Tag Archive: first time pregnancy


Fetal development begins before you even know you’re pregnant. Here’s a weekly calendar of events for the first trimester of pregnancy.

You’re pregnant. Congratulations! You’ll undoubtedly spend the months ahead wondering how your baby is growing and developing. What does your baby look like? How big is he or she? When will you hear the heartbeat?

Fetal development typically follows a predictable course. To help answer some of these questions, check out this weekly calendar of events for your baby’s first three months in the womb.

Week 1: Getting ready

It may seem strange, but you’re not actually pregnant the first week or two of the time allotted to your pregnancy. Yes, you read that correctly!

Conception typically occurs about two weeks after your period begins. To calculate your due date, your health care provider will count ahead 40 weeks from the start of your last period. This means your period is counted as part of your pregnancy — even though you weren’t pregnant at the time.

Week 2: Fertilization

The sperm and egg unite in one of your fallopian tubes to form a one-celled entity called a zygote. If more than one egg is released and fertilized, you may have multiple zygotes.

The zygote has 46 chromosomes — 23 from you and 23 from your partner. These chromosomes contain genetic material that will determine your baby’s sex and traits such as eye color, hair color, height, facial features and — at least to some extent — intelligence and personality.

Soon after fertilization, the zygote travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. At the same time, it will begin dividing rapidly to form a cluster of cells resembling a tiny raspberry. The inner group of cells will become the embryo. The outer group of cells will become the membranes that nourish and protect it.

Week 3: Implantation

The zygote — by this time made up of about 500 cells — is now known as a blastocyst. When it reaches your uterus, the blastocyst will burrow into the uterine wall for nourishment. The placenta, which will nourish your baby throughout the pregnancy, also begins to form.

By the end of this week, you may be celebrating a positive pregnancy test.

Week 4: The embryonic period begins

The fourth week marks the beginning of the embryonic period, when the baby’s brain, spinal cord, heart and other organs begin to form. Your baby is now 1/25 of an inch long.

The embryo is now made of three layers. The top layer — the ectoderm — will give rise to a groove along the midline of your baby’s body. This will become the neural tube, where your baby’s brain, spinal cord, spinal nerves and backbone will develop.

Your baby’s heart and a primitive circulatory system will form in the middle layer of cells — the mesoderm. This layer of cells will also serve as the foundation for your baby’s bones, muscles, kidneys and much of the reproductive system.

The inner layer of cells — the endoderm — will become a simple tube lined with mucous membranes. Your baby’s lungs, intestines and bladder will develop here.

Week 5: Baby’s heart begins to beat

Your baby at week five (three weeks after conception)

Your baby at week five (three weeks after conception)

week five, your baby is 1/17 of an inch long — about the size of the tip of a pen.

This week, your baby’s heart and circulatory system are taking shape. Your baby’s blood vessels will complete a circuit, and his or her heart will begin to beat. Although you won’t be able to hear it yet, the motion of your baby’s beating heart may be detected with an ultrasound exam.

With these changes, blood circulation begins — making the circulatory system the first functioning organ system.

Week 6: The neural tube closes

Your baby at week six (four weeks after conception)

Your baby at week six (four weeks after conception)

Growth is rapid this week. Just four weeks after conception, your baby is about 1/8 of an inch long. The neural tube along your baby’s back is now closed, and your baby’s heart is beating with a regular rhythm.

Basic facial features will begin to appear, including an opening for the mouth and passageways that will make up the inner ear. The digestive and respiratory systems begin to form as well.

Small blocks of tissue that will form your baby’s connective tissue, ribs and muscles are developing along your baby’s midline. Small buds will soon grow into arms and legs.

Week 7: The umbilical cord appears

Your baby at week seven (five weeks after conception)

Your baby at week seven (five weeks after conception)

Seven weeks into your pregnancy, your baby is 1/3 of an inch long — a little bigger than the top of a pencil eraser. He or she weighs less than an aspirin tablet.

The umbilical cord — the link between your baby and the placenta — is now clearly visible. The cavities and passages needed to circulate spinal fluid in your baby’s brain have formed, but your baby’s skull is still transparent.

The arm bud that sprouted last week now resembles a tiny paddle. Your baby’s face takes on more definition this week, as a mouth perforation, tiny nostrils and ear indentations become visible.

Week 8: Baby’s fingers and toes form

Eight weeks into your pregnancy, your baby is just over 1/2 of an inch long.

Your baby will develop webbed fingers and toes this week. Wrists, elbows and ankles are clearly visible, and your baby’s eyelids are beginning to form. The ears, upper lip and tip of the nose also become recognizable.

As your baby’s heart becomes more fully developed, it will pump at 150 beats a minute — about twice the usual adult rate.

Week 9: Movement begins

Your baby at week nine (seven weeks after conception)

Your baby at week nine (seven weeks after conception)

Your baby is now nearly 1 inch long and weighs a bit less than 1/8 of an ounce. The embryonic tail at the bottom of your baby’s spinal cord is shrinking, helping him or her look less like a tadpole and more like a developing person.

Your baby’s head — which is nearly half the size of his or her entire body — is now tucked down onto the chest. Nipples and hair follicles begin to form. Your baby’s pancreas, bile ducts, gallbladder and anus are in place. The internal reproductive organs, such as testes or ovaries, start to develop.

Your baby may begin moving this week, but you won’t be able to feel it for quite a while yet.

Week 10: Neurons multiply

Your baby at week 10 (eight weeks after conception)

Your baby at week 10 (eight weeks after conception)

By now, your baby’s vital organs have a solid foundation. The embryonic tail has disappeared completely, and your baby has fully separated fingers and toes. The bones of your baby’s skeleton begin to form.

This week, your baby’s brain will produce almost 250,000 new neurons every minute.

Your baby’s eyelids are no longer transparent. The outer ears are starting to assume their final form, and tooth buds are forming as well. If your baby is a boy, his testes will start producing the male hormone testosterone.

Week 11: Baby’s sex may be apparent

Your baby at week 11 (nine weeks after conception)

Your baby at week 11 (nine weeks after conception)

From now until your 20th week of pregnancy — the halfway mark — your baby will increase his or her weight 30 times and will about triple in length. To make sure your baby gets enough nutrients, the blood vessels in the placenta are growing larger and multiplying.

Your baby is now officially described as a fetus. Your baby’s ears are moving up and to the side of the head this week. By the end of the week, your baby’s external genitalia will develop into a recognizable penis or clitoris and labia majora.

Week 12: Baby’s fingernails and toenails appear

Twelve weeks into your pregnancy, your baby is nearly 3 inches long and weighs about 4/5 of an ounce. Your baby’s head is nearly half the size of his or her entire body.

This week marks the arrival of fingernails and toenails. Your baby’s chin and nose will become more refined as well.

Taking care of your baby

Healthy lifestyle choices — beginning even before conception — can support your baby’s development. Consider these simple do’s and don’ts:

Do:

  • Take a prenatal vitamin
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly, with your health care provider’s OK
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Manage stress and any chronic health conditions
  • See your health care provider for regular prenatal checkups
  • Talk to your health care provider about any medications you’re taking

Don’t:

  • Smoke
  • Drink alcohol
  • Use illicit drugs

Your baby is growing and changing every day. To give your baby the best start, take good care of yourself.

Source: Mayoclinic

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Pregnancy and prenatal care go hand in hand. During the first trimester, prenatal care includes blood tests, a physical exam, conversations about lifestyle and more.

Prenatal care is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. Whether you choose a family physician, obstetrician or nurse-midwife, prenatal care is the key to monitoring your health — and your baby’s health — throughout your pregnancy. Here’s what to expect at the first few prenatal appointments.

Prenatal care: The first visit

As soon as you think you’re pregnant, schedule your first prenatal appointment. Set aside ample time for the visit. You and your health care provider have plenty to discuss! You might want to include your partner in the appointment as well.

Here are the basics:

  • Medical history. Your health care provider will ask many questions — including details about your menstrual cycle, use of contraceptives, past pregnancies, and allergies or other medical conditions. Bring a list of any prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking. Share any family history of congenital abnormalities or genetic diseases.

    Be sure to mention even sensitive issues, such as abortion or past drug use. Remember, the information you share will help your health care provider take the best care of you — and your baby. If there’s any part of your medical history that you don’t want to share with your partner or other loved ones, mention it to your health care provider privately.

  • Due date. Establishing your due date early in pregnancy allows your health care provider to monitor your baby’s growth as accurately as possible. To estimate your due date, your health care provider will count ahead 40 weeks from the start of your last period. If there’s any question about your due date, your health care provider may use an early ultrasound to help confirm the date.
  • Physical exam. Your health care provider will check your weight, height and blood pressure. He or she will listen to your heart and assess your overall health.
  • Pelvic exam. Your health care provider will examine your vagina and the opening to your uterus (cervix) for any infections or abnormalities. You may need a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer. Changes in the cervix and in the size of your uterus can help confirm the stage of your pregnancy.
  • Blood tests. Your health care provider will do blood tests to determine your blood type, including Rh factor — a specific protein on the surface of red blood cells. Blood tests also can reveal whether you’ve been exposed to syphilis, measles, mumps, rubella or hepatitis B. You may be offered a test for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Tests for chickenpox and toxoplasmosis immunity may sometimes be done as well.
  • Urine tests. Analysis of your urine can reveal a bladder or kidney infection. The presence of too much sugar or protein in your urine may suggest diabetes or kidney disease.
  • Lifestyle issues. Your health care provider will discuss the importance of nutrition, prenatal vitamins, exercise and other lifestyle issues. You’ll also discuss your work environment. If you smoke, ask your health care provider for suggestions to help you quit.
  • Screening tests for fetal abnormalities. Prenatal tests can give you valuable information about your baby’s health. Your health care provider may recommend ultrasound, blood tests or other screening tests to detect fetal abnormalities.

Prenatal care: Other first-trimester visits

Subsequent prenatal visits — often scheduled every four to six weeks during the first trimester — will probably be shorter than the first. Your health care provider will check your weight and blood pressure, and you’ll discuss your signs and symptoms. You probably won’t need another pelvic exam until later in your pregnancy. Near the end of the first trimester, you may be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat with a small device that bounces sound waves off your baby’s heart.

Remember, your health care provider is there to support you throughout your pregnancy. Your prenatal appointments are an ideal time to discuss any questions or concerns — including things that may be uncomfortable or embarrassing. Also find out how to reach your health care provider between appointments. Knowing help is available when you need it can offer precious peace of mind.

Source: Mayoclinic

First trimester pregnancy can be overwhelming. Understand the changes you may experience and how to take care of yourself during this exciting time.

First trimester pregnancy is marked by an invisible — yet amazing — transformation. Knowing what first trimester pregnancy changes to expect can help you face the months ahead with confidence.

Your body

Within two weeks of conception, hormones trigger your body to begin nourishing the baby — even before tests and a physical exam can confirm the pregnancy. Here are some common physical changes you may notice during first trimester pregnancy.

  • Tender breasts. Increased hormone production may make your breasts unusually sensitive. Your breasts will probably feel fuller and heavier. Wearing a more supportive bra or a sports bra may help.
  • Bouts of nausea. Many women have queasiness, nausea or vomiting in early pregnancy — probably due to normal hormonal changes. Nausea tends to be worse in the morning, but it can last all day. To help relieve this first trimester pregnancy symptom, eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Choose foods that are low in fat and easy to digest. It’s also helpful to drink plenty of fluids. Avoid foods or smells that make your nausea worse. Try drinking ginger ale. For some women, motion sickness bands are helpful. For others, alternative therapies such as acupuncture or hypnosis offer relief. If you’re considering an alternative therapy, get the OK from your health care provider first.

    Contact your health care provider if the nausea is severe, you’re passing only a small amount of urine or it’s dark in color, you can’t keep down liquids, you feel dizzy or faint when standing up, your heart is racing, or you vomit blood.

  • Unusual fatigue. You may feel tired as your body prepares to support the pregnancy. Your heart will pump faster and harder, and your pulse will quicken. To combat fatigue, rest as much as you can. Make sure you’re getting enough iron and protein. Include physical activity, such as a brisk walk, in your daily routine.
  • Increased urination. You may need to urinate more often as your enlarging uterus presses on your bladder. The same pressure may cause you to leak urine when sneezing, coughing or laughing. To help prevent urinary tract infections, urinate whenever you feel the urge. If you’re losing sleep due to middle-of-the-night bathroom trips, drink less in the evening — especially fluids containing caffeine, which can make you urinate more. If you’re worried about leaking urine, panty liners may offer a sense of security.
  • Heartburn and constipation. During first trimester pregnancy, the movements that push swallowed food from your esophagus into your stomach are slower. Your stomach also takes longer to empty. This slowdown gives nutrients more time to be absorbed into your bloodstream and reach your baby. Unfortunately, it may also lead to heartburn and constipation. To prevent heartburn, eat small, frequent meals and avoid fried foods, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits or juices, and spicy foods. To prevent or relieve constipation, include plenty of fiber in your diet and drink lots of fluids. Regular physical activity also may help.
  • Dizziness. Normal circulatory changes in early pregnancy may leave you feeling a little dizzy. Stress, fatigue and hunger also may play a role. To prevent mild, occasional dizziness, avoid prolonged standing. Rise slowly after lying or sitting down. If you start to feel dizzy while you’re driving, pull over. If you’re standing when dizziness hits, sit or lie down.

    Seek prompt care if the dizziness is severe and occurs with abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding. This may indicate an ectopic pregnancy — a condition in which the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus. To prevent life-threatening complications, the ectopic tissue must be removed.

Your emotions

Pregnancy may leave you feeling delighted, anxious, exhilarated and exhausted — sometimes all at once. Even if you’re thrilled about being pregnant, a new baby adds emotional stress to your life.

It’s natural to worry about your baby’s health, your adjustment to motherhood and the financial demands of raising a child. You may wonder how the baby will affect your relationship with your partner or what type of parent you’ll be. If you’re working, you may worry about your productivity on the job and how to balance the competing demands of family and career.

You may also experience misgivings and bouts of weepiness or mood swings. To cope with these emotions, remind yourself that what you’re feeling is normal. Take good care of yourself, and look to your partner and other loved ones for understanding and encouragement. If the mood changes become severe or intense, consult your health care provider for additional support.

Your relationship with your partner

Becoming a mother takes time away from other roles and relationships. You may lose some of your psychological identity as a partner and lover — but good communication can help you keep intimacy alive.

  • Be honest. Let your partner know that you need support and tenderness — sometimes without sexual overtones. Identify the stress points in your relationship before they become problematic.
  • Be patient. Occasional misunderstandings and conflicts are inevitable. Consider both sides. If your partner dives into work, for example, you may feel hurt and rejected because it appears as a withdrawal from your relationship. Your partner, on the other hand, may simply be trying to provide more security for your family.
  • Be supportive. Encourage your partner to identify any doubts or worries. Do the same yourself. Discussing your feelings honestly and openly will strengthen your relationship and help you begin preparing a home for your baby.

Appointments with your health care provider

Whether you choose a family physician, obstetrician or nurse-midwife, your health care provider will treat, educate and reassure you throughout your pregnancy. He or she is there to help you celebrate the miracle of birth.

Your first visit will focus mainly on assessing your overall health, identifying any risk factors and determining your baby’s gestational age. Your health care provider will ask detailed questions about your health history. Be honest. The answers you provide will help you and your baby receive the best care. If you’re uncomfortable discussing your health history in front of your partner, schedule a private consultation with your health care provider.

After the first visit, you may be asked to schedule checkups every four to six weeks until the last month of your pregnancy, when you may need checkups every week or two. During these appointments, raise any concerns or fears you may have about pregnancy, childbirth or life with a newborn. It may help to write down your questions so that you remember to discuss them. No question is silly or unimportant — and the answers can help you take the best care of yourself and your baby.

Source: Mayoclinic