If you're a soon-to-be father, congratulations! This can be an exciting and overwhelming time, and understanding just what's happening during pregnancy can help you prepare for baby's arrival and support your significant other as she undergoes a variety of physical and emotional changes.
How Baby Develops During the First TrimesterDuring the initial weeks of pregnancy, a woman's uterus grows from the size of a tangerine to that of a small melon. The fetus grows from a fertilized cell that's invisible to the naked eye to developing many features. The face is formed with a properly developed mouth, nose and eyes. You can see the outer ears. The internal organs are fully formed, although the lungs, liver, kidneys, and intestine need to continue to grow and mature.
By the 14th week, it is obvious what sex the infant is, and the external genital organs grow and mature.
Physical and Emotional Changes for the Mother
At this stage, women may begin showing a small pooch, though the uterus is still somewhat small. Many women also suffer from morning sickness -- which is something of a misnomer, as it can happen all day long.
Women may begin to experience emotional changes to due hormone fluctuations. Know that this is normal, and lend your support to help her get through any difficult periods. Good communication between you both is important. Having a close friend or family member to talk to about any concerns or worries you may have is another good idea.
Prenatal Care, Doctor's Visits and TestsPregnancy is a time for lots of doctor's visits, tests, and waiting for results. Attending appointments can help you learn more about your baby's growth and development.
Ultrasound scans let you see the baby's development. It is an amazing moment to see the tiny fetus for the first time. This and other tests can help determine your baby's health and if any abnormalities are present.
Other tests may include:
AFP - AFP is a screening test for neural tube defects. It is often done in combination with the measurement of other markers that together estimate the risk of Down Syndrome.
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) - This test, which looks for genetic disorders, is done between 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Amniocentesis - This test can help screen for genetic abnormalities and for fetal lung maturity.
Glucose Tolerance Testing - This simple blood test looks to see if the woman has developed a form of diabetes during pregnancy called gestational diabetes.
Sex in the First TrimesterSex in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy should not present any health problems unless your partner has a history of miscarriage. You should avoid vigorous penetration, be gentle, and remember that her breasts may be tender or painful.
Medically reviewed on 2/8/2012