By the time most women realize that they are pregnant and are conscious of the life growing inside them, the most critical stages of growth has already passed or well into development. From a tiny speck, the fertilized egg grows into a foetus measuring about 28g or an ounce by the end of 12 weeks. So, let’s take a quick look at what’s happening in the first trimester:
Once the embryo is formed, the amniotic sac (water-filled) builds around it to protect the baby. A hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is released in the uterus which signals implantation and this is when most people get a positive on their pregnancy tests. This is also when you miss a period and visible signs of pregnancy—nausea, spotting, missed period etc—show up. Rapid brain development, formation of placenta to provide nutrients to the embryo takes place. Blood cells are now active and an indistinct face of the baby develops. Heart begins to function and bones begin to form. Tooth buds, fingernails, kidneys and genitals are still immature but are in place. Size of the embryo is 1/4 inch and weighs as much as a grain of rice.
If the pregnancy is unplanned, there is a chance, that the mother has not taken the necessary care to ensure a healthy pregnancy. This is not only for women who smoke, consume alcohol or are into drugs but also for those who eat or drink food loaded with preservatives, or harmful chemicals or just unpasteurized food. Women who are suffering from illness or diseases and need regular medication should consult their doctor immediately.
The central nervous system connecting the spine to the brain forms and the ears folds giving a more human-like appearance. The digestive system begins to develop. The foetus makes small movements although the mother may not feel it now. Fingers, toes and eyes are formed. The head is prominent and big compared to the rest of the body and the foetus now weighs around 9.45g and is 1 inch long.
Inadequate folic acid at this stage can lead to neural tube defect in a foetus. Many women begin to take supplements in the second trimester thinking that brain is yet to develop only to find out that their baby’s brain is already formed.
Reproductive organs take shape and the genitals are formed by the end of first trimester. Most of the vital organs are formed and in the following months, they mature and develop completely to become a healthy baby. The foetus is now 3-4 inches long, and has a more humane look with a brain, eyes, tiny arms, feet and toes. Mouth begins to open and close, baby begins move its tiny hands and feet. A doctor at this stage will help the mother listen to the heart beat with the help of a Doppler.
By the third month, pregnancy is pronounced and the mother has to make the first visit to the doctor, if she hasn’t already. By eating food high in protein, fibre and moderating intake of high-calorie foods, the mother can ensure a healthy pregnancy. Symptoms like nausea and vomiting will begin for some but it will pass in the second trimester.