Pregnancy : 1st Trimester
Updated: Feb 5
First Trimester 1-12 weeks
Pregnancy Test – how to tell
Calculating Babies Due Date application as on http://www.kidspot.com.au/due-date-calculator-kidspot.asp
Physical Changes – what is happening to you and your baby
Breast, nipple, body, tiredness & exhaustion, morning sickness and nausea, frequent weeing, excessive saliva and taste changes, fainting, dizziness, headaches, constipation, wind, libido, and sex drive
What to expect at your first pregnancy Medical visit?
Pregnancy Test – How To Tell
There is an array of pregnancy tests available on the market, however all test for the presence of human Chorionic Gonadotropic (hCG) hormone in either your blood or urine.
False positive/ false negative pregnancy tests
hCG is a hormone made by the placenta and is only present in your body when you are truly pregnant, hence generally a test that is positive is often truly positive! However false positives can occur in some circumstances such as:
You have an hCG-producing growth such as an ovarian tumour
Protein in your urine can give a false-positive result
Some medications particularly fertility drugs may cause a false positive result
If you have experienced a recent birth or miscarriage hCG may still be present in your body
The urine collecting cup is dirty - detergent residue can cause false-positive results
The test kit is faulty
Alternatively, false negative pregnancy tests are possible and usually happen when the test is done prematurely. The levels of hCG required to give a positive pregnancy result are high and so it is possible to get a negative result while your hCG levels are increasing to positive pregnancy levels.
Urine pregnancy tests
While urine pregnancy tests can accurately detect the presence of hCG, they are qualitative - merely giving a negative or positive result. Most urine tests need a higher level of hCG than a blood test to show a positive result and so may be slower to show a positive result.
The best ways to ensure that you get the correct result from a urine pregnancy test are:
Read the instructions BEFORE you take the test - not all tests are the same!
Test your first-morning urine - this will ensure that your hCG levels are as high as they can be. If you cannot use this urine, test urine that has been in your bladder for a couple of hours.
Do not drink a lot before the test - this will only dilute your urine and make the level of hCG lower than it would normally be.
Check with your doctor that any medications you may be taking (particularly fertility drugs) will not affect the result of your test
Some urine pregnancy tests can frustratingly not give you an answer either way - this is because your hCG levels are too high for a negative but too low for a positive result. Though, once your hCG level rises to the extent that it is no longer considered a negative result, it will continue to rise until you get a positive result.
One of the main drawbacks to using urine pregnancy tests early on (some tests can test for the presence of hCG as early as a week after your period was due) is that 30-50% of all embryos that attach to the uterine wall, detach again. This is different from the early miscarriage. With pregnancy tests able to give an early positive result, it can be very disappointing to discover that your positive has turned into a negative result.
Blood pregnancy tests
You can have a blood pregnancy test done by your doctor as early as 11-14 days after ovulation. After being sent to a lab for testing, the results of a blood pregnancy test can tell you two things:
Qualitative - whether you are pregnant or not.
Quantitative - how much hCG is in your blood. This is useful to estimate how far your pregnancy has progressed.
Blood pregnancy tests are 99% accurate and can detect a much lower amount of hCG than urine pregnancy tests and it is for this reason that many women still choose to have a blood test done after doing a urine pregnancy test themselves at home.
The first trimester is a period of major development for your fetus and of profound physical and emotional changes for you.
You may realise that you are pregnant straight away, however, many women will not realise they are pregnant until at least week four or five. This is one of the reasons why women are encouraged to plan for pregnancy.
During the first trimester of your pregnancy, your body is undergoing dramatic changes. By week six you may already notice your clothes getting a little tighter around your waist.
Physically you may experience some of the following symptoms during the first trimester:
As your body begins working overtime developing the foetus, you will most likely be exhausted during the first trimester. You should take plenty of time out to rest during this period. If you feel like having a sleep during the day, try to do so. If you are in a relationship, make sure your partner helps around the house or if necessary, employ a cleaner or ignore some housework for a while.
While we have all heard about morning sickness it is often not until you are pregnant that you realise you can be nauseous at any time of the day during pregnancy.
If you experience only slight nausea, you may find that snacking regularly on biscuits and cheese may help to alleviate the symptoms. If you have severe nausea and vomiting, however, consult your doctor as you may be nutritionally at risk.
This discomfort is one of the most common complaints of pregnancy. Heartburn is defined as a burning sensation in the middle of your chest; it often occurs after eating. You may also experience acid or bitter taste in your mouth and increased pain when you bend over or lie down. During the first trimester, nearly 25% of all pregnant women have heartburn. Later, it may become more severe when your growing baby compresses your digestive tract. Eat small, frequent meals. One sure way to get heartburn is to eat a large meal, then lie down!
This is also common in early pregnancy, brought on by two changes in your body. Increased hormones, whereby your body produces progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles of the intestinal wall and stomach, resulting in a slow down of digestion, and your blood volume increases. If you don't drink enough fluids to keep up with the increase in blood volume, you will experience dehydration which causes constipation. So, drink lots of fluids, exercise, and snack on prunes!
Do not use laxatives without your doctor's approval. If constipation is a continuing problem, discuss treatment at a prenatal visit. Try not to strain when you have a bowel movement as straining can lead to hemorrhoids.
Micturition (Urinary frequency)
You may begin to experience the frequency of urination early in your pregnancy (as early as one week after conception). With an increase in progesterone levels and secretion of hCG, the blood supply to the pelvic area increases, resulting in bladder irritation. As the uterus grows, it exerts increasing pressure on the bladder, resulting in the need to pass urine more often.
Breast changes can begin quite early in pregnancy with increasing levels of estrogen and progesterone. You may notice nipples become darker, and the breasts feel larger, heavier, and quite sore to touch. Wearing a comfortable bra can help alleviate some of the discomforts.
Research your options
Start researching the childbirth options that are available to you during this trimester. You will need to talk to your doctor and other mothers about the type of birth you want. You may also want to do some reading to bring yourself up to speed with the options available to you. A visit to the Essential Baby birth choices page will provide you with information about all your options.
Throughout your pregnancy, you will have regular check-ups, or "antenatal visits" with your doctor or specialist. These visits will generally take place every month until 28 weeks, then fortnightly to 36 weeks, and then weekly for the last month. If you have any complications, the regularity of visits will be increased. You should take advantage of your visits by asking as many questions as possible. If necessary, take the questions written on a sheet of paper to ensure that you get the answers you need.
When you are pregnant, there are some basic precautions that you should take to ensure both your baby's and your health. Familiarise yourself with these precautions and speak with your doctor if you have any additional questions or concerns about how to rectify any problems that you see in your immediate work, home, or social environment.
They may include:
If you are a smoker or live with a smoker it is time to quit. If you need help call the Quit helpline (13 QUIT).
It is recommended that you avoid alcohol during the first trimester of your pregnancy. Obviously, by avoiding alcohol throughout your pregnancy, your baby will not be at risk as a result of alcohol. Often, women are advised that the occasional glass of wine is safe but the best option for your own peace of mind is to talk to your specialist to find out what is recommended for you.
Stop all recreational drugs immediately. If you find it difficult to stop, talk to your doctor, who can help you quit.
Check with your doctor as soon as you fall pregnant to find out whether prescribed medications are safe.
Rubella virus (German measles)
In Australia, most girls are vaccinated against the rubella virus as teenagers. However, the antibodies can lose their efficiency over time, so it is good to check your immunity prior to falling pregnant.
If you have been in contact with anyone who has, or who is suspected of having German Measles, you should contact your doctor for testing straight away. Rubella can cause serious defects in your baby including deafness, blindness, and heart disease particularly if it is caught in the first three months of pregnancy.
The biggest rule throughout your pregnancy is to ensure that you maintain a healthy, balanced diet. You should always keep in mind that your baby is getting all his/her nutrients from you!
If you are unsure about your diet or want some help, ask your doctor to refer you to a dietician. Get into the habit of checking packaging and labels and become aware of what you are eating.
Familiarise yourself with the following:
Quick food safety checklist
Ensure all meats, poultry, and fish are thoroughly cooked.
Ensure meat is thoroughly defrosted prior to cooking.
Do not allow raw meat or eggs to come into contact with other foods.
Eat only pasteurised dairy products.
Avoid soft cheese (such as brie and camembert) and processed deli-meats.
If you are a heavy coffee drinker reduce your caffeine intake.
Caffeine affects iron absorption and so it is recommended that pregnant women limit caffeine intake. The recommendation for pregnant women is to avoid caffeine if possible, but if you cannot get by without that morning cup of coffee, then limit intake to one cup per day. Caffeine is found in coffee, chocolate, and tea. Herbal teas make an ideal substitute for tea and coffee.
The tannin found in tea interferes with iron absorption and so should also be limited. (Most herbal teas do not contain tannin but check the packaging to be sure).
Listeriosis is a bacterial disease commonly associated with the ingestion of contaminated milk, soft cheeses, contaminated vegetables, and ready-to-eat meats such as deli-meats and pate. Pregnant women may have no apparent infection but there can be a risk of fetal infection.
Symptoms of Listeriosis include fever, aches and pains, intense headache, nausea, and vomiting. During pregnancy you should take particular care to ensure all meats are thoroughly cooked, vegetables thoroughly washed, and that you eat only pasteurised dairy products. An unborn child affected by Listeriosis may be stillborn and the bacteria can cause recurrent miscarriage. Check with your doctor or dietitian if you want more information.
Toxoplasmosis is a parasite that can cause serious effects to your unborn child including brain damage and blindness. The infection can be found in raw meats, cat and dog feaces, and contaminated soil. If you have pets or have any concerns at all about Toxoplasmosis, discuss them with your doctor.
Some guidelines for avoiding Toxoplasmosis include:
Do not eat raw or undercooked meat.
Do not handle cat litter or do any gardening in the soil where cats have defecated.
Wear gloves when gardening.
Be strict about washing hands after petting animals.
Botulism is a rare but severe form of blood poisoning caused by improperly canned or preserved food such as cured ham or pork. Botulism causes progressive degeneration of the nervous system and muscular paralysis.
Salmonella infection is most often traced to eggs and chicken meat. It is advisable to avoid foods that contain raw egg and always cook chicken and eggs well. Wherever possible, purchase free-range eggs and chicken. Symptoms of headache, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, and shivering develop approximately 12 - 24 hours after infection and last for 2-3 days.
If you plan to work throughout your pregnancy then it is essential that you take the time to assess your workplace and the activities that you are involved in daily to determine if there are any potential hazards.
If you have concerns about your job or your environment, discuss them with your doctor. If your work environment is not suitable, or if your work activities pose a risk, then your employer should transfer you to an alternative job while you are pregnant.
Do not become overheated for long periods
Overheating your body can be dangerous to your baby, in the first trimester. In particular, hot spa baths and saunas can cause fetal abnormalities.
Generally, traveling does not cause concern throughout most of your pregnancy. The main things to keep in mind are;
Pregnancy can increase your sensitivity to motion sickness
If travelling by plane, you should not travel after your seventh month
If travelling long distances in a car or train take along something to drink and try to take breaks and move around regularly - try not to get cramped into one position for a long time
If you are travelling internationally, speak with your doctor about required immunisations and what impact they can have on your unborn baby
Also, read food hazards to ensure you are familiar with potentially dangerous foods and drink bottled water.
Any vaccinations that use live viruses are avoided during pregnancy, including Rubella, measles, mumps and yellow fever. It is vital that you make your doctor aware that you are pregnant prior to having any immunisations. Immunisations are required for travel to some countries, and these should be discussed fully with your doctor prior to finalising any travel plans.