasts, frequent urination, constipation and heartburn.
However, applying some simple remedies can help you overcome these challenges. For example, eating small, frequent meals throughout the day will help relieve nausea, constipation and heartburn. You should choose foods that are low in fat and easy to digest. Avoid foods or smell that worsens your nausea. It's also helpful to drink plenty of fluids. Another home-based remedy is to drink ginger ale. The liquid not only helps relieve you of nausea but also helps with your digestion. Moreover, as your breasts swell and become tender, wearing a sports bra or a supportive bra would help acclimatize you with the change.
In addition to all these, moderate light exercise can keep you active and fresh and remove your fatigue. So, include brisk walk in your daily routine to burn some calories. But relax when you want to. Proper and complete rest too is necessary for your baby’s growth. Additionally, make sure you're getting enough iron and protein in your diet. This would keep you energized and charged up.
Pregnancy relaxes your blood vessels so that you have more nutrients for your growing needs. So you may be fatigued very soon. To avoid this, do not stand for long. You must be careful while driving and undertaking other outdoor activities. Feel free to consult your doctor if your dizziness is severe and is accompanied with abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding. The pain is often the result of ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus.
A regular balanced diet will solve most of the common challenges that arise on account of the fact that you are in your first trimester. These problems tend to fade away as the weeks go by. Spending time with an experienced elder in the family is often helpful. Proper guidance and regular follow-ups with your doctor will put at rest most of your worries.
Pregnancy comes with various hormonal and physical changes. A healthy pregnancy is the key to a successful full term and delivery. It is therefore required to map the woman’s medical history properly. Medical mapping is done to understand all previous and current medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, anaemia and allergies. Medical history also includes current medications or any other complications related to any past surgeries.
A pregnant woman with a medical history can be a complicated case. In such a scenario, the doctor often prescribes medicines that do not interfere with the pregnancy to render the progress of the foetus smooth. Most medicines administered during pregnancy are supposed to act in a mild manner and not harm the baby.
However, it is in the first trimester that the foetus is most susceptible to damage from unwanted substances such as alcohol, drugs, medications and certain kinds of illness such as rubella. So, one has to be really careful during pregnancy. Like any other harmful addiction, strong drugs increase the birth defects in the new born. Therefore, one should avoid taking such drugs.
If you are pregnant and require medical treatment for some ailment, consider using mild medications that do not interfere with the development of your foetus. For example, you may often complain of heartburn and acidity. Taking an over-the-counter, external antacid might help, instead of popping a hard pill. In case you are suffering from cold, taking a doctor-prescribed medicine might help.
There are prescribed safe limits for drug use as per the body type and the problems. Your doctor would understand these requirements. So, consult your doctor if you are in your first trimester and have been facing some challenge. Do not self-medicate.
There is a saying – You are what you eat! In our day-to-day lives, we continue to skip meals or eat unhealthy. A rich and balanced diet keeps us away from a number of ailments. The necessity to have such a balanced diet is even more when you are pregnant.
During pregnancy, your body continues to grow and accumulate nutrients with the growing needs of your baby. A healthy diet is thus necessary.
While you may have a choice of selecting your food, your food should have the right mix of fruit, vegetables, dairy products, protein and whole grains.
At least 3-4 servings of fruits a day is recommended during pregnancy. Natural fibres available in fruit not just relieve you from constipation but also supply you with nutrients such as vitamins A and C, and growth vitamins such as B1 and B12. Other than these, antioxidants available in fruit fortify you and your baby with the strength required to grow and become strong.
Vegetables, on the other hand, provide you with the greatest range of nutrients. A simple rule is to have more colours in your serving plate. The more colours you have the more nutritious your diet would be. For example, recommended 3-5 servings a day of a mix of vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash, corn, yellow peppers, and tomatoes, red peppers will give enough nutrients for the day. Here, one serving equals one cup of raw leafy vegetables, such as spinach or lettuce, or 1/2 cup chopped vegetables, cooked or raw.
Like vegetables, dairy products are equally beneficial for supplying the right mix of minerals and elements in your body. Dairy foods provide the calcium that your baby needs to grow and that you need to keep your bones strong. Dairy products are a rich source of calcium. The element is readily available in milk, yogurt and cheese. Three servings a day comprising yogurt or milk, small amounts of natural cheese such as cheddar or mozzarella or two ounces of processed cheese would do the needful.
However, it is recommended to have low fat or non-fat dairy products. Such products are now easily available in the market.
Some people are lactose intolerant However, those who cannot digest milk, choose lactose-free milk products, calcium-fortified foods, and beverages such as calcium-fortified soymilk. Read the instruction on these products carefully and select the right food for yourself.
Proteins and whole grains are the most vital of your entire daily intake. While proteins are vital for proper functioning of your enzymes, whole grains are a rich source of growth vitamins. Eating a variety of foods containing fibre helps maintain proper bowel function and reduces your chances of developing constipation and haemorrhoids. As often as possible, select whole grain foods over those made with white flour. For example, eat whole wheat bread rather than white bread.
Ever wondered why routine tests are really important during the pregnancy. Even though you may be healthy and your medical records may be clean, your doctor will still prescribe you regular tests.
Constant development and changes in your foetus need regular monitoring. Thus, a number of lab tests are suggested for all women as part of the regular protocol. Some of the routine check-ups that you will have to go through are complete blood count, urine analysis, rubella virus test, hepatitis B and C, sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis. Tests for exposure to diseases such as toxoplasmosis and varicella (the virus that causes chicken pox) may also be done, if needed. Your health care provider may also want to check your levels of HCG, a hormone secreted by the placenta, and/or progesterone, which helps maintain the pregnancy.
While some of these problems are common ailments others can be serious, putting your baby at risk. It is also necessary to monitor the growth and health of your baby and your pregnancy at every stage of the development. Routine tests also help the doctors screen the foetus for birth defects at an early stage by assessing the risk factors in play.
With advancement in technology it is now easy to detect any chromosomal defects in the baby at the foetal stage itself. Simple diagnostic tests do not reveal genetic disorders. Therefore, both tests are equally important. For example, the non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) helps ascertain the existence of any disorder or chromosomal abnormalities.
The chances of chromosomal abnormalities are high. Therefore, if you are in the age group of 35 and above and have a family history of certain diseases, or have had a positive result on non-invasive genetic tests, you will be offered these tests. If you have conceived late, you will have to undergo tests between 10 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is called Chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Several genetic disorders such as Down’s syndrome, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, haemophilia, and muscular dystrophy can be detected by CSV.
However, it is important that these tests are done under the able supervision of a trained professional. This guarantees safety of your foetus and its overall development.
A healthy mind can reside in a healthy body. The adage, though old, is meaningful. It is therefore, recommended that all normal persons undertake regular exercise daily. However, exercise and physical activity are important at every stage of our lives.
In such a scenario, exercise has its role to play even when you are pregnant. Under the supervision of a trained physiotherapist and a doctor, you can safely start an exercise programme during each trimester of your pregnancy. If you were sedentary before you became pregnant, it's important to review your exercise plan with your healthcare provider before you begin.
However, the exercise regime followed during pregnancy is a lighter one. One should not think of losing weight during pregnancy. Avoiding vigorous exercise should be avoided. If your doctor has given you a green signal and if you aren't in any of the high-risk categories, pursuing some form of physical activity can be perfectly safe.
In any form of exercise, it is important to start with the light version and gradually move up to the highest level that your body can take. During pregnancy, the exercise should be light. If you are a beginner, you can start by exercising for 10 minutes at a time and so on, until you build up a routine of 30 minutes a day on most days of the week. Exercising during pregnancy does not mean putting a lot of strain on yourself; it should be fun. A good rule of thumb is to slow down if you cannot comfortably take the exercise further.
Light and safe exercise options include brisk walking, prenatal yoga and stretching. Walking is one of best ways to stay in routine. If you are an expectant mother, walking is a safe and easy-to-do form of exercise. Regular brisk walk followed by easy walk can improve your stamina. It also improves your cardiovascular fitness. In short, it's the perfect way to get started if you were not exercising before pregnancy.
Apart from walking, yoga and stretching are a set of exercises that relax you and your mind and keep you calm. There are few very basic yoga asanas that you can perform. This should be done after proper training and monitoring. Your doctor will be the best person to advise you on some of these simple asanas.
Lying flat on your back in not advisable after the first trimester, as this can make you dizzier and lethargic. Each kind of exercise should be complimented with a good food habit during pregnancy. One must be careful in selecting the food items and drinking habits. This should be dependent on your pre-pregnancy weight. One must avoid heavy exercise and moving out in excessively hot and humid environment. Keep a bottle of water handy to replenish lost fluids. Consult your doctor in case of any complications.
Why deprive yourself of love
Pregnancy should not be seen as a hindrance while making love to your partner. Contrary to popular belief, it is absolutely alright to have intercourse in the first three months. This is also safe if it is a normal pregnancy.
Can making love harm my baby?
Indulging in sex cannot harm your baby; the baby is safe in the amniotic fluid. As the cervix is closed along with a mucus plug, the penetration cannot really harm the foetus. One need not worry about the uterine contractions triggered by orgasms as these do not cause any harm and are different from contractions during labour.
Make the experience memorable
While it is safe to make love during the first trimester, your gynaecologist may suggest avoiding sex during the first trimester if you are prone to miscarriages, or if you have unexplained vaginal bleeding or spotting. Intercourse should also be avoided if you have abdominal pain or cramps or have a history of cervical weakness. Women carrying twins or having low lying placenta are recommended to not indulge in sexual intercourse during this phase.
If your partner has genital herpes, avoid sex during pregnancy. If you catch genital herpes for the first time during pregnancy there’s a small risk that it could affect your developing baby. Your partner should use a condom if he suffers from any sexually transmitted disease.
Most couples find a change in their sexual relationship with the onset of pregnancy. For some pregnant women, sex may feel better than before, and for others it can be slightly uncomfortable, or too much of an effort.
Your partner will find your pregnant body more desirable. Free from conception and contraception worries, you may also find sex more enjoyable now. In general, the flow of blood is usually increased in the pelvic area enlarging the genitals and heightening the sensation.
The best way to enjoy making love all through pregnancy is to avoid deep and vigorous penetration and indulge in gentle love-making.
Pregnancy comprises several stages of development. The stages involve weeks of development from an embryo to a foetus and then into a full grown baby. Foetal development begins soon after conception.
Here is a step-by-step short description of the foetal growth during the first trimester:
Weeks 1 and 2: Getting ready
Conception typically occurs about two weeks after your last period. This means that your gynaecologist will calculate your due date 40 weeks from the start of your last period. Thus, your period is counted as part of your pregnancy.
Week 3: Fertilization
The sperm and egg unite in one of your fallopian tubes to form a zygote. If more than one egg is released and fertilized, you might have multiple zygotes. This gives rise to chances of twins or triplets. The baby’s sex is determined at this stage. Soon after fertilization, the zygote travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. At the same time, it will begin dividing to form a cluster of cells.
Week 4: Implantation
By the time it reaches the uterus, the rapidly dividing ball of cells — now known as a blastocyst — has separated into two sections. The inner group of cells will become the embryo. The outer group will become the cells that nourish and protect it. The same cells will burrow deep into the uterine wall and form the placenta. The placenta, which nourishes your baby throughout the pregnancy, also begins to form.
Week 5: The embryonic period begins
Embryonic period begins at the fifth week when the foetus grows its brains, spinal cord, heart and other organs. By the end of this week, your baby is likely about the size of the tip of a pen.
Growth is rapid this week. Just four weeks after conception, your baby develops his heart, which is pumping blood. The baby’s basic facial features will begin to appear, including passageways that will make up the inner ears and arches that contribute to the jaw. To adjust within the mother’s womb, the baby takes a c-shaped curvature. Moreover, legs and arms begin to grow.
With the onset of seventh week, your baby is rapidly growing his brain and facial features. Thus his nostrils and eye lenses appear. His limbs and begin to transform into paddle like structures.
Eight weeks into your pregnancy, your baby's arms and legs are growing longer, and fingers have begun to form. The shell-shaped parts of your baby's ears are also forming, and your baby’s eyes are now visible. The upper lip and nose have formed. The trunk of your baby's body is beginning to straighten.
In the ninth week of pregnancy, your baby’s arms grow; bones develop and bend at the elbows. The toes are formed, and eyelids and ears continue developing.
By the 10th week of pregnancy, your baby's head has become more round. The neck begins to develop, and eyelids begin to close to protect the developing eyes.
At the beginning of the 11th week of pregnancy the baby's head still makes up about half of its length. The body will now grow rapidly in the coming weeks. At this stage, your baby can be called a foetus. Eyes at this stage are widely separated, the eyelids fused and the ears low set. The red blood cells are beginning to form in the tiny liver. Towards the end of this week, baby’s genitals also start to grow.
Twelve weeks into your pregnancy, your baby is developing fingernails. Your baby's face is more human and has features. By now your baby might be about 2 1/2 inches (60 millimeters) long from crown to rump and weigh about 1/2 ounce (14 grams).