The First Trimester: Now What?

You’ve taken the pregnancy test, and it showed loud and clear that you are, indeed, pregnant.

First things first… CONGRATULATIONS! Should you choose to share the good news, that may be the next thing, along with delighting in the excitement of the joy to come.

The first trimester may present some of the more roller coaster effects that are typical of the pregnancy stereotypes: hormonal, emotional, sickness, fatigue, etc. But, despite the symptoms, what are we to actually do?

What to Expect in the First Trimester
The first trimester can be a whirlwind of emotion. If you have been trying to get pregnant, you may find yourself completely in love already; overwhelmed with joy of your hopes finally coming true, especially if you have been trying for some time. It’s easy to start daydreaming of genders, names, nurseries, and other fun baby subjects of the sort. If you were not trying to get pregnant, you may find that are not so happy with the news, and are overwhelmed with sadness or fright. Both ends of this spectrum of emotion are normal and okay to feel. You may even feel both.

Unfortunately, as we are all well aware, the first trimester also presents some unpleasant physical effects, such as morning sickness. Although each woman and pregnancy is different, morning sickness effects about 70-80% of women. Morning sickness, as it has been misleadingly termed over the years, can also occur any time of day during any point of pregnancy. That’s right–nausea and vomiting may last longer than just the first trimester, sometimes lasting the entire pregnancy, and may strike at any time. But, luckily, for the most part, morning sickness will only last from about 5 weeks of pregnancy to 14 weeks.

For most women, this means a longer bout of the inconvenient condition. However, some women may experience a distinct, severe case of morning sickness called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) which can cause dehydration, and may lead to maternal or fetal harm. *If you suspect you may be suffering from HG, be sure to talk to your doctor ASAP so that treatment and prevention can be recommended. You can read and learn more about HG here.*

A lot of women also describe fatigue in the first trimester, and with good reason! Baby develops at incredible rates during the first few months, and your body is hard at work making sure he’s getting everything he needs, as well as supplying you with the energy you need. Just by week 6 alone, baby has already developed bones, and will start developing arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, and toes by week 10. That’s a lot of work in a short amount of time. Be sure to drink lots of water, and get plenty of rest, as your body very much needs it!

Other common expectations during the first trimester include bouts of heartburn, breast growth and discomfort (so soon!), and some weight gain. Even though you may not feel up to it, try eating small meals through the day to keep your energy up, and drink water in consistent sips rather than gulps. Staying hydrated and having something on your stomach may help keep some nausea and heartburn at bay.

What to Do in the First Trimester
Before anything else, start taking some prenatal vitamins, and book your first prenatal appointment. Your first appointment with your OB-GYN will likely involve a series of tests, such as blood work, which will determine your blood type, Rh levels, and hCG levels. You’ll also likely have an initial ultrasound where your practitioner will find baby’s heartbeat, predict your due date, and hopefully print out a keepsake for you and your partner. He or she will also likely ask about your family history, your partner’s family history, and your own history to determine if there is a need for any other tests to be done. During this visit, you may also consider asking about genetic tests (such as the nuchal translucency screening, which tests for Downs syndrome and heart defects) that can be done.

Budgeting is also a very important step in family planning, and it never hurts to start sooner than later. Reviewing your health insurance options can have a major impact on the cost of pregnancy and birth, and give you a much better idea of what costs to expect in the near future. It also gives you an idea of what you can spend on the fun stuff!

Start your research as soon as you can. Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum have been experienced for centuries, but that doesn’t mean there’s still lots to learn. The internet is a great source for information, but picking up a book or two (or three or four) has a lot of advantages and great information that can be accessed whenever your choose, without an internet connection. Your research affects the decisions that you and your partner make during your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period, and it’s crucial that you are both able to make educated decisions.

Once you have a plan for the most important priorities, start having fun! Think about baby names, plan how you want to announce your pregnancy, decide who you will call first, and don’t forget to stay intimate with your partner (as you feel like it).

The first trimester does present its challenges, but it also presents the beginning of a wonderful change affecting your new or existing family. The first trimester will pass, and soon enough, you’ll be holding your sweet new bundle of joy in your arms.

Is there anything you would add to the list of first trimester to-do’s?

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