The First Trimester is an Exciting Time for an Expecting Mother
Being able to nurture and raise a child is one of a mother’s greatest pleasures.
However, the journey to achieving this comes with conceiving and carrying a baby to term. Nothing is more exciting than testing positive for a pregnancy test, especially when you were looking forward to it.
The first phase of pregnancy is referred to as the first trimester and is characterized by an invisible transformation. These changes happen very quickly and knowing the emotional and physical changes to expect can help prepare you for the journey. While the first trimester is certainly not the end of pregnancy, it’s important to give any child the best possible start that is possible.
How Long Does the First Trimester Last?
As stated before, the first trimester is the earliest stage of pregnancy. This period starts on the first day of your last period, even before getting pregnant, and ends after thirteen weeks. During this period, the mother and the child both undergo a series of transformations. Most people often fail to know they are pregnant until after six to seven weeks.
During the first three months of pregnancy, the egg will divide into layers of cells and then implants into the walls of a woman's womb, where it can continue growing. These implanted cells are what is referred to as an embryo. It’s during this phase that the baby will grow faster compared to other stages. After about six weeks of growth, the baby’s heartbeat can be felt – and at the end of twelve-thirteen weeks, the baby’s organs, bones and muscles will have formed. It’s at this point that the baby is now referred to as a fetus.
Baby Development during the First Trimester
As stated before, during the first few weeks of pregnancy, the child grows rapidly to form the muscles, bones and organs. By the time the embryo gets to week five, it has a primitive circulatory system, which forms the basis for bones, kidneys, ligaments and the reproductive system. At week six, the baby’s neural tube starts closing. This allows the spinal cord and brain to develop. It’s also at this stage that the building blocks for the formation of eyes and ears are developed as small buds, arms, appear. At six weeks, the baby’s body takes on a C-shaped curvature.
At seven weeks, the baby’s head and face begins to form. During this week, depressions that form the nostrils start to show as well as retinas. You will also be able to see lower limb buds, legs. At the end of the week, the baby’s fingers will begin to show, as well as the outlining that shapes the baby’s ears and eyes. It’s also at this stage that the baby’s upper lip and nose complete their formation.
At the end of nine weeks, the baby will have developed arms and the elbow will begin to appear. The toes and eyelids become visible. At this point, the baby’s head is large but the chin is not completely formed. When you reach the tenth week, the baby can bend their elbow and the toes and fingers become longer from losing their webbing.
When you get to the 11th week, the baby can now be referred to as a fetus. The buds for future teeth form, red blood cells begin to form, and the baby’s genitalia begins to show. At the end of the first trimester, the baby’s face becomes fully developed and they begin to grow fingernails. It is also at this time that the intestines become fully developed in the abdomen.
Changes for the Mother to Expect
The most visible change during the first trimester is a missed period. However there are other changes you should expect. These include:
- Tender swollen breasts- after conception, a hormonal change may make the breasts more sensitive and sore.
- Nausea- this is often characterized as morning sickness. This feeling is often caused by rising hormonal levels in the body.
- Increased urination- the amount of blood in the body increases during pregnancy; causing the kidney to process extra fluids.
- Fatigue- during the first trimester, the body produces high levels of progesterone which is credited for the frequent fatigue.
- Food cravings and aversions- during this stage, you can be sensitive to certain tastes and odors. This means your sense of taste may change causing you to have specific food preferences.
- Constipation - high levels of some hormones in the body slows the movement of food in the digestive systems – which could lead to constipation.