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1. When Does the First Trimester Start? When Does it End?

The first trimester is calculated starting from the first date of your last menstrual cycle. This is when there is no implantation or conception. If you had your period almost four weeks ago, then ovulated and had intercourse two weeks ago, you are four weeks pregnant. Thus, by the time you know that you are pregnant; you already might be five weeks pregnant. It is also said that the first trimester is the most critical time of your pregnancy. The first trimester usually lasts until the last day of the 12th week.

2. What Are Some of the Pregnancy Symptoms in the First Trimester?

All women have different experiences in their first trimester. Some women may not experience any symptom at all, whereas others might experience mild symptoms in their first trimester.

  • Dizziness

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) triggers a positive pregnancy test. An increase in this hormone leads to many symptoms, which starts around the fourth week or the first trimester of pregnancy.

When there is a shift in this hormone, your normal blood pressure can dip, which can cause dizziness. You may also experience light-headedness. In the first trimester, dizziness is also caused by a lack of a proper diet plan. If you are not eating healthily or drinking enough water, it can lead to a dizzy feeling. Also, some may feel nauseous, which further compounds the problem of not being able to eat or drink properly.

  • Cramps and Bleeding

Some women experience menstrual-like cramps around 12 days from the conception period. Mild stomach cramps that give a tug like sensation starts around the 10th week when your uterus begins to stretch.

Many women also experience reddish/brownish spots on underwear or toilet paper. Menstrual bleeding is common and is called ‘implantation bleeding.’ Menstrual bleeding is caused when the embryo is moving into the lining of the uterus. The bleeding or spotting usually lasts a day or two. Depending on your body, it may also last for days.

  • Morning Sickness

Morning sickness, also known as nausea, is the most common symptom in the first trimester of pregnancy. More than 80% of women experience morning sickness at any time of the day. Some women experience queasiness because of a stronger sense of smell that also develops in the first trimester. Most women experience a metallic taste in their mouth, which is again common in the first trimester.

However, some may also experience this throughout the pregnancy. Normally, morning sickness eases around the end of the first trimester. An increase in the levels of progesterone can make you feel bloated or gassy beginning around the 10th week of pregnancy.

  • Sore Breasts, Acne, and Pee Sensation

Sore or tender breasts are also early signs of pregnancy. Hormonal changes can trigger acne. Even if you have clear skin, hormonal changes in the body can cause breakouts. Most women face the problem of skin breakouts throughout the pregnancy. A proper skincare regime may prevent acne to an extent. In the 7th week of pregnancy, the uterus doubles in size, which presses on your bladder causing a pee sensation. Even hormonal changes stimulate your kidney to produce more urine.

  • Fatigue and Weakness

The progesterone levels are high in the first trimester of pregnancy, which causes fatigue and weakness. This change in hormonal activity may also cause a drop in blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Moreover, you might feel incredibly tired and sleepy. For most women, fatigue peaks around the 9th week of pregnancy.

  • Moody and Emotional

Hormonal changes also affect your mood and feelings. You’ll experience a range of emotions such as joy, anxiety, guilt, fear, and excitement. Women who do not share the news of pregnancy may feel isolated. In the first trimester, most women also experience extreme mood swings. If you are experiencing extreme emotions, then reaching out to your partner, a friend, or your doctor is essential.

Further reading: When To Take A Pregnancy Test (10 Signs and Symptoms)

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3. What Changes Occur in the First Month of Pregnancy?

  • Skin Changes

Most women start glowing in the first month of pregnancy. Your skin may look shiny and rosy; some people also call this as pregnancy glow. But if there is extra sebum production, then it may also cause breakouts and acne on the skin. You may also experience breast tenderness or swelling. Skin changes normally occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.

  • Constipation

If you have started to take iron, then it may cause the problem of constipation. The iron in the vitamin leads to constipation. The slow process of breaking down food may also cause bloating and gas problems. Fiber supplements are normally recommended for women who suffer from constipation. It is important to consume at least ten to fifteen glasses of water to prevent constipation at this stage.

  • Stress or Weakness

Your body goes through many changes in the first and second month of pregnancy, which may lead to stress. Your body is also working overtime to make extra blood, which may cause dizziness or weakness. Thus, it is important to keep yourself active to remain stress-free and to relax when you feel dizzy.

  • Vaginal Changes

The vaginal lining will become thick and sensitive. You may also notice a white discharge or spotting, which is again common in the first trimester of pregnancy. If vaginal bleeding is heavy, you must contact your doctor.

  • Food Cravings

In the first month itself, you might become sensitive to certain odours. Your sense of food and taste might also change. Your food preferences may change due to hormonal changes in the body. You may crave to have some foods more in the first and second month of pregnancy.

  • Visible Veins

When the body makes extra blood and the heart pump faster, you may notice blue veins in your belly and breasts. Spider veins are also visible in the neck and arm area. The tiny blood vessels are visible in the first trimester of pregnancy.

  • Unable to Focus

This is again a common sign in the first month of pregnancy. As your mind is now preoccupied, you may find it difficult to focus on one particular thing. With this, you may also experience extreme mood swings. Pregnancy is an emotional journey, which starts in the first month itself. It is important to stay happy and positive throughout your pregnancy.

  • Frequent Urination

When the uterus pushes the bladder, you may experience frequent urination. This usually happens in the first trimester of your pregnancy.

4. What Kinds of Medical Tests and Screenings Take Place in the First Trimester?

After your first visit, your urine is tested along with your blood pressure and weight. Some doctors prescribe more testing protocols depending on medical history, age, and health. This normally includes;

  • Ultrasound – It uses sound waves to make images that display shape and position. It is done in the early phase of pregnancy as a part of the Women with complicated pregnancies may have to undergo multiple ultrasounds.
  • Blood – It is a routine test that is carried out.
  • Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) – This test is done to check the cells of the placenta to see if there is any kind of chromosomal abnormality. This test can also be done in the 10th week.

These tests are a crucial part of early pregnancy care and should be done by a reputed healthcare provider. When should you start scheduling a visit to a doctor for such tests? Consider reaching out to a doctor as soon as you start noticing the early signs of pregnancy!

5. What Prenatal Vitamins Should I Take?

You must start taking vitamins and supplements from the first trimester itself. This includes folic acid as it protects the baby against spinal cord and brain problems. Start with the recommended amount of folic acid and continue until the end of the first trimester. Most doctors prescribe 400 MCG of folic acid.

The other important vitamin that you should take is vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your baby develop healthy bones, muscles, and teeth. It also regulates the level of phosphate and calcium in your body. It keeps your bone and teeth healthy.

If you are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, then it’s even more important to have it. 10 MCG of vitamin D is normally recommended by doctors. Most women also resort to multivitamins, but again you’ll need a prescription for this. It is therefore essential to visit a ruptured gynaecologist or procure the expert gynaecologist services, before you consume any prenatal vitamins. Make sure these prenatal vitamins have been approved by your doctor. So, don’t hesitate to contact us if you are in need of good healthcare.

Further Reading: Why Should You Have An Early Reassurance Scan

6. What Should be the Diet in the First Month of Pregnancy?

  • Folaterich Foods

For the early development of the fetus, folate-rich foods are essential. Even if you are taking folic acid, add folate-rich foods to your diet. Citrus fruits, lentils, beans, and fortified cereals are rich in folic acid.

  • Green Veggies

A plate of green veggies ensures that your baby gets all the required nutrients. Include broccoli, kale, spinach, bell pepper, drumstick, and cabbage in your daily diet plan.

  • Whole Grains

Whole grains are essential for your baby’s overall growth and development. Whole grains are a rich source of dietary fibre, vitamin B complex, and minerals like magnesium and iron. Include whole grains like barley, millets, oatmeal, and brown rice in your daily diet.

  • Seeds and Nuts

Seeds and nuts are a great source of healthy fats. Nuts are also rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and flavonoids. You should have seeds and nuts regularly throughout your pregnancy.

  • Fish and Fresh Fruits

Fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and high-quality protein. Its also rich in vitamin D, E and B2. Fruits are a rich source of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. They are essential for the healthy growth of the baby in the womb. Have fresh fruits throughout your pregnancy and include fruits like bananas, oranges, muskmelon, pomegranate, sweet lime, and apples in your daily diet.

Go here for more information on pregnancy diet.

7. What Should I Avoid During My First Trimester?

  • Avoid Smoking and Drinking

Smoking poses a major risk to your health not only in the first trimester but also throughout the pregnancy. Also, cut down on alcohol or avoid it completely. The baby’s brain goes through a period of intense development in the first trimester, so you must avoid smoking and drinking both.

  • Don’t Drink Too Much Caffeine

High levels of caffeine in the body can result in low-weight birth babies. It can also increase the risk of miscarriage and other health issues.

  • Avoid ‘Eating For Two’

Most women consume extra calories and start overeating in the first trimester itself, which is not needed. From the third trimester, you can have 200 extra calories, if you are active.

  • Say ‘No’ To Crash Diet

You may be a diet conscious person, but this is not the time to think about dieting. Throughout your pregnancy, starting from the first trimester, you must have a good diet plan. You can get back to shape a few months after your delivery. If you practice yoga, then you’ll be able to maintain your body weight to some extent.

  • Avoid Contact Sports and Strenuous Activities

Avoid sports activities such as martial arts, football, and hockey. Also, avoid other strenuous activities that have the risk of falling during pregnancy. However, exercises like pilates and yoga are considered safe during pregnancy.

Further Reading: Early Pregnancy Abortion

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Neha Goel

Neha Goel, a Psychology alumna and MBA graduate from CASS Business School, London, brings together her expertise as a Reiki Practitioner and Practice Manager. She integrates psychology and business strategies to foster holistic well-being and personal development.