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    First Weeks of Pregnancy: Tips for a Healthy Start

    Updated 09 January 2023 |
    Published 26 April 2019
    Fact Checked
    Medically reviewed by Dr. Anna Targonskaya, Obstetrician and gynecologist
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    You’re pregnant — congratulations! You probably have as many questions as you do emotions right now. One of the first things pregnant women wonder when they find out they’re carrying new life is what to expect in the first weeks of pregnancy. Let's figure it out!

    What to expect in the first weeks of pregnancy 

    The first weeks of pregnancy can mean uncomfortable physical symptoms and changes to your energy levels. You may feel more tired, sleepy, or fatigued than usual, and you may experience bloating, nausea, and tender breasts. However, some women feel no difference between the first weeks of pregnancy and when they weren’t pregnant. Pregnancy symptoms tend to intensify by the second month of pregnancy. 

    Here are some specific symptoms you should be aware of in the first weeks of pregnancy.

    Cramping: first weeks of pregnancy

    Light cramping in the first weeks of pregnancy is usually nothing to worry about. Your uterus is a muscle, and a fertilized egg is a foreign body for it. So when a fertilized egg comes to the uterine cavity trying to implant into its inner layer (endometrium), the natural reaction of uterine muscular layer is contracting to get rid of a foreign body. These contractions usually don't lead to abortion because of high levels of progesterone, which inhibits uterine muscle contractions. 

    If the cramps during the first weeks of pregnancy are mild, intermittent and feel similar to ones you get right before your period, they could be a sign that you’re pregnant! 

    Bleeding: first weeks of pregnancy

    It’s normal for women to feel concerned if they see they’re bleeding in the first weeks of pregnancy. But during this time, vaginal spotting or light bleeding can be quite normal. It can be a sign of implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterine inner layer (endometrium), which usually happens on 7 to 12 day after fertilization. In fact, around 20% of women experience some vaginal bleeding in the first trimester. 

    At the same time, bleeding can be a sign of some serious complications, like extrauterine pregnancy or a missed miscarriage. If you notice spotting or light bleeding when you are pregnant, inform your doctor so he or she can make sure that everything is going well. Use a panty liner or pad instead of a tampon or menstrual cup if you’re bleeding during first weeks of pregnancy. 

    Lower back pain: first weeks of pregnancy

    Just like with cramping during the first weeks of pregnancy, having some pain in your lower back is a common and normal symptom. There are a few reasons why you might have lower back pain first weeks of pregnancy, including hormonal changes and stress. As your pregnancy develops, your back pain will be due to the changing shape of your hips, weight gain, and the position of your spine as your center of gravity shifts with your growing baby.

    Many women experience slight bleeding, cramping and lower back pain in the first weeks of pregnancy. Speak to your doctor if any of your first weeks of pregnancy symptoms are so severe that they cause you significant amounts of pain or discomfort.

    What to do in first weeks of pregnancy 

    The first weeks of pregnancy are a good time to get a full health workup from your doctor. After you’ve taken a pregnancy test, your doctor will do a blood or urine test to confirm pregnancy and may perform a pelvic exam.

    If your family doctor is a general practitioner, you’ll likely want to find a prenatal doctor or obstetrician-gynecologist to have routine checkups with throughout your whole pregnancy. These checkups will include scans and other laboratory tests to make sure you and baby are staying healthy. 

    In the first weeks of pregnancy, your ultrasound scans can already give you information about your pregnancy — you can see a gestational sac in the uterine cavity on about day 7 of your missing period (if you have a regular menstrual cycle), and in several days a yolk sac can be seen on ultrasound. During the second week of your missing period (6th week of gestation), ultrasounds can detect an embryo and even a fetal heartbeat. As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll start to see your baby taking shape and will eventually get to find out their sex

    Your prenatal appointments also are a chance for you to ask your doctor or midwife any questions you have about pregnancy and childbirth.

    Things to avoid in first weeks of pregnancy

    Now that you know what to expect in the first weeks of pregnancy, you may be wondering if there are certain things you shouldn’t do while pregnant. 

    Perhaps the most important thing you should think about during those first weeks of pregnancy is how you’ll stay healthy, both for you and your growing baby. The first weeks of pregnancy are a great time to check in with your diet and lifestyle. You’ll need to make sure that you’re getting enough nutrients for you and your baby through your diet, and that you stay active with light exercise. You should also quit smoking and/or drinking alcohol, if that’s part of your lifestyle.

    Drinking during first weeks of pregnancy

    Is it safe to drink alcohol during the first weeks of pregnancy? There are lots of opinions about whether pregnant women can still drink alcohol. While some studies say that small amounts of alcohol don’t put your baby at risk, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol altogether to prevent any alcohol-related complications during pregnancy. 

    The bottom line is that there is no known amount or type of alcohol that is considered safe to drink while pregnant.

    Smoking during first weeks of pregnancy

    Smoking is never a healthy habit, so if you’ve been looking for a reason to quit, the first weeks of pregnancy are a great time to do it. Smoking (and exposure to secondhand smoke) while pregnant can cause serious birth defects, including cleft palate, as well as complications like preterm birth or placental abruption. Smoking while pregnant is also linked to a risk of your newborn dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Avoid it at all costs.

    Drinking alcohol and smoking are major activities you’ll want to avoid in the first weeks of pregnancy. You’ll also want to avoid eating certain foods, like raw fish and seafood, to lessen the risk of getting gastrointestinal infections.

    The first weeks of pregnancy are an exciting time, so enjoy all the perks of your changing body and new lifestyle! Check out for more tips about what to expect during different pregnancy stages, and how to prepare for childbirth.

    History of updates

    Current version (09 January 2023)

    Medically reviewed by Dr. Anna Targonskaya, Obstetrician and gynecologist

    Published (26 April 2019)

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