The first trimester of pregnancy is defined as the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, most of those you may not even know you are expecting. It becomes an exciting time when those beautiful two lines appear. In this guide, I will cover what to expect during this time and ways to support your growing pregnancy.
Making your first appointment
You may be so excited after seeing those two lines appear that you may want to call right away to make an appointment. A midwife will likely wait until about 8-12 weeks while a medical practice will want to see you soon. If you have had miscarriages, fertility issues or other health concerns to label you high risk. I don’t want to disappoint you but your provider may have you wait a few weeks. It’s important to know you guess date or the date your last cycle started (LMP) when calling to make that appointment. Congrats by the way!
Sharing the news!
Learning that you are expecting can be so exciting but when to share the news that depends on your comfort level. Since I have lost children, miscarriages, I like to wait until I am out of my first trimester. The first trimester is the “short one” because you normally don’t know you are expecting until after you miss your cycle. Your family and friends will understand that you decided to wait until you are out of your first trimester, you aren’t the first or last one to do so. How creative will you be to share the news?
What to expect at your first visit?
Your first visit is an exciting one. You will be able to get that confirmation that most of us need. This is the time when most parents are provided a lot of information is given to us and our research begins. I don’t recommend agreeing to anything until you have had time to research. Doing so may result in a feeling of disappointment in yourself. No one likes to feel that way.
Hearing a heartbeat
If you are one of the lucky ones and can’t wait to hear the baby’s heartbeat you may be able to hear it about 5-6 weeks with a doppler. I will warn this modern technology may bring risk so please research those risk. If you are choosing to go more of a natural route then about 20 weeks you will be able to use a fetoscope to hear your baby.
You may be asked to learn a urine sample which will be tested for protein and glucose.
Followed by some blood test including the following:
- CBC: This test will check for anemia and other factors.
- Blood Type & Rh: A pregnant woman who is Rh negative may need to receive a blood product called anti-D Immune Globulin (RhoGAM). This prevents the breakdown of your body’s red blood cells, a serious condition which causes hemolytic disease in the newborn.
- Antibody Screen: This test will check for red blood cell antibodies.
- Syphilis: A sexually transmitted disease which can cause birth defects.
- Hepatitis B: If the mother has this viral infection of the liver, there is an increased chance that without treatment, the baby will be infected. The baby can be treated at birth to prevent infection in most cases.
- Rubella (German measles): An infection that can lead to severe birth defects. If a woman is not immune, a vaccine can be given to her after the baby is born.
- Pap smear: A screening test for cervical cancer.
- Chlamydia and gonorrhea: Screening cultures that can detect sexually transmitted diseases that can potentially be harmful to you and your baby if not treated.
- Urinalysis: A screening test for urinary tract infection and culture.
- Sickle Cell Screen: A race-specific test to determine if you may carry the sickle cell trait, a genetic blood disorder dangerous to the immune system.
- HIV: A disorder which can be spread to your baby through the placenta. You can have HIV for years and not have any symptoms. If you have HIV, there is a 1 in 4 chance that you could spread it to your baby. There is treatment available during pregnancy that can reduce the risk of transmission of HIV to the baby.
- Urine drug screen
First-trimester pregnancy symptoms
In the first trimester, you can feel some of the following symptoms or you may feel none of them ever. There is no one size fits all for pregnancy. So often we hear about what our mothers, friends, sisters and well just about anyone around us experienced in the first trimester and we should expect it to. That is not the case more often than not.
- Implantation bleeding
- Sore/enlarged breasts
- Increased urination
- Emotional roller coaster
- Round ligament pain
- Food cravings and aversions
- A heightened sense of smell
- Frequent urination
- Dry eyes or changing vision
- Changes in libido
The levels of morning sickness
I wanted to make sure I cover this topic a little more in-depth because morning sickness to me has levels. Some may never experience and you will never understand how lucky you are. For those of us who experience morning sickness, it may not start right away but when it does, well it can be rough. I still have days where I wonder how far along I am. Being in the third trimester and having morning sickness is normal but for most, once you end the first trimester you should start to see it clear up.
Did you know nearly 80% of expecting parents experience this?
So how can you help or avoid morning sickness? Having a full belly can help relieve the sickness because the estrogen and progesterone overwhelm the body when there is nothing in her stomach.
You may also want to try the following:
- Soft ice chips
- Sipping on coconut water or another electrolyte to keep hydrated as much as possible
- Wild Yam Root
- Papaya enzymes
- Rose Petals
- Peppermint may help women struggling with regular morning sickness
If these remedies don’t seem to help you may have Hyperemesis Gravidarum. In these cases, you may need to seek medical attention and medication and a hospital stay for IV medications. Once your stay is completed and you are being released from the hospital you may then be prescribed medications including any of the following Diclegis, Zofran or Phenergan. It is important for the family to research and be knowledgeable of the potential effects of the medications and consider each of them before making an informed choice.
Some interesting facts about Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). HG impacts 1 in 200,000 women a year. It involves persistent nausea and vomiting, electrolyte disturbance, rapid weight loss, food aversion, dehydration, headaches, fainting, jaundice due to liver failure, constant fatigue, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, loss of muscle tone and depression. Typically HG is caused by H Pylori in the gut, which is a bacterium that impacts your digestive tract, quite similar to Candida.
This is where being an antenatal doula is extremely helpful to families. A doula can help with the worst times. We can help you with meal prep, cleaning, getting laundry done, run errands, grocery shop, assisting with their other children, and anything that you may struggle to do day to day. Even just driving you to your appointments can be very helpful while you are feeling weak and faint.
This is also great if you intend to hire a postpartum doula as well because you figure out a routine and priorities. Once the baby arrives I can have everything down pat after you have delivered and are healing.