First Trimester – Weeks 0 to 12
Firstly, congratulations, you’re about to enter one of the most exciting times of your life! For the next 40 weeks, your body won’t be your own anymore, and your months will be a whirlwind of antenatal appointments, antenatal classes, ultrasounds, screening tests, baby events, and numerous trips to pick out baby essentials!
Pregnancy is split into three trimesters – the first is between 0 -12 weeks, the second is between 13-28, and the third and final trimester (the most exciting bit!) between 29-40 weeks. But what will your amazing body be doing in that time, and what can you expect?
These early weeks in your pregnancy are where your baby makes the biggest leaps in growth and development, and even though baby is still extremely small, your body will be going through some massive changes to grow an entirely new life and maintain it until you’re ready to meet in person for the very first time!
- Baby grows faster during the first trimester than any other time of your pregnancy
- By 6 weeks, baby’s heartbeat can be heard and is now visible on a scan
- By the end of the first 12 weeks, everything is in place and your baby has a face, limbs, internal organs are all formed and baby is about the size of a lime! Check out this video for Fetal Development in the 1st Trimester
- Lifestyle changes are essential in these first 12 weeks, so cutting down on caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine is a good idea.
- You may find increased appetite, fatigue, morning sickness, and needing to run to the toilet every 5 minutes are now part of your everyday routine.
Seeing those two lines / the words 'Pregnant' appear on a pregnancy test is often the first confirmation that you’re expecting a baby – aside from the tell-tale missed period! Most women begin to notice subtle changes in their body, even in very early pregnancy - these can include; breast tenderness, lower back pain, increased fatigue and appetite, and even a sudden aversion to certain smells and foods. Even before the morning sickness, mood swings, and cravings kick in, your body is already becoming accustomed to housing a new life, but what comes next?
The first step is to contact your GP – don’t forget to take a urine sample so the pregnancy can be officially confirmed! Good antenatal care is essential, and both you and your unborn child will be monitored carefully over the coming months so it’s essential to get an appointment as soon as you have a positive pregnancy test.
Your GP will want to make you a booking in appointment with your midwife, and this will usually happen at your local health centre. The midwife will be your main carer during your pregnancy, and for a first baby you can expect to have up to 10 appointments over the course of your pregnancy. The booking appointment happens somewhere around 8 -10 weeks into your pregnancy, and can last up to two hours. During this appointment, the midwife will build up a picture of you with the hope of helping you throughout your pregnancies and catering to your specific needs.
Questions to expect during your booking appointment:
- What date was your last period?
- Do you have any current medical issues?
- Are you taking any medications – prescribed or over the counter?
- General health and lifestyle questions about you and your partner?
- Any previous pregnancies, complications or miscarriages?
She might perform the following:
- Blood tests to check your blood group, anemia and rhesus status
- Check your blood pressure
- Ask you to provide a urine sample to check for gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and UTI’s
- You will be given your maternity notes - Please keep these safe as you will be expected to have them at every scan / midwife appointment.
You will be given your maternity notes - Please keep these safe as you will be expected to have them at every scan / midwife appointment.
You’ll also find this first appointment with your midwife is full of information for you as an expectant mum, with everything you need to ensure a healthy pregnancy:
- Information on folic acid and vitamin D supplements
- Nutrition and dietary information
- Information on changing lifestyle such as stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol
- Screening for sickle cell disease and thalassaemia - you should be offered screening for this before 10 weeks
- Information on maternity and paternity benefits - make sure you ask for a form if you are working and will be requesting maternity leave.
- For more info on what benefits you can claim when you are having a baby - click here - UK
It’s a new, exciting, and often challenging chapter in your life, and your midwife will play a huge part in ensuring you and your unborn baby stay healthy.
The booking appointment with your midwife is an ideal time to ask any questions or raise any issues that may be concerning you, from basic pregnancy related queries to asking for extra support if you’re in a vulnerable situation at home. Making a list will help to remind you of the million and one things you’ll probably want to ask!