Pregnancy is an incredible, momentous, challenging, awe-inspiring, difficult, and overall remarkable thing. Any number of adjectives will never be enough to describe the events, both major and minor, that make up pregnancy as a whole. At times, some of the seemingly smaller moments—such as the doctor’s appointments or feeling your baby kick—are some of the most joyous. These are the times that last no more than minutes, and end up having some of the greatest impacts for your life. One of these moments involves the first trimester ultrasound.

In today’s blog, we’ll go into defining the first trimester and what to expect with the first trimester ultrasound. This ultrasound marks a memory that many women define as being one of the first times they realized the significance of their pregnancy. There is so much information that is ascertained, and oftentimes, so much emotion involved. Getting your first trimester ultrasound means you want and need to work with an expert sonographer who combines their professionalism with the utmost compassion. This is something that Debbie Hazelbaker, RMDS, and the team at Ultracare Diagnostic Imaging excel at, and strive to help each patient who comes our way. Learn more about the first trimester ultrasound, and contact Ultracare Diagnostic for the best in ultrasounds! From gallbladder ultrasounds, thyroid ultrasounds, and more, we are here to bring you sonographic services of the highest quality—call today.

First Trimester: The Basics

The first trimester marks the first three months of a pregnancy. When fertilization of an egg happens, this leads to the growth of an embryo. Take a look at some milestones that take place within the first trimester:

  • Month One: During the first month of pregnancy, the placenta develops, as well as the amniotic sac that protects the embryo. The mouth, throat, and lower jaw begin to take shape, as well as the earliest form of a face. By the end of the first month, a baby is essentially the size of a grain of rice!
  • Month Two: Facial features continue to grow, in addition to fingers, eyes, toes, and ears. The neural tube is also formed, which consists of the brain, spinal cord, and parts of the central nervous system. The second month of pregnancy is when the embryo develops into a fetus, and is approximately one inch long.
  • Month Three: The third month of pregnancy is the time when the fetus actually begins to look like a baby. Feet, toes, arms, hands, and fingers are all developed, including the beginning stages fingernails and toenails. A baby is about 3-4 inches in length at this stage, and weighs about one ounce. For perspective, this is about the same weight as five quarters, or a slice of bread.

The first trimester is when the most crucial stages of development take place, which is why the risk of miscarriage is higher—in fact, 80 percent of miscarriages take place in the first trimester as reported by Healthline.

While every pregnancy is different, there are somewhat universal symptoms of pregnancy that can take place during the first trimester. Each woman is affected by pregnancy in a unique manner, but experiencing any number of these symptoms is fairly common across the board. As with any symptom, it’s so important for women to listen to their instincts—if something seems intense, extreme, or even just seems “off,” contact a doctor to ensure everyone’s health and safety is monitored.

  • Lack of regular period. While slight bleeding or spotting is not uncommon in the first trimester, the lack of a regular period is one of the first indicators for many women that they might be pregnant. If there’s significant cramping or sharp pains involved, you should contact a doctor. Either symptom could show signs of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Tender, sore breasts. During the first trimester, a woman’s milk ducts begin preparations to be able to feed their baby, which can lead to soreness and tenderness. These symptoms often dissipate after the first trimester.
  • Changes in bowel and bladder movements. Constipation is pretty common during pregnancy, due to the increased levels of a hormone called progesterone. With higher levels of progesterone, the muscle movement of your intestines slows down. Additionally, prenatal vitamins have increased levels of iron, which can also cause constipation.
    As the uterus grows to accommodate the growing fetus, the first trimester begins a several-month journey in frequent urination. This is caused by the uterus pressing against the bladder, leading to feeling a more urgent and frequent need to use the bathroom.
  • Morning sickness. Possibly one of the most common symptoms of a pregnancy, this is a feeling of nausea and/or vomiting. Some women have very little morning sickness, some women vomit like clockwork every day, and some women experience severe and/or all-day vomiting. This is another symptom that normally fades by the second trimester, but it doesn’t make it any less comfortable for the first three months. As always, severe vomiting is cause to talk with your doctor, because retaining nutrients is especially important for both your baby and yourself.
  • Sensitivity to food. Cravings are extremely common, as well as food aversions. While some women might need a jar of pickles on hand right this minute, some women might suddenly be completely turned off by their once-favorite food. The only dangerous type of craving exists with pica, a condition where pregnant women develop cravings for non-food things like soil, cleaning solution, or grass, to name a few examples.

The list of first trimester symptoms is as vast as it is varied, and can affect each woman differently. Because of all the changes happening in the first trimester (to both a woman and her baby), this is an important time to schedule an ultrasound, and Ultracare Diagnostic Imaging is here to help.

The First Ultrasound

Right around the six week mark of pregnancy is when a baby’s heart begins beating. Whereas the baby’s heartbeat cannot be detected on its own, an ultrasound around this time period can pick up on the heartbeat. This is super important, because it shows the existence of the baby and is the first of many milestones to be completed on the path to developing fully and healthily.

Additionally, ultrasounds during this stage can determine an accurate due date, as well as how many babies are present (you’ll want to know if you’re expecting twins!) This ultrasound can also check the mother’s health and identify any abnormalities in the uterus or ovaries. For example, an ectopic pregnancy can be detected during this time, which can otherwise pose a significant health risk to the mother.

While the first trimester ultrasound is too early to determine the baby’s sex, this is an important and crucial step in ensuring your baby’s development is on track (and that you’re healthy, too). Find out the due date, hear the heartbeat for the first time, and start gaining insightful knowledge regarding your growing baby. At Ultracare Diagnostic Imaging, we are committed to ensuring the mother and baby’s health are addressed and are made a top priority, every step of the way. Whether you live in Anchorage, Palmer, or Soldotna and can stop by our clinic, or live in rural Alaska and need us to come to you, we will be there. For the best in ultrasounds from the first trimester and beyond, we are here for you. Contact us today!