Firstly, happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had the most fabulous Christmas and New Year. It was a chaotic but magical one in my household and now I’m looking forward to everything that 2016 will bring.

I’m guessing that there may be quite a few little arrivals due this year and if you are expecting in 2016, congratulations!

To kick the year off we are starting a new series on what to what to expect when you are expecting. I certainly remember how I didn’t have a clue what should be happening at various stages of the pregnancy. How should I be feeling, what symptoms should I be having and what on earth should I be doing?

Hopefully we can help. We will be splitting the 9 months up so that we can focus on key areas and handy tips on what to be doing at different stages. As always if you have any specific questions please do comment below.

So let’s start at the very beginning with the first trimester, and weeks 1 – 8. This is probably the most exciting, nerve wracking and all consuming time. There are so many changes, both physically and emotionally, that it can be a lot to cope with.

What is happening?

This is a busy time for your body. That teeny tiny egg has been fertilised and changes very quickly into a little ball of cells which will cling on to the walls of your womb and carry on it’s journey of growing. In the very early stages this is called an embryo. Amazingly although this ball of cells is so tiny it is already forming in to your baby and it has little blood vessels connecting to you. These later becomes the umbilical cord.
At around week 5 your baby’s development speeds up and the nervous system, brain and heart will all be developing and soon after the muscular skeletal system develops.
During week 7 your baby will begin to look more like a little human and facial features begin to develop, even little protective eyelids.
By week 8 they will have knees and wrists and will be moving around lots, although due to the size you will be unable to feel it. At this stage it is likely that your baby will now be referred to as a foetus rather than an embryo.

How big is my baby?

In the first 4 weeks your baby, or embryo, is teeny tiny. About the size of a poppy seed. That’s crazy small for something that is already growing and developing.
At around week 5 your baby’s heart will beat for the first time and by week six the embryo will be approximately 6mm long.
By week 8 your baby will be nearly 2cm long. Still so small but utterly amazing at the same time.

What symptoms can you expect?

Some people instantly know they are pregnant. Others notice very little in the way of symptoms in these first few weeks. Everyone is different but here are a few things you may experience.

  • Sore boobs – This wasn’t something I had but I know for many this is the very first sign a little one is on their way.
  • Metallic Taste – For me this was the instant giveaway when I was pregnant with Alice. It is the strangest sensation but when you experience it you will know straight away what I mean.
  • Acute sense of smell – Yep, certain smells will really get to you and you will notice you pick up scents much more than before.
  • Intense tiredness – I was shattered with Molly and would come home from work and go straight to sleep, for hours. Some days I struggled to keep awake as the tiredness was all consuming. Unfortunately with Alice I didn’t have that option as I was rushing home from work, grabbing Molly from Nursery and doing the whole bedtime routine. My advice is rest when you can and take it easy. Your body needs a little bit of TLC now.
  • Sickness – Luckily I never suffered from morning sickness. I had some slight waves of nausea with both the girls but was never actually sick. I know this can be an awful symptom for many and can persist long after the first trimester. Plus the term morning sickness is slightly misleading! If you are unlucky enough to suffer with morning sickness then be prepared to feel ill at all hours of the day I’m afraid. Hopefully it will pass but if you do experience morning sickness then try to eat little and often but stick to plain foods. A lot of my friends swore by crackers or ginger biscuits. Also cold foods tend to be better than hot and make sure you drink plenty of water. Most of all rest and take it easy.
  • Light spotting – Some people experience a small amount of light spotting in these early weeks. This is due to the embryo implanting itself in your womb. However, it is important to get checked by your doctor or midwife if you do notice any bleeding at any stage of your pregnancy.
  • Period Style Cramps – As your uterus expands you may experience slight cramps which can be mistaken for your period arriving. Experiencing light cramps is not cause for concern but please do speak to your doctor or Midwife if you are at all worried.
  • Needing the toilet more often – Even in these early stages you can notice the need to go to the toilet more frequently. Get used to it now!
  • Change in tastes – You may find that you have changed tastes when it comes to food and drink. I personally went off tea for most of pregnancy. Good thing when you should cut back on caffeine. I also found that I had no desire for rich foods. In fact all I wanted was mashed potato and bread in the early months! Not a craving as such but more that my body could only cope with plain foods.
  • What you need to do

  • Book a GP appointment – Once you know you are pregnant make an appointment to see your doctor or a midwife to let them know your news. They will then schedule in your antenatal appointments and initial booking in appointment. It is important to discuss any health concerns as soon as possible.
  • Start taking supplements – Now is the time to start taking all those essentials to help baby develop. If you were actively trying for a baby you may already be taking these but it is recommended that Folic Acid and Vitamin D every day. A combined tablet like Pregnacare is a good idea.
  • Cut out the booze – I’m afraid you have to wave goodbye to the gin for the next 9 months. A cheeky tip is to keep some fizzy drinks at home so you can pretend to be drinking in these early stages if you don’t want friends to know. I once went a whole evening drinking the oh so fashionable Schloer and my friends never guessed at all. Luckily I’m not a big drinker anyway and no one picked up my glass by mistake!
  • Stop smoking – If you are a smoker you will need to stop now. You can get help and advice on achieving this from your doctor.
  • Cut back on the caffeine – You should start to limit the amount of tea and coffee you drink and cut back or cut out where possible.
  • Learn what you can and can’t eat – There are many differing opinions when it comes to what foods are allowed in pregnancy but it is advised that you avoid certain food groups like soft cheese and shellfish. You can find a helpful list from the NHS here.
  • Decide when to tell people – There is no right or wrong answer here. You simply have to tell people when you feel ready. Some people wait until the 12 week scan but I also think it is nice to have the support of a few people in those early weeks. I told my mum at about 8 weeks with both the girls and a few of my closest friends knew by about 10 weeks. It is entirely your decision and what you feel comfortable with.
  • What’s Next?

    In our next instalment we will be talking about weeks 8 – 12 and the remainder of the first trimester. This will be an exciting one as we cover what to expect at your midwife booking in appointment and that amazing 12 week scan where you see your little one for the first time.

    In the meantime you are probably a whirlwind of emotions so make sure you talk about it with your partner and family. Most importantly enjoy these initial moments of excitement, or trepidation!