Learn what to expect during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy

12 weeks pregnancy bump

I shall now walk you through the first 12 weeks starting on the first day of your last menstrual period (also known as the first trimester).

Two days after missing your period, you get a home kit for pregnancy testing. Once you’ve placed your urine on it you’re wowed by the result affirming that you’re pregnant (generally shown by 2 lines or a big + sign depending on the kit used). You’re pregnant! This is very good news for those who were looking to get pregnant and not so good for those who accidentally got pregnant. It’s important to note, however, planned or not, pregnancy is a gift from God and no baby is ever an accident.

Before even doing the pregnancy test, at around the time you were expecting your period, you get the feeling your period is coming. You get the usual lower abdominal cramps. You even put on a sanitary towel so that you are not caught unaware, only no bleeding happens. This is the first sign – a period coming that never materializes. This is because at that time the baby is implanting (attaching) on to your uterus where it is going to live for the next several months. This comes with pain similar to a period cramp.

This attachment to the uterus allows the baby to receive nutrients and oxygen from the mother and to discharge its carbon dioxide and other harmful elements through the mother’s blood. The baby also produces some self-supporting hormones like HCG which when released into the maternal system show up as positive pregnancy test results and cause some significant changes in the mother as below (not all will occur in every woman):

1. A heightened sense of smell. Usually, her partner’s cologne is the first culprit to be noticed and discarded. The woman can even smell herself and keeps taking showers.

2. Funny bitter taste in the mouth. Sometimes she keeps chewing gum to remove this taste from her mouth.

3. Nausea. Many women will be nauseated and even vomit especially in the mornings.

4. Headaches. If she is not eating enough, she is likely to get headaches when her blood sugar levels drop. This is due to a competition between the baby who is forming and her brain, both of which utilize only freshly eaten glucose before it is stored as glycogen. Therefore in pregnancy, if you have a headache before taking any painkillers try eating something that quickly dispenses sugar into your system like fruit or fruit juice.

5. Sleepy. The progesterone hormone that rises during pregnancy also slows the mother’s body down in an effort to protect the baby from being miscarried. One of the most common complaints I hear from partners is that their usually very active partner has become lazy.

6. Forgetfulness. When you discover you’re pregnant and before you forget, buy yourself a diary. You will need to note important appointments including questions you’ll want to ask your doctor at your next doctor’s appointments.

7. Bloating, constipation, and gas. Throughout pregnancy, the intestines are on a go-slow, again due to pregnancy hormones. One then tends to pass a lot of gas – both belching and flatus. Constipation is also a major concern. Eat a lot of roughage – vegetables – and drink lots of water.

8. Loss of appetite or increased appetite.

9. Food cravings. A few women get cravings for some foods. Craving to eat soil and stones is not a normal craving. It usually indicates that the woman has low hemoglobin or is just addicted. Do not eat soil or stones however much you crave them. There are no healthy stones for consumption.

10. Feeling ‘malaria’ or ‘pregnant’. In the pregnancy state, one feels hotter than the company around her or hotter than the temperature indicates.

11. Breast tenderness. The breasts feel full and engorged. They can be painful to touch, especially around the nipple. The areola (dark area around the nipple) becomes darker.

12. Skin. Fortunately for most women, their skins glow when they’re pregnant. Only a few will get rashes and acne. Others will get dry skin.

13. Excess saliva in the mouth. This is due to pregnancy hormones. Though the saliva tastes bitter many pregnant women will be able to swallow their saliva. A few pregnant women will spit and for most of these who spit this will ease at around the 12th week of pregnancy. For some, this spitting habit will last all pregnancy long.

14. Heartburn and indigestion. These start in the first trimester for most women and tend to get worse throughout the pregnancy.

15. Occasional feeling faint and dizzy. When this is only pregnancy-related, with no other underlying pathology, it will pass.

16. Emotional changes. Mood swings from joyous to irrational to irritable to depressed and back again. Pregnant women need to be aware of this so that they try to control themselves to not go overboard.

17. Increased frequency of urination. In the first 12-14 weeks of pregnancy, the growing uterus is located in the pelvis where the urinary bladder also resides. As the size of the uterus enlarges, it leaves less room for the bladder to completely fill up with urine and a pregnant woman feels the need to pass urine frequently even though her bladder may be only partially full. This is not to be confused with a urinary tract infection (UTI) in which there is also a desire to frequently pass urine. In the case of a UTI, the desire to frequently pass urine is accompanied by pain and discomfort.

18. An increased amount of vaginal discharge. This discharge is white, not foul-smelling and not itchy, keeping the vagina moist and more lubricated than outside pregnancy.
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