It's starting to feel a bit more real now, isn't it? Maybe your waist is thickening a little. Perhaps your favourite bra isn't as comfy as it was. You may feel elated now that your body's changing… or completely shattered, sick, and more than a bit fed up. It's tough. Your pregnancy hormones are now turned up to max, but thankfully, this won't last forever. In just a month, you'll be entering the second trimester when many women feel on top of the world.
Over the past few weeks, the levels of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin, have been doubling in your body every two or three days. When you're 9 weeks pregnant, the hormone is at its peak. This could make you feel unwell, but it's also doing a great job keeping your baby firmly in place in the lining of your womb.
You will also have higher levels of the other female hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone. This powerful combo will help to increase the blood supply to your womb, where all the action is happening. Some women describe this time as being like an “emotional rollercoaster”, so hold on to your hat, get lots of rest and accept offers of help from everyone around you…
It's so tempting to reach for the biscuits when you're feeling tired and low, but actually you'll feel much better if you tuck into healthy snacks instead. If you eat little and often throughout the day, it keeps your blood sugar stable, which can help you beat morning sickness and regain your 'get up and go'. Here are a few of our favourite mini meals:
- boiled egg with wholemeal soldiers
- hummus with carrot sticks
- pitta bread with grated cheese (add chilli sauce as a livener!)
This is a tough time – but week by week, you should start to feel better. Your signs of pregnancy could include:
There's more too! Tommy's, the baby charity, has a list of 10 common pregnancy complaints and advice on how to manage them.
Talk to your midwife or doctor if you're worried about anything, no matter how intimate. Don't be shy – they will have heard it all before and will want to help. If you're not happy with the care you're getting, then you have the right to swap and see someone else.
Your baby's eyes are getting bigger and will have a bit of colour in them now. It's a myth that all babies are born with blue eyes – depending on the parents' genetics, they could be anything from slate grey to inky black. The eye colour often changes after birth, and it can take three years before the true colour is revealed. Even then, the eyes could get darker or lighter as your baby moves into adulthood!
Your baby, or foetus, is now around 22mm long from head to bottom, which is about the size of a strawberry.
The face is looking more recognisable, with eyes protected by eyelids, a little mouth and even a tongue with the teeniest taste buds. The hands and feet are coming along nicely, but there are no fingers or toes yet, just grooves where they will be.
All the major internal organs are developing – that's the heart, brain, lung, kidneys and gut. Bones are starting to form. Your baby's genitals are also starting to take shape – but you probably won't find out if it's a boy or a girl until your anomaly scan at around 18 to 21 weeks. In some cases, you might have to wait until the baby's born. Patience, patience!
Take things easy this week, but if you have the energy, there's a lot that you can do to prepare for the months ahead. Here's our suggested "to do" list…
Share the news with your GP or ask for an appointment with a midwife at your doctors' surgery. Alternatively you can refer yourself to your local hospital – look for contact details on their website.
You'll need to arrange a "booking appointment". This usually takes place between weeks 8 and 12, and takes around an hour. You can talk about the options for your pregnancy and the birth. Plus you'll be offered screening tests for infectious diseases, and conditions such as Down's syndrome. You could ask about the Maternity Transformation Programme and how it could benefit you.
You will be offered your first dating scan at 8 to 14 weeks. This is a highlight for many women.
In total, most first-time mums will have around 10 appointments and two scans. Ask if it's possible to see the same carer for your entire pregnancy, to give you continuity.
Ask your midwife or doctor about antenatal classes in your area, as they get booked up very quickly. You could also contact your local branch of the National Childbirth Trust, as they may offer classes such as yoga for pregnancy and birth workshops.
It’s early days, but ask your partner if they would like to go with you when the time comes (usually after week 28). This is the start of a new phase of your lives. These classes will give you the chance to meet other people – and prepare you for parenthood.
Take prenatal vitamins. You’re advised to take 400mcg of folic acid, every day, until at least week 12. This helps to form your baby’s nervous system offers some protection from conditions such as spina bifida.
During the winter months, you should also consider taking a daily dose of 10mcg of vitamin D, as it’s hard to get this sunshine vitamin when the skies are grey. It’s worth checking if you’re entitled to free vitamins.
Do you think you or your partner could have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)? If so, get checked out, as this could affect your baby’s development. Talk to your midwife or GP, or visit a sexual health clinic.
Get moving! It's recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. You could start off with just 10 minutes of daily exercise. Perhaps take a brisk walk in the park or go for a swim. If you start any classes, make sure the instructor knows you're pregnant. Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.
Don't eat for two! That's a big myth. If you pile on the pounds, you could put yourself and your baby at risk of health problems such as high blood pressure. Eat healthily, with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and avoid processed, fatty and salty foods. You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.
If you have a long-term health condition, then let your specialist or GP know that you're pregnant as soon as possible. Don't stop taking any regular medication without discussing it with your doctor first.
How are you today? If you're feeling anxious or low, then talk to your midwife or doctor. They can point you in the right direction to get all the support that you need. You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family. You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live. Don't bottle it up – you're important, so ask for help if you need it.
Pamper yourself with a haircut. Hair grows quickly during pregnancy and can change colour and texture as the female hormone oestrogen works overtime. It might look fuller too, as you won't be shedding as many hairs as usual. It's probably best to stay away from bleaching or dyeing your hair in the first trimester, as the results can be unpredictable – although many women do without any problems at all. Read all about the latest research here.
Want to know when the baby's due?
Use the NHS's pregnancy due date calculator.
You'll get a more accurate date from your doctor or midwife when you have a dating scan (usually at 8 to 14 weeks).