What’s it like?
You’re halfway through the first trimester of your pregnancy. Congratulations! Your baby is the size of a large raspberry and growing at an amazing rate. Your baby’s nose, ears, lips, nose, eyelids, legs, and back begin to take place, and the little tail he had last week is starting to go away. This rapid growth and associated hormones means that many of the classic pregnancy symptoms – bloating, gassiness, nausea, constipation, headaches, are in full swing this week. Don’t worry, but make time to schedule your first obstetrician appointment. Make a list of all the possible questions to ask so as not to forget face-to-face.
Your baby’s growth
- Body size
The cells that will form all the organs and body systems of your baby are dividing into a dizzying pace as his or her body begins to take shape. Your baby is more than 0.5 inches (13 millimeters) long, or about the size of a lima bean.
- Head characteristics
If you could see through the walls of your uterus, you would find an oversized head with dark spots for the eyes and nostrils, as well as indentations that are the beginnings of the ears.
- Body appearance
- With hands and feet, a thick membrane can be observed between the developing fingers. Your baby’s face is becoming more defined: eyelids have formed, his nose is beginning to protrude, and his upper lip is taking shape.
- Internal organs
Your baby’s heart is now dividing into the right and left chambers and it is beating at a rate of 100 to 130 beats per minute. This heartbeat rate is almost twice faster than yours. A popular myth is that you can tell an unborn baby’s gender from how fast the heart beats—little girls’ hearts beat faster. But this is probably an old wife’s tale as researchers have no evidence to back up this claim.
As their backs take shape, your baby grows blocks of tissues that will become the future ribs and back muscles. By the middle of this week, your baby will likely have enough muscle strength to begin to move inside of you, although they are still far too small for you to feel it!
What happens inside your body?
- Nausea: You may find that the morning sickness has intensified this week. If you end up vomiting, make sure you recover the lost fluids. And try to take your pregnancy vitamin after a meal to help keep it down.
- Frequent urination: Your endless trips to the restroom are a result of the increased liquids in your body that need to be filtered by your kidney and the increased pressure on the uterus. You can try beginning your Kegel (named after Dr. Arnold Kegel) exercises this week to help with bladder control.
- Fatigue: Yes, you’re tired! But remember, pronounced fatigue is a sign that your baby is growing rapidly and your body is adapting well to pregnancy. (Related Article: 8 Energizing Ways To Combat Fatigue)
- Constipation: You may feel a little bloated and constipated. This happens because the intestinal transit is slowed down by pregnancy hormones, leading to constipation and flatulence. Add a tablespoon of fiber to every meal–it will help avoid that gas!
- Headaches: All that fatigue, stress, constipation and nausea and your elevated hormones can lead to pregnancy headaches. Make sure you’re getting enough rest, staying hydrated, and keep healthily to prevent your blood sugar from dropping and triggering them as well.
- Bloating: As your metabolism slows down, those pregnancy hormones cause your body, especially your ankles, to swell. Try to drink lots of fluid and follow a healthy diet to avoid constipation, which only intensifies your bloated feeling. (Related Article: Did You Know? Some Fruits Can Cause Bloating)
- Increased vaginal discharge: The milky white discharge–leucorrhea–that you find leaking everywhere is a result of the increased estrogen. Estrogen increases blood flow to the pelvic area, which activates the body’s mucous membranes. While it might seem like you are forever changing your panties, don’t wash it away. Leucorrhea protects the birth canal from infection by maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria. (Related Article: What You Need To Know About Your Vaginal Discharge)
- Mood swings: Your emotional roller coaster can seem pretty intense these days as a result of those pesky pregnancy hormones. It’s all perfectly normal, so make time to let go and relax. You’re doing great.
How different will you look?
Your breasts are growing and becoming more sensitive. Their veins can become more visible because of the increased blood flow and volume. Don’t be afraid of buying new bras – it’s important to get the right support. Your waist can become wider because now your uterus is the size of an orange. If you gently rub your belly you can likely feel your baby. If you are having difficulty fastening your pants, try taking a strong elastic band and folding it in two. Loop one half the button hole, and slip it through forming a tie, and the second around the button hole – a sneaky stretch on the sly. If you like wearing heels, you should take advantage of this week because swollen ankles are right around the corner.
How can you care for both of your loved ones?
This week will likely mark your partner’s first obstetrician appointment. If at all possible, try to go with her. This will help you get to know your birthing team and them get to know you. The more that you know about the pregnancy, the more you will be able to provide useful advice and support. Learning about the growth and development process will help you bond with your unborn baby. And it’s great to establishing a united front early on. This will set a positive tone and help you get used to making important baby decisions together.
Tips to help you go through trimester
- Constipation tips. Constipation can affect you starting with this week, so make sure you eat enough fibers, raw fruits and vegetables. Eat prunes and drink especially prune juice because they act as a natural laxative. Also, drink plenty of fluids! Ample water, fruit juices and non-caffeinated tea are also a good choice to supplement the fluid intake. Do not use laxatives or castor oil because they can provoke uterine contractions. Walking and swimming generally help ease constipation, so you can try them as well. Also, small meals throughout the day smooth the digestion process, putting less stress on the colon and intestines.
- Obstetrician’s visit. This week marks the first obstetrician’s visit, where he or she will assess your general health, talk about family history and any genetic diseases, food or drug allergies, your use of prescriptions or natural herbs, contraceptive history and calculate your due date. After this initial visit, you will see your doctor once a month until the 32nd week of pregnancy, after which you’ll go every two weeks. From weeks 37 to delivery, your appointments will be once per week. If you are over 35 or at risk, you may want to talk to your obstetrician about an AFP or MSAFP (maternal serum alpha fetal protein) test. This screens for Down syndrome or Trisomy 18, a more severe and less common birth defect. Many doctors recommend this test, although it has a small risk of miscarriage and can only tell you whether you are at risk and does not provide a positive confirmation. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of the test. If positive, your physician will likely recommend further tests.
During this week, many of the most challenging aspects of pregnancy are in full swing – the morning sickness, mood swings, headaches, bloating, gas and constipation – it may seem overwhelming at times. Be good to yourself and try scheduling a prenatal massage or facial, and if you love it, consider buying a package deal. You can often get a discount when you book several at once—and then use them up throughout your pregnancy.