Guide To Pregnancy: Your First, Second, and Third Trimesters

Your First Trimester

The first three months of your pregnancy is called the first trimester. It is here that you need to start your pregnancy off right by establishing a healthy prenatal care routine. You can start this routine by visiting your health care provider.

What to expect on your first visit to your health care provider

Your health care provider will need answers to several questions, so be prepared. The questions that he or she will ask is important information that will help to provide and establish a medical history he or she may need to draw upon at a later date.

You will be asked about your menstrual cycle, what you use for contraceptives, if you have had any previous pregnancies, and if you have any allergies or other medical conditions. Your health care provider will also ask if you are taking any prescription or over the counter medications. If you are not asked, you should still tell your doctor about any family genetic disorders or family history of any congenital abnormalities.

You will be asked when you last period was so the healthcare provider can establish the due date. He or she will do this by adding 40 weeks to the date of when you had your last period.

You will be given a physical exam. The doctor will need to know how healthy you are as well as how healthy the baby is. You will be weighed, have your blood pressure taken, and have your height recorded during this exam.

The doctor will also give you a pelvic exam and a pap test. From this exam, the doctor will determine if there are any infections or other abnormalities, such as cancer. The stage of your pregnancy can be determined by the change in your cervix and the size of your uterus.

You will also be given a blood test, not only to determine your blood type, but also the Rh factor which is a specific kind of protein that is on the surface of your red blood cells. The blood tests will also show if you have had any exposure to diseases like syphilis, measles, mumps, rubella, or hepatitis B.

Your urine will be tested for specific amounts of sugar and protein. Too much sugar or protein in your urine indicates diabetes or kidney problems.

Your health care provider will talk to you about vitamins, exercise and other lifestyle changes that may need to happen, such as not smoking.

Additional visits to schedule

During your first trimester, doctor visits will be scheduled for every four to six weeks. At these visits, you will be weighed and your blood pressure taken. It is here at these visits that you will need to talk about any questions or concerns that you have. Your doctor is a great support system for you, so it is important to be honest and open about anything you need to discuss. Also during your first trimester is when you will have an ultrasound. This will give you your first look at your new baby. This is also where your doctor will be able to check how the baby is growing and developing.

Physical changes in your body

Some physical changes in your body may include;

  • Tender breasts
  • Being nauseated, mostly in the morning, but may last all day
  • Being extra tired
  • Emotional changes
  • Some dizziness – If your dizziness occurs with pain in the abdomen or vaginal bleeding you will need to call you doctor right away.
  • More frequent urination, or leaking due to coughing, sneezing or laughing.

The most important thing is to make an appointment to visit with your doctor or health care provider as soon as you know, or if you suspect you may be pregnant. Taking care of yourself and your baby will provide you with a much happier and healthier pregnancy.

Your Second Trimester

The second trimester includes the fourth, fifth, and sixth month of your pregnancy. Here’s what you can expect.

1. Monthly visits to your doctor or health care provider

During these monthly visits talk to your doctor about any concerns or symptoms you have had or that you are wondering about. Even if you may think they are insignificant, your doctor will want to know. To your doctor, there is no such thing as a silly question.

Your doctor will measure the size of your abdomen by measuring from the top of your uterus to your pubic bone in centimeters. The number of centimeters will usually equal the number of weeks into your pregnancy you are.

The baby’s heartbeat is also listened to by a device called a Doppler.

Your baby will start kicking or moving at about 20 weeks, so it is good to tell your doctor when you notice movement.

Your urine will still be tested for levels of sugar and protein. You will also be checked for signs of gestational diabetes, which is a form of diabetes that is temporary and can occur during pregnancy.

Pelvic exams are generally not required in the second trimester, unless there is a concern from your doctor or health care provider.

2. Other tests that may be offered

In your second trimester is when you may be offered a few optional tests

* Blood tests to check for disorders such as spinal bifida or Downs syndrome
* An ultrasound to check on your baby’s growth and development
* If the results of your blood test or ultrasound are a concern to your doctor, he may want to do a test that is more invasive called amniocentesis.

3. Some physical changes to your body during your second trimester

* Larger breasts as your milk producing glands inside your breasts grow bigger
* A bigger belly as your uterus expands for the baby. You may gain about 4 pounds per month.
* Braxton Hicks contractions strengthen your uterus. They are painless contractions that happen in your lower abdomen and groin area.
* Skin color changes due to increased blood circulation — darker colored skin around the nipples, on your face, and on the line that runs from your belly button to your pubic bone.
* Increased blood circulation in your mucous membranes cause the lining of your nose and air way passage to swell, resulting in snoring, congestion, and nosebleeds. The extra blood circulation may also cause bleeding in your gums while brushing and flossing.
* Expanding blood vessels will cause occasional dizziness and maybe lower blood pressure. Try not to stand for long periods of time and don’t stand up too fast after sitting or lying down.
* Leg cramps caused by the pressure from your uterus to the veins that return the blood from your legs
* Heartburn and constipation is caused from a slower digestive process that allows nutrition to reach your baby.
* Shortness of breath
* A normal vaginal discharge that is thin and white
* Increase chance of bladder and kidney infections due to slower flow of urine and an increase in size of your uterus. Call your doctor if you suspect either one of these two infections.

During your second trimester, you will experience an increase in uncomfortable situations, and that is why you need to have a basic understanding of what is normal and what is not. Also remember, your health care provider is there for both you and your baby.

Your Third Trimester

The further into your pregnancy you go, the more your doctor will need to monitor your blood pressure and weight. It will also remain very important to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and movements. You will also have weekly checkups during your last month of pregnancy.

1. Being tested for group B strep

One of the things you will be tested for in your third trimester is a bacterium called group B streptococcus, or GBS. It is harmless in adults, but can cause the baby to become critically ill. If GBS shows up on the swab from your vagina or rectum, you will be administered an intravenous antibiotic during your labor to help protect the baby.

2. Resumption of vaginal exams

During the pelvic exams in your third trimester, you doctor will check to see of your baby is positioned head first or butt first, also known as breech. Your doctor may want to try to apply pressure to your abdomen to try to turn the baby. If the baby will not turn to the head-first position, you may need to have a Caesarean delivery, or C-section.

As you become closer to delivery, your cervix will begin to soften and dilate.

3. Physical changes to your body in your third trimester

* Backaches and sore hips are common as your baby gains weight. Try sitting on chairs with a good back support, or using a heating pad, or find someone who can give you a massage.
* Swelling of the feet and ankles is normal. Retaining fluids and blood vessels becoming dilated will leave your face and eyelids puffy in the morning.
* Shortness of breath is also normal as your uterus becomes bigger under your diaphragm.
* Heartburn may occur
* Spider veins, varicose veins and hemorrhoids may occur. Try elevating your legs and drinking lots of liquids.
* You may notice more stretch marks that become itchy.
* Your breasts are still growing.
* You may feel an increased pressure on your bladder.
* A continuation of the Braxton Hicks contractions
* A total weight gain of about 25-35 pounds

During your last trimester, as your baby grows, so will your level of discomfort. The best thing to do is keep in mind that you are almost there. Try doing positive things that will help pass the time. Pamper yourself as much as possible.