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First Trimester: Pregnancy guide and information for partners.

Congratulations! You’re having a baby! Welcome to the first trimester of your partner’s pregnancy! You must be over the moon but, of course, you probably also have a million questions. In this series of posts we’re going to break it down for you, taking you step by step through each trimester.

You’re probably wondering how you can get involved, what you can do to help and exactly what’s going on with your partner and your little bubba to be, so we’ve put together some tips to help you through the first trimester.

Remember, every pregnancy is different and we’re just covering the basics. If you’ve got any concerns, speak to your partner and/or consider contacting a healthcare professional.

The first trimester is the first section of pregnancy, from week one to week 12. Lots of things will happen in this time. Let’s get to it, shall we!

Pregnant couple holding pregnancy scan

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Things you might notice in the first trimester

Your partner

Right from the start of pregnancy there are a lot of changes going on in your partner’s body. They might experience:

  • Morning sickness is common from around week six (and this doesn’t only happen in the mornings).
  • Heartburn, headaches, constipation, insomnia and bleeding gums – not fun!
  • She’ll gain around three or four pounds, her boobs will probably grow a bit and you might start to notice her bump from around week 11.
  • She might be more tired than normal and experience mood swings because of hormone changes.
  • Your little one will grow from the size of a poppy seed to the size of a plum! They’ll have fingers, toes and hair follicles by week 12.

You

Whether it’s planned or a pleasant surprise, finding out you’re going to have a baby can send you on a rollercoaster of emotions, especially in the first trimester. You’ll probably have a whole load of questions and concerns, and that’s completely normal. You might:

  • Notice changes in your relationship. She may experience mood swings – try not to take things too personally! And try to get some quality time together.
  • Notice your own mood changing. 1 in 10 new dads suffer from mental health issues and it’s so important to speak out and get help if you feel you need it.
  • Hear how expensive having a baby can be. Before you get into too much of a panic, remember how many people go through the same thing and that there are lots of resources out there. Try the Money Advice Service or Turn 2 Us.
  • Need to understand if your partner wants to wait before telling people about the pregnancy. Unfortunately, one in eight known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and three out of four of these happen in the first trimester, so it’s understandable if either of you want to wait before sharing your news.

Dad-to-be holding pregnant partner's hand

Photo by Anna Yusupova on Reshot

How can you support your partner in the first trimester?

 

  • Just being there for them is key. Whether it’s to get them some water after they’ve been sick, run errands or give them a hug. They’ll probably be tired and their body will be going through lots of changes, so just knowing you’re there to help out can be a big plus for their mental wellbeing.
  • Talk to them. Simple yet very effective. You might not be able to feel what she’s going through but you can listen and understand.
  • Get cooking! The smell of cooking can trigger nausea, so she’s more likely to eat something hearty and healthy if you cook it for her (plus it’s just a lovely thing to do).
  • Start doing some extra chores (if you don’t already).
  • Start lifting (but not at the gym). We’re talking heavy bags of shopping, furniture that needs moving, etc.
  • It’s probably a given, but avoid smoking around her.
  • Go along to the first trimester doctor’s appointments and scans:
  • First antenatal appointment (aka the booking appointment) before week 10.
  • Screening for sickle cell and thalassaemia before week 10.
  • Screening for hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis before week 10.
  • Screening for Down’s syndrome between 10 and 14 weeks. At the same time you’ll probably have the dating scan (where you can figure out your due date – exciting!)
  • Keep in mind that you’re entitled to paid time off work for two antenatal appointments (6.5 hours each)!

Dad to be cooking food for pregnant partner

Photo by Nina P on Reshot

How can you prepare for baby in the first trimester?

  • Although you probably won’t go until a bit later, you can look into antenatal classes for dads and/or couples and find the one that’s right for you. Talk to your midwife about local NHS classes, or try NCT, Bump & Baby Club, or an online course like Daddy Natal (perfect for busy dads).
  • Get reading! Although nothing will fully prepare you for looking after your little one, you can always swot up on as much as you can before they arrive. Some popular dad-to-be books include The Expectant Dad’s Handbook, Pregnancy for Men, Dummy (for something a bit more light-hearted) and Commando Dad.
  • Start looking into paternity leave (or shared parental leave). You don’t need to let your work know you’re taking leave until 15 weeks before your baby’s due date, but having it sorted can give you peace of mind and make sure you don’t miss out on anything you’re entitled to.

First trimester couple on bed eating pizza

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Some First trimester questions answered

How long is the first trimester of pregnancy?

Pregnancy is split into three trimesters, the first is from week 1 to the end of week 12. End of the first trimester is traditionally when parents-to-be start to share their happy news with friends and family. The second trimester is from week 13 to the end of week 26 and the third trimester is from week 27 to the end of the pregnancy which on average is around 40 weeks.

What should your partner avoid during the first trimester?

There are a number of things that are recommended to avoid during your first trimester. This is a time when your baby is growing the fastest and by avoiding certain things, you give your baby the best chance of healthy development. Here are a few things to avoid - for a more comprehensive list, speak to your doctor, health visitor or midwife

  1. Alcohol - once you start trying to conceive it is a good idea to stop drinking alcohol. Failing that, once you become pregnant, stop drinking alcohol for the duration of your pregnancy, as it can be harmful to your unborn baby. These days there are lots of non-alcoholic options to enjoy whilst you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  2. Smoking - stop smoking during your pregnancy, that is both cigarettes and e-cigarettes as nicotine is harmful to a developing fetus. Ask your doctor for support in quitting smoking. 
  3. Raw meats and eggs - these carry the risk of contracting listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, which can lead to serious and life-threatening illnesses, severe birth defects, and miscarriage. Always ensure you cook your meat and eggs properly and note where eggs may be used raw such as in fresh mayonnaise.
  4. Unpasteurized dairy products - for the same reason as raw meat and eggs, soft cheeses such as brie, feta and goats cheese can also contain listeria bacteria.
  5. Avoid saunas, whirlpools, steam baths and hot tubs as these too can be detrimental in the first trimester. They can cause dehydration, overheating and fainting. The rise in mum’s temperature can affect the baby and cause miscarriage. 

For a full list of things to avoid in your first trimester and beyond, look to your medical professional. 

How do you feel in the first trimester of pregnancy?

The first trimester is an exciting time, finding out you are pregnant and starting to imagine life with a baby. There are a few symptoms that your pregnant partner may start to notice. It is common to feel nauseous in the first trimester, in some cases this is mild and in others it can be quite extreme. In some cases there may be no nausea at all. In most cases, it will subside by 12 weeks. 

In adapting to the changes during pregnancy, your partner may feel very tired due to the surge in progesterone in their body. Try to ensure they get the rest they need. They will start to have more energy again after the first trimester. Progesterone can also slow down the digestive process and result in constipation. Taking a little bit more fibre into the diet can help with this along with drinking plenty of fluids

The hormonal changes in their body may also lead to tender and sore breasts. Try to be gentle around this area when touching or hugging, to avoid causing any pain or discomfort.

Do I have to attend the scans/appointments?

It’s not a necessity, and it’s understandable that some people might just be too busy, but it’s great for your relationship and to learn about your little one. This baby has been created by both of you – you’re in it together right from the very start.

What happens at the booking appointment?

You’ll meet your midwife and have a chat about the pregnancy for about an hour. You’ll talk about any previous pregnancy complications, lifestyle, family health and medical history, so they can put together an antenatal plan.

They’ll give you lots of information on things like your baby’s development, breastfeeding, scans, etc. and your partner will have a blood test, urine test, her blood pressure will be taken and height and weight measured. This is a great time for you to ask questions!

Can we still have sex?

Yes! Sex is perfectly safe to have throughout pregnancy and can be great for your relationship.

Will I attend the birth?

Yes, as long as you and your partner want you there, it’s totally commonplace for partners to attend the birth and can be an incredible experience.

What if work gives me problems about taking time off?

You’re legally entitled to take time off for antenatal appointments and leave. Find out your rights and if you experience issues, reach out to Citizens Advice or Maternity Action.

Although nothing will truly prepare you for fatherhood, we hope this has helped to give you some extra information and inspiration on how to tackle this amazing period of pregnancy. Let us know if you’ve got any questions about it!