Congratulations! You’re having a baby! It’s so exciting, scary, thrilling, nerve-wrecking, and a HUGE blessing! Regardless if it’s your first baby or your last (Ha! Good luck with that!) I want to give you a great big hug and tell you everything will be fine… you’ll be fine!
The moment you find our you’re pregnant a ton of thoughts, concerns, questions, and feelings rush though your mind and body – and that’s normal! If you’re like me, as soon as you got pregnant you started searching the web and grilling every mother you know for information. I’m aware that my one pregnancy doesn’t make me an expert, but I learned a lot of helpful information.
Here’s my attempt to give you a brief overview of your first trimester. Be mindful that no two first trimesters are the same. There’s an endless list of symptoms and experiences so it’s difficult to pin-point every little detail, but, hopefully our experiences can relate to one another… let’s break this thing down…
“Um… what is a trimester?”
The word is more confusing than the concept. A trimester is simply 40 weeks of pregnancy, broken into to three 12 week segments. Does 12 multiplied by 3 equal 40? Not in my world, but, you’ll quickly learn that in pregnancy – a lot of things don’t make sense, so you’re in good company 😉 There’s also the phantom 4th trimester, but we’ll talk about that later.
In this blog, we’re going to discuss your first trimester.
A missed period? Nausea? Moody? Pants too tight? Whatever your reasoning, something is telling you to check out the situation. There are a wide variety of pregnancy tests and it can be confusing on which one to use and trust. Here’s a few things to keep in mind when choosing which test to purchase:
How it Works – Pregnancy tests aim to detect the hormone HCG. This is the hormone your body creates when it starts to produce the placenta when you’ve become pregnant. Your placenta will be your baby’s lifeline for the next 40 weeks and, it’s considered an organ! (A woman’s body is, SO, awesome!) There are a few brands out there with technology that allows the test to detect the hormone sooner as it usually takes about 7 days from your missed period to become detectable. Keep in mind that there is a possibility that your HCG counts are low so you could get a false negative. If you get a negative test but your symptoms persist, I advise making an appointment with your OB/GYN and continue taking tests in the meantime. False positives are very rare. My first two pregnancy tests came back negative but in just 5 short days (they felt long at the time), I was getting positive tests left and right!
Brand/Type – There are some women who swear by a certain brand. I’ve heard women get rapid results from a dollar store test and I’ve personally experienced spending almost $30 on a test only to get a false negative. What brand you buy is up to you. I advise purchasing multiple tests and taking them first thing in the morning. The ideology behind that is that’s when the HCG hormone is the most prevalent in your urine. The first two tests I took in the afternoon were negative. I took another in the morning about 5 days later and it was positive before I even finished using it!
If purchasing a pregnancy test is not in your budget, there are many free clinics that offer free pregnancy testing! Do a google search to find one in your area but be aware that oftentimes these places are eager to tell you about your “choices” for continuing your pregnancy. Using the free service does not obligate you to decide at that time. Find out our status, then, pray and ask God for a plan for you and your baby!
Once you’ve received a positive pregnancy test, call your OB/GYN to set up an appointment to confirm your pregnancy.
Depending on how many periods you’ve missed your doctor may or may not see you right away. Once you get to your appointment, your doctor will take certain steps to understand your health and confirm your pregnancy. Remember: You are growing a life! It’s important to be 100% honest with your doctor! S/he can assess how to keep you and your baby healthy based on your honest responses! Don’t be embarrassed about anything, I guarantee they have heard and seen it all… put your and your baby’s health first!
Confirmation – There are a few ways a doctor can confirm your pregnancy. You may take another pregnancy test. Don’t be surprised, this won’t be a fancy digital test with a curved handle for ease of use that tells you 67 days sooner – it’ll look a lot like the cheap dollar store test. Then, your doctor might order a blood sample. There are multiple reasons why your doctor might do this. For me, my doctor wanted to monitor that my HCG levels were increasing so she ordered a blood test at my first few appointments. This tells her that my body is working to sustain my pregnancy. Some doctors might also perform an ultrasound. I did not receive my first ultrasound until I was 7 weeks pregnant. Most women don’t know they are pregnant until around 6 weeks so they might get an ultrasound at their first appointment. I found out I was pregnant at 2 weeks – yes, seriously! (we’ll discuss this more when we talk about symptoms). In addition to a pregnancy test, bloodwork, and health assessment your doctor will also perform a pelvic exam (similar to your annual exam), breast exam and discuss vitamins, a healthy diet and any activity restrictions you may have. Then, it’ll be your chance to ask as many questions as your heart desires!
This is the tricky part of pregnancy. There are so many symptoms it’s not even funny! Despite what Hollywood tells you, there’s more to pregnancy symptoms than nausea, cravings, and hunger. Some are downright shocking! But, there’s a select few women that have no symptoms at all – God bless em’! That wasn’t me, I had almost every symptom in the book, and many that I didn’t know existed! Don’t allow anyone (not even your doctor) to tell you it’s all in your head. You know your body and you’re the one who’s dealing with the changes, don’t be ashamed, pregnancy is a beautiful blessing! I wish I could list all the possible pregnancy symptoms in the first trimester (If I did, my fingers would fall off), but I’ll try to help by sharing some of mine. Aside from your “typical” pregnancy symptoms, like: fatigue, hunger and nausea, I also experienced symptoms that no one told me about.
Headaches were rampant in my first trimester. Some were as bad as migraines. Your doctor will tell you that it’s okay to take Tylenol. I made the personal decision not to. Instead, I increased my water intake and rested in a dark, quiet room. Another symptom I had was implantation cramping. These were no joke! In fact, these were worse than my contractions! I would randomly get cramps that lasted about 5-10 minutes over the course of 9 weeks. My doctor described them as my uterus “getting ready” for a growing baby. I’m not totally sure what was going on in there but my remedy was to put my feet up, relax and breathe until it was over. As stated before, I choose not to take Tylenol but I found that resting through the pain or taking a warm shower helped me to manage.
You may or may not have much of a belly during your first trimester. I started “showing” rather early. By week 5 people close to me later admitted to noticing a growing bump. Many women won’t start showing a bump until well into trimester two. Even if others can’t see your changes you may notice some differences with your belly. You may get a linea nigra. This is the dark brown line that goes down the middle of your tummy. This is just a cute little indicator that your growing a baby! No worries, it goes away weeks after you deliver. If you don’t have one, that’s completely normal too!
You may also notice that your clothes feel just a little snug or you’re not as comfortable sleeping on your belly. This could be from the changes in your diet and increased hormones causing bloating. Unless your doctor says otherwise, it’s still safe to sleep belly-down. Don’t rush out to get maternity pants just yet, just put on a loose pair of pants conceal the bloat!
Your baby is growing rapidly in your first trimester! You might feel worried that you’ll do something harmful. Unless your doctor gives you special restrictions, you should be able to continue normal activity while being mindful of your body’s changes. You most likely won’t feel any movements and your doctor should be able to show you a heartbeat on the ultrasound. Learn more about your baby’s growth at www.whattoexpect.com.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! And, rest, rest, rest! Though tiny, you’re sustaining two beings – yourself and your baby! It’s important to get adequate rest and plenty of water. Research a remedy or a method of relief for your worst symptoms. Also, now’s the time to start experimenting with vitamins. If one makes you constipated or nauseous, try another, but don’t skip taking them! It’s important to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need to sustain a healthy pregnancy.
Pregnancy apps/newsletters – Download a pregnancy app or subscribe to a weekly newsletter so you can keep up with what’s going on with your body. My favorites are What to Expect and The Bump
Comfy Clothes – Now’s the time to skip those waist-cinching outfits and opt for something that allows you to move more freely. In my first trimester, I loved wearing leggings and layering a cardigan over a tank! It was comfy and concealing.
Unfortunately you can’t tackle them all. Pick your biggest symptom and try to figure out how to make it more manageable!
- The main thing that helped with my nausea was eating throughout the day. This doesn’t mean you must eat a large meal every hour. I would keep crackers and sparkling water or ginger ale in my desk at work and snack on a few when I felt queasy.
- I’m not a big fan of baths, but I would take a long warm shower to help relax when my symptoms got the best of me.
- It seems sleep cured everything for me. If I wasn’t feeling well or if I was feeling great, all I wanted to do was sleep, so if you’re feeling tired, go to sleep mama! Your body is working hard, you deserve to rest!
Sometimes pregnancy happens when we least expect it and it can be difficult to cope with the reality of our world changing. Unplanned pregnancies don’t just happen in singleness… they also happen to married couples! All is not lost, there’s hope! Do a google search to find pregnancy centers and adoption agencies in your area.
Educate yourself and take advantage of any resources you find!
Here are some places to start:
If you’re feeling conflicted, pray and ask God to help you make the best decision for you and your child. God loves you and He loves your baby – Jeremiah 1:5 says, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
God knew this moment would happen and though, it may be hard, He can help you through it. If you don’t know what to do or where to start – send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to help you as best I can!
What was your tell-tale sign that you (or your spouse) were expecting? What was your worst symptom during your first trimester? Leave me a comment below and let’s chat!