What to Expect in the First Trimester

by Katelyn Schwanke
(last updated September 5, 2008)

If you or a close friend have recently become pregnant it is important to know what to expect in the first trimester. The term the "first trimester" refers to the time period between conception and 3 months into the pregnancy. Most women are not aware they are even pregnant for the majority of the first trimester but are keenly aware the last 6 weeks of it. There are a variety of symptoms you will experience, questions you should ask during your first prenatal visit, dietary changes to make and preparations to make.

Most women experience nausea, vomiting, fatigue, frequent urination, breast tenderness and change in coloration, irritability, back pain, bloating and cravings. All of these things are normal and should not alarm you unless they become too intense that they inhibit you from accomplishing daily activities or strengthening personal relationships. If any symptoms become too intense, seek your physician's advice.

During your first trimester you will make your first prenatal appointment. At this prenatal appointment (somewhere around the tenth week of pregnancy) you will meet with a doctor, midwife or nurse practitioner to discuss your health and the health of your baby. They may do a pelvic exam or blood tests to ensure that you are healthy and that you don't carry any disease that could be harmful to your baby.

Ask your doctor about special precautions you should take while pregnant. Your physician will likely tell you to avoid tobacco, alcohol, ibuprofen, litter boxes, gardening without gloves and raw fish (all things that could cause harm to you or your baby). Your physician may also mention that you are more susceptible to viruses and bacteria; during pregnancy your body becomes immunosuppressed (your body creates fewer antibodies so that the baby is not harmed by mom's body) and you should take special care to avoid ill people and wash your hands vigorously and regularly.

As mentioned previously, you may experience cravings during the first trimester. Beyond cravings that you may or may not indulge you should make a few small dietary changes for the health of you and your baby. Eat more food with iron (meat and vegetables), calcium and folic acid (found in grains and cereals). Be sure to eat many nutrient rich foods to ensure that you and your baby are getting all the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals.

During your first trimester you may want to start making a few preparations for giving birth and for the arrival of your baby. You may want to register for an exercise class, baby first aid class (check with your local Red Cross center) or begin preparing older children for the arrival of a new sibling.

The first trimester can be daunting, just remember women have survived, even enjoyed, it for thousands of years!

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