Trimester means “3 months.” A normal pregnancy is around 9 months and has 3 trimesters.
The first trimester starts when your baby is conceived. It runs through week 14 of your pregnancy. Your health care provider may talk about your pregnancy in weeks, rather than in months or trimesters.
You should schedule your first prenatal visit soon after you learn that you are pregnant. Your doctor or midwife will:
Your doctor or midwife will listen for your baby’s heartbeat, but may not be able to hear it. Most often, the heartbeat cannot be heard until at least 6 - 7 weeks.
During this first visit, your doctor or midwife will ask you questions about:
You will have many visits to talk about birthing plan, but you can discuss it with your doctor or midwife at your first visit.
The first visit will also be a good time to talk about eating healthy, exercise, and lifestyle changes you will need to make while you are pregnant. You will also be given prenatal vitamins with iron if you are not already taking them.
In your first trimester, you will have a prenatal visit every month. The visits may be quick, but they are still important. It is okay to bring your partner or labor coach with you.
During your visits, your doctor or midwife will:
At the end of each visit, your doctor or midwife will tell you what changes to expect before your next visit. Tell your doctor if you have any problems or concerns. Speak up even if you do not feel they are important or do not relate to your pregnancy.
At your first visit, your doctor or midwife will draw blood for a group of tests known as the prenatal panel. These tests are done to find problems or infections early in the pregnancy.
This panel of tests includes, but is not limited to:
An ultrasound is a simple, painless procedure. A wand that uses sound waves will be placed on your belly. The sound waves will let your doctor or midwife see the baby.
You may have an ultrasound done in the first trimester if there are problems, or if there are questions about your due date.
Women who are 35 or older, or who have health problems, may need certain tests. There are two tests that can be done in the first trimester to check for Down syndrome and other genetic disorders.
In one test, your health care provider can use ultrasound to measure the back of the baby’s neck. This is called nuchal translucency.
Another test is called chorionic villus sampling (CVS)-1-3406].It can detect Down syndrome and other genetic disorders as early as 10 weeks into a pregnancy.
If your doctor or midwife thinks that you need one of these tests, talk about which one will be best for you. Be sure to ask about risks of the tests, and what the results could mean for you and your baby.
Updated by: Melanie N. Smith, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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