The first trimester of pregnancy is a crucial and incredible stage. It covers the first 3 months of pregnancy beginning from conception throughout the first 12 weeks of baby’s development and growth inside the womb.
Immediately after conception, the baby develops from tiny zygote to blastocyst and from embryo to fetus, which develops through to the point of delivery and childbirth.
PregnancyMama examines and discusses the myriads of changes that occur as the baby grows from a single cell into a tiny being with beating heart and functioning kidneys, including the possible cares and concerns would-be-mom should expect during the first trimester of pregnancy.
The Baby Inside the Womb in the First Trimester of Pregnancy.
Conception occurs when the sperm joins an ovulated egg and fertilized it in the fallopian tube. The fertilized egg formed a single cell referred to as zygote.
As the zygote glides slowly along the fallopian tube and towards the womb (uterus), it divides repeatedly and become a mass of over 100 growing cells (blastocyst) by the time it reaches the uterus. Once in the womb, the fertilized egg implants itself to the womb lining and continues to grow.
The blastocyst now settles into the uterus lining and continues to grow incredibly. Amniotic cavity and placenta begins to form and vascular networks with maternal blood builds-up, with the outer cells of the blastocyst reaching out to connect with the mother’s blood supply.
The inner cells form into two and later into three layers; each of these layers grow to be different parts of the baby’s body.
At the end of 8 weeks into the first trimester of pregnancy, the blastocyst would have grown into embryo with nutrients, oxygen and wastes exchanging between the mom and growing baby. The major internal organs - brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, gut and nervous system all begin to form during this period.
The head, arms and legs of the baby take shape and the hands, fingers, feet and toes develops at the same time. At the end of first trimester of pregnancy, your baby is expectedly about 4inches long and weighs a little over 1 ounce.
As the baby grows, your body also experiences changes that you need to understand and get prepared to cope emotionally and physically.
Among common earliest signs of body changes in the first trimester of pregnancy is nausea (waves of morning sickness that can come along with vomiting).
Breast changes in tenderness, size increase and darkened nipples (areolae), spotting or implantation bleeding, frequent urination, fatigue and tiredness, bloating, constipation, cramping, headaches, food aversions, mood swings and dizziness are most common in the first trimester.
Note however that some of these are early signs of pregnancy and tend to diminish as you progress into second trimester.
Read more about these changes in the signs of pregnancy section of PregnancyMama.
Importantly, you will make first prenatal visit to your healthcare provider in the first trimester. This ideally should follow a positive home or clinical pregnancy test confirmation.
During your first visit, you have to be prepared to provide information about your lifestyles, last menstrual period, personal and family medical histories, as well as undergo physical examination and clinical tests to ascertain your general health and well-being for your nascent pregnancy journey.
The commonly recommended prenatal screening tests include;
To ascertain sugar and protein levels and check for urinary infections.
To check your blood type and Rh factor, iron level in your blood, rubella immunization, possible signs of illness like hepatitis B and sexually transmitted diseases, among others.
To detect any signs of cervical cancer.
It is very likely that some pregnant women will have to take ultrasound examination during the first trimester of pregnancy as your healthcare giver may consider necessary. First ultrasound can only be conducted after 5th weeks in pregnancy.
Ultrasound in first trimester is carried out for determining more accurate age of the baby and expected due date, single or multiple conceptions, detection of fetal heart-beat rate and baby’s position, probing any possible abnormalities and providing general information about your pregnancy.
Miscarriage is the loss of pregnancy that gives cause for concern to most women. No one wants to lose any planned and expected pregnancy. However, miscarriages do occur with most happening during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy but not without signs.
The signs that evince risks of miscarriage include abdominal cramps or pain, vaginal bleeding, flow of blood clots and tissue, and decrease in fetal movement.
If you notice any of these signs in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, call and talk to your healthcare giver immediately.
The role of your healthcare provider in ensuring you have a healthy pregnancy and delivery is very crucial. You have to be honest in providing answers and information about questions on your medical and pregnancy history.
Feel free to ask all the questions that bothers you. It’s in the best interest of you and your baby. At this first prenatal visit, your healthcare provider will also give your antenatal care schedule which should usually begin on monthly basis, except in prenatal conditions that require special attention and care.
In the first trimester of pregnancy and beyond, as a general rule and advice, co-operate with your healthcare provider!
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