Your Very First Pregnancy Scan

You can take your first ultrasound scan as soon as you suspect that you’re pregnant due to a pregnancy home test. This can be as early as four weeks, yet an internal transvaginal probe may be used before 7-8 weeks. The main reason for taking this first scan, also called a “viability scan”, “dating scan” or the “early pregnancy scan”, is to confirm your pregnancy – and whether it’s a single pregnancy or a twin pregnancy. The presence of the father is welcome at the first appointment, as mums feel more comfortable with the support of a partner at this very first scan. Here are more things to expect from your first scan:

Calculation of the estimated due date

The estimated due date (EDD) is the approximate date at which you should expect to deliver the baby. The early pregnancy scan is also called a “dating scan” because it estimates your stage of pregnancy and the delivery date. The EDD is calculated based on the date of your last menstrual cycle and other factors like the stage of the pregnancy progress observed during your scan appointment.

Checking for single or twin pregnancy

After the embryo has formed, the sonographer will be able to see if, well, two embryos have formed. Identical twins are at first formed from a single embryo that later divides, so it is possible that one twin may be missed at your first scan, especially if you carry out the scan earlier than 6 weeks.

A scan report

Notes are recorded on a written report during the first ultrasound scan. You can take this report with you at the end of the scan. Keep it for future references at doctor appointments and later pregnancy scans.

Ultrasound images of your baby

At Baby Scan Clinic, we offer two glossy images on the day of the scan, for you to take away. These images make a great addition to a baby album.

How to prepare for the early pregnancy scan

Eat and drink as normal on the day of your appointment and wear lose clothing if possible. Ultrasound images are clearer with a full bladder, which is why we recommend to drink a pint of water in the hour leading to your scan appointment without emptying your bladder.

Read more about what the Early Pregnancy Scan entails at our clinic and the benefits you get. (Hint: mistery gift ahead)

 

How to Cope with Early Pregnancy Symptoms

The four most common symptoms in early pregnancy are tiredness, morning sickness, mood swings and frequent urination, followed by other first signs of pregnancy. Learn how to keep them under control and cope with the changes they bring in your early weeks of pregnancy.

Tiredness

A very common pregnancy symptom is feeling tired. This is more intense in the first and third trimester.

Take naps as often as possible. You need plenty of rest, especially in early pregnancy, so try to go to bed earlier and take several short naps during the day.

Include carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables in all your meals and snacks throughout the day. A healthy pregnancy diet will keep you energetic and reduce the fatigue symptom.

Keep an exercise schedule and generally try to stay active. Even if you exercise lightly, establishing a daily routine will make you feel stronger and less tired.

Morning sickness

This symptom is commonly experienced in the first trimester of pregnancy. Nausea is sometimes accompanied by vomiting, especially in the morning.

Feeling nauseous can be accentuated by the food you eat. Keep your meals small and often, and replace foods that cause you nausea with their nutritional equivalents.

Natural remedies can be efficient against morning sickness. Examples include ginger, mint tea and Roman Chamomile tea.

Stay hydrated to diminish nausea. Have water, lemon juice or your favourite herbal tea with you to sip regularly throughout the day.

Frequent urination

This symptom is especially common during the first and third trimester of pregnancy. While your body produces more urine, the pressure on your bladder will increase, resulting in the frequent need to pee.

There are no options to go around this symptom. It’s very important to stay hydrated during pregnancy, so don’t cut back on fluid intake. Coffee makes you pee faster and is not very hydrating, so giving up caffeinated drinks will help. The frequent trips to the toilet at night can be reduced if you drink less water in the two hours before bedtime.

Mood swings

If your mood changes from one minute to the next, know that it’s normal. Mood swings are caused by hormonal activity and are very common during the first trimester.

You can’t really control the hormones responsible for your pregnancy symptoms, but there are ways to cope with mood swings. Exercise, rest and talking about your mood swings with your partner and friends will make you feel a lot better. Feeling guilty over your mood swings will only lead to more stress and is unjustified, as they’re out of your control. Be kind to yourself and find moments for reflection and relaxation. Reflecting on your pregnancy and becoming conscious of your baby is an important step towards a healthy pregnancy and giving birth.

Week 13 of Pregnancy

You’ll already start to feel more energetic at week 13 and you’ll be relieved to see that some early pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness and nausea will diminish. Many women also notice an increase in their libido around this time. Read on to see the developmental changes of your baby and how your body and lifestyle are changing at week 13 of pregnancy.

How your baby’s doing in week 13

About the size of a peach, you baby continues to grow and get ready for the outside world. She now has fingertips, which will develop in all their complexity in the following months. Her body length is increasing and tiny bones are forming in her legs and arms. The suckling muscles in her cheeks have already developed by now, and when she’ll feel movement through the tummy she will start rooting. This is very important for the instinct of searching for your nipple. By week 13, the ovaries or testes are fully formed inside the body.

Your body and lifestyle at week 13 of pregnancy

Around week 13 and week 14 you’ll likely see most of the uncomfortable symptoms of early pregnancy fade away. You’ll feel that you’re energy has returned and some women experience a greater sex drive. You may also notice an increase in vaginal discharge in the following weeks. This is not a reason to worry, as this is a harmless discharge with the role of preventing bacterial infections in your vagina.

Your risk of miscarriage is now much lower than in the first trimester of pregnancy. If you haven’t already announced your pregnancy to your friends and colleagues, now is the time to do it. Around weeks 13 to 15, a little bump should start showing and you will soon switch your wardrobe to more comfortable and stretchy maternity wear. It’s recommended to switch to bras with better support, as you’ll start to feel tenderness in your breasts due to hormones and the increased levels of blood flow to your breasts. There is a general increase in blood supply throughout your whole body in weeks 13 and 14 which is why most women notice a network of veins on their body around this time. This network however will fade away after you’ll give birth.

Ultrasound scans at week 13

The 13th week of pregnancy is the last week of the recommended period of time when you can take a Nuchal Translucency scan to check for Down syndrome and other pregnancy risks. During the NT scan, you will be able to see your baby on the screen in real time and get her measurements compared to the average measurements at this week of pregnancy.

Top Questions in Early Pregnancy

When does morning sickness start?

Morning sickness symptoms are caused by the pregnancy hormones in your body and for most women it starts around the 6th week. You might experience nausea from particular smells or foods. Read more on what morning sickness is and how to cope with it. As you advance in the second trimester, your morning sickness and nausea symptoms should ease up.

When will my pregnancy bump show?

If this is your first pregnancy, a bump will only be visible at the start of the second trimester, around weeks 12-16. If it is not your first pregnancy, your bump may be visible sooner, because belly muscles may be still stretched from your last pregnancy. Body weight, age and genes are also factors that influence how soon you will start to show a bump. If your bump shows too early, you might consider booking an appointment for an ultrasound scan to calculate the due date.

When will I have my first baby scan?

The very first scan you can take is the early pregnancy scan, which confirms whether you are pregnant or not and calculates your estimated due date. Twin pregnancy can be detected with this ultrasound. Also called viability scan, the early pregnancy scan can be taken from week 7 to week 11 of pregnancy. Your doctor or midwife might recommend this scan especially if you have had miscarriages or complications during previous pregnancies.

How soon does frequent urination start?

Frequent urination is one of the first signs of pregnancy, and will be at its peak during the first and last trimester. This is caused by the shrinkage of your bladder and by the fact that your body will start to produce more urine during pregnancy. This is a symptom you’ll have to get used to, as there is not much to do to reduce it. It’s important that you continue to drink the necessary amount of fluids. Try to give up caffeinated drinks, as these make you urinate more often and do not hydrate your body very much.

Why am I so emotional during pregnancy?

Mood swings are a common symptom during the first trimester of pregnancy. There’s not much reason to worry if you’re going from calm to irritation in seconds or if you’re feeling that your emotions are not as balanced as before. Mood swings are caused by the increase of pregnancy hormones in your body, as well as by the fact that there are many changes you need to go through during pregnancy. During the second trimester, mood swings should disappear. Read more about how to cope with mood swings and other common symptoms during early pregnancy.

12th Week of Pregnancy

In this last week of your first trimester of pregnancy, your baby will start moving around more, flexing muscles and kicking. It’s now time to switch to comfy maternity wear and discuss with your midwife about changes for the next trimester.

Your baby’s development

Most babies are about the size of a kiwi by at week 12, and a bump may become visible by the end of the first trimester. Your baby’s legs and arms are fully formed, and reflexes have appeared. You might not feel these moves, but your baby will feel when you press your tummy. She can already move her fingers and wiggle her toes. If you’ll have an ultrasound this week, you’ll see that the face looks much more like a human face, with the eyes close together and the ears in the right position.

How your days are changing

You may experience dizziness or the feeling of fainting during the 12th week, especially when standing up briskly. This is caused by the rise of progesterone levels in your body. The role of progesterone is to increase the blood flow to the baby, which means that the blood flow in your body may slightly decrease. Don’t skip your meals and make sure that your sugar levels are sufficient.

As you enter the second trimester of pregnancy, you may notice that several symptoms have waned, such as frequent urination or having excess saliva. Certain smells may become easier to detect. If you’re having problems with strong smells that make you feel nauseous, keep a citrus scent at hand, maybe on your scarf. Your appetite should increase over the next weeks, and you will need plenty of Vitamin C, Zinc, Calcium, Beta-carotene and omega oils for a healthy development. Find out the basic nutritional needs for your second trimester and the recommended food sources.

Ultrasounds in week 12

The Nuchal Translucency scan is ideally carried during the 12th week. This is the first ultrasound to check the baby’s measurements and it also assesses the risk of Down syndrome. Many pregnant women have the first ultrasound during this week, to check how the development is going and to confirm the due date calculations.

Pregnancy Yoga Exercises for the First Trimester

Prenatal yoga is a very popular training for mums-to-be. Besides the fitness advantages, yoga also teaches you how to relax and how to breathe correctly while exercising. Pick a class and go. It’s not for everyone, but you might like yoga and maybe even continue with postnatal yoga.

Types of classes

There are plenty of yoga classes in London that are dedicated to pregnant women, offering beginner, intermediate and advanced yoga trainings for women in their first, second and third trimester. Discuss with your yoga instructor to help you pick the one that is the most suitable for you. During the first trimester you probably don’t have too many restrictions regarding physical exercise, so you can also opt for regular yoga classes – unless your doctor suggested otherwise. For practising prenatal yoga in your second trimester, you will need support for most of the poses. One of the lightest yoga styles is Hatha Yoga. It has a slower tempo and it’s very approachable for beginners.

Yoga postures for the first trimester

If you’re new to yoga, you’ll start your training by learning basic postures and how to breathe correctly. Then, the exercises should focus on gradually increasing your strength and muscle flexibility. Meditation is a core part of traditional yoga styles, but you can opt for classes that concentrate more on the fitness part of yoga and less on meditation. Power yoga is the most popular yoga style that concentrates mostly on the fitness benefits of yoga, but it is also one of the most demanding yoga trainings. Below are a few postures that specifically benefit the muscles that prepare you for pregnancy and giving birth.

Sideways swings

Parighasana, or sideways swings, is a great pose to build your muscles on the sides of your body and to improve spine flexibility.

Cat and dog poses

These are relatively easy to do, and very efficient in strengthening the muscles in your lower back. Alternate the positions to relax and increase flexibility of the spine.

Urdhva Dhanurasana backbends

This pose is a good start point for more advanced backbend yoga poses. This exercise will improve the flexibility of your spine and it will help you build energy and strength.

Warrior poses

These poses will help you strengthen your joints and prepare your body for supporting the extra weight.

Stay safe

Remember to consume extra calories in the days when you exercise and to always consult with your doctor or midwife before starting a new exercise class. If you ever feel that a yoga position is uncomfortable for you, adjust your position. Ask your class instructor to guide you or to suggest another position with the same benefits.

11th Week of Pregnancy

As you’re heading towards the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, your headaches and nausea should start disappearing. In the 11th week already you may feel more active and symptoms of tiredness should fade. You may also notice an increase in appetite, so you will put on more weight in the following months. Your baby is developing complex features and you already have a pretty face for the ultrasound pic on the fridge.

How your baby is developing

At just over one inch and a half in length, your baby can now kick and he or she can even stretch fingers and toes. The kicks will become more frequent over the next 6 months, as your baby grows stronger. By the 11th week, your baby has distinct features, with tooth buds, nail beds, hair follicles and ear flaps already present. Her sense of smell also began to develop and will become more complex until week 30. By then, everything you eat and inhale will be smelled by your baby as well.

In-between the 11th and 13th week of pregnancy, the Nuchal Translucency baby scan can be carried out. This is an ultrasound scan that checks for certain issues, including Down syndrome, and reports initial measurements of your baby. Talk to your OB/GYN doctor about a recommended time for you to have this scan.

How your days are changing

As your morning sickness starts to wane, you may feel hungrier than usually. Stick to a healthy plan with nutritious food and pick fruits and crackers as snacks instead of junk food. Food cravings will also diminish in the next month, so it will be easier to have a balanced diet, with small and various meals. Include plenty of carbs in you plan and get as much protein as possible from nuts and dried fruits. Despite having the need to pee frequently (you have the hCG hormone to blame for that), you need to stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid caffeine, as caffeinated drinks increase the frequency of urination. Constipation is also a common symptom due to pregnancy hormones, so it’s perfectly normal, but you can try diets that help alleviate this symptom.

You will have more energy in the following weeks, so this is the perfect time to plan a romantic trip with your partner. Most pregnant women feel at the peak of their energetic levels in the first part of the second trimester. Just make sure you’ll have everything you need for a safe travel.

The 10th Week of Pregnancy

Your baby is now just over an inch long and continues to grow fast. The foetal period begins, during which vital organs and systems will mature and develop complex functions. Fingernails and toenails begin to appear during the 10th or 11th week, and elbows and knees will soon start to form, although you won’t feel any kicking for another month or two. At the next scan you might be able to see your baby bending hands and kicking his or her legs. Look out for your little one’s hands on the monitor and maybe you’ll even spot the no longer webbed fingers.

Your baby’s spine, bones and cartilage are forming continuously, shaping a more and more human-like aspect. Teeth begin to form under your baby’s gums at this stage already, though they won’t come out until he or she will be six months old.

How your body changes

Your uterus has grown to about the size of a grapefruit during the 10th week, and your bump should also be visible by now. It’s time to shop for more comfortable, stretchy clothes or maternity wear. Save up money by adding elastic waist bands to your pants and skirts, an efficient method preferred by most expecting mums. You might be experiencing fatigue, dizziness and headaches. Make sure that you get plenty of rest while sticking to an exercise routine. Swimming, walking, and light stretching exercises are suitable for most pregnant women. Fresh air is a daily must. To reduce symptoms of dizziness, carry water and fruits or light snacks around you to keep hydrated and boost your blood-sugar when needed.

Pay special attention to what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens in your meals. During the 10th week you should be eating with about 300 calories more per day than before pregnancy. If your symptoms include constipation, fix it with fibre and fluids. Get your fibre from whole grain products and fresh and dried fruits. Choose raw vegetables over heavily cooked meals.

Pregnancy symptoms can be strong and influence your daily mood, while causing diverse symptoms. Focus on what you can do to relieve some of the symptoms, but you might have to just wait for others to go away. You’ll find many of these symptoms will reduce or disappear during the second trimester, which is getting closer.

One Delicious Pregnancy Smoothie for Every Trimester

Blend all the essential vitamins and minerals for your current trimester in a tasty and healthy power combo smoothie.

First Trimester: The Mango Avocado Power Up Smoothie

Start your day with this fresh and thick green smoothie. Avocado and mango are rich in folate, which plays an important role in cell growth during your first trimester. Pumpkin seeds and spinach contain iron, while yoghurt contains calcium, both essential during the first months of pregnancy.

You need:

  • 1 avocado
  • A spoonful of pumpkin seeds (raw)
  • 1 mango
  • 1 small yoghurt
  • Optional: 50g (2 oz) spinach (for extra leafy points)

Peel the avocado, remove the seed and split it in 4 or 6 cuts. Blend it all together with the sliced mango, the pumpkin seeds and the yoghurt. Add fresh spinach leaves to increase iron intake. If the mango is not very ripe and sweet, add one tablespoon of honey and squeeze a lemon half. That’s it! You’ve got one large, energizing smoothie for you and your baby.

Second Trimester: Almonds and Pineapple Smoothie

This is mouth-watering and healthy smoothie, perfect for your nutrition plan during the second trimester of pregnancy. Raw almonds are the key ingredient, as they are rich in Vitamin E and Calcium, essential for these months of pregnancy. Pineapple completes the vitamin intake with its rich amounts of Vitamin C (though you can also replace it with orange juice). Bananas are energizing and make a delicious thick base for your smoothie. Use non-sweetened coconut milk instead of milk: it contains plenty of saturated fats and adds an exotic taste to your smoothie.

You need:

  • ½ cup of raw almonds
  • ½ pineapple
  • ½ banana
  • 1 cup of non-sweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

Grind the almonds into fine bits and blend it in with the coconut milk and fruits. Add honey. Set aside a pineapple slice for decoration. Enjoy this smoothie in the morning or as a brunch snack.

Third Trimester: Energizing Banana Smoothie

Bananas are rich in Vitamin K, which needs to be in sufficient values when you’ll go into labour. To top this with Vitamin E, Calcium and Iron, add apricots, spinach leaves and almond milk.

You need:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 small apricots
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 10 to 20 fresh spinach leaves

Cut the fresh spinach leaves in fine bits. Peel the banana and the apricots and slice them. Blend it all together with the almond milk. This smoothie will keep your energy levels up during the day, while providing essential nutrients for you and your baby during the third trimester of pregnancy. As a bonus, the Vitamin E contained in almond milk helps prevent stretch marks.

The 9th Week of Pregnancy

As you’re advancing into the 3rd month of pregnancy, your baby keeps busy growing. The little one is now almost one inch long and is starting to get the baby-like look more and more each day. The eyes, nose and mouth are becoming more distinct, while tiny ear buds are appearing. Eyes will stay shut for another 5 months, but they have already developed. The essential organs have formed by now and they continue to develop and perfect their functions. Your placenta has more complex functions and has started to produce nutrients and to eliminate waste. You can’t feel anything by touching your belly just yet, but you might hear it. Around this time, your baby’s heart beat should be audible with a Doppler device, so make sure to ask for it at your next appointment.

How to take care of yourself at 9 weeks pregnant

It’s likely that your baby bump is barely visible, and yet all these highly-complex changes are going on through your body. At this stage of pregnancy, most women have symptoms of tiredness and morning sickness. Pregnancy hormones are kicking in, sometimes leading to headaches, backaches, mood swings and other symptoms.  It’s important to take really good care of yourself to diminish the negative symptoms and to make sure your body has enough activity and nutrients to keep you and your baby healthy and growing.

Set your appetite on fruits and vegetables. All day. Every day. There are no healthier and safer sources of vitamins and minerals than the natural ones – fruits and vegetables. If you are having morning sickness, your appetite could be decreased, so try to set up a meal schedule with small and regular snacks. Make it easier to adjust to your new lifestyle by seeking advice from a nutritionist or by informing yourself from the web. There are now quite a few useful apps that can help you follow a nutrition plan for the pregnancy months ahead of you.

Further preparations

Schedule an antenatal appointment with your doctor or midwife if you haven’t done so yet. This is mainly for taking routine tests, but you can also get more informed on your progress and get recommendations on eating, rest and exercise based on your medical history and condition. If you have not had a confirmation of pregnancy from your OB yet, do so by taking the first ultrasound scan, called the Early Pregnancy scan or Viability scan. Based on the early pregnancy scan, the sonographer will calculate your estimated due date and check whether you have a single pregnancy or a twin pregnancy.

After you have had confirmation of pregnancy from your doctor, you now have the certainty needed to make the official announcement to your friends, relatives, co-workers and your boss. You can show the first baby scan photos to your close ones and enjoy the wonderful experience ahead.