Pregnancy Stages - First Trimester

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Pregnancy First Trimester
The first trimester (from 0-12 Weeks) will see your body undergoing many changes as it adjusts to your growing baby. It is important to understand that these are all normal events and that most of these discomforts will go way as your pregnancy progresses. Further, you may not even experience any of the symptoms listed below. So included here are some of the symptoms you may experience during your pregnancy and how best to deal with them.

Breast Changes
The mammary glands cause the breasts to swell and become tender in preparation for breastfeeding. This is due to an increased amount of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. A supportive bra should be worn.

A woman's areolas (the pigmented areas around each breast's nipple) will enlarge, darken and may become covered with small, white bumps called Montgomery’s tubercles (enlarged sweat glands).

A woman may experience fatigue due to the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy. During your pregnancy, you might feel tired even when you've had a lot of sleep at night. Many women find they're exhausted in the first trimester. Don't worry, this is normal! This is your body's way of telling you that you need more rest. Tiredness will pass over time and be replaced with a feeling of well being and feeling more energetic. When you are tired, get some rest. Try to get eight hours of sleep every night, and a nap during the day if you can. If you feel stressed, try to find a way to relax. You might want to start sleeping on your left side, if you find it more comfortable. This will relieve pressure on major blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the fetus.

Mood Changes
Partly due to surges in hormones, a pregnant woman may experience mood swings similar to premenstrual syndrome (a condition experienced by some women that is characterized by mood swings, irritability, and other physical symptoms that occur shortly before each menstrual period).

Nausea and Vomiting
Increased levels of hormones to sustain the pregnancy may cause "morning sickness," which is feelings of nausea and sometimes vomiting. However, morning sickness does not necessarily occur just in the morning and rarely interferes with proper maternal and fetal nutrition. Here are some tips on getting a grip on your “morning sickness”:

  • eat frequent, small meals (6 to 8 small meals a day, rather than 3 large meals)
  • drink lots of water
  • carbonated drinks between meals may help lessen your symptoms
  • avoid fatty, fried of spicy foods
  • try starchy foods like toast, saltines, cheerios, or other dry cereals; keep some by your bed and eat them before you get out of bed in the morning and when you get up in the middle of the night. Also keep some with you at all times, in case you feel nauseous.

Frequency of Urination
The uterus is growing and begins to press on the woman's bladder, causing the need for her to urinate more frequently. However, if you notice pain, burning, pus or blood in your urine see your health care provider right away. You might have a urinary tract infection that needs treatment.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms
As the growing uterus presses on the rectum and intestines, constipation may occur. The muscular contractions in the intestines, which help to move food through the digestive tract, are slowed due to high levels of progesterone. This may, in turn, cause heartburn, indigestion and gas. To prevent constipation, try to eat fresh or dried fruit, raw vegetables and whole grain cereals or breads everyday. Also, try to drink eight to ten glasses of water everyday. Some of these servings can be substituted with fruit or vegetable juice. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, colas and some other sodas), since caffeine makes your body lose fluid and won't help with constipation.

Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, and even fainting can occur at any stage of pregnancy, since there now is extra blood going down towards your uterus and legs. You can help relieve these symptoms by lying down on your left side. Or to help prevent them, try moving around more instead of sitting or standing in one position for a long time.

Varicose Veins and Hemorrhoids
During pregnancy, pressure on the large veins behind the uterus causes the blood to slow in its return to the heart. This can lead to varicose veins in the legs and hemorrhoids (varicose veins in the vagina or around the anus). Varicose veins look like swollen veins raised above the surface of the skin. They can be twisted or bulging, and are dark purple or blue in color. They are found most often on the backs of the calves or on the inside of the leg, anywhere from the groin to the ankle. Also, veins become more prominent on the surface of the breast.

You can try to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy by:

  • avoid tight knee-highs or garters
  • sitting with your legs and feet raised when possible; if you work at a desk, you can prop your feet up on a footstool, box or several books. Or when relaxing at home, keep your feet up on a footstool, some pillows on the couch, or another chair.

    Leg Cramps
    At different times during your pregnancy, you might have cramps in your legs or feet. This is due to a change in the way your body processes, or metabolizes, calcium. One way to prevent these cramps is to make sure to get enough calcium through nonfat or lowfat milk, and calcium-rich foods. You also get some calcium in your prenatal vitamin, but you might need to take a calcium supplement if you don't get enough through your diet. Talk with your health care provider first about taking calcium supplements.

    You can relieve leg and foot cramps by gently stretching the muscle. If you have a sudden leg cramp, flex your foot towards your body. If you point your foot to stretch your leg, the cramp could worsen. Wrapping a warm heating pad or warm, moist towel around the muscle also can help the muscle to relax.

    Increased heart rate
    Cardiac volume increases by approximately 40 to 50 percent from the beginning to the end of the pregnancy, causing an increased cardiac output. An increased cardiac output may cause an increased pulse rate during pregnancy. The increase in blood volume is needed for extra blood flow to the uterus.

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