Your first trimester: What to expect!

your first trimester mother and baby - woman holding her pregnant stomach

by Lorna White |
Updated on

The first trimester is probably the most exciting of your entire pregnancy – everything is so new and overwhelming!

During the next 12 weeks, your baby will turn from a fertilised egg into a 3-inch human who is responsive to sounds.

Baby's growth in the first trimester

Your baby may only be from 0 to three months, but here are all the ways your baby blossoms in the first trimester!

  • A brain, spinal cord, and flexible backbone

  • Lungs (that are not fully developed)

  • A heart that beats 120 to 160 beats per minute

  • Eyes with eyelids that stay closed

  • All major organs (but not fully developed

  • A soft skeleton

  • A nose, mouth, and chin

  • Distinct fingers and toes and tiny fingernails

  • Genitalia (not fully developed)

  • Little teeth buds

Your plan for your first trimester

To start with, give up smoking and alcohol and cut back on caffeine. Start taking folic acid supplements – if you aren’t already taking them - or make sure you're eating foods rich with folic acid. Remember from this point onwards to check any medicines to see if they are suitable for pregnant women.

Rethink your diet if it’s not quite healthy. Research foods that are best for you and your baby and which you could avoid. Some will help you to fight morning sickness and get an energy boost, others will help your baby to stay healthy. Have sex if you feel like it – it’s harmless and has its benefits. In fact, there is a scientific reason for why you may have a higher sex drive when pregnant!

Take time to plan out your pregnancy and life with a newborn, especially the financial side of it. Find out about your company’s maternity leave policy, and start saving for those big purchases like pushchairs and nursery furniture.

Read more: 10 things you need to know about maternity pay

You will need to go for your first antenatal appointment and pick an antenatal care option that suits you. By the end of your first trimester, you will go for your first ultrasound - your 12-week scan - and get to see your baby for the first time.

You may be wondering when your baby bump will start to show. This is different for every woman, but usually occurs between 12 and 16 weeks. However, if you're expecting twins it could be sooner.

First trimester hormones:

If this is your first pregnancy, there are a few surprises that await you. Tender breasts? Odd food cravingsMorning sickness? You may add heartburnconstipationand extreme fatigue to top up the list of typical [pregnancy symptoms]{href='' }caused by hormones. You might even experience round ligament pain although sometimes this won't strike until the second trimester. But worry not – there are tips and tricks to help you deal with each one of them.

Risks to be aware of

Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester. There are some risk factors that include obesity, smoking during pregnancy, use of drugs and overuse of alcohol and caffeine.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, they may indicate an early miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Call your GP or midwife and get an ultrasound check to make sure everything is fine.

  • Vaginal bleeding (light spotting is perfectly normal)

  • High temperature

  • Severe abdominal (tummy) ache

  • Diarrhoea and vomiting

  • Strong dizziness

  • Visual disturbances

Read more: 6 causes of bleeding in early pregnancy

5 ways to have an amazing first trimester

1) Make some headspace:‘ After the initial excitement, many women feel fear and trepidation,’ says Dr Natasha Bijlani, a psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital. Mood changes are common.

‘Huge hormonal changes are going on, with increased oestrogen and progesterone,’ she adds. Give yourself lots of rest and speak to your midwife if you need extra support.

2) Talk through your worries: Lower energy levels combined with high levels of hormones can make for an emotional roller-coaster  ‘Try not to let worries escalate,’ she says. ‘Talk to your partner, mum or a friend for reassurance.’

'Talk to your partner, mum or a friend for reassurance'

3) Don't stress about bonding: It’s normal to worry about bonding with your baby. ‘But this often doesn’t happen until the birth,’ says psychologist Emma Kenny. So, focus on being happy and relaxed.

4) Start thinking about space: It’s useful to think about what space is available in your home for a baby – and all the relevant kits. ‘Get rid of any big items you don’t need,’ says Tess Clarke of Milton Sterilising. ‘Once you’re in your second trimester you won’t be as agile, so it’s good to get these jobs done now.’

Consider where you’ll store a [buggy]{href='' }or place the [cot.]{href='' } ‘If you don’t have room, you can get a bedside co-sleeping crib,’ says Nicki Pope, maternity nurse for Tinies Childcare ( Start researching now and avoid panic later.

5 Work out your rights: 'It’s a good time to find out legal rights and maternity benefits'

‘The first day in the office after discovering you’re pregnant can be surreal,’ says Caroline Flanagan of ‘It’s hard to be in meetings when you just want to rush to the loo or work out your baby's star sign.  Look after yourself the best you can – use deep breathing to stem anxiety.’

Get info about managing your career through the bump and beyond. ‘It’s a good time to find out legal rights and maternity benefits,’ says Caroline. Start a pregnancy notebook to jot down your findings. [If you're self-employed]{href='' }, it's important to know your rights too. Check [out our guide, here.]{href='' }

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