Your first trimester refers to the first three months of your pregnancy. Even before you decide to get pregnant, you should prepare your body. Increasing folic acid, staying away from medications that aren’t needed, staying away from alcohol ect ect. Now that you know you are pregnant, you need to start your pregnancy off right by establishing a healthy prenatal care routine. The first step is to decide on a child care provider. Most women choose either an OB/GYN or a certified midwife to manage their pregnancy and delivery.
What to expect on your first visit to your caregiver.
Your caregiver will ask several questions, so be prepared. The questions that he or she will ask is important information that will help to provide and establish a medical history he or she may need to draw upon at a later date. Try to come prepared by maybe talking to your parents, if applicable, about any genetic history, congenital abnormalities, recurrent diseases and things of that nature.
You will be asked about your menstrual cycle, not only your normal duration, but what the actual date was of your last one. When trying to get pregnant, it’s a great idea to keep track of these things. They may also ask what you use for contraceptives, if you have had any previous pregnancies, and if you have any allergies or other medical conditions. Your health care provider will also ask if you are taking any prescription or over the counter medications. Please be sure to include any herbs or health supplements you may be taking.
You will be given a physical exam. Your caregiver will need to know how healthy you are, so a physical exam should be performed. You will be weighed, have your blood pressure taken, and have your height recorded during this exam.
Your provider may also give you a pelvic exam and a pap test. From this exam, they will determine if there are any infections or other abnormalities, such as cancer. Once again, I hope that you have been taking care of yourself before pregnancy and have had regular pap and cancer screenings in the past.
You will also be given a blood test, not only to determine your blood type, but also the Rh factor which is a specific kind of protein that is on the surface of your red blood cells. The blood tests will also show if you have had any exposure to diseases like syphilis, measles, mumps, rubella, or hepatitis B. If you know your previous medical history, or if you have had to have any stringent pre-employment screenings. Some medial establishment require many of the above tests. Be prepared to have many vials drawn. I think my first pregnancy I had 7 drawn!
Your urine will be tested for specific amounts of sugar and protein. Too much sugar or protein in your urine indicates diabetes or kidney problems.
Your caregiver will discuss pre-natal vitamins, exercise and other lifestyle changes that may need to happen. Pretty much though, you should continue with normal safe and legal activities!
Additional visits to schedule
During your first trimester, your visits will be scheduled for every four weeks. At these visits, you will be weighed and your blood pressure taken. You should keep a list of any questions or concerns that you have. It is important to be honest and open about anything you need to discuss.
Also during your first trimester is you may be scheduled for an ultrasound. This will give you your first look at your new baby and how the baby is growing and developing. There are some midwives that do not recommend ultrasounds. This is a personal decision you should make, I suggest you do some independent research and conclude what works for you and your family.
changes in your body
Some physical changes in your body may include;
- Tender breasts
- Being nauseated
- Being extra tired
- Emotional changes
- Some dizziness
- Mild shortness of Breath
If your dizziness occurs with pain in the abdomen or vaginal bleeding you will need to call you caregiver away.
The most important thing is to make an appointment to visit with your health care provider as soon as you know, or if you suspect you may be pregnant.
It is protocol for some offices or doctors to not even see you until you are almost 10-12 weeks. Use your own discretion.
The second trimester is your third, fourth and fifth month of pregnancy.
You will most likely have monthly visits to your caregiver about any symptoms or concerns you have. .
Your doctor will measure the size of your abdomen by measuring from the top of your uterus to your pubic bone in centimeters. The number of centimeters will usually equal the number of weeks into your pregnancy you are. This is just a guideline. If you are not measuring where you should be, it will just be something that is watched.
You’ll most likely to hear the baby’s heartbeat on every visit. The heartbeat can be heard as early as 10 weeks or even up to 11 months on a doppler device.
Your baby will start kicking or moving at about 20 weeks, so it is good to tell your doctor when you notice movement.
Your urine will still be tested for levels of sugar and protein. You will also be checked for signs of gestational diabetes, which is a form of diabetes that is temporary and can occur during pregnancy.
Pelvic exams are generally not required in the second trimester, unless there is a concern from your doctor or health care provider.
Other tests that may be offered
In your second trimester is when you may be offered a few optional tests
* Blood tests to check for disorders such as spinal bifida or Downs syndrome
* An ultrasound to check on your baby’s growth and development
* If the results of your blood test or ultrasound are a concern to your doctor, he may want to do a test that is more invasive called amniocentesis or a CVS.
**Again, these are very personal decisions. I suggest talking with your partner about what your wishes would be regarding these tests. Do more research, soul search, and talk to mother’s who have been through all of those scenario’s.
3. Some physical changes to your body during your second trimester
- Larger breasts as your milk producing glands inside your breasts grow bigger
- A bigger belly as your uterus expands for the baby. You may gain about 4 pounds per month.
- Braxton Hicks contractions strengthen your uterus. They are painless contractions that happen in your lower abdomen and groin area.
- Skin color changes due to increased blood circulation — darker colored skin around the nipples, on your face, and on the line that runs from your belly button to your pubic bone.
- Increased blood circulation in your mucous membranes cause the lining of your nose and air way passage to swell, resulting in snoring, congestion, and nosebleeds. The extra blood circulation may also cause bleeding in your gums while brushing and flossing.
- Expanding blood vessels from increase in blood volume will cause occasional dizziness and maybe lower blood pressure. Try not to stand for long periods of time and don’t stand up too fast.
- Leg cramps caused by the pressure from your uterus to the veins that return the blood from your legs
- Heartburn and constipation is caused from a slower digestive process that allows nutrition to reach your baby.
- Shortness of breath
- Abnormal vaginal discharge that is thin and white
- Increase chance of bladder and kidney infections due to slower flow of urine and an increase in size of your uterus. Call your doctor if you suspect either one of these two infections.
Also, around week 20 you will be scheduled for a Glucose Tolerance Test.
The third and last trimester is the final stretch. Your pre-natal visits will increase in your last month to once a week. You should expect more of the same. Monitoring the baby’s heartbeat, your blood pressure and more discussion about the birth.
Do you have a birth plan? You should consider having one. You can do one and discuss with your caregiver, or if you are having your baby at a hospital, you can take this with you to the hospital as well. This is a great idea to cover some things you may not have thought about just yet.
Group B Strep Test
One of the things you will be tested for in your third trimester is a bacterium called group B streptococcus, or GBS. It is harmless in adults, but can cause the baby to become critically ill. If GBS shows up on the swab from your vagina or rectum, you will be administered an intravenous antibiotic during your labor to help protect the baby. This is usually done later in your third trimester.
Physical changes to your body in your third trimester
- Backaches and sore hips are common as your baby gains weight. Try sitting on chairs with a good back support, or using a heating pad, or find someone who can give you a massage.
- Swelling of the feet and ankles is normal. Retaining fluids and blood vessels becoming dilated will leave your face and eyelids puffy in the morning.
- Shortness of breath
- Spider veins, varicose veins and hemorrhoids may occur. Try elevating your legs and drinking lots of liquids.
- Stretch marks that become itchy.
- Your breasts are still growing.
- Increased pressure on your bladder.
- Braxton Hicks contractions