Guest Author - Vanessa Pruitt
In general, people refer to the different stages of pregnancy in terms of trimesters because there are three main stages. The first trimester refers to the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Many emotional and physical changes happen during this stage of pregnancy because of rapidly changing hormones and the growth of a new life inside of you.
For much of the first trimester of your pregnancy you may not even know you are pregnant. It's typical to find out you are pregnant between 4-8 weeks. If you have been trying to get pregnant or have been charting your cycles, you may know sooner. If you were not trying, it may have taken you longer to realize that you are pregnant.
You will experience many physical changes and symptoms during these first few weeks of pregnancy. Some of them will be bothersome and uncomfortable. Most of the annoying things that are happening with your body are reassurance that your baby is developing normally. You can expect to have all or some of the following symptoms:
Nausea or “morning sickness”
Spotting (see First Trimester Bleeding)
Among all of the physical changes that are happening, you will also experience a range of strong emotions. Some of this can be attributed to hormonal changes in the body as it adapts to being pregnant. This can add intensity to the emotions that you are already feeling about being pregnant. You will probably feel excitement and joy about being pregnant. It's also normal to feel anxious, scared, or unsure about what's to come. If your physical symptoms are making you feel sick and unwell, you could even be thinking “Why did I think this was a good idea?”
A Note to Fathers
If you are a dad who is reading this, know that this is a very important time to tend to the needs of your partner. You may feel helpless and unable to ease her emotions or make her comfortable. Know that everything you do to help her counts. Talk to her when she's emotional or upset without making it seem like her feelings are out of control. Ask her what you can do for her to make her feel more comfortable or ease her physical symptoms. Help out more with housework and her other duties.
The First Appointment
If you've taken a home pregnancy test and it was positive, it's time to schedule your first appointment with a care provider. Many providers will want to wait until you are at least 6 weeks pregnant for your first appointment. Your doctor or midwife will do an initial assessment of your overall health and the pregnancy. You can expect to have the following checked:
Urine for protein and glucose
Baby's heartbeat (if possible)
A pap smear or physical exam
You will also want to ask any questions or discuss any concerns that you have at this time with your care provider.
Baby's Due Date
Your doctor or midwife will want to calculate your “due date” as accurately as possible. A due date is really just a guess of when your baby might be born, though the actual date of your baby's birth can vary several weeks before or after this date. If you know the date of your last menstrual period, your due date can be calculated fairly accurately. If you are unsure of when your last menstrual period occurred, some providers may suggest that you have an early ultrasound to measure the size of your baby and calculate a due date based on that. Your provider may also be able to calculate a date based upon the height of your fundus, which is the height of your growing uterus.
Some other things to think about during this trimester:
Announcing your Pregnancy