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First trimester

Pregnancy leads to many physical and emotional changes that can affect you and your relations with your partner and family.

Pregnant mother and son
Foto: Johnér Bildbyrå AB

Reading about them and asking your doctor or midwife for advice will help you lead a healthy life when you are expecting a baby.

If you are trying for a baby but you are not pregnant yet, or if you think that you could be pregnant, you should not drink alcohol. (Or if you are sexually active and not using contraceptives.) There is no risk for foetal alcohol disorders if you abstain from alcohol throughout your pregnancy.

Many women of childbearing age in Norway don't get enough vitamin B in their diet, so you should start taking folic acid supplements (vitamin B). It will reduce the risk of neural tube defects (spina bifida) by half. You can set up a diet following these recommendations (in Norwegian):

If you are smoking or using snuff, this is the right time to seek help to stop. If you need dental treatment, it is better to have it done before you conceive. Always practice good oral hygiene habits.

Being physically active can increase your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

If you seek good information and advice before you conceive or early in pregnancy you will probably be able to enjoy this miraculous and exciting period even more from the very beginning. 

When you are 0-8 weeks pregnant

Conception usually takes place about two weeks after your last menstrual period. However, the start of your pregnancy is calculated from the first day of your last period. It means that in the two first weeks the egg (ovum) was not fertilised and you were not actually pregnant.

The ovum is fertilised when it is penetrated by a sperm cell. The egg begins as a single cell, but five to six days after fertilisation it starts dividing many times. It moves towards the womb and attaches to the wall. It is now a bundle of cells and forms an embryo. When you are eight weeks pregnant it is called a foetus.

The first signs of pregnancy

You may experience the first signs of pregnancy when the period is overdue (week 5). You may need to urinate more frequently and your breasts may be sore, swollen and slightly bigger. The growing womb may cause lower back ache similar to period pain. 

Some women experience slight pressure or tension in their pelvic area. Hormone production may cause tiredness and "morning sickness". Nausea and vomiting is common, but is rarely harmful for the mother or child.

Maternity care in Norway

If you think that you might be pregnant, you should take a pregnancy test. After a positive test, you should get in touch with a midwife or doctor to start your antenatal (pregnancy) care. One way you can make sure that you and your baby stay healthy is to get the antenatal care you are entitled to.

There are usually nine antenatal appointments (including one ultrasound) and they are free of charge. You can choose if you want to see a midwife (at the municipal maternity and child health centre) or your regular GP. The first regular appointment is usually between week 8 and 12 of pregnancy.

Some midwives offer an additional appointment as soon as you know that you are pregnant. The purpose is to talk about a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy.

Book your first appointment as early as possible. You can bring someone with you if you like, and if you don't speak Norwegian, let the midwife or GP know this when you book.

Light bleeding is not unusual

Light vaginal bleeding is not unusual early on even in a normal pregnancy. If the bleeding is heavier and you have cramping pains, contact your GP or midwife, because it can indicate a miscarriage. The risk is highest in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Even though a healthy foetus is resistant to the ordinary strains and stresses of daily life, it is best to follow good daily habits and get enough sleep and rest. 

Weeks 9-12

​During this time your emotions can change a lot - you feel happy one moment and sad or worried the next. This is normal. Because of hormonal changes you may experience some bleeding in gums or nose or light vaginal bleeding (spotting) if you have sex. This is not harmful.

Continue to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Find out more about diet and foods to avoid at matportalen.no (in Norwegian).

After week 12 you can stop taking folic acid supplements, but you may need other dietary supplements like for example Vitamin D or iron. Calcium supplements may be necessary if you don't eat or drink dairy products.

During your antenatal appointments, you will be offered a range of tests to monitor your own and your baby's health and to identify potential problems.