You missed your period. So, you took a pregnancy test. It came back with an answer you weren’t prepared for: that you’re pregnant.

If you took your pregnancy test soon after your missed period, odds are that you’re in your first trimester of pregnancy. There’s a lot to think about at this point, especially if you weren’t planning to become pregnant at this time in your life. You need to decide between your unplanned pregnancy options and, if you decide to continue your pregnancy, determine how you will get the care you need during this life-changing journey.

You may not look pregnant yet but, if your pregnancy test is showing you those two pink lines, it’s a fact that you can’t ignore. We know an unplanned pregnancy can be complicated, which is why we’re here to answer all of your questions about what your upcoming first trimester will be like.

Remember: The information presented in this article should not be taken as medical advice. Please speak with a local doctor as soon as possible for the most accurate information on your personal journey through your first trimester.

How Long is the First Trimester?

When women find out they are in their first trimester of pregnancy, some of the first questions they have are in regards to the length of this stage of pregnancy:

  • How many weeks is the first trimester?
  • When does the first trimester end?
  • How long is the first trimester of pregnancy?

There are a lot of varying answers when it comes to how many first trimester weeks there are. Generally speaking, medical professionals will say the end of the first trimester comes in the 12th, 13th or 14th week of pregnancy.

These different answers are due to different aspects of the pregnancy journey. For example, some medical professionals will count the two weeks before conception (often the ovulation period before your last missed period) as part of your pregnancy. It’s important that you speak with your medical professional to determine when your due date and conception dates are. That way, you can best understand how far along you are in your pregnancy and when the first trimester is over for you. You may be surprised to learn you are actually five or six weeks along when you discover your pregnancy!

Generally speaking, however, your first trimester weeks will take place from 0 weeks to your 13th week.

What Can I Expect From My First Trimester of Pregnancy?

After they find out how long the first trimester lasts, women will often ask another question: “What is the first trimester of pregnancy like?”

First, remember this: Every woman’s personal background and medical history is different, which means every pregnancy is different. If your pregnancy doesn’t seem to fit what you’ve been told it should, don’t freak out. Always talk to your doctor about any concerns you have, as they may be more common than you think.

While you may not physically show much during your first trimester of pregnancy, a lot is going on behind the scenes. The fertilized egg inside of your embryo will rapidly divide into layers of cells and implant into the wall of your womb. The egg will become an embryo and will grow at the fastest rate during your first trimester of pregnancy. You may be able to hear a heartbeat by week six and, by week 12, your baby’s bones, muscles and all other organs will have formed.

At the same time, you may experience intense side effects from your pregnancy — or you may experience none at all. Many women report symptoms such as morning sickness, cramps and indigestion during their first trimester. If you are worried about your physical and mental wellness during this time, please reach out to your doctor.

What Steps Do I Need to Take During My First Trimester?

Many of the women who discover they’re pregnant do so in their first trimester of pregnancy. It makes sense; once they realize they have missed a period, they take a pregnancy test soon after.

If you haven’t planned on becoming pregnant but find yourself with a positive pregnancy test, you may not be sure of what to do next. An unplanned pregnancy can be overwhelming, but take comfort in knowing that you have caught your pregnancy early enough to get the care and support you need for the next nine months.

Step 1: Find an obstetrician and obtain prenatal care.

If you choose to obtain an abortion for your unplanned pregnancy, you can certainly do so in your first trimester. The majority of states prohibit abortion after 20 weeks, so you have plenty of time to find a provider and complete the procedure during your first trimester.

However, if you decide to continue your pregnancy, it is imperative that you receive prenatal care as soon as possible. Contact a local obstetrician to set up your first pregnancy appointment right away. A doctor can take a look at your developing pregnancy and note any concerns they have or precautions that you should take in the months and years to come. Prenatal care is incredibly important for keeping yourself and your baby safe during your whole pregnancy, and it is never too early to start your appointments.

Step 2: Decide whether you will parent or place your child for adoption.

If you know that abortion is not the right answer for you, you will need to decide between your other two options: parenting or placing your child for adoption. Both options are valid choices, but you will need to determine which is the best option for you and your baby, given the current situation you are in.

If you are not sure which option is best for you, we encourage you to contact an unplanned pregnancy counselor or an adoption agency for objective counseling and information. It’s important to know the pros and cons of each path before choosing the one that is best for you. For example, if you decide to place your child for adoption while you are still in your first trimester of pregnancy, you will be able to receive free prenatal care and assistance with other living expenses for the remainder of your pregnancy. It is never too late to choose adoption or parenting for your unplanned pregnancy.

Step 3: Start living a healthy lifestyle, if you aren’t already.

If you are carrying your baby to term, you will need to make sure you are providing the safest and healthiest environment possible during their development. This means getting plenty of rest, exercising regularly, eating well-balanced meals and refraining from substance use and abuse.

When you visit your obstetrician during your first trimester, he or she can often provide a list to help you make the lifestyle changes you need to have as healthy a pregnancy as possible.

Step 4: Prepare yourself for the steps ahead in the unplanned pregnancy path you chose.

Once you have prepared yourself for the challenges of your upcoming pregnancy, you will need to prepare yourself for life after childbirth, too. It can seem early to prepare for this time while you are still in your first trimester of pregnancy, but it will make it a lot easier in the long run when you take the steps you need as early as possible.

For example, if you are choosing adoption, you will need to think about what kind of family you want to raise your child and what kind of relationship you want to have with them (and your child) after the adoption is complete. On the other hand, if you are choosing to parent, you should start gathering the baby supplies you need and budgeting for the expenses of raising a child.

Your first trimester may seem a long degree removed from bringing an actual baby into the world, but your child will be here before you know it! In the meantime, try to enjoy your first trimester of pregnancy and make the preparations you’ll need in the months to come. You will thank yourself for it in the long run.