First trimester pregnancy can be overwhelming. Understand the changes you may experience and how to take care of yourself during this exciting time.
First trimester pregnancy is marked by an invisible — yet amazing — transformation. Knowing what first trimester pregnancy changes to expect can help you face the months ahead with confidence.
Within two weeks of conception, hormones trigger your body to begin nourishing the baby — even before tests and a physical exam can confirm the pregnancy. Here are some common physical changes you may notice during first trimester pregnancy.
- Tender breasts. Increased hormone production may make your breasts unusually sensitive. Your breasts will probably feel fuller and heavier. Wearing a more supportive bra or a sports bra may help.
- Bouts of nausea. Many women have queasiness, nausea or vomiting in early pregnancy — probably due to normal hormonal changes. Nausea tends to be worse in the morning, but it can last all day. To help relieve this first trimester pregnancy symptom, eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Choose foods that are low in fat and easy to digest. It’s also helpful to drink plenty of fluids. Avoid foods or smells that make your nausea worse. Try drinking ginger ale. For some women, motion sickness bands are helpful. For others, alternative therapies such as acupuncture or hypnosis offer relief. If you’re considering an alternative therapy, get the OK from your health care provider first.
Contact your health care provider if the nausea is severe, you’re passing only a small amount of urine or it’s dark in color, you can’t keep down liquids, you feel dizzy or faint when standing up, your heart is racing, or you vomit blood.
- Unusual fatigue. You may feel tired as your body prepares to support the pregnancy. Your heart will pump faster and harder, and your pulse will quicken. To combat fatigue, rest as much as you can. Make sure you’re getting enough iron and protein. Include physical activity, such as a brisk walk, in your daily routine.
- Increased urination. You may need to urinate more often as your enlarging uterus presses on your bladder. The same pressure may cause you to leak urine when sneezing, coughing or laughing. To help prevent urinary tract infections, urinate whenever you feel the urge. If you’re losing sleep due to middle-of-the-night bathroom trips, drink less in the evening — especially fluids containing caffeine, which can make you urinate more. If you’re worried about leaking urine, panty liners may offer a sense of security.
- Heartburn and constipation. During first trimester pregnancy, the movements that push swallowed food from your esophagus into your stomach are slower. Your stomach also takes longer to empty. This slowdown gives nutrients more time to be absorbed into your bloodstream and reach your baby. Unfortunately, it may also lead to heartburn and constipation. To prevent heartburn, eat small, frequent meals and avoid fried foods, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits or juices, and spicy foods. To prevent or relieve constipation, include plenty of fiber in your diet and drink lots of fluids. Regular physical activity also may help.
- Dizziness. Normal circulatory changes in early pregnancy may leave you feeling a little dizzy. Stress, fatigue and hunger also may play a role. To prevent mild, occasional dizziness, avoid prolonged standing. Rise slowly after lying or sitting down. If you start to feel dizzy while you’re driving, pull over. If you’re standing when dizziness hits, sit or lie down.
Seek prompt care if the dizziness is severe and occurs with abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding. This may indicate an ectopic pregnancy — a condition in which the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus. To prevent life-threatening complications, the ectopic tissue must be removed.
Pregnancy may leave you feeling delighted, anxious, exhilarated and exhausted — sometimes all at once. Even if you’re thrilled about being pregnant, a new baby adds emotional stress to your life.
It’s natural to worry about your baby’s health, your adjustment to motherhood and the financial demands of raising a child. You may wonder how the baby will affect your relationship with your partner or what type of parent you’ll be. If you’re working, you may worry about your productivity on the job and how to balance the competing demands of family and career.
You may also experience misgivings and bouts of weepiness or mood swings. To cope with these emotions, remind yourself that what you’re feeling is normal. Take good care of yourself, and look to your partner and other loved ones for understanding and encouragement. If the mood changes become severe or intense, consult your health care provider for additional support.
Your relationship with your partner
Becoming a mother takes time away from other roles and relationships. You may lose some of your psychological identity as a partner and lover — but good communication can help you keep intimacy alive.
- Be honest. Let your partner know that you need support and tenderness — sometimes without sexual overtones. Identify the stress points in your relationship before they become problematic.
- Be patient. Occasional misunderstandings and conflicts are inevitable. Consider both sides. If your partner dives into work, for example, you may feel hurt and rejected because it appears as a withdrawal from your relationship. Your partner, on the other hand, may simply be trying to provide more security for your family.
- Be supportive. Encourage your partner to identify any doubts or worries. Do the same yourself. Discussing your feelings honestly and openly will strengthen your relationship and help you begin preparing a home for your baby.
Appointments with your health care provider
Whether you choose a family physician, obstetrician or nurse-midwife, your health care provider will treat, educate and reassure you throughout your pregnancy. He or she is there to help you celebrate the miracle of birth.
Your first visit will focus mainly on assessing your overall health, identifying any risk factors and determining your baby’s gestational age. Your health care provider will ask detailed questions about your health history. Be honest. The answers you provide will help you and your baby receive the best care. If you’re uncomfortable discussing your health history in front of your partner, schedule a private consultation with your health care provider.
After the first visit, you may be asked to schedule checkups every four to six weeks until the last month of your pregnancy, when you may need checkups every week or two. During these appointments, raise any concerns or fears you may have about pregnancy, childbirth or life with a newborn. It may help to write down your questions so that you remember to discuss them. No question is silly or unimportant — and the answers can help you take the best care of yourself and your baby.