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- What Will You Experience in the Early Stages of Pregnancy?
- Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy in the First Month
- Changes in the Body During the Initial Months of Pregnancy
- Development of Your Baby in the First Month
- Diagnosis and Tests Involved in the First Month of Pregnancy
- First Month of Pregnancy – Tips to Take Care of Yourself
- Precautions to Take During the First Month of Pregnancy – Do’s and Don’ts
- Some Other Precautions to Take in the First Month of Pregnancy
- Tips for Fathers-To-Be
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Being pregnant is one of the biggest joys in the world. If you are pregnant for the first time, you will wonder how your body will change and what all symptoms will you experience. Being newly pregnant can be confusing: nausea and mood swings can make you feel low. But there is no need to worry. Be informed about how your pregnancy will progress and you will be fine! In this article, we will discuss the various symptoms, precautions and care tips that will help you sail smoothly through the first month of your pregnancy.
What Will You Experience in the Early Stages of Pregnancy?
In the early stages of pregnancy, most women experience nausea, fatigue, breast soreness, etc. However, not all women will experience these symptoms as these symptoms are very mild during this time. Most women suspect (or come to know) that they are pregnant once they miss their periods.
Some women may notice spotting in the first month of pregnancy, which is considered normal in most cases. If you notice spotting in the first month of pregnancy, you must consult a gynaecologist if spotting is noticed in the first month and avoid any complications.
Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy in the First Month
In the first month of pregnancy, you may experience certain signs and symptoms. Though these may appear more like pre-menstrual symptoms and may confuse you. But you must know what these common symptoms are –
1. No Periods
Missed periods is one of the major indications of pregnancy. As soon a woman conceives, her body stops releasing progesterone hormones. These hormones are responsible for stopping the periods also. Missing periods is one of the first signs of pregnancy.
2. Slight Spotting
When the egg attaches itself to the uterus in the process of fertilization, some amount of cramping and spotting may be experienced. Mostly, it may be noticed while washing or wiping your genitals. Though most cases of the first month of pregnancy bleeding or spotting are considered normal if you notice any abnormal amount of blood or spotting, then you should seek immediate medical help.
3. Breast Tenderness
Your breast may feel sore or tender to touch. This symptom is quite similar to pre-menstrual symptoms. Your areola may become darker, and you may even notice veins on your breasts.
4. Mood Swings
Due to the major hormonal changes happening in your body, you may feel your moods to change quickly. One moment you may feel happy, and the very next moment may invoke the feeling of despair. You may find yourself snap for no reason. These are all very normal symptoms of pregnancy.
5. Frequent Loo Trips
Hormonal changes will be rapid in the first month of pregnancy, and as a result there will be more blood flow around the pelvic region. This aids in thickening the uterine lining for optimal foetal growth and development. To handle the increased body fluids, the kidneys are required to work more. Hormonal changes and the changes in the kidneys plus the growing uterus may put pressure on the bladder which may lead to increased urination.
In the initial months of pregnancy, you may feel tired and low on energy more than usual. The feeling of being tired and exhausted may lead to sleeplessness too.
7. Change in Food Habits
You may develop a liking towards certain food items, and you may despise some food items. It is very normal for you to have an aversion to your favourite food and you may crave the ones which you disliked.
8. Morning Sickness
Most pregnant women may experience nausea or vomiting in the initial stages of pregnancy. This can be experienced within three weeks after conception. Some women may feel nauseous all through the day whereas others may feel this around a particular time of the day.
Heartburn is very common during pregnancy. The various changes happening inside the body are responsible for acid reflux and heartburn at the onset of the pregnancy. Heartburn is also very common in the later stages of pregnancy when the growing baby pushes the stomach itself and the stomach acid makes its way back to the oesophagus.
10. Heightened Sense of Smell
Many women experience heightened sense of smell in pregnancy. You may like certain smells and may not be able to stand the other few.
11. Irregular Bowels
The increased levels of progesterone in the body make changes in the way various muscles function. This changed hormonal level makes the muscles to work slowly, and thus the food may pass slowly through the intestine, leading to irregular bowel movement or constipation.
The presence of progesterone may cause blood pressure to become low and may make you feel giddy or dizzy.
13. Back Pain
The ligaments covering the pelvic region loosen up during pregnancy as a result of increased levels of progesterone in the body. These loosened ligaments in your rear may cause back pain.
14. Hunger Pangs
Diet plays an important role in pregnancy, and your body may also guide you towards the same. You may find yourself hungrier than usual and may crave for food more than often.
At the beginning of your pregnancy journey, a lot will change inside your body. The increased hormones, blood volume and stress, may cause random headaches.
These are the initial symptoms that you may experience at the beginning of your first trimester. Along with these symptoms, you may notice many changes in your body too.
Changes in the Body During the Initial Months of Pregnancy
Though in the first month of your pregnancy, you may not notice any evident physical changes, you may see the following changes in your body:
- Your breast size may increase due to hormonal changes in the breast tissue.
- You may feel bloated, and your clothes may feel little tight around the waist.
- Your nipples and areola may turn bigger and darker.
- You may experience increased vaginal discharge.
- You may experience occasional spotting (however, not all women experience this).
- You may feel giddy and dizzy.
- You may feel lethargic and tired.
These are some of the changes that you may experience in your first month of pregnancy. It may take a few more months for your baby bump to show, because in most cases your first month of pregnancy belly will not show that you are pregnant.
Development of Your Baby in the First Month
When you become pregnant, this is how your baby will develop in the first month:
1. The Process of Fertilization
The process of fertilization may happen anytime within forty-eight to seventy-two hours after sexual intercourse. Your baby comes into existence as soon as ovum and spermatozoa unite with each other. At this stage, your baby can aptly be called as a zygote. The zygote multiplies very fast, and this is how your unborn baby’s growth and development starts.
2. The Process of Implantation
The zygote thus formed starts to travel through the fallopian tubes towards the uterus. The zygote then divides into morula – a solid cluster of cells, by around the fourth day. In the next few days, the morula divides into the blastocyst and tries to attach itself to the uterine wall for nutrition. As it implants itself, the embryo gets surrounded by the yolk sac and some blood vessels to obtain nutrition until the placenta is formed.
3. The Process of Development
Around the third to the fourth week, your baby’s heart will start beating. Though your baby will be just the size of a pea, the arms, legs and lungs will begin to form. The baby’s face will start forming too, which will include ears, eyes, mouth and nose.
Diagnosis and Tests Involved in the First Month of Pregnancy
You must visit a gynaecologist the moment you suspect that you are pregnant. Your doctor may suggest the following diagnosis and tests to establish your pregnancy:
1. Medical History and Physical Examination
- You will be asked to share your last menstruation’s duration, flow and frequency.
- Your doctor may want to know about the method of contraception, if you used any.
- You may need to take a physical examination to find out any pregnancy-related complications that you may have faced in the past, such as ectopic pregnancy, tubal disease, tubal ligation, tubal manipulation, and inflammatory disease.
- You may be asked about your conception methods in detail, in case you underwent any fertility treatment.
2. Lab Tests
- Your urine sample will be taken to establish the presence of the hCG hormone. A blood test may be suggested in case the results are not convincing.
- The hCG hormones are monitored closely to check if they are growing slowly or at a lower rate, which could indicate an ectopic pregnancy.
- The higher levels of hCG can mean chromosome abnormality, molar pregnancy or multiple gestations.
- To establish any kind of abnormality or risk in pregnancy, serum progesterone will be measured.
- To establish the progesterone levels in the body dipstick, ELISA will be used.
3. Ultrasound Scan
Ultrasound scans are very effective in establishing a pregnancy. The transvaginal ultrasonography is very beneficial in establishing intrauterine pregnancies. The vaginal scans are better than the normal abdominal scans because of higher frequency and better resolution of the image.
First Month of Pregnancy – Tips to Take Care of Yourself
Once your doctor confirms your pregnancy, the following pregnancy care tips may come in handy:
1. Prenatal Care
You may start with your prenatal care routine, which should include taking your vitamin supplements. Folic acid is the most important supplement that you may start taking as soon as you plan to get pregnant until the conception. Folic acid will help you have a healthy pregnancy and also lower your baby’s risk of developing any neural tube defects.
2. Prenatal Appointments
You may start planning for your prenatal appointments with your doctor. You may choose and compare various options available and narrow down to the one best suited to your requirements. Choosing the right doctor whom you can trust is very important. You may also take references from family and friends for the same.
3. Choosing a Caregiver
You may also like to choose a caregiver carefully. Take recommendations from friends and family for the same.
4. Refrain from Self-medication
It is suggested that you do not take any over-the-counter medicine before consulting your doctor. When in doubt, consult your doctor to avoid any probable complications.
5. Health Insurance
Most workplaces have health insurance plans for their employees that cover the cost of prenatal care and delivery. It is suggested to get in touch with the human resources department to know in detail about your maternity perks.
Making a journal and keeping it up-to-date is a good idea to monitor any pregnancy. This way, not only you but your caregiver will be able to keep a tab on your progress and overall health.
Precautions to Take During the First Month of Pregnancy – Do’s and Don’ts
For a healthy pregnancy and birth, you will be required to make some lifestyle changes. These changes may include some do’s and don’ts that will help you progress smoothly in your pregnancy.
What You Should Do
Following are a few of the things that you should do –
1. Increase Your Fluid Intake
It is very important to stay hydrated during pregnancy as dehydration may lead to complications. The best way to stay hydrated is by increasing your daily water intake. You may put an alarm that reminds you to drink water. Alternatively, you may drink fruit juices, vegetable juices or soups to up your fluid intake.
2. Eat More Fibrous Foods
The changing hormones may lead to constipation. Therefore, it is suggested that you include more fibrous foods in your diet. Legumes, leafy vegetables, cereals and sprouts are good ways of eating fibrous foods.
It is important to exercise in order to stay healthy and fit. The same applies to pregnancy as well. You should do mild exercises to help your body function properly during pregnancy. Walking is the ideal way to exercise without causing any unnecessary exertion to the body. However, it is best to get in touch with your doctor before following any exercising routine.
4. Get Adequate Sleep
Your body is undergoing a lot of changes in pregnancy, and this may make you very tired and exhausted. Therefore, it is very important to get ample rest and sleep when you are pregnant, in order to regain your lost energy.
5. Stay Positive
Both your physical and mental health can impact your unborn child. Listening to good music, reading a good book or any activity that makes you happy should be followed religiously.
6. Maintain Vaginal Hygiene
With your hormonal levels taking a jolt in pregnancy, you may become more prone to vaginal infections such as vaginal candidiasis. Therefore, it is important to maintain good vaginal hygiene to keep any such infections at bay.
What You Should Not Do
Here are some things that you should refrain from doing in pregnancy:
1. Drinking Caffeinated Beverages
Do not consume caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee or cola in pregnancy. The caffeine may cause insomnia, heartburn and anxiety in mommies-to-be and it may also cause risk to your baby’s health. You may have preterm labour, or your baby may have low birth weight.
2. Eating Unhealthy Food
Eating unhealthy or junk food can increase your chances of unhealthy weight gain and thus, increases your risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy. Fried and oily food too can affect your immune system, and unhealthy fats are also not good for you or your baby. Thus, these are food items to avoid in the first month of pregnancy.
3. Drinking Alcohol
Mothers who consume alcohol during their first month of pregnancy are more likely to give birth to babies with birth defects. There is a higher risk of a baby having congenital birth defects at birth.
Smoking may cause severe health complications in your unborn baby. Mothers who smoke during pregnancy are at risk of delivering babies with low birth weight or breathing problems. Not only active smoking but passive smoking can also be fatal for your unborn baby’s health.
5. Wearing Tight Clothes
Your body will go through many physical changes in pregnancy. In order to keep your body comfortable, you should wear loose clothes that help your body relax. Refrain from wearing tight fitted clothes, especially around your abdominal area.
6. Doing Strenuous Chores
Bending or lifting heavy weights is strictly prohibited in pregnancy. Such activities may put unnecessary pressure on your abdominal region, which may harm your baby.
7. Going on Long Journeys
The first month of pregnancy is very critical, and thus, you should refrain from putting your body under any kind of stress. Long travels should be avoided in the first trimester.
8. Taking Sauna and Hot Baths
You should avoid taking a sauna or hot water baths in your first month of pregnancy. Exposing your body to temperatures that is more than your body’s temperature can be fatal for your unborn baby. High temperatures may affect foetal growth and development.
Some Other Precautions to Take in the First Month of Pregnancy
Apart from the above-mentioned do’s and don’ts, you may follow some of the following precautions too:
- Refrain from having sexual intercourse in the initial two months of pregnancy or else follow safe methods (talk to your doctor about the same).
- Do not expose yourself to harsh chemicals.
- It is very important to keep your blood pressure and blood sugar levels in check. Therefore, you must eat right.
- Avoid coming in contact with the poop of pets such as cats, dogs, birds, etc.
- Exercise caution while working in your kitchen garden or lawn. It is advisable to wear gloves.
- Avoid exposure to video terminal displays.
Tips for Fathers-To-Be
Just the way a mother-to-be needs to be careful about her unborn baby’s well being so does the dad-to-be. Here are some tips for the father-to-be:
1. Know About Prenatal and Postnatal Care
It is very important for a father-to-be to learn about pregnancy. The best way to muster up pregnancy knowledge is through books by well-renowned authors. However, you may also browse the internet about the same. Talking to your doctor about your various concerns and worries is also a good way of learning about pregnancy.
2. Dealing with the Paperwork
Pregnancy may involve paperwork, especially when insurance is sought. You may help your partner with all the paperwork, and handling her financial aspects will be very helpful.
3. Be Patient
Pregnancy may make women emotional, irritable or cranky. This is very normal because there is a great hormonal upheaval going inside her body. You may find her food cravings unreasonable too. But it is recommended to keep your calm and be patient with your partner. Taking the high road and being compassionate in such situations would be a great idea.
You are at the onset of your pregnancy journey in the first month of pregnancy, and you have eight more months to go. Though you may get tired and exhausted, holding your baby for the first time in your arms will make you forget all your pain. So be patient, take care and have a healthy pregnancy!