Congratulations! You’ve entered a time in your life that is equal parts exciting and completely terrifying. It’s natural to be a little anxious, especially as new and unfamiliar symptoms kick in.
The first trimester of pregnancy is a roller coaster of emotions and feelings as your body starts to physically transition into its new role as a vessel for creating and nurturing new life. While feelings of fear, confusion, and exhaustion are common during this stage of pregnancy, it’s important to remember that each and every pregnancy is unique and that there’s no right or wrong way to feel (or to look!) during this time.
We'll explore some of the common signs of pregnancy experienced during the first trimester with a particular focus on the physical changes that take place. We hope this post will give you peace of mind about what to expect when you're expecting!
Overview of Common Symptoms During the First Trimester
Pregnancy during the first trimester can be confusing and overwhelming as your body is going through changes, and some of them can be quite uncomfortable. To help you make sense of it all, let's take a look at the most common signs and symptoms you'll encounter during your first twelve weeks.
First, there are the physical changes. As your baby grows, your breasts will start to swell and your waistline may also expand as your uterus grows. Many women experience nausea and vomiting through their first trimester, but don't worry, this shouldn't last long! It's also common to experience headaches, fatigue, and food cravings or aversions.
Finally, there are the emotional changes. With all those hormones raging inside you, it's no wonder that your emotions might be running wild! Many women report feeling anxious or depressed during their first trimester as well as increased mood swings. If you're feeling down about all these changes happening inside and outside of you, just remember that it won't last forever!
Changes in Body Shape and Size
As your pregnancy progresses and your baby grows, you may start to notice a few changes in your body shape and size. Your uterus will gradually expand to accommodate your little one and the surrounding ligaments of your pelvic floor may start to stretch and separate. As a result, you may experience discomfort in the lower abdominal area.
Your breasts will also likely increase in size, which can cause tenderness and you might even experience an increase in appetite and weight gain as early as the first trimester. You might notice more dramatic changes around the second or third trimester, but it's important to become familiar with these signs of pregnancy so that you know what to expect over time.
It's important to note that everyone's body is different, and that everyone's experience with their changing figure will vary. If you have any concerns about changes in your body shape or size, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider.
The Emotional and Psychological Transformation
You may not expect it, but being pregnant is a huge emotional and psychological transformation. You'll be going through a rollercoaster of emotions, which is totally normal in the face of such a life-changing experience.
During the first trimester, your body will suffer some rapid hormonal changes that can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. It's important to take time for yourself and do things that make you feel relaxed, such as spending time outdoors or meditating.
Changes in hormones can also lead to mood swings. You might be feeling great one moment but suddenly break down crying the next. But that’s okay! Your partner, family, or friends might be able to provide support during these times.
Although pregnancy can cause different ups and downs for everyone, it’s important to practice self-care during this period:
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat nutrient-dense foods and stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Exercise or take a yoga class to help ease stress levels and improve your overall well-being.
- Talk to your doctor if you are having any issues or worries so they can help with any concerns you may have about your pregnancy journey.
Common Pregnancy Conditions in the First Trimester
The first trimester is a crucial period for your developing baby and subsequently, you may experience a number of common conditions. Generally, these are only temporary symptoms of pregnancy and can be managed with lifestyle changes and self-care practices.
One of the most common complaints during the early stages of pregnancy is morning sickness or nausea and vomiting. This feeling occurs due to an increase in hormones during pregnancy and is often experienced when the stomach is empty. It’s recommended that you try eating small, frequent meals during the day to keep your stomach from getting too empty. Some food can also help with morning sickness like potatoes, soda crackers, and oatmeal. Additionally, avoiding triggers like strong smells may help reduce this feeling of queasiness. Pregnancy makes your stomach more sensitive, so it's best to avoid anything that might upset it. Avoid eating foods that make your morning sickness worse, like most fatty, greasy, and fried food.
It’s no surprise that most women feel more tired than usual during the first trimester of their pregnancy. This fatigue may result from increasing hormone levels combined with blood volume increases in order to supply your growing baby with oxygen and nutrients. To cope with fatigue, aim to get plenty of rest throughout your day. Take naps when you can and drink lots of fluids to catch some extra zzz’s throughout the day!
Food Aversions or Cravings
Due to hormones running high, many women experience strong food aversions as well as cravings during their first trimester. What used to be favorites might make you feel sick while others that previously disgusted you could start sounding delicious! Regardless, it’s important to eat a balanced diet full of essential vitamins and minerals for your developing baby so be sure to choose healthy options when cravings come calling.
Nutrition and Exercise Considerations
You're going to want to pay extra attention to your nutrition and exercise in the first trimester. With the influx of hormones, you might feel more tired than normal and need to take more breaks throughout the day.
Nutritional needs increase during a pregnancy, but that doesn't mean you have to eat twice as much. Contrary to popular beliefs, you shouldn’t even be eating for two. This idea that a pregnant woman must "eat for two" is completely false. Even though your body's calorie and nutrient requirements will increase during pregnancy, they will not double. Make sure you're getting enough vitamins and proteins each day, with whole grains, fruits and vegetables as your main sources of energy. Don't forget to drink plenty of fluids; six or eight glasses of water per day is a good goal.
It's still important to stay active when pregnant, just in moderation! Walking, swimming, or light yoga are all great choices in the first trimester; they will help keep your energy level up and your body healthy. Remember that it's perfectly normal for your energy level to fluctuate during this time, so listen to your body and take it easy when you need a rest.
Monitoring Schedule for the First Trimester
Once you've identified the different signs of early pregnancy, it's important to set up a monitoring schedule with your doctor. During the first trimester, you'll start with an initial ultrasound and blood test. This is when you'll learn a lot more about the development of your baby and track its progress throughout the rest of the pregnancy.
The monitoring schedule during the first trimester will usually include:
- Blood Test – Blood tests measure hormone levels in your body and can detect any potential health risks or abnormalities in your pregnancy.
- Ultrasound – Ultrasounds are used to monitor your baby’s development, including its size, growth rate and heart rate. They can also be used to diagnose any potential issues such as ectopic pregnancies or low amniotic fluid levels.
- Check-Ups – During check-ups, your doctor will typically check for placenta location and look for any possible problems such as anemia, diabetes or high blood pressure. Your doctor may also assess if you need to be tested for any genetic disorders or infections which could affect the baby's development.
Tracking your progress during the first trimester is essential for a healthy pregnancy and delivery process, so make sure that you stick to a regular monitoring schedule with your doctor throughout all stages of pregnancy!
As you walk through the first trimester, these changes to your body are a sign of a new life coming into the world. At times, it’s scary to jump into the unknowns of pregnancy, but it’s also a very exciting time. Don’t forget to take the time to enjoy the fleeting moments of the first trimester and cherish the life-altering experience of pregnancy. These moments are powerful and amazing, so don’t miss the little moments of magic.