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Your guide to the first trimester of pregnancy

Your guide to the first trimester of pregnancy

Who's ready for pregnancy? From first trimester symptoms to what to eat in pregnancy, here's our advice on what to expect in the first trimester, so you can enjoy it as much as possible

Congratulations – having a baby is an exciting time! While you may not look pregnant in the first 12 weeks – and your pregnancy could be a secret at this point – your body's doing some pretty incredible things.

First trimester symptoms
While everyone's experience – and every pregnancy – is unique, there are some common signs and symptoms you can expect in your first trimester.

First up, the biggie: morning sickness, which affects four in five pregnant women. Despite the name, annoyingly you can expect morning sickness at any time of the day or night. Eating little and often, drinking plenty of fluids and taking it easy can all help you cope until it goes away by your second trimester.

You may also find that you can't get enough of certain foods because pregnancy cravings can often start in the first trimester. Have you heard about pregnant women addicted to ice cream and pickles? All true!

And hormones can also bring mood swings. Be prepared for tears at cute puppy videos or over-the-top anger when your train is delayed.

Fatigue is also very common. Give in to that 8pm bedtime, have healthy snacks to keep your energy up, and take a load of things off your to-do list. Can your partner, mum or sister help shoulder the load at this point? Making a baby is tiring!

How your body changes in early pregnancy
You won't have a noticeable bump yet, but you'll find your waist expands, your breasts feel tender, and you may even get a spot breakout.

Sometimes women see a light spotting of blood in early pregnancy when the fertilised egg embeds in the uterus lining. This is normal and often happens at the time you would be getting your first period after conception. If you experience bleeding in pregnancy, contact your GP or midwife immediately to get checked out. If it's a heavy bleed, head straight to A&E.

12-week scan
You'll be invited to your first ultrasound scan, known as the dating scan, around week 10 to week 12 of your pregnancy. You'll be able to see your growing baby for the first time during this scan, and your due date will be calculated from it.

Pregnancy diet first trimester
A warning before you start eating for two: you don't need any extra calories in the first trimester. I know, I know – we're sorry. Instead, focus on eating a healthy diet to keep your energy levels up. And be sure to take daily supplements of folic acid, to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida, and vitamin D for healthy teeth and bones.

It is always better to be safe than sorry, and the NHS advises against eating certain foods during pregnancy. Stay away from undercooked meat and eggs, liver, pâté and raw shellfish. You should limit the quantity of oily fish and tuna you eat, and avoid swordfish, marlin and shark. Mould-ripened soft cheeses like brie and soft blue-veined cheeses, such as gorgonzola, are also off the menu for the next nine months.

You should be advised to avoid alcohol completely in the first trimester. Cut down on caffeine, too, and have no more than two mugs of tea or instant coffee a day.

Exercise in the first trimester
It's good to keep up your exercise routine in pregnancy. The fitter you are, the easier it will be to deal with the changes of pregnancy and even labour.

If you didn't exercise before pregnancy, talk to your GP before you start. You should also ask for advice if you normally keep fit with contact sports or those with a high risk of falling, such as horse riding.

Try to do daily pelvic floor exercises during your first trimester, as these muscles come under extra strain during pregnancy and birth. You can squeeze these in on the bus or at your desk – no excuses!

Lots of strange and wonderful things are happening during your first few months of pregnancy. Don't be afraid to ask for help and advice from a trusted source, or to share your excitement and fears with good friends.

By Rachel Liddle

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