Week by week
The first trimester: 0-12 weeks
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From getting that positive pregnancy test to coping with early symptoms and booking your first scan, these 12 weeks are the start of your journey to parenthood.
You’re having a baby – congratulations! We’re here to guide you through the different stages in pregnancy, your baby’s development, midwife appointments and everything else you need to know over these life-changing nine months.
First steps and symptoms
Whether it’s two lines on a home pregnancy test, spotting some early symptoms or getting the positive result from your doctor, finding out you’re pregnant is very special. You’re going to have a baby!
In the first weeks, you may notice some common early signs of pregnancy like morning sickness, tiredness, sore breasts and cramping. Although you probably don’t look any different yet, your body is busy preparing for the months ahead.
As soon as you know you’re pregnant, it’s a good idea to book your first antenatal appointment. You can arrange it directly with your local maternity unit, or speak to your GP.
Your booking appointment
By now, you’ve probably missed your second period and the news of your impending arrival may have started to sink in a bit more.
Between weeks 8 and 12 you’ll have your first official antenatal appointment, which is called your booking appointment. This is usually with a midwife, although in some cases it will be with a doctor.
You’ll receive a lot of information on everything from how to stay healthy during your pregnancy to the different screening tests that you will be offered. You’ll also be asked if you’ve thought about where you’d like to give birth.
In the video below, three mums talk about why they chose to give birth in a midwife-led birth centre, and what their birth experiences were like:
Pelvic floor exercises and prescriptions
Around this week, the placenta has developed enough for you to pass oxygen and nutrients directly to your baby, connecting the two of you in a whole new way. Thankfully, if you’ve been suffering with early pregnancy symptoms like tiredness and nausea, this means that you’re likely to feel some relief soon.
You might not be thinking about running a marathon in the next year, but it’s never too early to start doing your pelvic floor exercises, which will help strengthen your muscles for the birth and recovery afterwards.
You get free NHS prescriptions and NHS dental care when you’re pregnant and until your baby’s first birthday, which can help you save money to put towards things like baby products.
To qualify for free treatment, you need to apply for a maternity exemption certificate – remember to ask for a form at your booking appointment.
The dating scan
If pregnancy has felt slightly unreal until now, that’s all about to change with the dating scan, where you will get to see your baby (or babies!) for the first time, and find out your due date.
Although it’s often known as the 12-week scan, this can happen any time between weeks 8 and 14. The sonographer will measure your baby from head to bum, to see how developed they are, and use this to calculate your due date. This will be written in your maternity notes, along with how pregnant you are in weeks and days.
The expected due date (EDD) gives an estimate for when your baby will be born – but a baby is considered full-term any time from 37 to 42 weeks, and 90% of babies arrive during this period, so try not to get too obsessed on the one exact date (yes, easier said than done!).
At the dating scan, the sonographer will also check that your baby is developing as they should be for this stage. If you choose to, you can have additional screening tests at the same time.
Aside from the routine ultrasound scans you’ll get from the NHS there are other private pregnancy scans you may choose to have as well. Before the 12-week mark, you can have a viability scan to check that things are progressing normally, and later in pregnancy you may wish to pay for a gender scan or 3D and 4D scans to get a closer look at your baby.
You can find out more about your NHS and private scan options in our guide to pregnancy scans.
Find your best fit
Now that the first trimester is coming to an end, you may be thinking a bit more about how you’d like to give birth. The place where you give birth can affect everything from which pain relief you’ll have access to and how likely you are to know your midwife, to whether you’ll be able to use a birth pool.
Read our guide on why choosing where to give birth matters for more information.