First Trimester of Pregnancy: What to Expect

The 1st trimester lasts from the moment of conception and up to 13 weeks. This is an important and crucial stage of pregnancy when a new life is conceived, and the tissues and organs of the future child are formed.

At the end of the first trimester, your baby is already called a fetus and looks like a little human.

First trimester symptoms

In the first few weeks, you may not notice your new condition.

From weeks 3–4, some women begin to feel the changes caused by hormones that prepare your body for the development and nurturing of a new life.

You may experience the following symptoms during the first trimester of pregnancy:

The first-trimester visit to the doctor

As soon as you assume you are pregnant, schedule your first appointment with the doctor. Usually, it occurs at weeks 7–9.

The doctor will ask you many questions about your menstrual cycle, previous pregnancies, your medical history, the medicines you take, working conditions, your lifestyle and habits, etc.

In turn, be sure to ask your doctor questions that matter to you.

After a detailed interview, the doctor will:

  • measure your weight and height, calculate your body mass index (BMI) to determine the recommended weight gain
  • check your blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration
  • perform a complete physical checkup to understand the features of your body
  • perform an obstetric examination on the gynecological chair. This will help confirm the pregnancy, determine its period and diagnose possible deviations from the norm.
  • schedule laboratory and (if necessary) instrumental examinations

Your first visit is a good opportunity to discuss sports and sex during pregnancy. You can also ask questions about the use of medications, dietary supplements, and vitamins.

Follow-up visits (usually scheduled every 4 weeks during the first trimester) are likely to be less lengthy.

Laboratory tests in the first trimester of pregnancy:

  • a urine test for urinary tract and other infections
  • a Pap smear for cervical cancer
  • a test for sexually transmitted infections
  • a complete blood count
  • Rh factor and blood group tests
  • blood tests for rubella, viral hepatitis B and C, human immunodeficiency virus

The compulsory first-trimester screening:

  • an ultrasound examination (weeks 11–13)
  • a blood test for biochemical markers

The purpose is to determine if there is a risk of developing fetal birth defects and chromosomal abnormalities.

Symptoms to pay attention to during the first trimester of pregnancy

In the first trimester, it is especially important to carefully monitor the changes in your body and state of health to detect any disorder early. 

You should seek medical help in the case of:

  • vaginal bleeding 
  • severe toxemia
  • body temperature rise (above 99.5 °F/37.5 °С)
  • vaginal discharge and itching 
  • pain or burning when urinating 
  • exacerbation of chronic diseases  

Nutrition and vitamins in the first trimester

The most important rule is that your diet should provide you with useful nutrients that will help your baby grow and develop.

However, you still do not need extra calories, as they will not benefit your body, but will make you gain weight.

Nutrition guidelines:

  • Eat small, frequent meals.
  • Do not try to lose weight and stick to a diet. It’s not good for your health at this point.
  • Eat heat-treated foods, giving preference to boiled and stewed dishes.
  • Do not eat raw foods, particularly eggs, shellfish, fish, and meat to prevent infectious diseases and parasites.
  • Consume more fruits, vegetables, thoroughly washing them before eating.
  • Cut down on caffeine.
  • Cut out or cut down on products with colorants, stabilizers, thickeners, flavor and taste enhancers.
  • Give up fast food and fizzy drinks.
  • Do not drink alcohol.

During this period, you also need to take vitamins and minerals. Remember that it is your doctor who can prescribe the adequate course of administration and dosage.

  • It is necessary to take 400 mcg of folic acid daily (3 months before conception and during 12 weeks of pregnancy).
  • Iron supplements are good for you if the iron level in the blood becomes low (anemia).

Lifestyle tips for the first trimester of pregnancy

  • It is very important to give up smoking as well as to avoid passive smoking.
  • Do not visit saunas: high temperatures adversely affect the fetus.
  • By the end of the first trimester, opt for loose clothes made from natural fabrics.
  • Try to rest more and get enough sleep.
  • Protect yourself from stress, practice relaxation techniques and deep breathing.
  • Do not lift weights.
  • Take medicines only if your attending doctor prescribes them.
  • Try to avoid contact with people with acute respiratory diseases.
  • Be careful when using household chemicals, give up repellents, self-tanning and other substances that may contain toxic components.

Physical activity in the first trimester

It is very important to stay physically active during pregnancy. In this case, you should discuss exercise with your doctor and follow their recommendations.

  • Give preference to walking, swimming, water aerobics for pregnant women, yoga, fitball workouts, and do breathing exercises.

  • Exercise at a leisurely pace that is comfortable for you.

  • Give up strength training and active sports.

Living a healthy life is crucial for normal first-trimester baby development.

Feel free to ask your doctor any questions and educate yourself with the articles by Flo, both on our website and in the app.