What To Expect With Your First Pregnancy

happy pregnant woman sitting on bed

The moment you pee on the pregnancy stick and get a positive pregnancy result, your world changes. You experience mixed feelings -- you feel excited, anxious, and even a little bewildered about what happens next.

When should you book your first ultrasound? What kind of symptoms are normal and to be expected? How do you make your pregnancy as healthy as possible? There’s just too many to even think about.

Here we let you get a glimpse into what to expect with your pregnancy as a first-time mum.

The First Step

pregnancy test showing positive results

When you find out you’re pregnant, your first course of action should be to book an appointment with your gynaecologist. If you don’t have a regular doctor yet, you might find our previous article useful.

In the clinic, you will probably have your pregnancy confirmed with a urine or blood test. Subsequently, checkups are usually done every 4-6 weeks based on the recommendation of your doctor. They will help ensure that you and your baby are in good health.

You may also need to start taking folic acid supplements to help your baby from developing brain and spinal cord problems. You can get this over the counter at pharmacies.

Change or eliminate lifestyle habits that may harm your baby. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or consume excessive caffeine, it’s recommended to drop them immediately. Make sure that you keep a healthy and balanced diet too.

Remember to check with your doctor if the medications or diet you’re taking are safe for your pregnancy.

What to expect

Typically the pregnancy is broken down into trimesters, each lasting about 12 weeks. Let’s take a look at what to expect for each of them.

First trimester (Weeks 1-12)

woman feeling sick

In this stage, it’s common to have nausea, better known as morning sickness. However, it can happen at any time of the day. Symptoms shown vary as every woman is different. Some might have food cravings, others have food aversions or lack of appetite.

You may also notice tenderness in your breast as they become larger and heavier. Your growing uterus starts to put pressure on your bladder during this phase too, increasing your need to urinate more often.

You might feel a range of emotions. Pregnancy hormones may make you feel moody or irritable. Tiredness is common too.

If you’re concerned about any of the signs and symptoms you’re experiencing, remember to reach out to your doctor.

Second Trimester (Weeks 13-28)

pregnant woman stretching up for back pains

As your uterus continues to grow, you’ll feel some discomfort and aches. You can feel your skin start to stretch around your belly and breast which may cause mild itching. This may cause you to get stretch marks but you can overcome this by using stretch mark creams early.

Your blood volume starts to increase to meet the demands of a growing baby inside you. You may also start to feel your baby move at this stage. You will also start to notice some weight gain as well as emotional changes. You may feel anxiety or low moods as the realities of being a parent set in. Some women may feel anxious about whether they’re ready and equipped to be parents.

If you’re worried, you can consult your doctor.

Third Trimester (Weeks 29-40)

As you get closer to the time when your baby will be born, you’ll notice the following changes in your body.

Your skin and ligaments will continue to stretch to accommodate your growing baby. You’ll also start to feel tired easily, and sleeping may become more difficult due to the discomfort of your large belly.

As your baby continues to grow bigger, you may experience heartburn and/or breathlessness, too. Braxton-Hicks contractions are also common at this stage of the pregnancy. This is better understood as the tightening of muscles of the uterus and last about 30 seconds and should not be painful. (It’s not a sign of labour so don’t worry!)

For many women, during their first pregnancy, they may notice their baby moving further down their pelvis, making breathing easier as it makes more room near the ribs. Additionally, as your baby starts to put even more pressure on your uterus, you may experience frequent visits to the bathroom which can result in having poor sleep and thus trigger irritability and low mood.

1 in 5 women may also experience antenatal anxiety or depression. This may feel overwhelming but with proper support, you’ll be able to get through this period. So seek help early and get support from your partner!

Also, if you haven’t already, at this stage you may be offered a:

  • Gestational diabetes check

  • Strep (streptococcal) B check

  • Flu (influenza) vaccination

How to stay healthy throughout pregnancy

pregnant woman eating a balanced diet

You’re growing a life inside of you so it’s important to stay healthy throughout your pregnancy. To do this, ensure that you maintain a balanced and healthy diet with sufficient servings of fruits and vegetables and sources rich in protein, iron, and calcium so that you can support the healthy development of your baby. Remember to nourish yourself with plenty of water too!

Staying active throughout your pregnancy can also help you have an easier delivery as we’ve discussed in our previous article, it even has tips and tricks for exercising safely during pregnancy too!