The first trimester encompasses conception through week 12 of your pregnancy. During this stage, your caregivers outline prenatal visits and perform labs for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Rubella, and Syphilis. You will discuss nutritional guidance, exercise, weight gain, genetic screening and diagnostic testing.
The beginning of pregnancy is a time to prepare your body for the journey ahead by learning about the many changes pregnant women experience. Clinic Sofia believes in educating each woman, even if she has been pregnant before. Clinic Sofia’s caregivers answer your questions and keep you well-informed along the way so you can feel confident in your growing pregnancy.
In the earliest weeks of pregnancy, you may not feel different yet; you may not even notice you are pregnant. In your uterus, the amniotic cavity and placenta are forming. Your baby is still very small, about 0.04 inches. Right now, the multiplying cells do not yet resemble a human yet, but everything is already there and developing.
To keep track of the baby’s growth day by day and prepare for motherhood, many patients use free apps such as BabyCenter, Safe Delivery, BabyBump Free, Pregnancy Tracker, or other programs. You may want to try out several apps to find one that you like.
In the second month of pregnancy, you may be experiencing common symptoms such as morning sickness, cramping in your abdomen and tingling or tenderness in your breasts. Talk to us to find relief for pregnancy symptoms. During this time, your baby will grow to about the size of a grape. The heart and lungs are becoming more developed and fingers, toes and eyes are forming.
By the end of the third month, you may have gained 3–5 pounds as your body is preparing to nurture your growing baby. The fatigue, moodiness and nausea you felt at first may be fading. You may notice subtle changes to your hair, skin or nails. By the end of week 12, your baby has fully formed and will now continue getting bigger and stronger. This also marks the end of the most critical phase of its development, and chances of miscarriage drop considerably.
You may have your first ultrasound to confirm your baby’s heartbeat, gestational age, and placement of the new fetus. This detects markers to rule out genetic conditions. Additional ultrasounds may be recommended by your caregiver if needed. Later, in the second trimester, ultrasound is used again to look at all parts of your growing baby.
This trimester is also a good time to discuss genetic screening with your caregiver. Genetic counseling is the first step of this process and will help you understand your options and answer your questions. Genetic screening assesses possible risks of abnormalities in your baby’s DNA. It can be done with blood work. Diagnostic testing, however, gives a definite answer about the health of your baby, although it is more invasive. Diagnostic tests may not be necessary if your genetic screening results show that the risk is low.
One of your options is a nuchal translucency screening, or nuchal fold screening, which checks for possible genetic risks near week 12. This test combines the results of a blood test for specific proteins, your age, and an ultrasound to measure the neck (nuchal) thickening on your growing baby. It can detect the chance of Down’s Syndrome or other genetic abnormalities about 90% of the time. You can combine the results with your 20-week ultrasound and your Quad screen for added reassurance.
New technology for genetic screening also allows Clinic Sofia to offer cell free fetal DNA (cffDNA) screening as early as week 10 as an alternative to traditional fetal screening. This examines the fetal genetic material that naturally wanders into the mother’s bloodstream to more accurately assess the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the baby, including sex abnormalities.
The measurement of risk does not officially confirm nor deny the existence of abnormalities in the baby. Women with a positive test result for risks are offered the option of invasive diagnostic tests to confirm whether the baby does or does not have a genetic abnormality. Some women may choose to forego non-invasive genetic screening to only complete the invasive diagnostic tests, which give definite answers about genetic abnormalities.
Maternal carrier genetic screening is also a non-invasive blood test that reveals crucial information about your genes, combined with family history. It can be completed even before you become pregnant. Carriers of certain conditions may not show signs of having them. If you opt to complete it, your caregiver will screen to see if you are a carrier of conditions including:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Anemia and sickle cell disease
- Canavan disease
- Spinal muscular atrophy
- Fragile X
- Jewish Carrier Screening Panel
For full information, please see the Pregnancy Information Packet (PDF).