Are you holding a positive test in your hands and feeling the first pregnancy symptoms? Congratulations! This is the beginning of an exciting new phase of life. Many women find early pregnancy particularly moving: your body constantly changes, carrying a new life within you.
What is meant by early pregnancy
An incredible amount happens in the first few weeks of pregnancy: The cells divide in a flash after fertilization. A few weeks later, a fetus has already grown. Your body automatically adapts to this new circumstance in the early pregnancy phase. You may already notice one or two of the symptoms in yourself.
Pregnancy usually lasts 40 weeks and is divided into three periods: the so-called trimesters. Each of these thirds comprises 3 months or approx. 13 weeks. The first trimester is called early pregnancy and is the period from conception to the end of the 12th week of pregnancy.
Your pregnancy begins on the first day of your last period in purely mathematical terms. However, ovulation and thus fertilization does not take place until about two weeks later. However, calculating the weeks of pregnancy from the last day of the period has proven to be more practical because, in the end, nobody can say precisely when the actual time of conception was. Therefore, it can be assumed that your embryo or fetus is about two weeks younger than the weeks of pregnancy (GW) indicate.
Your baby’s development during early pregnancy
At the end of the 4th week of pregnancy, the migration of the fertilized egg is complete, and the seedling has implanted itself in your uterus. This is now about a millimeter in size. The heart begins to beat around the 5th week of pregnancy and maybe detectable on an ultrasound scan a week later. With 120 to 160 beats per minute, it beats twice as fast as your own heart.
The 10th week of pregnancy marks the transition from the embryonic to the fetal phase. Who still equipped your belly dweller with a bit of tail, which has now receded. The fetus looks more and more like a tiny human with each passing day.
At the end of early pregnancy, all organs are in place, hand and arm development are complete, and the fetus responds to external stimuli with movement. It measures about six centimeters and weighs 15 grams.
With the end of the early pregnancy, your child has survived the critical phase in which malformations could occur under certain circumstances. In the next few months, the created organs will continue to grow until they can finally take over their functions.
Your body in early pregnancy
The period of early pregnancy is associated with many physical changes for many women. However, after the first few weeks, the body adapts entirely to the new situation.
In the 10th week of pregnancy, the placenta produces more hormones that ensure that the pregnancy is maintained. These pregnancy hormones cause, among other things, the muscles to relax, and the vessels are better supplied with blood.
Some women feel the first signs of pregnancy after a short time. These can be, for example:
- low blood pressure accompanied by dizziness
- frequent urination
- exciting breasts
- Constipation and possibly abdominal pain
Pregnancy also stimulates the metabolism so that some women may experience faster growth of fingernails and hair. Many women also feel more sexual desire during this time. What can live this out without hesitation? You should only be careful and consult your gynecologist if you tend to premature birth, miscarriage, or premature labor.
In general, all of these symptoms are normal in early pregnancy. However, you know your body best, so always consult your gynecologist if in doubt. However, if you experience cramping abdominal pain, it is crucial to have this clarified by your gynecologist immediately.
Which examinations are necessary for early pregnancy?
Suppose your period is late, and you may already have a positive pregnancy test in your hands. In that case, it’s time to make an appointment with your gynecologist. The first check-up occurs during early pregnancy – usually between the 6th and 8th week of pregnancy.
Your gynecologist is likely to ask you about the following:
- Illnesses: If you suffer from a severe or chronic disease, the previous therapy must be adapted to the pregnancy.
- Previous pregnancies: If there have been problems in previous pregnancies, your gynecologist will pay special attention to certain things and keep them in mind.
- Age: If you are 35 or older when diagnosed with pregnancy, your gynecologist will discuss age-related risks with you.
- Living conditions: Your professional and private situation is reflected in your well-being and is also of interest to your doctor.
- Last menstrual period: To calculate the expected due date, your gynecologist needs to know the date of the first day of your last menstrual period.
In addition to the survey, various examinations are also carried out:
- measurement of blood pressure
- Registration of your weight and height
- urine test
- gynecological check
- Blood test (determination of blood group, antibody search test, and much more)
The first significant ultrasound examination will follow between the 9th and 12th week of pregnancy. The position and length of your child are determined. In the early stages of pregnancy, your doctor cannot yet identify any details of the physical structure and cannot make any statements about the gender. Still, severe malformations can already be ruled out at this point.
For example, suppose there are cases of hereditary diseases in your family. In that case, your gynecologist will probably talk to you about the possibility of prenatal diagnosis during the early pregnancy. During these voluntary special examinations, your child will be examined explicitly for malformations, chromosome deviations, and hereditary diseases.
Regular check-ups occur every four weeks, from the 7th month to every 14 days. Apart from the ultrasound, these can also be performed by a midwife. All examination results are recorded in your maternity card, which you will receive after your first examination.
If you suffer from pregnancy problems such as stomach pain or sleep disorders, use the first check-up to talk to your gynecologist about it and get valuable tips and help.
What should you consider during early pregnancy?
A positive pregnancy test will undoubtedly cause a lot of excitement for you. If this is your first pregnancy, you may also have some questions.
Early pregnancy is considered a particularly delicate time when the organs of the fetus are developing and very sensitive. Therefore, it is generally not recommended to take medication, such as painkillers. However, if you need medication regularly, discuss this with your doctor. Some are taboo, while others are considered harmless.
If, for example, you suffer from cold sores from time to time, there are some remedies that you can use now. Even a vaginal thrush, which can often occur during pregnancy, is usually not a problem.
The same applies to vaccines: active vaccination against rubella, measles, or mumps, for example, must not be carried out. However, you can also get vaccinated against polio, flu, or tetanus in early pregnancy. In any case, get the advice of a doctor.
Therefore, during pregnancy, you should try tried and tested home remedies first. For example, you could use saline instead of a nasal spray or hot compresses for a sore throat. To minimize the risk of cystitis, drink plenty of fluids (2.5-3 liters per day). In this simple way, the urinary tract is regularly flushed.
Some women worry that they might gain a lot of weight during pregnancy. The opposite could even be the case in early pregnancy, and you might start to lose weight. However, an increase of one to three kilos would be ideal. On average, an increase in weight of around 12.5 kg is assumed by the end of the 40th week, but this can also be attributed to the growing uterus, the amniotic fluid, and water retention in the tissue.
It is advisable to eat an exceptionally healthy and balanced diet during pregnancy. If you are a vegetarian, you should pay attention to getting enough iron. It is recommended that every pregnant woman take 0.4 mg of folic acid daily until the end of early pregnancy, as this can counteract malformations in the fetus. This amount of folic acid is not sufficiently contained in food, so folic acid in tablet form is best suited. You can get these at the pharmacy or the drugstore.
You should avoid raw animal foods during your pregnancy. There is a risk of contracting listeriosis or the toxoplasmosis pathogen. These could be extremely dangerous for the fetus. So avoid the following foods:
- raw or semi-raw meat
- raw fish
- raw sausage (e.g., salami)
- Raw milk and raw milk products (e.g., soft cheese)
- raw eggs
- smoked fish
Also, always wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly and clean kitchen utensils that have come into contact with the foods mentioned above.
As part of the check-up, you can have a voluntary blood test to test whether there are antibodies in your blood and whether you are immune to toxoplasmosis . Ask your gynecologist about this.
Sports in early pregnancy
If you enjoy exercising, you don’t have to do without it because of your pregnancy. You can continue to pursue many sports activities.
The following sports are particularly suitable during this time:
- To swim
- light aerobics
If you feel uncomfortable while exercising, for example, if you suffer from tachycardia, hot flashes, groin pain, or headaches, please stop immediately and consult your gynecologist.
Dangerous sports that could easily injure you should only be practiced again after pregnancy.
When should you announce the pregnancy?
Many women choose to keep their condition a secret during early pregnancy, as many unforeseen events can still happen in the first few weeks. Of course, sharing the good news with your friends and family is entirely up to you.
Despite all your reluctance, consider whether you might want to inform your employer during the early pregnancy. Because the Maternity Protection Act only comes into force when the latter is aware of the pregnancy. This ensures that your supervisor has to adapt your workplace, tasks, and working hours to the new circumstances. Night work or Sunday shifts, for example, are then no longer permitted.
A general employment ban is pronounced in the last six weeks before and in the first eight weeks after the birth. This so-called maternity protection period can be extended if you are expecting multiple children or if the pregnancy or childbirth is associated with particular circumstances.
Early pregnancy: your checklist
- Make an appointment with your gynecologist.
- Find a midwife.
- Make a dentist appointment.
- Drink enough fluids.
- Avoid raw foods.
- Get a sports bra if you have tender and sensitive breasts.
- Ginger tea is a proven home remedy for morning sickness.
- Decide when to announce your pregnancy.
- Sign up for a childbirth class.
Facts at a glance
Early pregnancy describes the fertilization phase up to the end of the 12th week of pregnancy.
It is also called the 1st trimester.
Early pregnancy is a compassionate time.
Do not overdo it and do without sports with a high risk of injury.
Visit your gynecologist for an examination and advice.
Soon the period of early pregnancy will be over. Look forward to the weeks and months ahead of you. Sign up for our weekly pregnancy tips to stay up to date.
Early pregnancy can be accompanied by pregnancy symptoms such as breast pain, frequent urination, discharge, dizziness, or nausea.
Contact a doctor immediately if you feel a very strong pulling in your abdomen or have other more severe symptoms.