Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baby Essentials- The First Trimester

We have decided that a fun way to use this blog would to be discussing facts, hints, tips and stories about pregnancy and throughout child's lives. You could easily do internet research on any pregnancy or child topic, but we hope to put this in simple terms and offer advice gained through experience. So, here we are with our first topic. The month of April will be all about pregnancy. This weeks topic is conception to 3 months, known as the first trimester. 

The first month:
During this month, you actually became pregnant. Congratulations! It's a long road ahead of you! Right now your baby is just a million tiny cells that are continuously multiplying. You most likely do not even know your baby is there yet! Your hCG levels are rising and your body is getting itself ready for this adventure! HCG is a pregnancy hormone. It is what is detected when you take a pregnancy test. If your hCG levels are over a certain point, the test will be positive!

At this stage in your pregnancy amniotic fluid is starting to fill in around the little ball of cells that will eventually be your baby! Although you do not know you are pregnant yet, by the end of the first month, you may have what you think is a light period or spotting. This is known as "implantation bleeding". Sometime within the next few weeks you will be taking that pregnancy test!

Symptoms of Pregnancy:

Everyones symptoms vary. You may have every symptom listed or none at all! Your symptoms could be so mild that you do not even notice them at first! 

  • Tender or swollen breasts: A lot of women have experienced breast tenderness or swelling during pregnancy. This symptom may be misleading, because it is often times a sign of an oncoming period for many women.
  • Fatigue: The increase in the hormone progesterone that occurs when you are pregnant, and all of the other "extra" work that your body is doing can make you feel very exhausted!
  • Frequent Urination: This seems to be one of the most popular symptoms of a pregnancy. Speaking as a woman with children, its true. I think I peed more in those 9 months that I will for the rest of my lifetime!
  • Heightened Sense of smell: The sudden increase of estrogen in your body during pregnancy often makes you have a more keen sense of smell. 
  • Nausea: Nausea is the most noticed symptom in women who are pregnant. Also known as "morning sickness" nausea and vomiting can last for a few months of your pregnancy or the whole thing! The worst part is that morning sickness does not just occur in the morning, it can occur any time during the day or even last all day long!

The image above shows what your baby will look like at the end of the first month.During this time your baby's  organs are developing and some are starting to function. During the first month of pregnancy your baby is approximately the size of a poppy seed. Because your baby is developing and is so tiny, lots of things can go wrong. The biggest concern is miscarriage. But, don't worry. When you reach the 12 week mark the odds of a miscarriage greatly deteriorate. 

The second month:
At this point you have likely taken that test and gotten a positive result. If you haven't yet, you will soon! Once you take a home pregnancy test and get a positive result it is very important to contact your local gynecologist/obstetrician immediately. Early and constant prenatal care is very important for not only your health, but the health of your baby.

Right now your baby looks more like an alien than a baby, and is very tiny. You are probably experiencing a lot of the aforementioned pregnancy symptoms, but it will be several more weeks before you can see a physical change. It is very important that, even if you just suspect that you may be pregnant, avoid alcohol. It is unknown as to how much or how little it takes to cause harm to a fetus. This is especially important during these early developmental stages.

Your first doctor appointment should be somewhere around the 8 week point. That is generally when you get a positive result on a home test. Your first appointment may be a little scary yet exciting. They will do some tests to confirm your pregnancy. They may do urine tests, blood tests, and even an ultrasound.

The image above shows typically what your baby will look like at your first ultrasound. This ultrasound was taken at 8 weeks gestation.

Your doctor will also prescribe you to take a daily prenatal vitamin. These are very important. You should only take them as directed. These vitamins contain the extra nutrients the pregnant women need. They are very important to the health of your baby. Do not take more than what the doctor prescribes though, because getting too much of these nutrients can be very harmful.

If you are a smoker, now is the time to stop. Smoking increasing your risk of a miscarriage or preterm birth, not to mention the numerous other health issues it can cause you and your baby. Studies have proven that women who smoke while pregnant are more likely to have a stillbirth. They have also found links between smoking and fetal growth and infant death.
If you need help quitting here are some excellent resources for you:

During the second month, your babies ears, nose and mouth start taking shape. The babies arms. legs, hands and feet will develop from tiny nubs and start to form. At this point, your babies heart is beating twice as fast as yours. As your hormone balance keeps getting thrown out of whack you may find that you are on an emotional roller coaster.

You are starting month 3! This is a big deal! You are closing in on the end of the first trimester. You are almost to the 12 week mark. At 12 weeks, the odds of you having a miscarriage is greatly decreased. 

At this point your baby is about 1 inch long, about the size of a grape! In this month, your babies heart will be divided into the 4 chambers and the teeth will begin to form.Your babies external sex organs are developed, but will not be detectable for a few more months. Your babies eyes are formed. Now is the point in the pregnancy that your baby will begin picking up weight, so your pregnancy may be physically visible soon!

This is the part where your pregnancy gets interesting. Your babies reflexes are developing. You will start feeling baby move soon!

Baby, fetus at 12 weeks - BabyCenter
The picture above shows approximately what your baby has developed! The pictures below shows what an ultrasound at 12 weeks looks like, and what a 3-d ultrasound at 12 weeks looks like.


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