Pregnancy - First Trimester 0-12 weeks

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First trimester - How your baby is growing

Week 4

Your baby is about 4mm long. The placenta is starting to form. She implants into your womb lining.

Week 5-8

By the end of this period your baby will be 3cm long. Baby’s facial features and ears are forming. Her internal organs are also developing. She can move her arms and legs.

Weeks 9-12

Your baby still has her eyes closed. She has fingernails now. Her organs continue to grow and her kidneys start to function. By the 12 week mark your baby is practically fully formed. Her head is large in comparison to the rest of her body.

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What is happening to your body during the first trimester.

Week 4

Your period will fail to come. You may have swollen and/or sore breasts. You may also find you need to wee more often. You may experience cramps or slight bleeding, caused by the embryo implanting in your womb.

Weeks 5-8

You may not have any pregnancy symptoms yet (lucky you!). Then again you could be experiencing sickness and/or a change in which foods and smells you like. Some women suffer with heartburn. You will probably feel extremely tired at this point. Don’t worry these symptoms usually pass during the second trimester. Your emotions can be quite erratic during early pregnancy with you swinging from happiness to moodiness, or feeling anxious and weepy. You may also feel slightly vacant (unfortunately I found that this lasted throughout pregnancy, sorry!). Sciatica is another pregnancy symptom which can cause discomfort.

Weeks 9-12

You will start to gain weight and your waistline will thicken out. Around week 12 you will hopefully start to feel better, with the nausea and tiredness passing. Some women find that they become constipated during pregnancy, especially if they take iron supplements. You may be craving certain foods (no, chocolate doesn’t count). At the end of this period your risk of miscarriage becomes much lower.

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Morning Sickness

Hormonal changes can cause nausea or actual sickness. Although it is called morning sickness, it can occur at any time of day. Some women unfortunately do suffer with sickness all day. Morning sickness usually subsides around week 12, but an unlucky few are sick later into pregnancy. If you are very sick, then you should seek medical advice as in rare cases it can be a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum which is severe pregnancy sickness and can cause dehydration and other complications.

More information on Hyperemesis Gravidarum >>

Some helpful remedies for sickness:

  • Ginger or peppermint tea or ginger beer.
  • Dry toast, dry biscuits or crackers, ginger biscuits.
  • Bland/plain foods.
  • Eat little and often, small meals and regular snacks. You will feel worse if your stomach is empty.
  • Suck glucose/energy sweets, peppermints or crystallized ginger.
  • Preggie Pops make natural lollipops or fruit drops to relieve sickness.
  • Take small sips of drinks such as cold water throughout the day.
  • Try drinking hot water with a slice of lemon.
  • Avoid tea and coffee, spicy/rich/fatty foods.
  • My personal cure was ready salted crisps and crispy apples especially granny smiths.
  • Sea Bands are elasticated, knitted bands worn around the wrists. They apply pressure to an acupressure point on the wrists using a plastic stud. They are also used for travel sickness and have no side effects. They are available from pharmacies.
  • Morning Well is an audio programme available on CD or cassette that has had very successful trials in relieving morning sickness. It is a mixture of music and pulsed frequencies which works by stopping signals passing from the brain to the gut, which would normally trigger the feelings of nausea. It has to be listened to through headphones. More information about Morning Well >>
  • Add aromatherapy oils such as ginger, grapefruit or peppermint to an oil burner. Always consult a qualified aromatherapist before using any aromatherapy oils during pregnancy. Find a qualified aromatherapist >>

Sea Bands, Preggie Pops and Morning Well can be ordered from:
www.mothersbliss.co.uk
www.mumstheword.com     

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Tiredness

Tiredness in pregnancy is very common especially during the early stages and the last few weeks. Although as with a lot of pregnancy symptoms you may find that it can last all the way through. Now it would be unrealistic of me to tell you to put your feet up all day and spend the entire 9 months being pampered – although if you are lucky enough to be in that situation, go for it girl!!!!! But in the real world most of us have a job to hold down, other children or family members to care for and a house to clean.

So what I will say is when you do get the chance try to have a rest and take it as easy as possible.

Below are some helpful hints on combating tiredness:

  • Rest when possible. Get plenty of sleep, early nights and lie ins where possible (not available on prescription unfortunately).
  • Take any offers of help with childcare or housework. Get your partner and older children to help around the house.
  • Leave the domestic goddess title to Nigella Lawson; you do not have to provide a feast every night. Quick and easy meals can be nutritious; it’s just a case of finding some good recipes. Cook one meal for the whole family, it’s a home not a restaurant!
  • Make sure you eat a balanced diet; including protein, carbohydrates, dairy and fruit and veg.  Drink plenty of water and cut back on caffeine. Eat foods rich in iron (sorry no red wine or Guinness). If you feel constantly fatigued then check with your GP or midwife that you are not anaemic, which can easily be treated with diet and/or supplements.
  • Gentle exercise can actually give you energy. It shouldn’t have to involve heavy sweating and Lycra; swimming, a gentle walk (with the added benefit of fresh air), aqua natal classes or pregnancy yoga or relaxation classes. Check with your midwife before undertaking anything new.
  • But at the same time don’t struggle to carry on an intensive exercise routine. My GP (male) told me to carry on exercising as normal and don’t use it as an excuse to become lazy. Sorry but going to the gym with these boobs? They were a health hazard! I ignored him, took up walking and swimming and enjoyed a fit and healthy pregnancy.
  • Listen to your body.
  • Every pregnant woman should have a health and safety risk assessment at work. It is your employer’s legal responsibility to adapt your job, so that it doesn’t endanger the health of you or your unborn baby. This includes being able to sit rather than stand where possible and being able to take frequent breaks. If your employer fails to provide you with a safe working environment then contact the Health and Safety Executive on 08701 545500.
  • If you can fit in a pampering beauty treatment, it will help you to relax and rest. Some salons and spas offer “mum to be” treatment packages. Massage, aromatherapy (only certain oils), facials, pedicures and reflexology (after 3 months) are all wonderfully relaxing and suitable for pregnancy. It is important that you tell your therapist that you are pregnant, so that she doesn’t use products or do anything that may harm the baby.

For more details of spa packages visit:

If a salon trip is not an option then pamper yourself with a long bath, face mask, hair mask and some body oil massaged into your skin afterwards.

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Constipation

Constipation affects a number of pregnant women. It can be caused by hormonal changes or a change of diet. Taking iron supplements can also contribute towards you becoming constipated. Apart from causing you discomfort, straining when trying to pass a bowel movement can lead to haemorrhoids or piles.

There are some things that you can do to avoid becoming or to alleviate constipation:

  • Drink plenty of water or fruit juice, as dehydration can cause stools to be hard, making them difficult and painful to pass.
  • Add more fibre to your diet by eating wholemeal bread, wholegrain cereals, fruit and vegetables.
  • See your GP, who can recommend a mild laxative that is suitable for pregnant women, if needed.
  • Gentle exercise can also help.

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Heartburn

Pregnancy hormones relax the valve between the oesophagus and the stomach, making it less effective at keeping stomach acid out of the oesophagus. This leads to the burning sensation of heartburn and can cause a sour taste in the mouth.

To ease the effects of heartburn:

  • Don’t lie flat. Raise your upper body in bed about 6 inches, using pillows or a foam wedge. During the day keep a good posture, sitting or standing upright.
  • Ask your GP for antacid liquid, tablets or chews.  They will be able to give you one that is safe during pregnancy.
  • Eat small, regular meals and snacks. Eat slowly and chew well. Do not go to bed straight after eating; leave a gap of at least 2 hours.
  • Avoid fatty/spicy/rich foods. Also cut out coffee and citrus juices.
  • Sip water or milk.
  • Chew gum or suck sweets.

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Your emotions in pregnancy

You can find that you suffer mood swings during the first trimester of your pregnancy, going from extreme happiness to anxiety, irritability and sadness. This is due to the pregnancy hormones that your body is producing. You may also be anxious about your unborn baby or the drastic lifestyle changes that having a baby brings. Or you could just be feeling tired and cranky. You may feel guilty about feeling this way when everyone expects you to be blooming with happiness. But lots of women experience this in pregnancy; you are not alone, even if some individuals seem dismissive of your emotions. Remember it is no reflection on how you feel about your unborn baby.

Try making the following changes to see if they help:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Confide in your partner/family/ friends/midwife about how you are feeling. Talking helps and stops you feeling so alone.

If you feel depressed during your first trimester then please speak to your GP or midwife. They will be able to help and support you. Although not as well documented as postnatal depression, antenatal depression is a condition that does affect some women.

For more information read our Antenatal Depression section.