First month of pregnancy

First month of pregnancy

  Autor Dr. Dan Tutunaru Data: 08.05.2006


First month of pregnancy

Paradoxically, although the first month is one of the most important of those nine of normal pregnancy, most women don't need to read about what happen in this month because, when they find out they are pregnant, they are already in the fourth week of pregnancy! Though, there are many women who even carefully plan when to get pregnant or even try month after month conceive a baby and for whom those information are essential. And I'm sure that there are many women who want to find out what happens during this period with the idea that in a certain moment they will want to become mothers.

During this month you will see changes in your body as well as in your mind. In the first month, extremely important events take place regarding embryo development. In this month also can appear problems which vary from simple, easy symptoms seen only by the mother, to serious events, of which the most dramatic is losing pregnancy, abortion.

Mother: signs and symptoms

Delayed menstruation is the most important sign in pregnancy. If you have a regular cycle which "omitted" to show up in calculated period and if in previous period you had unprotected sex (even by casual, or wanted) it is very likely that this delay is due to pregnancy. But, attention, not every menstruation delay means pregnancy... Also stress, different inflammatory or cystic ovarian diseases, etc. can cause such delays. But also the reverse is possible, meaning in menstruation period to appear a minor bleeding, which many women see it as menstruation (this bleeding is given by embryo implantation in endometrium).

Morning nausea. Certainly this is the most mediated and known symptom of a pregnancy. Not once I guess you have noticed it is the most used to describe pregnancy existence to who knows what heroine in south-American movies. But, contrary to what might suggest the name, these nauseas don't appear only in the morning; they can appear anytime during a day. Also, not all pregnant women have this unpleasant symptom, just 50 % of them. But what exactly causes this nausea? Somewhere in brain steam (central nervous system segment, host of several vital and reflex centers) is throw up and nausea command area. This area is stimulated by hCG high levels (hormone made by embryonic cells which will form the future placenta and which is found in blood in the first pregnancy trimester). Also appears a reflex relaxing of digestive muscles, having as result a lazy digestion.

Breasts changing, which can be similar to that in premenstrual period, but this time more accentuated: breasts seem full and tensioned, sensitive or even painful to touch, venous drawing on breast surface starts to highlight, areola starts to become dark brown and little glands on them get
larger.

Tiredness. You will notice that you don't have the same energy to make certain usual activities like upping some stairs or walking a certain distance, not talking about the fact that hardly you manage to stay awake at late hours. Tiredness appears because body uses huge energy quantities to develop a new body, parallel with sufficient resource provide for maternal body function (which is in full changing process). Another cause of this tiredness estate seems to be also given by high progesterone level in blood, with sedative effect.

Excessive salivation, scientifically named ptyalism, is a frequent symptom in pregnancy. It is more common to women who also have morning nausea. It disappears after few months.

Frequent urination. This symptom appears because urinary bladder can become extremely irritable because of pelvic congestion due to high levels of progesterone and hCG. Also, kidneys work more efficient during pregnancy, having to deal with high liquid volume of maternal body which must be filtered, as well as high quantity of products resulted from two the bodies metabolism, maternal and fetal.

Appetite for certain aliments. The classic scene from movies or novels of pregnant woman who asks for pickles to satisfy her appetites stands witness for this symptom popularity. Not only the desire to eat sour appears, but sometimes a pregnant woman can paradoxically want to eat foods that she
never tasted.

Behavior disorders. They can vary from an intense state of happiness in a certain moment to an inexplicable state of crying in the next second. You can be irrational irritable towards you partner in one day, and extremely affectionate with your insupportable boss or colleague the next day. This emotional instability is incredible frequent during pregnancy. Less frequent in depression. Its symptoms are sleep disorders, mental tiredness, eating style change and low interest in daily activities. Nowadays more and more pregnant women wonder why they are depressed when they should be in seventh heaven. A series of factors seem to influence the emotional state of pregnant woman: socio-economic stress, family personality disorder cases, anxiety regarding health estate of the baby, etc.

Aversion for certain foods or smells. Certain powerful smells like garlic, fish or coffee can fall hard and instantly cause nausea sensation. Some pregnant women can complain that certain smells tolerated before pregnancy are not tolerated now. Your dog smells bad and you can't stand them in your bed, your favorite perfume causes you headaches or even man smell of your husband can cause you repulsion. Protection mechanisms of the baby can released so cigarettes smell or smoking, coffee smell or alcohol consumption can make you feel bad.

How does embryo develop?

Regarding the stages of embryo development we must make a very important specification. Generally, embryo development is studied by embryologists, who measure embryo's age from the fecundation moment. Clinically, this fecundation moment can't be certainly established, so obstetricians have as reference the only certain date, the first day of the last menstruation period (LMP). So pregnancy age is embryological different from obstetrician point of view. Amenorrhea age (the absence of menstruation bleeding) calculated by doctors is equal with embryo age (from the possible moment of fecundation) to which we add two weeks. Following we won't make a rigorous division of pregnancy age, especially that we discuss about dividing it in months according to the calendar (each month means approximately four weeks and a half).

Starting with fecundation moment and until 8th week (10th from the last menstruation) your baby is called embryo. The first 6 days (meaning one week before the period when menstruation should come) embryo spends multiplying the number of cells from which he is formed and traveling along fallopian tube to uterine cavity where it will implant. A part of its cells will form the placenta, and other part will form the embryo (which till the end of the month has the shape of a double disk). The third week of embryo development (and the last of the month) is marked of the third embryonic layer, concomitant with pole head settlement (the place where head will be) and that caudal. Then all, future nervous system of the embryo will begin developing. It is deeply implanted in endometrium and already began establishing a contact with maternal vessels, building the future placenta circulation.

Which are your responsibilities?

The first thing you should do when you suspect you are pregnant (or you are certain of this) is to call your doctor who will follow you during pregnancy and will assist you during birth. You will face two situations:

Most of the times, regarding the fact that pregnancy is at the beginning and embryo cells are dividing without affecting too much your shape, it is possible that your obstetrician doesn't want to see you until you are eight week old, if not ten. In this case the best thing you must do until you see him is to put some questions:

What lifestyle do I have? Is my life stressful? Should I give up some vices which I consider minor (smoking, alcohol or coffee drinking)? My diet is qualitatively good? But quantitatively, should I eat more? I intent to work as much during pregnancy? Is my life harmonious next to my partner? Should I tell my friends or at work that I am pregnant?

Stress

I think is useless to highlight the fact that stress is an unpleasant problem even when you are not pregnant, so much more during pregnancy when stress can be devastating for baby's development, especially in the first weeks when take place the greatest number of spontaneous abortions. If you want to find out how important is each day in embryo development and next in fetus, I will give you a subject of thinking by saying something interesting... Read and than think of what kind of life you have and how can it influence your future baby development:

Scientists reached to the conclusion that intrauterine development of human body, from cell to fetus ready to confront external life by his own, recaps life development on Earth, from its apparition as a simple cell to human apparition (indeed, most of you know that human embryo passes through many stages: starting with a single cell, in a certain moment embryo has a kind of gills, like a fish, than a tail appears, which disappear in time, and before having hit definitive shape, human shape, it will seem to a monkey). You remember as well that intrauterine life lasts 40 weeks, meaning 280 days. Life appeared on Earth 280 million years ago. Interesting, isn't it? So we could say that every day of embryo's life can be compared with a million of years from Earth life development!

So, before arguing with your life partner for who knows what, before lightening a cigarette, drinking alcohol, before eating who knows what aliment full of chemical adds, before taking a drug without consulting your doctor or when you com back from work and feel that everything around you collapses and you wish to go into the wide world, think of the little life inside you which totally depends on your attitude. Fix your priorities and put you and your baby on the first position and the rest on the second position, without neglecting social, home or work responsibilities. You can make them all as relaxed as possible.

Diet

Believing or not, what you eat and how much you eat during pregnancy won't affect only your health and your baby development, but it also determines what kilos you will keep after birth. Inside you a new life is developing. It is better to place as much fresh food as possible at its disposal, as much natural aliments as possible, vitamins rich: milk, cheese, eggs, fruits, vegetables, seeds, honey, pollen, etc. Avoid as much as possible hard meat, semi-prepared aliments and those containing many E-s. Eat many cereals (graham or rye bread, rice, muesli, etc.). The most indicated is to eat six times a day a moderated meal, high qualitatively. Eat slowly and calmly, chew well, don't talk and don't get angry during the meal. Most of the times it necessary an additional contribution of vitamins, calcium, iron and especially folic acid, and for that is sufficient to choose from products with antenatal vitamins, found in any pharmacy, but not before asking for your doctor's advice.

Announcing the happy event

Most of the doctors, but also women who have been pregnant before, will advise you to keep for the moment this news only for you and your partner. In the first three months *pregnancy* has a very delicate period for embryo development as well as for your psychic and emotional balance. From the moment of fecundation until embryo passes 12 weeks of life it is possible that your body isn't yet prepared to host a pregnancy and thus a spontaneous abortion is caused. Is very painful to pass over a pregnancy loss, it's better to avoid unpleasant situations in which you must explain to others an eventual abortion. It's better to announce that happy event after you are sure that everything goes well. Also, if you work, it's better to tell your boss about the pregnancy when it becomes visible (excepting the case when you have a physical work), to avoid the problems of discrimination.

Effort

Generally it's good not to make any physical effort which implies lifting heavy things, but this doesn't mean you are exempt from market or dish washing. But there is a special type of effort which is indicated to make: physical exercise. If before pregnancy you went regularly to the gym or aerobics, practiced swimming or liked to walk in park, it's well to continue this program, but a little more moderated. And if you are not accustomed with this lifestyle, it's good to wait the second month and to have obstetrician confirmation that everything is OK.

If you are lucky enough, doctor will see you in the next moment you said you are or you suspect you are pregnant. If it is your first pregnancy or at another where you collaborated with other obstetrician, it is ideal to make an opinion about the way pregnancy and birth this doctor surveillance will develop. That's why it's to ask him from the beginning:

In which hospital does he work? Which are the conditions when birth happens and postpartum care (after birth)? Do they allow the father of the baby to assist birth? Does mother is accommodated in the same room with the baby? How many beds are in a saloon? Which is his availability? Can he be bothered in any moment of the day, including night? Which is his plan/scheme of prenatal consults? Which is his opinion regarding physical exercise during pregnancy? If ywhere does he recommend making these exercises, when should you start and when should you stop? How much weight you can gain? When should you be alarmed? Which is his philosophy towards giving birth? Is he adept of natural birth or caesarean operation? What therapeutic method he uses during labor? Which is his vision towards perineotomy (perineum cut); does he do it by routine or necessity?
Which are the routine examinations you should do during pregnancy? (echography, blood and urine examination, screening infections, screening fetus malformations). Which are the routine procedures during labor? (fetus monitoring, echography, intravenous therapy during labor). Which is the way of paying the consults and birth? Don't laugh; it is really important and practical in the same time to find this out. Are those services covered by health insurances?

If you still don't have your doctor, you should, logically, find one. And finding Dr. Perfect is not that easy, you know that. For this you should take into account the following recommendations:

Discuss with your friends who already have a baby or with other doctors who can recommend a good obstetrician. Go to several doctors, with your partner, to create a general idea: study their way of putting the problems, the certain shown, affectivity, language and, why not, physical aspect? Don't forget to take with you the list with the questions above, and if you have other questions don't hesitate to ask! See if he is closed to you and if he considers you a partner or just a simple patient, and see if he talks on your way or he uses scientific term to impress you with his knowing.

Problems which may appear

Fortunately for emotional state and moral of the mother, in the first month of pregnancy (which reduces to an interval of two or even a week, period when you know you are pregnant) don't take place events which imbalance you physically or emotionally. There is a great number of spontaneous abortion after two weeks from fecundation, but they are seen by the mother as a menstruation, never knowing that she was pregnant. Even if a pregnancy begins bad most of the times it will pass over 4 weeks. In this first month can appear small bleedings or strains on the underwear, some of them could have pathological signification (don't forget to say to your doctor when this happens), but most of the times you don't have to be worried. Rarely a genetic a compromised pregnancy will end before those for weeks and a spontaneous abortion will happen announced by abundant bleeding and pain (uterine contractions). Though, the greatest number of problems appears only after the first month of pregnancy. We will discuss this in the following articles...



Read the English version of this article: First month of pregnancy