first trimester of pregnancy

The first trimester of pregnancy: Week 1 – 12

Pregnancy usually lasts 40 weeks, counting from the first day of your last period and is grouped into three trimesters. Here are the top 5 things that you need to look out for during the first trimester of pregnancy.

1. Early signs of pregnancy

Your body will undergo many changes throughout this trimester. There are many signs indicating pregnancy, however the first sign of pregnancy is the absence of a period. Some women may have a very light period, losing only a little blood.

Feeling tired or exhausted is a common sign, especially in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. You may feel fatigued and you could also have some cramping or PMS symptoms around the time of your expected period. Making changes to your daily routine, such as going to bed earlier or eating frequent, small meals can help to reduce symptoms.

Here’s how you can tackle tiredness: Tackling tiredness pregnancy diet.

first trimester of pregnancy

You may feel sick and nauseous, and might even vomit. This is commonly known as morning sickness, but it can happen at any time of the day or night. These symptoms usually start around six weeks after your last period.

Here is our guide on pregnancy discomforts and how to treat them: 11 pregnancy pains and discomforts and how to treat them.

Your breasts may also become larger and feel tender, just as they might do before your period. They may also tingle. The veins may be more visible, and the nipples may darken and stand out.

Find out what other physical changes and symptoms you may experience during pregnancy: 12 pregnancy body changes.

2. Change in diet

A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any time, but is especially vital if you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy. Eating healthily during pregnancy will help your baby to develop and grow. The first things you’ll have to do is decrease your intake of caffeine and cut out alcohol and cigarettes.

If you are trying to give up smoking, read our guide: Giving up smoking when pregnant.

first trimester of pregnancy

You don’t need to go on a special diet, but it’s important to eat a variety of different foods every day to get the right balance of nutrients that you and your baby need. The most important things you’ll need to include in your new diet are:

  • carbs
  • protein
  • fruits and vegetables
  • milk
  • fats

Find out more about what to eat when you’re eating for two: Eating for two.

How can we manage our busy lives and still eat well? Here is some expert advice on how to get maximum nutrition with minimum fuss for busy mums on the go: Maximum nutrition in pregnancy.

3. Supplements in the first trimester of pregnancy

It’s best to get vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat, but when you’re pregnant you may need to take a supplement as well to make sure you get everything you need. Continue to take 400mcg folic acid every day and ensure that you eat a nutritious diet and drink lots of fluids during the day. The most important nutrients you’ll need during pregnancy are:

  • folic acid
  • vitamin D
  • iron
  • vitamin C
  • calcium

first trimester of pregnancy

If you want to get your folic acid or vitamin D from a multivitamin tablet, make sure that the tablet does not contain vitamin A (or retinol). Here’s our guide to supplements in pregnancy: Supplements in pregnancy.

4. Antenatal scans in the first trimester of pregnancy

Pregnancy scans can be very exciting as they show the first glimpse of your growing baby. Here are your pre-natal ultrasound options: Pre-natal scans.

Your first antenatal visit should take place at 12 or 13 weeks and you will be asked questions about your medical history. Your doctor or midwife will examine you and do blood tests. You will also be asked the first date of your last menstrual period, which will give you an estimated due date.

first trimester of pregnancy

Here’s everything you need to know about antenatal scans: Antenatal scans.

5. Medication during the first trimester of pregnancy

Confused about taking medication in pregnancy? Learn about what’s safe and what’s not: Medication in pregnancy.

Always ask your doctor or midwife what medications are okay to take and what meds you need to find safe alternatives for before you take anything.

first trimester of pregnancy

Most women with diabetes will have a normal pregnancy resulting in a healthy baby, but it’s important that the condition is managed properly. If you have diabetes, you can learn more about how it’s treated during pregnancy here: Treating diabetes in pregnancy.

More you might like

8 ways to feel great during pregnancy
Dos and don’ts of pregnancy
Embarrassing symptoms of pregnancy

Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.


Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.