Once you know for sure that you’re pregnant, you can expect to start noticing lots of changes to your body. Although your bump won’t start to show until your second trimester, hormonal changes are likely to give you lower energy levels and possibly morning sickness, so make sure you start to give yourself a break and take things a bit easier from now on.
Estimated due date
Folic acid Bleeding and miscarriage
THE ESTIMATED DUE DATE
Pregnancy is 40 weeks long because it’s dated from the first day of your last period, not from the first day of a missed period as you’d think. This means that if you do a pregnancy test on the first day of a missed period you’re already around four weeks pregnant.
If you want to work out your estimated due date, just put your dates into our Due date calculator.
Try not to put too much store by the date though – unless you’ve had fertility treatment you won’t know exactly when in your cycle your egg was fertilised, so the EDD is just a rough guide.
Only 5% of babies are actually born on the estimated date of delivery – the majority are born two weeks either side.
Your GP will book you in for your first antenatal check-up towards the end of the first trimester at 8 to 12 weeks, and arrange a ‘dating’ scan to confirm how many weeks pregnant you are.
Most antenatal care is either GP - or midwife-led for women with normal low-risk pregnancies. You may also see an obstetrician (a hospital doctor who specialises in childbirth) at the beginning and end of your pregnancy, or more frequently if you are having twins, or develop complications or want to discuss something specific, such as an elective Caesarean (a pre-planned delivery by Caesarean section).
If it’s your first pregnancy, you will have up to 10 check-ups unless there are any complications, (seven if you’ve had a baby before).
Pregnancy is now regarded as a normal life event and not an illness! You’ll get to take care of your own medical records, keeping them safe at home and bringing them to appointments with you.
EARLY PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS
As your pregnancy progresses, you may experience other physical symptoms. These include:
You may feel absolutely whacked and can’t seem to get enough sleep. And you definitely aren’t up to going out after work! Try to catch up at weekends with lie-ins and lots of lazy days. Experts say the tiredness is a symptom of all the hormonal upheaval and frenetic activity going on inside you. Don’t worry, this is only temporary and you should get more energy soon.
You may notice your breasts are very sensitive and seem to be growing very fast! Your nipples may seem larger, darker and stand out more, too. You may need a bigger bra size and it’s probably a good idea to go and get measured for a maternity bra now to ensure you’re getting the right support.
More trips to the loo
Frequent urges to pass urine are also common at this stage of pregnancy. This is caused by your uterus expanding and pressing down on your bladder. Don’t cut back on liquids though, as this only makes the problem worse and can also put you at risk of dehydration. Drink eight glasses of water a day and practise pulling up your pelvic floor muscles to control your bladder.
This is difficult to describe, but you may notice a funny metallic taste in your mouth.
You may suffer from occasional headaches. These are quite normal and are thought to be caused by fluctuating hormones. After the first trimester, they can be treated with the recommended dose of paracetamol. If the headaches are frequent or severe in later pregnancy, tell your midwife or GP as they could be a sign of pre-eclampsia.
You’ll probably notice an increase in white or clear vaginal discharge. If the discharge becomes coloured, smelly, or causes itching or soreness, you should tell your midwife or GP. This could be a sign of a vaginal infection, such as thrush, which may require a swab test and treatment. Later in pregnancy, vaginal infections, such as Group B Streptococcus, can have implications for you and your baby.
Lots of clinics perform dating scans at between 10 and 12 weeks to literally ‘date’ the pregnancy and to check how many babies you are carrying – but in some areas of the country, you may have to wait until 20 weeks for an ‘anomaly’ scan.
You will be asked to drink about two pints of water before the scan to fill up your bladder. This pushes up the uterus to give a clearer picture. You’ll then have gel rubbed on your belly and a hand-held transducer will then be passed smoothly backwards and forwards over your skin. If you look at the monitor, you’ll see a picture of your baby on the screen. If the picture is difficult to make out, the radiographer will explain it. She will measure the baby to check she is measuring the right size for your dates. She may use this information to give you a new EDD, which is usually more accurate than the original date.
You can ask for a copy of the scan picture (most hospitals make a small charge for this), and some hospitals will let you purchase a video recording, too.