Dear Mummy! I am still an Embryo with a long way to go. Helen Reddy
Pregnancy is a beautiful process without ,which our existence would have been wiped out. It is divided into trimesters, which lasts 12-14 weeks; a normal, full-term pregnancy lasts 37-42 weeks. The first trimester (Week 1- 13) follows conception and the first 2 weeks may go unnoticed.
Why is the first trimester so important?
Several changes happen in the fetus that makes this trimester a crucial stage.
The amniotic sac forms around the fertilized egg and cushions the developing embryo. The placenta, which transfers nutrients from mother to baby also form. The eyes, mouth, jaw, throat and blood cells of your baby also start developing.
The baby’s face continues to develop. The arms, legs, finger also start to bud out. This is also when the digestive system develops. The neural tube which forms the spinal cord, brain and nerves start forming.
Your baby has arms, hands, fingers, feet, and toes and can open and close its fists and mouth. Ears have also formed. Fingernails, toenails, and teeth have started to form. The circulatory, urinary systems and liver are already functioning. Even reproductive organs are already partially formed
Since your baby’s most critical development occurs in this stage, it is most vulnerable to injury from multiple factors like a cigarette, alcohol, X-ray radiation, certain drugs and extremes of heat like from a Jacuzzi (a large bath with a system of underwater jets of water to massage the body). It is during the first trimester where damage can occur to the developing organs and produce defects. After this trimester, all organs are formed and therefore, less at risk to sustain an injury; chances of a miscarriage also drop considerably after the 1st trimester.
Changes in The First Trimester
Rapidly rising levels of estrogen and progesterone and endorphins (pregnancy hormones) encourage the growth of the uterine wall and implantation of the embryo. At the 2nd week, implantation of the embryo can cause minimal implantation bleeding which may be mistaken as a short menstrual period. Heavy bleeding and cramps may require a visit to the doctor to rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy.
A cocktail of pregnancy hormones affects body systems in different ways and are responsible for a number of symptoms women experience:
These hormones slow the movement of food through your digestive system allowing more time to be absorbed into your bloodstream and reach your baby. This delay in stomach emptying precipitates nausea, vomiting, and constipation. They also relax the valve between your stomach and esophagus which allows stomach acid to leak into your esophagus, causing heartburn.
Hormones dilate blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the baby, but is also responsible for increased cranial pressure which precipitates migraines and headaches. This also causes dizziness on prolonged standing. Dilation of blood vessels which could also lead to hypersensitivity of the clitoris and hyper-stimulation of the vagina. This could mean better orgasms for some women but also cause severe pain in others.
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Progesterone causes sleepiness predisposing to fatigue. Some women also experience acne, specific food cravings, and aversions. Mood swings are common, with people swinging between elation and sadness. Your belly grows to accommodate the growing baby. Breast size increases as the body prepares to breastfeed the baby. Women may also acquire a rosy, fresh, pregnancy glow due to increased blood flow. Most of these changes are temporary and subside after the first trimester. To improve the health of your baby, combine naps with short walking exercises, eat right, drinks lots of water and visit your doctor regularly.