Welcome to your first trimester of pregnancy! As you begin the first phase of your nine months journey, your body will prep and prime to host these changes to welcome your baby.
Your first trimester of pregnancy initiates an invisible and huge transformation. This occurs just a few weeks after the conception. A group of hormones like human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estrogen starts preparing the womb to host the developing fetus for the next 9 months. In this process, a pregnant woman experiences a bundle of physical and emotional changes during her initial trimester.
A little update on what could be expected during this starting phase of this journey can help an expecting mother to move ahead with confidence:
The first mark of pregnancy usually starts with a missed period. This is further followed by several other remarkable signs and symptoms in the forthcoming weeks. These includes:
This is commonly referred to as morning sickness but can occur at any time during the day or night. The rising hormonal levels are considered to be responsible for this condition. Plenty of fluid intakes, frequent small meal, and non-spicy food can help to keep a check on the condition. Please contact your doctor if the condition is severe.
● Tender and swollen breasts
The fluctuation in hormonal levels is the reason behind sensitive and swollen breasts. This condition gradually subsides once your body gets used to with the altered hormonal levels.
● Frequent urination
Pregnancy demands increased blood circulation in the body to support the developing fetus. As your blood flow increases to the kidney, more pressure on the bladder makes you urinate more often.
● Extreme tiredness
During the first trimester, changes in hormonal levels are often found to be responsible for extreme tiredness or fatigue. Increased level of the hormone progesterone leads to excessive tiredness and sleepiness. Several physical and emotional changes are also responsible for this condition.
● Food aversion
Aversion towards food is one of the prime symptoms faced during the first trimester of pregnancy. The hormonal changes result in sensitivity towards certain food taste or odour. Therefore, it’s advisable to avoid that particular food during this period.
Some of the pregnancy hormones relax the valve in between esophagus and stomach. This eventually leads to heartburn due to the reverse flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. To avoid this, it’s beneficial to have small frequent meals while avoiding spicy food and citrus fruits.
High progesterone levels during the first trimester reduces the movement of food through the digestive system. This results in constipation which is further aggravated by the intake of iron supplement. Plenty of fluid intakes, fiber-rich diet, and regular physical activity can reduce this condition.
The first trimester is the period when your body gets adapted to the immense hormonal changes essential to support your baby’s growth. There are certain dos and don’ts which will help to provide your little bundle of joy a healthy nurturing womb.
● Take prenatal multivitamins
A healthy and balanced diet is usually the right way to support your baby’s growth and development during pregnancy. However, a healthy diet solely might not be sufficient to meet the needs of the growing baby. Therefore, it’s advisable to take prenatal vitamins and minerals like:
1. folic acid
These vitamins help in proper growth and development of the baby while preventing several birth defects.
During the first trimester, your body undergoes tremendous internal changes to support the growth and development of the baby. This process is initiated by huge hormonal changes within the system. This results in tremendous tiredness which at times could be beyond exhaustion. Take frequent naps, set strict bedtimes and sleep eight to nine hours at a stretch each night.
Regular mild exercises during pregnancy are beneficial to combat symptoms like insomnia, mood swings, and fatigue. It also keeps a check on weight gain. Consult your doctor to know more about the possible work out options during pregnancy.
● Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is extremely beneficial during pregnancy. Optimal intake of water during this period help to avoid conditions like headache, dizziness, kidney stone, constipation, and haemorrhoids.
● Get a flu shot
A flu shot is highly recommended during the first trimester of pregnancy. A flu attack can cause severe illness during pregnancy which can further result in several other pregnancy-related complications.
● Avoid smoking
Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage during pregnancy. Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more susceptible to birth defects like premature birth, low birth weight, cleft lip or palate, learning disability and even infant death.
● Avoid drinking alcohol
Intake of alcohol during pregnancy severely impacts the growth and development of the baby. This could even result in fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) with conditions like: ● low birth weight
● severe intellectual disabilities
● retarded growth and development
● Avoid eating raw meat or seafood
Raw meat or seafood consumption during pregnancy can cause several foodborne illness and poisoning. These conditions during pregnancy can lead to severe birth defects and even miscarriage.
● Avoid drinking too much caffeine
Too much of caffeine intake during the first trimester is usually evident among pregnant women to avoid excessive tiredness. But, it’s advisable to avoid the excessive intake as caffeine interferes with your baby’s heart rate.
● Avoid visiting the sauna
It could be immensely relaxing to sit in a hot tub or sauna during pregnancy. But it’s extremely dangerous during pregnancy as high temperature can interfere with the baby’s growth and development and even cause miscarriages
● Avoid cleaning cat’s litter box
Avoid cleaning your cat’s litter box. The litter box might house millions of bacteria and parasites which are extremely dangerous for expecting mothers. This can affect the baby’s growth and development and can even lead to miscarriage and stillbirth.
Prenatal tests and scans are crucial for the initiation of a healthy pregnancy journey. Prenatal screening is capable of providing valuable information about your baby’s health status. You can expect the following during the first few visits to your doctor during your first trimester
1. Medical history
● Menstrual cycle
● Gynaecological history (e.g. abortion or past pregnancies)
● Family medical history
● Exposure to toxic substances (if any)
● Your lifestyle (e.g. use of tobacco and alcohol)
Your doctor will calculate your estimated due date for delivery depending on your last menstrual date. This helps the doctor to monitor the growth and development of your baby with the progression of your trimesters.
3. Physical exam
A physical examination is usually conducted by your doctor that includes your blood pressure, weight and height, breast and pelvic exam. Screening tests are also recommended to assess the function of your heart, lungs, and thyroid. A PAP test is also conducted to screen for cervical cancer.
4. Lab tests
● Check your blood group and Rh factor
● Measure your haemoglobin level
● Detect exposure to other infections
5. First-trimester screening for fetal abnormalities
The first-trimester screening is a combination of maternal blood test and fetal ultrasound evaluation. The screening reports help in early risk prediction of certain chromosomal conditions like Down’s syndrome (Trisomy 21), Edwards’ Syndrome (Trisomy 18), Patau Syndrome (Trisomy 13) and Pre- Eclampsia.
A number of eminent labs in India, for example, LifeCell Diagnostics conducts routine prenatal screening with high confidentially and accuracy. In fact, LifeCell Diagnostics is India's first commercial lab to introduce Penta marker screening. LifeCell also has an operational network spanning over 200 cities across India. It is India's first commercial lab to provide Penta marker Screening that helps in reducing risky invasive tests for mother.
Over 5 lakh expectant mothers have trusted Lifecell's Prenatal Screening test for the early detection of genetic abnormalities.
Now, as you know what to expect during your first trimester and the need for prenatal tests, you can go ahead & decide what’s best for you and your baby!
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