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Pregnancy Checklist: First Trimester

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The first three months of your pregnancy is an exciting time filled with joy, giddiness and questions. Understanding what to expect during the first trimester can help ease some of your anxieties about your changing body and growing baby. From knowing what symptoms are typical in the beginning to what types of medical care or tests you need, checking off the beginning basics can help make your pregnancy more of a smooth path than a bumpy road.

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Physical Symptoms

Other than a missed period, some of the first signs that you're pregnant are the physical ones. Between weeks one and 12, the influx of hormones may mean that you're experiencing new aches and pains, such as headaches or heartburn, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health. You may also have swollen, tender or sore breasts and nausea and vomiting. Even though the second trimester brings on physical feelings of its own, first trimester symptoms, such as nausea and breast tenderness, are likely to gradually end by week 12.

Your Baby's Development

While your growing body is obvious to you, what's happening inside with your baby most likely isn't. During the first trimester, your baby is going from barely there to 3 inches long, according to the American Pregnancy Association. By weeks four and five, your baby has visible arm and leg buds and a heartbeat. All of your baby's major organs are beginning to form by week seven. At the end of the first trimester, your baby weighs about 1 ounce and has either male or female genitalia.

Talking to Your Doctor

Your first trimester is the first time that you'll see your obstetrician for this pregnancy. Before you head out the door, make a list of questions that you have. Include any health concerns, worries or items that you're unclear about. The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide suggests discussing your age; any preexisting medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure; medications that you currently take; exercise and diet during your first visit. If you're experiencing any symptoms that are making you feel uncomfortable or are making you worry -- such as constant vomiting -- you can also bring these up to your doctor.

First Tests

During your doctor's visit your doctor will do more than just talk. Your doctor will examine you and perform -- or schedule -- first trimester tests. Your doctor will conduct a basic physical exam, taking your blood pressure and listening to your heart. Your OB will also perform a pelvic exam and take a pap smear to get cervical cultures. Other tests given during the first 12 weeks include a blood test to confirm the pregnancy, blood type, complete blood count and a triple screen. The triple screen looks for high-risk issues, such as Down syndrome and neural tube defects.

RELATED: Pregnancy Checklist: Second Trimester

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