The first trimester marks the beginning of an important, sensitive and meaningful journey for women, as well as couples and families. Women who are pregnant for the first time have much to learn and experience. So do new fathers.
The table below is meant to answer four questions frequently asked by women and their partners during early pregnancy. Still, we appreciate that no matter how much you read or how many question you ask in advance, the bottom line is “this is new” and “this is different” from anything you have experienced in the past. Enjoy your journey, and take care.
Questions About Your First Trimester
What happens during the first prenatal medical visit?
Your pregnancy will be confirmed and a due date calculated.
This visit will involve a complete history and a physical exam. Your general health will be assessed and you will receive a pelvic examination to view the cervix and assess the structure of your pelvis for the future delivery.
Your practitioner will inquire about your past medical history. Be prepared to discuss your family history for chronic diseases or risk of genetic disorders.
Your practitioner will want to know the outcomes of any previous pregnancies.
They will ask about any medications you may have used, as well as use of street drugs or alcohol.
What tests will need to be done, and why?
You will have a Pap smear to check for abnormal cervical cells.
Your urine will be checked for glucose, protein, blood cells and bacteria.
You will have blood drawn to determine your blood type and Rh (Rhesus) factor. They will do blood counts to make sure you are not anemic. Your blood will also be screened to make sure you are immune to Hepatitis B, and Rubella (German measles).
You may be screened for sexually transmitted diseases.
You may be screened for genetically carried diseases.
You should have a TB (tuberculosis) skin test. I>
How will my body change?
You may notice breast changes, including fullness, tenderness, more visible bluish veins and darkening of the nipple pigment.
You probably will have to urinate more frequently. This is related to changes in blood volume and improved filtering action of the kidneys.
You may be much more tired than usual. Listen to your body and know you need more rest. Take time to relax, and adjust the pace of your activities.
You may have nausea, excess salivation and/or vomiting. This can occur any time of the day or night. Pregnant women often have food aversions, and “once favorite” foods may send them running out of the room. On the other hand, food cravings can be common.
Occasionally heartburn and bloating can be complaints in early pregnancy. Try eating smaller, more frequent meals. Limit fatty foods.
Constipation can become a problem. Relieve constipation by drinking plenty of fluids, eating a diet higher in fiber and getting regular exercise.
Headaches may occur more frequently. Try to get enough rest and relaxation. Be conscientious of good posture. Massage the neck, shoulders and head. If you need a pain reliever, be sure to check the safety with your doctor. Most over-the-counter pain relievers are not recommended during pregnancy. Complexion problems may occur because of hormonal changes.
Be sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet, take a prenatal vitamin and drink plenty of water. Keep your skin clean.
I have some concerns. Am I doing everything I can to insure this pregnancy goes well?
Feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, or mood swings. All of these feelings are understandable. Some of these feelings may be because of hormonal changes. However, the news of becoming pregnant, even when the pregnancy was planned, can be quite overwhelming. If these feelings make you uncomfortable, or persist, be sure to talk to your health care provider.
Fear of miscarriage. Most pregnancies proceed without complications. Your health care provider can give you appropriate advice and guidelines if you have known circumstances that put you at risk for miscarriage.
Wondering what to eat or what supplements to take. Follow a healthy diet for pregnancy and be sure to get the needed vitamins and minerals.
Worrying about the safety of the baby or the pregnancy. Childbearing and birth are vunerable times for women. While medical science has made tremendous strides in keeping both mother and child safe, there can never be a guarantee that all will go “as planned”. Relax and know your body will know what to do, and when to do it. At the same time, there are steps you can take which will increase the odds that this will be a healthy pregnancy.
Weight gain concerns. Gaining enough weight is important for a healthy pregnancy outcome. On-the-other-hand, excessive weight gain can increase chances of problems at time of delivery and future difficulty with weight control for you. Review the guidelines for appropriate weight gain based on your age, pre-pregnancy weight and number of babies you are expecting.