If there is anything exciting and scary at the same time it is pregnancy. The gestational period seems uniform throughout but, in reality, it isn't. Soon after conception, a woman's body takes on a roller coaster ride of bodily changes that varies across the nine-month long journey. If you are a woman who has just conceived or is planning to and, much like others, are confused about the changes you might encounter in the first trimester, or let's say if you are thinking about your first checkup post conception, which is scheduled soon, then this article may be of some interest to you.
To start with, your experiences in the first trimester may or may not be the same as your friend or relative who has gone through the same. Symptoms can vary from woman to woman. While some may experience all the known symptoms, others may pass the period with just a few.
Let us see what to expect when you are expecting.
The First Trimester
As the name suggests, the first trimester is the first phase of pregnancy. It lasts from the day of your conception up till week 13. It is during this period that your baby's internal systems are taking shape. As you enter the first trimester, your body is all set to undergo some major changes as you prepare to grow a new life. Be prepared for these changes ahead.
The funny thing about pregnancy is that you cannot be fully prepared for it. Every day is a new day in pregnancy. While becoming mothers do find a way to adapt to these new changes that they see in themselves on a daily basis, however, if you know what to expect during this time, it would save you from unnecessary anxiety and stress.
Know what to expect
While overall, the experiences can't be generalised, there are a few common grounds that can make the journey predictable.
You may experience a light bleed similar to light period or spotting. It is called implantation bleeding and most of the time it is normal. However, checking with a doctor is always a good idea.
Your mammary glands will enlarge, causing the breasts to swell and become tender. This usually happens due to an increased amount of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is a good idea to get a supportive bra at this stage.
You will be seeing veins more prominently on the surface of your breasts.
You might start to overgrow your clothes.
As the uterus is growing, you will feel an increased pressure on your urinary bladder- hence you will have the urge to urinate more.
Growing uterus will also press on the rectum and intestines, and you may suffer from chronic constipation.
Increased hormonal play inside your body will make you feel nauseous and you may suffer from what is called 'morning sickness'
Progesterone will slow down the muscular contractions in intestines, hence you are likely to suffer from heartburn, indigestion, constipation and gas.
You will experience something similar to Premenstrual syndrome, a condition marked by extreme mood shifts and irritability.
You may have an increased pulse rate during the period.
What is happening with the baby?
Pregnancy is incomplete without knowing what is happening with your baby. It is rather interesting to keep pace with your baby's growth and development.
By the end of four weeks, the embryo starts looking like a tadpole. All major systems begin to form. The eyes and ears also start budding. The neural lobe which will eventually form the brain and spine, the digestive system and the circulatory system also start developing.
By the end of eight weeks, the arms and legs of the embryo can be seen. While the fingers and toes are still webbed, they can be clearly distinguished. At this stage, the embryo's heartbeat can be felt using an instrument called a Doppler. The embryo is in constant motion but the mother can't feel it at this stage.
After eight weeks, the embryo is called fetus. At this stage, it is 1 to 1.5 inches long.
Between the 9 and 13 week, the fetus develops external genital organs. Apart from the internal organs, it also starts showing fingernails, toenails and its movement further increases.
Addressing the elephant in room- first prenatal visit post conception
For budding mothers, the first prenatal visit post conception won't be same as the previous ones. While the gynecologist will remain same for many of you, the procedures and tests may come off as novel. It is a good idea to know in advance what to expect when you meet your gynecologist for the first time after you conceive.
Brace yourself for a thorough test
Young women these days have a fair idea of what it is like visiting a gynecologist. However, pregnancy changes the nature of this visit. While you may be pro in knowing the ways of your attending doctor, there are things that will make the first prenatal visit post conception different from the previous ones.
Be ready for an exhaustive interrogative session with your gynecologist concerning your personal medical history, previous medications and surgeries. Your doctor might also like to know your maternal and paternal medical history, your menstrual history and your pregnancy history if you had any in the past.
This may follow a physical pelvic exam where the concerned doctor might like to check the size and position of uterus, age of the fetus, pelvic bone size and structure.
Some doctors may also ask you to get a Pap test to find the presence of abnormal cells.
Among the lab tests, you might be asked to undergo a urine test and blood tests. Blood tests are usually performed to screen body for possible infections and to know the mother's blood type. Blood compatibility between the mother and fetus is also an important concern during pregnancy.
Your doctor can also run some genetic tests if needed.
As per experts, these 12 months are most vulnerable to the fetus that is still developing. At the same time, it can be challenging for budding mothers who are still in the process of adapting themselves to the new reality.