Are you planning for a baby? It is normal to feel excited and a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of questions running through your mind on what to expect – especially if it’s your first pregnancy. Read on to learn more about the changes in your body through this first-trimester guide!
Week 1: Gearing up to Ovulate
At this stage, technically, you’re not pregnant yet because there’s no visible embryo for now. However, most doctors often use the first day of your last menstrual period as the starting date of your pregnancy. Although most women may not even be aware that their bodies are slowly changing, others may feel tired all the time, with breast tenderness and mild cramping.
Week 2: You’re Ovulating
In the second week of pregnancy, you are likely ovulating when you notice an “egg-white-like” slippery discharge. This is when your ovary releases a mature egg, and as gross as egg-white-like discharge sounds, it is this consistency that helps sperm travel towards the egg. Some women notice that they suddenly have a better sense of smell and slight tenderness to the breasts during this time. Other symptoms include mild pelvic ache as your ovary releases an egg, which could be accompanied by some light spotting. You can always schedule an appointment with your obstetrician for peace of mind if you feel you are bleeding more than usual.
Week 3: Implanting
So if all goes well in the third week – the fertilised egg would have grown from a single-celled zygote into a cluster of cells called a blastocyst. This tiny life then implants itself to the wall of your uterus, where it will continue to grow and develop over the next 36 weeks. This usually occurs six to ten days after ovulation, accompanied by a small amount of vaginal spotting or light bleeding. You might feel more tired than usual, although some continue about their daily chores without even noticing.
Week 4: Baby on board!
We have an embryo! Congratulations – you’re pregnant! Your soon-to-be baby has just successfully implanted into your uterine lining and will soon miraculously turn into a little boy or girl. If you’ve been failing those pregnancy tests kits before this, it is because you’ve taken it too early in your cycle. Right about now is when the pregnancy hormone hCG begins to kick in, and this is also about the same time that some women experience the first pregnancy symptoms. These are similar to PMS, like mood swings, fatigue, including an increased sense of smell or taste.
Week 5: Hormones in full-swing/fatigue
At week five, your teeny-tiny embryo is already the size of an orange seed. On top of the PMS-like symptoms, your body’s hormone levels may kick into overdrive right about now. You can expect some mood swings, and it is completely normal if you’re a little on edge or feeling snappy.
In preparation for breastfeeding, your breasts are likely to feel sore or sensitive to the touch due to increased blood flow. Are you still feeling more tired than usual? That is also to be expected since your body is still adjusting to the changes; plus, having a baby growing in you is hard work! So remember to take things easy and give yourself extra rest if you’re feeling drained.
Week 6: Urgh, morning sickness
Are you feeling queasy? Some women are so lucky to go through the entire pregnancy without ever feeling sick, while the rest have to battle with the dreaded morning sickness. We hate to break it to you, but there’s no telling when it will end since the severity of one’s morning sickness varies from person to person.
Thanks to your heightened sense of smell, you may only throw up in the early months or continue to throw up just as you are about to give birth! You might also find big meals and your usual favourites a turn-off, and that’s normal. To cope, you can try eating smaller, more frequent meals, and you’ll soon figure out what foods you can tolerate. Both citrus and ginger have been known to help reduce nausea, so hang in there. The good news is that nausea and vomiting usually subside after the first trimester; you’ll soon get some relief! Having food cravings is also common, and it is okay to indulge in them now and then if your doctor says it is safe. Even if you crave certain foods, do eat in moderation, and make sure you eat a balanced, nutritious diet!
Week 7: Don’t hold it in!
Going to the toilet more often is also to be expected during this time. You can blame it on the pregnancy hormone hCG, as it increases blood flow to your pelvic area, which in turn contributes to frequent urination. Your growing uterus is also partly responsible, as it puts pressure on your bladder and gives it less room to store urine – remember you’re also peeing for two. While it might be inconvenient, do not reduce your fluid so that you stay hydrated! Try skipping diuretics like coffee and teas, as dehydration can lead to urinary tract infections, which you do not want.
Week 8 – Excess Saliva?
Bet you didn’t expect this! But before you start panicking, remember that this symptom doesn’t happen to everyone, and it is not permanent. Your hormone changes are the most likely culprit for the excess saliva pooling in your mouth, but your nausea and heartburn can also contribute to this. Thankfully this condition goes away by the end of the first trimester.
For some relief, try chewing on sugar-free gum, a piece of candy, or a slice of lemon. Continue to stay hydrated despite the excessive saliva. Just carry with you some tissues or a small face towel so that you can dab the saliva that escapes from your mouth.
Week 9: Gas and Bloating
If you are bloated and frequently burp or fart, laugh it off and blame it on the pregnancy hormone progesterone coursing through your body! In preparation to make room for your baby, this hormone relaxes the muscles in your uterus. In that process, it also relaxes the muscles in your digestive system, which can lead to symptoms like indigestion and heartburn.
The iron supplements that you are taking can also cause you to constipate. To deal with this, drink plenty of water, take lots of walks and eat fibre-rich foods. However, if you’re not used to a fibre-rich diet, it can cause you to be more bloated than usual. It would also help to avoid heartburn triggers like spicy or greasy foods and caffeinated drinks. Foods with probiotics like yoghurt or kimchi should provide you with enough good bacteria to keep your gut happy – just remember to check with your doctor if it is okay.
Week 10: Why am I breaking out?
Welcome to week ten! You can count yourself among the lucky ones if you are experiencing the ‘pregnancy glow’ by now while others have to deal with blemishes and unwanted hair growth on the face. And yes, pregnancy hormones again are to blame. Pregnant mothers may also experience anything from excessive oil build-up to super dry skin (or even simultaneously), rashes and a skin condition called chloasma, a blotchy skin discolouration.
Adopting a good skincare routine and switching to a gentler cleanser might help alleviate some of your skin problems. If pimples are the problem, don’t pop them – use pimple patches instead. Talk to your doctor about what’s safe for you, as some acids and serums may contain ingredients that are not safe to use when pregnant.
Takeaway: The waiting game
You’re nearing the end of your first trimester – and your body and baby are developing at a rapid pace. Your body will learn and adjust to the changes. However, if the symptoms are getting unmanageable, consult your obstetrician, and he or she may suggest ways to make it more comfortable for you while keeping it safe for you and the baby.