Finding out you are pregnant is exciting news, but actually going through pregnancy can be quite a rollercoaster experience for many ladies.
The first few weeks of your pregnancy is a vital time as your body gets busy growing your baby. During this period, you may start to feel overwhelmed as you are getting used to the many changes your body undergoes. Understanding your pregnancy trimester by trimester will help you be more prepared for these changes as you learn to manage them and ensure your growing baby thrives inside the womb.
In this article, Dr Tho from the Astra Women’s Specialist Clinic in Jurong will be sharing more on what changes you can expect and how to manage the symptoms in your first trimester.
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What is the First Trimester?
Your first trimester is calculated from the first day of your last period and lasts till the end of Week 12. Most women will discover their pregnancy around 5-6 weeks into the first trimester. You can read more on the first signs of pregnancy here.
What Changes Can Mums-to-be Expect in the First Trimester?
In the first trimester, your body undergoes many changes and while some may seem quite scary, these changes are your body’s way of preparing you for the arrival of your baby.
It is important to note every lady’s pregnancy journey is unique so you might not experience the same symptoms as someone else. Regardless, these are some of the more common pregnancy symptoms:
- You are going to feel more tired and sleepy.
- Your appetite will change and may become quite unpredictable.
- You will find yourself passing urine more.
- You might be passing motion less, but if you can pass motion once in two days, it is normal.
- Your tummy will feel bloated most of the time.
- You might experience some period-like cramps but as long as you do not experience severe cramps, it is not a cause for concern.
- If you notice any bleeding, you should inform your doctor.
- You might experience mood swings. Post-natal depression is more widely talked about but it is quite common to experience some of these symptoms during pregnancy.
How Can I Manage My First Trimester Symptoms?
If you are a bit overwhelmed or scared by all the symptoms, fret not as there are things you can do to manage the symptoms! Here is what Dr Tho recommends:
- Take things slowly and get more rest.
- Avoid engaging in strenuous sports but non-strenuous sports like yoga and swimming are acceptable.
- Eat small portions every two to three hours and ensure you eat slowly.
- After eating, it is recommended that you go for a short and relaxed walk to allow some of the air to be passed out.
- If you are struggling to pass motion, you should consume one to two servings of fruits daily.
What Should I Avoid During My First Trimester?
The good news is that for a majority of the time, you can actually continue with most of your pre-pregnancy life. There are not many strict rules (other than avoiding alcohol and smoking) on what you should not do during your pregnancy!
However, the health and safety of your growing baby is the priority which is why Dr Tho advises ladies to avoid these five things during the first trimester:
- Avoid any medication unless it is prescribed to you and be sure to let your doctor know you are pregnant.
- Avoid alcohol throughout the whole pregnancy.
- Avoid smoking and being around cigarette smoke throughout the whole pregnancy.
- Reduce the consumption of drinks that contain caffeine like coffee/tea to only once a day.
- Avoid traditional medicine in the first trimester but it is advisable to always consult your doctor before consuming any medication.
What Antenatal Tests are Required in the First Trimester?
Antenatal tests are vital as they ensure both you and your baby stay healthy. Even if your pregnancy is going well, it is crucial for you to attend your appointments regularly to ensure potential risks can be identified, prevented or reduced.
Some of the antenatal tests you can expect in the first-trimester include testing for anaemia, checking on your Hepatitis B and rubella status as well as testing for the presence of thalassemia. The screening for Down syndrome will also be done. Down syndrome is a genetic condition and there are 2 tests that can be done to assess the risk level for your baby.
This involves taking the mother’s blood to assess the baby’s enzymes or hormones to calculate the risk of Down syndrome and is about 90% accurate.
Non-Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT)
This is a direct assessment of the DNA of the baby in maternal blood and is about 99% accurate.
If you want more information on what antenatal tests you can expect in your first trimester you can read this article.
There aren’t many hard and fast rules about what not to do during your pregnancy, beyond abstaining from alcohol, smoking and of course, drugs. For the most part, you can live most of your pre-pregnancy life.
But because the health and safety of your growing baby is essential, here’s a list of 11 things to avoid while pregnant. While the many changes your body undergoes during your first trimester might be scary, they also signal the beginning of a new and exciting journey. If at any time you are worried or are unsure about any symptoms you might be facing, you can always talk to your doctor and they will be there to guide and support you throughout your pregnancy.
*Content is republished with permission from SMG Women's Health.