What should I expect in my first pregnancy?
Pregnancy, or gestation, is a period of around 9 months when an unborn baby is developing in the uterus. The first sign of pregnancy is usually missed menstruation, but there are also other signs.
What to expect during pregnancy
Pregnancy involves changes that will significantly affect a woman’s body. Most pregnancies last for about 280 days, but they can last anywhere from 37 to about 42 weeks, starting from the first day of the last period.
Doctors divide pregnancy into three stages, or trimesters, during which specific changes occur. Each trimester lasts for around 3 months.
A pregnancy calculator can help to predict when a baby is likely to be born.
Read on to learn more about what to expect during pregnancy.
Apart from missing a period, other early signs of pregnancy include:
- nausea, with or without vomiting
- breast changes, such as tenderness
- frequent urination
Nausea is common during the first 3–4 months of pregnancy, while many women experience tiredness during the first and last trimester.
To confirm a pregnancy, a woman can:
- see a doctor
- take a home pregnancy test
A pregnancy test detects the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone in the blood or urine. HCG is present just a few days after becoming pregnant.
Levels of the hormone are low at the beginning of pregnancy, and they gradually increase. Having a high level of HCG can signal multiple pregnancies, for example, having twins or triplets.
If a home pregnancy test is positive, see a healthcare professional for confirmation. They can provide this by conducting an abdominal or transvaginal ultrasound scan.
The scan can confirm:
- the gestational age of the pregnancy
- how many embryos there are
- whether the placement is correct in the womb
The doctor can also ensure that a woman receives proper advice and support from the start of pregnancy.
After confirming the pregnancy, the healthcare professional often recommends taking a multivitamin supplement that contains folic acid. If the pregnancy is planned, the doctor may recommend taking folic acid ahead of conception.