Early Pregnancy Patient Information

Early pregnancy is a time of great excitement and anticipation. Along with these feelings, however, comes an unfamiliar set of challenges and questions. When should you see your healthcare provider? What’s normal? How can you help yourself and your baby get off to a healthy start? This booklet answers all of these questions and more. It covers everything from early pregnancy symptoms to what you can do to support a healthy pregnancy, birth, and beyond–all while staying stress-free as much as possible.

Pregnancy and early pregnancy come with many questions. With this information, you will know how to prepare for your pregnancy and childbearing decisions, while helping ensure a healthy birth outcome.

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The symptoms of early pregnancy vary tremendously between women. Some women hardly have any symptoms, whereas others have very severe symptoms. It is impossible to predict which women will have more severe symptoms. However, in general, if you are expecting twins or triplets then it is likely that your symptoms will be more severe.

Tiredness

Extreme tiredness is often the most common sign of an early pregnancy. Although it is common to become more tired in the later stages of pregnancy, this extreme tiredness and lack of energy (lethargy) usually last for the first twelve weeks (first trimester). The symptoms usually then improve.

Urinary symptoms

You may notice that you need to pass urine more frequently than you used to. This is actually due to the effect of the beta-hCG hormone which makes your kidneys work harder to produce more urine. This is different to the reason you will need to pass urine more often in the later stages of pregnancy, which is due to the baby’s head pressing on your bladder.

Note: if you experience any burning, stinging or a high temperature (fever) with these urinary symptoms, contact your doctor or midwife. Urine infections are common when you are pregnant. Your doctor or midwife will arrange to test your urine for an infection.

See the separate leaflet called Urine Infection in Pregnancy for more information.

Constipation

Constipation is more common in the early stages of pregnancy. This is due to the chemical (hormone) progesterone making your bowel more relaxed and sluggish. It is important to have a healthy diet throughout your pregnancy. If you do become constipated then you should eat more foods with lots of fibre in them, like wholemeal bread, fruit and vegetables. Make sure you are drinking enough fluids, especially water.

Breast tenderness

Another very early sign of pregnancy is breast tenderness. You may find that just the water from your shower on your breasts makes them feel uncomfortable and very tender. You may also find that you wake in the night when you roll on to your front because your breasts are tender. Your breasts may tingle at times or even have stabbing pains in them. You may also notice that your breasts become bigger and more swollen over the first few weeks of pregnancy. As your pregnancy develops it is common to notice some veins under the surface of your skin over your breasts. This is entirely normal.

After a few weeks you may notice that the coloured skin around your nipples (the areolae) becomes darker. 

Feeling sick (nausea)

Although most women think that feeling sick is the first sign of being pregnant, it is more common to develop other symptoms first. Feeling sick usually starts around the sixth week of your pregnancy. This can, however, vary between pregnancies in the same woman as well as between different women. You may find that you are being sick (vomiting) as well as feeling sick. The amount and frequency really does vary between women and can also be different (worse or better) in later pregnancies.

This sickness is commonly referred to as morning sickness. It is more common to experience feeling sick only in the mornings. However, you may find that this feeling continues throughout the afternoons and even into the evenings.

See the separate leaflet called Morning Sickness in Pregnancy for more information.

Food cravings

You may find that you crave certain foods during your pregnancy or even go off some foods. Some women experience a metallic taste in their mouth. You are likely to have a heightened sense of smell during your early pregnancy. This may make any feelings of sickness that you have worse.

Irritability

The changes in hormone levels in early pregnancy may make you feel more moody and irritable than usual.

Missed period

Although this has always been the most obvious sign of pregnancy, many women now find out they are pregnant before they miss their first period.

Many women may have a small amount of bleeding (spotting) at the time of their missed period. This is sometimes called an ‘implantation bleed’. It happens when the fertilised egg attaches and fixes itself (implants itself) in the wall of your womb (uterus). It is harmless.

However, if you have any spotting or heavy bleeding when you are pregnant then you should let your doctor or midwife know. In some cases further tests (for example, a scan) are necessary. This is because bleeding can sometimes be a sign of a miscarriage.

See the separate leaflet called Miscarriage and Bleeding in Early Pregnancy for more information.

Less commonly it can be the first symptom of an ectopic pregnancy. ‘Ectopic’ refers to a pregnancy which occurs outside the womb. 

Does Patient First Do Ultrasounds During Pregnancy

Patient First does ultrasounds during pregnancy, which can provide pictures of the baby’s body and heart. Ultrasounds are used to determine the size of the fetus, confirm a pregnancy and help diagnose certain disorders or complications. We do ultrasounds at our office during pregnancy. Ultrasounds during pregnancies can provide reassurance about your developing baby’s health at any time.

No, not all patients. Ultrasounds aren’t as accurate in predicting gestational age as they are later in pregnancy. At this point it’s often better to wait until you feel the baby move, which is typically 6 to 8 weeks after your last period. But if you have concerns or want to confirm exact dates, we can do an ultrasound at any time during your pregnancy.

Our ultrasound service is top notch, offering high-quality and compassionate care to our expectant parents. All of our ultrasound specialists are certified by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) and hold membership in either the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (SDMS) or the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM). Our facility also offers 3D/4D ultrasounds for a more personalized experience – whether you choose to begin your search at 10 weeks or find out if you’re having twins or even see your baby’s heartbeat at 6 weeks. When you come in for an appointment, one of the first things we do is take a look at your baby. The ultrasound lets us check your baby’s growth, watch for any complications and get you answers fast.

How Do Hospitals Confirm Pregnancy

How do hospitals confirm pregnancy? The process of confirming a pregnancy begins with the first visit to the gynecologist, where she will perform a pelvic exam and order a blood test. Other possible signs of pregnancy include: Increased frequency of urination and more frequent bathroom trips in general (due to increased blood flow); Tenderness in the breasts; Nausea; Dehydration.

Hospitals use the same method that it’s always used: They take a urine sample and test it to see if there’s any hCG in it. When you’re pregnant, your body will produce hCG because it’s basically there to prepare your uterus for pregnancy. So yes, if you’re pregnant and go into a hospital, they’ll be able to confirm this with a simple urine test.

Pregnancy is confirmed by a variety of different methods, including home pregnancy tests and invasive blood tests. Hospitals also use a number of different types of prenatal tests. Hospitals confirm pregnancy in many ways. Some take routine urine tests, while others offer special blood tests. Blood tests require a few days to process the results, so it’s important to get tested early on in your pregnancy, before you’ll be able to tell by other signs such as a missed period.

What Tests Are Done in The First Trimester

The first trimester is a time for you to prepare for your pregnancy. Most ultrasounds and blood tests happen during this time. All of these tests are designed to make sure that there aren’t any abnormalities in your baby. This can be a stressful time, but knowing what tests are done can help you feel more comfortable.

When you go through the first trimester, there are a number of tests that are done to ensure that your baby is healthy. This can include blood tests and ultrasounds as well as checking for any abnormalities that might have been inherited from your mother or father. These tests can be pretty stressful but they can also be rewarding if everything goes well.

The first trimester can be a time of increased concern for couples. That’s because it’s when we are most likely to discover that something might be wrong with your pregnancy. The most important thing is to understand what the tests you have and why they’re necessary, so you can make sure to answer all of your questions and feel comfortable with everything that is happening. Every woman responds differently to pregnancy and requires a different approach. The first test is usually done in the first trimester and it will inform you about your pregnancy; usually by around 10 weeks, so that’s generally by the time you find out if you’re pregnant or not.

First trimester testing is done to assess the risk of aneuploidy and for a possible diagnosis of common fetal malformations and chromosomal abnormalities, including Down syndrome.


First trimester screening is a routine prenatal screening test. The screening poses no risk of miscarriage or other pregnancy complications.

How you prepare

You don’t need to do anything special to prepare for first trimester screening. You can eat and drink normally before both the blood test and the ultrasound exam.

What you can expect

First trimester screening includes a blood draw and an ultrasound exam.

During the blood test, a member of your health care team takes a sample of blood by inserting a needle into a vein in your arm. The blood sample is sent to a lab for analysis. You can return to your usual activities immediately.

For the ultrasound exam, you’ll lie on your back on an exam table. Your health care provider or an ultrasound technician will place a transducer — a small plastic device that sends and receives sound waves — over your abdomen. The reflected sound waves will be digitally converted into images on a monitor. Your health care provider or the technician will use these images to measure the size of the clear space in the tissue at the back of your baby’s neck.

The ultrasound doesn’t hurt, and you can return to your usual activities immediately.

Results

Your health care provider will use your age and the results of the blood test and ultrasound exam to gauge your risk of carrying a baby with Down syndrome or trisomy 18. Other factors — such as a prior Down syndrome pregnancy — also might affect your risk.

First trimester screening results are given as positive or negative and also as a probability, such as a 1 in 250 risk of carrying a baby with Down syndrome.

First trimester screening correctly identifies about 85 percent of women who are carrying a baby with Down syndrome. About 5 percent of women have a false-positive result, meaning that the test result is positive but the baby doesn’t actually have Down syndrome.

When you consider your test results, remember that first trimester screening indicates only your overall risk of carrying a baby with Down syndrome or trisomy 18. A low-risk result doesn’t guarantee that your baby won’t have one of these conditions. Likewise, a high-risk result doesn’t guarantee that your baby will be born with one of these conditions.

If you have a positive test result, your health care provider and a genetics professional will discuss your options, including additional testing. For example:

  • Prenatal cell-free DNA (cfDNA) screening. This is a sophisticated blood test that examines fetal DNA in the maternal bloodstream to determine whether your baby is at risk of Down syndrome, extra sequences of chromosome 13 (trisomy 13) or extra sequences of chromosome 18 (trisomy 18). Some forms of cfDNA screening also screen for other chromosome problems and provide information about fetal sex. A normal result might eliminate the need for a more invasive prenatal diagnostic test.
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS). CVS can be used to diagnose chromosomal conditions, such as Down syndrome. During CVS, which is usually done during the first trimester, a sample of tissue from the placenta is removed for testing. CVS poses a small risk of miscarriage.
  • Amniocentesis. Amniocentesis can be used to diagnose both chromosomal conditions, such as Down syndrome, and neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. During amniocentesis, which is usually done during the second trimester, a sample of amniotic fluid is removed from the uterus for testing. Like CVS, amniocentesis poses a small risk of miscarriage.

Your health care provider or a genetic counselor will help you understand your test results and what the results mean for your pregnancy.

Bleeding in Early Pregnancy Patient Information

Bleeding in early pregnancy, also known as spotting or implantation bleeding, is a common symptom of pregnancy that usually occurs within six to 10 days after ovulation. Bleeding in early pregnancy is not something to worry about. In fact, it can actually be helpful because it allows you to narrow down your estimated due date after calculating the gestational age. Here’s what you should know if this happens to you.

During the first trimester, many women experience minor bleeding, or spotting. This can happen when the egg implants in your uterus, and it can also happen if you miss taking your birth control pills by a few hours. Bleeding in early pregnancy should be reported to your health care provider immediately so that he or she can assess the situation and rule out miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and other complications.

Early bleeding in pregnancy is a common occurrence. If you’re worried about spotting or vaginal bleeding early in pregnancy, learn more about what this could mean, what to do next and how to alleviate any concerns. Bleeding in early pregnancy may be a sign that the fertilized egg (embryo) is not developing properly. It’s important to know that you have many options, including continuing or ending the pregnancy.

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