You have probably been dreaming of becoming a mom for the longest time. But finally finding out that you are pregnant for the first time will still give you a crazy mix of emotions. You might feel thrilled, nervous, excited, and anxious all at the same time! What you will most likely do next is to do your research and start reading everything you will see related to pregnancy. Other moms around you will begin to give tips, share their pregnancy stories, and tell you what to do and what not to do. All of which might leave you even more confused than before. Now, it is important to remember that there is no single source of truth that describes what women go through during pregnancy. Each body is different, and whatever you feel, crave, or go through while pregnant is valid even if it is not usual. This article will discuss what first-time moms can expect during the first, second, and third trimesters of their pregnancy.
The first trimester covers the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy. As a first-time mom, this will most likely be the most challenging part for you. The first time is always the hardest, as they say. Your body will start to feel the changes and your lifestyle will, in turn, begin to change. The first trimester is also crucial to the development of your baby. At 4-5 weeks, the embryo will start to look more like a human baby; and as early as eight weeks, you can already hear the heart rate through a doppler in your doctor’s office.
Physically, you will also experience changes during your first trimester. However, you might be expecting significant weight gain at this point, but that is not always the case. Blame it on "morning sickness" - dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Contrary to its name, morning sickness can happen at any time of the day and at different frequencies. You will also start to find some food and certain scents very unbearable. So, instead of gaining weight, you might just maintain your pre-pregnancy weight or even lose some pounds. Aside from that, do not expect much weight gain on your first trimester because your baby is still very small at this point.
Despite the inconvenience and the uncomfortable constant morning sickness, many moms say that the first trimester happens fast. This has a scientific explanation. Technically, the day of your last period is when you start counting the first day of your pregnancy – this is even if the sperm and egg cells have not met at this point yet. It is at the fifth week when you can finally confirm that you are having a baby. So, you only have seven weeks left and then you are done with your first trimester.
The second trimester covers week 13 to week 24 of your pregnancy. Your more difficult days are finally over. Most moms say that the second trimester is the easiest one to go through among the three. By this time, the morning sickness and fatigue that tormented you for the past months have already started to fade. You may now start the actual preparation and planning for the arrival of your baby. This is when most moms also start telling people about the baby on the way, and when they start to look and feel more pregnant.
You will notice your belly starting to grow, start to feel your baby move inside you, and have more intense food cravings and aversions. At this point, your doctor may request for you to undergo blood tests and ultrasound to check the development of your baby. This is like the “check point” to detect concerns that need to be addressed immediately. You can also choose to know the baby’s gender as early as the 20th week.
Although you will start to feel better at this point already, big changes are still happening inside your body as your baby starts to grow quickly. Here are some changes you can expect:
- You will start to experience backaches. Your baby is growing, you are getting heavier. Thus, all the additional weight will put more pressure in your back, making it sore and achy. To help ease the discomfort, lie on your side while you sleep, avoid wearing high heels, and avoid lifting heavy objects. If the backaches start to become unbearable, visit your doctor.
- Your breasts will still feel sore and start to enlarge. Your body is now starting to prepare you to feed the baby on the way. Wear a bra one size larger or a good support bra so you will feel more comfortable.
- You will take more trips to the bathroom. Changes in your hormones make blood flow to your kidneys more quickly than usual. Thus, your bladder is filled more often. Aside from that, there will be an increase in your blood flow until you have at least 50% more blood circulating in your body compared to when you were not yet pregnant. Your growing uterus will also eventually out more pressure on your bladder which further increases the frequency of your need to urinate.
- You will notice changes in your skin. Most moms shared that they felt like they were glowing when they were pregnant. This is because changes in your hormones will make your skin look flushed. Brown marks on your face and a dark line in your abdomen area will also start to appear. Melanin in your body starts to increase, which causes these marks to appear.
- Varicose veins will start to appear or worsen if you have them already. These are enlarged and swollen blue veins that form around your legs or sometimes, around the anus. The extra blood flowing in your body and the increased pressure on them from your uterus cause these veins to enlarge. Varicose veins may feel itchy. Consult your doctor on how best to relieve them.
The third trimester covers the last twelve weeks of your pregnancy – week 25 to week 36. Finally, you are at the last stretch of your first pregnancy. By this time, most organs of your baby have already started to form and will continue to grow and mature until the end of this trimester. Expect to feel more kicks, rolls, and motions as your baby is already starting to practice breathing in preparation for life after birth.
You are probably excited and looking forward to your delivery date already, so it would be beneficial for you to prepare. The position of the baby at this point is now very important because this has a big impact on how your upcoming labor will be. Have frequent checks with your doctor to see that the baby’s development is as expected. You will also feel more tired and slow because you are becoming heavier every day. Walking is a good exercise to help keep yourself active. You may also try pre-natal yoga or pilates to improve your meditation and breathing.
Your will notice your body actively preparing you for delivery. Leaky breasts are your body’s way of preparing you for feeding your baby, while Braxton Hicks contractions will prepare you for labor. You will start feeling these contractions on an irregular basis until your real labor starts. Most women describe Braxton Hicks contractions as mild menstrual cramps – tightening and pain in the abdomen that comes and goes.
Not much people talk about the fourth trimester or postpartum period. The fourth trimester covers the first three months of the baby’s life outside your womb. This is just as crucial as the first three months of your pregnancy. You will experience sleepless nights and very frequent feeding at this stage.
This period can be very challenging for both the newborn and the parents. The goal is to – as closely as possible – replicate the life in the womb. You can do this by swaddling, holding your baby close, make shushing noises, rocking or swaying your baby, and letting your baby have opportunities to suck through pacifiers or breastfeeding.
For moms, postpartum period can be very difficult. There will be a lot of responsibilities and things to remember in taking care of your baby while allowing yourself to recover from the labor and delivery as well. You may experience vaginal discharge and bleeding that can last for four to six weeks after giving birth. Some moms also complain of sore and leaky breasts from breastfeeding. There are cases when you may suffer from mood swings or baby blues because of changes in your hormones. At this point, it is important to accept help from family and friends to make things a little easier. They can lend you a hand by making meals, cleaning, and babysitting. It is important to allow yourself to rest as much as possible so you can have all the energy you need to take care of your baby.