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First Trimester Pregnancy: Everything You Need to Know

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Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters, each with major developmental milestones for both the mother and the baby. The first trimester, which lasts from week 1 to week 12, is a key time characterized by fast fetal growth and major physiological changes in the mother’s body. 

Understanding a pregnancy week by week will help you make wise choices and prepare for the major changes that are around the corner. This article will highlight the key aspects of the first trimester pregnancy, such as symptoms, fetal development, and things to do.

First Trimester Pregnancy Symptoms

The first trimester begins on the first day of your last menstruation and ends at the end of week twelve. This implies that by the time you discover you’re pregnant, you are already five or six weeks pregnant! 

An expecting mother undergoes lots of hormonal, emotional, and physical changes during her first trimester of pregnancy, which continues further into the second and third trimesters.

Hormonal Changes

  • Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) levels rise quickly and are used to confirm pregnancy. 
  • Increased levels of Progesterone and Estrogen hormones serve to support the pregnancy and prepare the body for labor.

Emotional Changes

  • Hormonal changes can cause mood swings and elevated emotions.
  • Additionally, as women prepare for pregnancy and parenting, they often experience a mix of Anxiety and excitement.
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  • Physical Changes

    Picture of Woman suffering from nauseaSource: africa_images
    Woman suffering from nausea

    Your body undergoes the following changes during the early stages of your pregnancy:

    Bleeding: Approximately 25% of pregnant women have minor bleeding throughout their first trimester, known as spotting or implantation bleeding. Mild spotting during pregnancy may signal that the fertilized egg has implanted in your uterus.

    However, if you have significant bleeding, cramping, or intense pain in your abdomen, consult a doctor. These might indicate a miscarriage or an Ectopic pregnancy.

    Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy where the embryo implants outside the uterus instead of developing inside.

    Nausea and vomiting: Vomiting and Nausea, sometimes known as morning sickness, can happen at any hour of the day. They are caused by increased levels of pregnancy hormones, such as hCG and Estrogen, and start around week 6 but can extend throughout the first trimester.

    Breast changes: Hormonal fluctuations may cause breasts to become painful, swollen, and sensitive. The areolas (areas around the nipples) may turn darken, and veins become more visible.

    Frequent urination: The expanding uterus exerts pressure on the bladder, increasing the urge to urinate more frequently. Additionally, enhanced blood flow to the pelvic region also adds to this discomfort.

    Fatigue: Elevated levels of the hormone Progesterone may lead to extreme fatigue. The body works hard to support the developing baby, which can cause persistent tiredness.

    Fetal Development During First Trimester

    During the first 13 weeks, your baby progresses from a fertilized egg to a fully grown fetus. The primary organs and systems are taking form. Look here at what’s happening to your fetus through the first trimester of pregnancy week by week.

    Weeks 1 – 4: Conception and Implantation

    Fertilization: Fertilization marks the beginning of pregnancy, where a sperm meets an egg cell in the fallopian tube.

    Zygote Formation: The fertilized egg, now called a zygote, undergoes cell division as it travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus.

    Blastocyst Stage: Around day 5, the zygote develops into a blastocyst, a ball of cells with an inner cell mass that will eventually become the embryo.

    Implantation: The blastocyst attaches to the uterine lining, where it grows and develops.

    Weeks 5 – 8: Embryonic Development

    Embryo formation: The core cell mass develops into the embryo, while the outside cells become the placenta.

    Organ Formation: Major organs start to form. Your baby’s nervous system develops from an open neural tube into a brain and spinal cord. Around week 6, the heart begins to beat, and the neural tube that develops into the brain and spinal cord shuts. 

    They have lungs and other main organs but still need to be completely grown. A delicate skeleton is starting to develop.

    Weeks 9–12: Transition to Fetal Stage

    Fetal Stage: The embryo is now known as a fetus. Your baby begins to resemble a baby with limbs, legs, fingers, and toes. 

    Continued Growth: The fetus develops eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. A tongue and teeth buds develop. Eyelids shield your baby’s eyes, and toward the end of the trimester, they have fingernails. Genitals begin to develop, but ultrasonography cannot determine if you are carrying a girl or a boy.

    Movement: The fetus begins to move, though the mother normally does not feel it. By the end of the first trimester, your baby will be around 7.4cm long.

    Things to Do During the First Trimester

    The first trimester of pregnancy is very important for both the woman and her developing fetus. During this period, it is critical to develop healthy behaviours and get proper medical attention. 


    Schedule a prenatal appointment as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. The doctor will find out your complete medical history and conduct a physical examination. Blood tests are performed to determine the blood type, Rh factor, Anemia, and infections.

    An early ultrasound may be performed to confirm the pregnancy and determine the due date.

    Continue with prenatal appointments every four weeks. The doctor will measure your weight and blood pressure, examine your urine, and check your baby’s heartbeat.

    Dietary Changes

    picture of fruits and vegetablesSource: pixelshot
    Fruits and Vegetables

    Incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products into your regular diet. Begin consuming a prenatal vitamin with at least 600 micrograms of Folic acid to help in  the development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. 

    Drink plenty of water to maintain increased blood volume and amniotic fluid. 

    Lifestyle Modifications

    Regular mild exercises, such as walking or swimming, can assist with weight management, mood improvement, and general health. Also, one should avoid events that enhance the likelihood of falling or injury.

    Getting enough rest is essential for dealing with fatigue and improving overall health during this period. 

    Severe morning sickness or Hyperemesis Gravidarum can adversely affect the expecting mother and developing fetus. Consult your doctor if you experience extreme Nausea or vomiting.

    Key Notes

    The first trimester of pregnancy is a critical phase, marked by considerable physiological and emotional changes. The fetus is developing rapidly, and the expecting woman is adapting to the changes. 

    You may have symptoms such as Nausea, tender breasts, or an urge to urinate more frequently. Understanding the key aspects of this period, such as the significance of prenatal care, managing common symptoms, and keeping a healthy lifestyle, will help guarantee a good and healthy start to the pregnancy journey. 

    Expectant moms who stay informed and seek frequent medical advice may confidently handle the challenges of the first trimester, laying the foundation for a safe pregnancy and childbirth.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long is the first trimester of pregnancy?

    The first trimester of pregnancy includes the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, beginning on the first day of your last menstrual period. This early phase is critical for the baby’s growth and demands considerable modifications and adaptations for the mother.

    What helps Nausea during pregnancy’s first trimester?

    To overcome nausea during pregnancy, eat small, frequent meals, stay hydrated, consume ginger, avoid trigger foods, and eat bland foods like rice, crackers, and toast.

    Why is there sharp pain in the stomach during the first trimester?

    Sharp abdominal pain during the first trimester is quite common and can be due to constipation, ligament pain, gas, or bloating. However, if the pain becomes severe and persists, consult your doctor immediately.

    What are the danger signs of pregnancy in the first trimester?

    Vaginal bleeding, low pelvic pain, severe morning sickness, and unusual skin sores are some warning signs that should not be ignored during pregnancy.

    In the first trimester, is it possible to feel the baby?

    About 12 weeks into your pregnancy, your unborn child will start to move, but you probably won’t feel it just yet. If this is your first pregnancy, you may feel your pregnancy progress more quickly by the sixteenth week. It’s normal to feel no movement at all until 20 weeks if this is your first child.

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    Photo of author Janet Fudge
    Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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