women

1. How Big Are You?

You’ve been pregnant for 1 month, so you should have noticed some changes in your body by now. You may have gained a few pounds. Or you may have lost weight. If this is your first pregnancy, your abdomen probably hasn’t changed much. You may be gaining weight in your breasts or other places. If you have a pelvic exam, your healthcare provider can usually feel your uterus and note some change in its size.

2. Changes in You

Heartburn

Heartburn discomfort (pyrosis) is one of the most common discomforts of pregnancy. Heartburn is defined as a burning sensation in the middle of your chest; it often occurs soon after eating. You may also experience an acid or bitter taste in your mouth and increased pain when you bend over or lie down.

During the first trimester, nearly 25% of all pregnant women have heartburn. It may become more severe later, when your growing baby compresses your digestive tract. 

Heartburn occurs when your digestive tract relaxes and stomach acid creeps back into the esophagus. It occurs more frequently during pregnancy for two reasons—food moves more slowly through the intestines and the stomach is squeezed a bit as the uterus gets bigger and moves up into the abdomen.

Symptoms are not severe for most women. Eat small, frequent meals, and avoid some positions, such as bending over or lying flat. One sure way to get heartburn is to eat a large meal, then lie down! (This is true for anyone, not just pregnant women.)

Some antacids offer relief, including aluminum hydroxide, magnesium trisilicate and magnesium hydroxide (Amphojel, Gelusil, milk of magnesia, Maalox). Follow your healthcare provider’s advice or package instructions relating to pregnancy. Don’t take too much antacid! Avoid sodium bicarbonate because it contains a lot of sodium, which may cause you to retain water.

Image

Embryo at 6 weeks of pregnancy (fetal age—4 weeks).
It is growing rapidly.

Other actions you take may help with heartburn. Try some of the following, and use what works for you.

• Don’t overeat.

• Avoid foods that trigger your heartburn.

• Don’t eat late at night.

• Be careful with carbonated drinks.

• Use less fat when cooking.

• Wear loose clothing.

• Stay upright after meals, especially in late pregnancy.

• Chew gum for 30 minutes after meals and when heartburn strikes.

• Suck on hard candy.

• Get some exercise, but don’t eat for 2 hours before you begin. Use smooth moves to avoid pushing acids into your esophagus.

• Reduce stress in your life.

Another way to help relieve heartburn is to mix the juice of ½ lemon and a pinch of salt in 8 ounces of water, and drink it before meals. After meals, 1 teaspoon of honey may help ease discomfort.

GERD. GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or acid-reflux disease may be mistaken for heartburn during pregnancy. It’s very common but often overlooked. The three most common symptoms include heartburn, sour or bitter taste, and difficulty swallowing. Other symptoms may include persistent cough, hoarseness, upset stomach and chest pain.

Be careful with the foods you eat. Eating too much food that is spicy, highly acidic or high in fat may aggravate acid reflux.

Only your healthcare provider can determine if you have acid reflux or GERD, so talk to him or her at a prenatal appointment if it bothers you. He or she may prescribe a medication that is safe to use during pregnancy. If you are now taking prescription or over-the-counter medicines to treat your problem, check with your healthcare provider before continuing their use.

3. How Your Baby Is Growing and Developing

This is the embryonic period (from conception to week 10 of pregnancy, or from conception to week 8 of fetal development). During this time, the embryo is most susceptible to things that can interfere with its development. Most birth defects happen during this critical period.

The heart tube divides into bulges, which develop into heart chambers, called ventricles (left and right) and atria (left atrium and right atrium). They form between weeks 6 and 7. Occasionally, with the proper equipment, a heartbeat can be seen on ultrasound by the 6th week. Eyes are also forming, and limb buds appear.

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