Gestational surrogates are no strangers to pregnancy and all the highs and lows that come with the first trimester. To even be considered for the surrogacy journey, candidates must have had at least one safe pregnancy and childbirth experience. However, even though you’ve previously given birth, being pregnant as a surrogate can still feel a little overwhelming, especially during those first 12 weeks.
During this time, you’ll likely experience a wide range of physical and emotional changes, big and small. Initially, you may look the same, and the only indication of pregnancy may be your missed period. But internally, your body’s already helping to nourish and protect the fetus, as all major body organs and systems are rapidly developing.
Typical Physical Changes in the First 12 Weeks
You may experience only a few or all of these pregnancy symptoms. They may develop slowly or quickly, and last for a short time or weeks or months. Plus, even though you’ve experienced first-trimester pregnancy before, there’s no telling which symptoms you might experience this time around.
Breast changes – Early on, your breasts may become swollen, sensitive, or sore to enable breastfeeding. Due to increased amounts of two hormones, estrogen and progesterone, this usually lasts for a few weeks. Your breasts and stomach will also grow larger, making clothes feel tighter around the breasts and waist. You may notice veins and small, white bumps on your breasts, as your areolas become bigger and darker.
Constipation – Common during the first trimester, constipation may occur due to iron supplement consumption, the uterus pressing on the rectum and intestines, and slower movement of food through your digestive system. You may relieve or prevent it by eating fiber, drinking a lot of fluids, and engaging in regular physical activity.
Fatigue – Pregnancy’s huge physical and emotional demands may cause extreme tiredness. As your progesterone levels may skyrocket, you’ll need to rest as much as possible. Consuming a healthy diet and getting regular exercise may boost your energy.
Food cravings and aversions – Speaking of your diet, hormonal changes may make you more sensitive to certain odors. In addition, your sense of taste might change.
Heartburn – As food moves slower through the digestive tract, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, and gas may develop. Heartburn also develops when stomach acid leaks into your esophagus. To prevent heartburn, eat small, frequent meals and avoid citrus fruits, chocolate, and spicy or fried foods.
Increased urination – This may be due to your kidneys processing extra fluid in your bladder. In addition, as your uterus presses on your bladder, more frequent urination occurs.
Mood swings – Hormonal surges may cause mood swings and irritability, similar to premenstrual syndrome. While normal, if severe or intense, consult your healthcare provider. You may also experience stress and different feelings, even at once. You’ll want to take good care of yourself, and your loved ones can provide understanding and encouragement.
Nausea, with or without vomiting – About a month after becoming pregnant, hormonal changes may cause morning sickness (which can strike at any time). It rarely affects proper nutrition for you and the fetus. However, if nausea and vomiting are severe, you need immediate medical attention. Nausea may be relieved by:
- Avoiding an empty stomach
- Eating slowly and in small amounts every 1-2 hours
- Choosing low-fat foods and those containing ginger
- Avoiding foods or smells that worsen nausea
- Drinking plenty of fluids
Prenatal Care in the First Trimester
For most of the first trimester, you will be under the care of the doctor at the fertility clinic that you and the intended parent have agreed to work with. These visits may occur in the fertility clinic itself or at a satellite monitoring clinic. Most importantly, these visits provide vital support and education and help you care for yourself and the baby you are carrying.
During the first four to six weeks of pregnancy, the fertility doctor will check your uterus using ultrasound to make sure everything is going as planned. Soon after, they will perform another ultrasound to detect the fetus’s heartbeat. Toward the end of the first trimester, your care will be transferred to an OB-GYN. Just like a regular pregnancy, a surrogate pregnancy involves major changes, especially during the earliest stages. If you have any questions or concerns about any aspect of the surrogacy process, we encourage you to contact Reproductive Possibilities.