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A Guide to Your First Trimester

If you are newly pregnant, you are probably looking for a guide to your first trimester. The first trimester consists of a three-month time period and a lot of things occur during this time frame. Being pregnant can be very exciting but there are a lot of things that can be surprising and challenging, especially for first-time moms.

There are a lot of changes that occur during the first trimester, not only for the developing baby but also to your body. You will notice physical changes as well as emotional ones. Knowing what to expect will help you cope with everything and help you prepare for your pregnancy.

Changes for Mom

The first trimester of pregnancy will vary from woman to woman. Some will feel great, while others may feel miserable. The changes that your body goes through and how you react to them may differ, but the following are some things that you may expect.

Many women report feeling extra tired during the first trimester; this is because the systems of your body are working extra hard to support the new growing fetus. Make sure that you are taking in enough iron and rest as much as you can during the day and at night.

Because of the growth of the uterus, most women in their first trimester will feel the need to urinate much more frequently. Keep drinking fluids, as they are important for the body, and don’t hold it in if you need to go. Go as soon as possible.

The hormonal change that your body goes through due to the pregnancy can result in a lot of different things. Many women will notice tenderness of the breasts, which usually lasts until the second trimester. If you are uncomfortable, wear a support bra in a bigger size.

Your levels of progesterone will increase during the first trimester, which can cause constipation. Drink more water, exercise, and increase your intake of fiber to help keep things moving. Progesterone can also cause heartburn. To help combat it, stay away from acidic, spicy, and greasy foods; don’t lie down immediately after eating; and eat smaller, frequent meals.

Many women will experience mood swings during the first trimester. This is due to hormonal changes and increased tiredness. Moods can alternate from sad to elated to cranky to miserable. Look for support from others who can relate to what you are going through.

Up to 85% percent of all women experience morning sickness. Some experience mild nausea while others have nausea so severe that it leads to vomiting. This usually lasts from around week four to the end of the first trimester. Eating bland food and small amounts of high protein snacks, as well as sipping water can help.

One thing women don’t usually do during the first trimester is gain much weight. In fact, some don’t gain any weight at all. The average is around one pound a month. Your body only needs around 150 calories extra each day to support the growing fetus during this period of time.

Fetus Growth

Although the fetus does not grow a lot in size during the first trimester, it does form the important components during this time period. The spinal cord, heart, brain, and other organs start to form about three weeks after conception.

Your baby will grow rapidly during week four, according to the Mayo Clinic. The body will begin to look C-shaped and basic features of the face will start to show. More facial development and visible eyes show up in weeks seven and eight. Legs and arms also become longer during week eight.

Towards the end of the first trimester, genitalia form as well as fingernails. You will also be able to see a human profile of the face. At the end of the first trimester, an average baby weighs around 1/2 ounce and is 2 1/2 inches long.

Staying Healthy During the First Trimester

As you can imagine, staying healthy during the baby’s development is extremely important. Prenatal care will help prevent low birth weight, according to Healthy Women. Once you find out you are pregnant, decide who you would like to see during the pregnancy and delivery, whether it is a doctor, midwife, or nurse practitioner, and set up an appointment.

If you smoked, did drugs, or drank alcohol before the pregnancy, you should quit immediately as these will have direct negative affects on the developing fetus. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs are also off limits in most cases. Caffeine during pregnancy is frowned upon by most healthcare providers so you should work to cut it out or at least severely limit your intake.

Get a list of foods that should be avoided during pregnancy, as is provided by Kids Health. These include unpasteurized milk and cheeses; foods made with raw eggs; undercooked or raw shellfish, meats, or fish; and processed meats.

Exercising during the first trimester is encouraged, especially if you have been working out regularly prior to the pregnancy. These are many benefits to regular exercise during this period of time.

Drinking lots of water and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains will help your baby get the nutrients he or she needs. Make sure to get enough sleep and don’t be afraid to take more naps.

Everything that you do can affect your baby’s growth and outcome, so make good, healthy choices. Even cleaning your cat’s litter box can cause harm to your baby so delegate that job to someone else. This is a time when you shouldn’t feel guilty about being a little more selfish about taking care of yourself.

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