Photo credit: super-structure / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
What Should I Expect During the First Trimester of Pregnancy?
You are pregnant! Congratulations!
Now you might be wondering, what happens next? If this is your first baby then you are in for some wonderful and amazing changes as your body starts to grow a new human being. Every moment might not be wonderful, but every change does inspire wonder.
Here is a list of some of the many changes that take place in your body during the first trimester of pregnancy. The symptoms you experience will vary, since every woman and every pregnancy are different. Consult your care provider with any questions you may have.
Nausea or Morning Sickness-
Morning sickness is probably the most talked about pregnancy symptom of all. For many women there are symptoms of nausea that start somewhere around five or six weeks into pregnancy. The length of time this lasts varies, from a few weeks to the entire pregnancy. Typically, nausea subsides after the first trimester, or around 12 weeks gestation. While it is called “morning sickness”, this pregnancy nausea can last all day, but is often worse in the morning or after going without food for a long stretch. For some women, they will experience no nausea whatsoever.
Morning sickness is thought to be caused by changing hormones and the slowing down of digestion that often occurs during pregnancy. Various things can help control pregnancy nausea so that it isn't overwhelming. Eating protein rich foods frequently throughout the day is often the most helpful thing that can be done. Trying to consume about 80 grams of protein each day may provide relief, and starting each morning with a protein rich breakfast (eggs, oatmeal with fruit and nuts) can start the day off right and curb nausea.
Ginger is well known for it's ability to help with nausea and can usually be safely consumed during pregnancy.
While not as talked about as nausea, breast tenderness is often the first thing that tells a woman that she may be pregnant. Suddenly your breasts are tender to the touch, which may be especially noticeable while exercising. Usually a minor irritant, breast tenderness is one of the first signs that your body is growing a baby, your hormones are changing, and you will in a few short months be nursing your little one! Our bodies are amazing.
There is no known “cure” for this aspect of pregnancy and it will usually pass with time.
Some women experience headaches during pregnancy, often in the first trimester. While they can be disconcerting, especially to someone not used to them, there is often a simple solution. Often pregnancy headaches are simply caused by low blood sugar and the increased need for nourishment as the placenta is being formed. Pregnancy is not a pathology, but it is hard work for the body and requires healthy, whole foods, frequently throughout the day. (Sign up for our e-mail list to get a FREE download about optimal pregnancy nutrition with bonus recipes.)
Eating frequent small snacks or meals (about every two hours) always containing a protein source is probably the best way to not only curb pregnancy headaches and also feed your body the nourishment it so needs during the early days of pregnancy. The practice of eating healthy has the added bonus of helping with a variety of pregnancy symptoms considered unavoidable, from nausea to swelling. You and your baby are worth the effort.
Though seldom talked about, feeling a variety of strong emotions during pregnancy (especially during the first trimester) is very common. Some women find they cry more easily, others find that they are glowing and deliriously happy. Even when a pregnancy was planned and much looked forward to, feelings of ambivalence are normal. The occurrence is so common it is documented in midwifery textbooks as a normal pregnancy symptom.
While the change in hormones may cause this emotional manifestation of the physical changes in the body, there are things that can help. Some women find that careful attention to their diet, paying especial attention to healthy B vitamin sources is beneficial. Brewers yeast, seafood (in moderation, according to your care provider's recommendations), beef, cheese and eggs are all ways to increase B vitamin consumption through diet.
It is also important that the new mother be gentle with herself, accept that pregnancy can be emotional, and surround herself with supportive people like her partner, her birth doula, family and friends, and a knowledgeable childbirth educator. Pregnancy is a time where each women deserves extra care and support.
You are pregnant! Do you feel sleepy yet?!
It is very common for pregnant women to feel tired in both the first and the third trimester. During the first trimester of pregnancy (from conception to about 12 weeks gestation) it is perfectly normal to be tired. Your body is working hard to form a placenta and the very beginnings of your baby. Give your body time to rest and feed it well during this time when so much is developing.
Good diet, paying special attention to greens (you can supplement with a liquid chlorophyll if needed) and iron intake (meats are high in this and chlorophyl supplements will help your iron to absorb well as will vitamin C) can help with tiredness. Women get a renewed energy when the second trimester starts, around 13 weeks.
Even though the baby is very tiny during the first trimester, it is not uncommon to have a frequent urge to urinate. Hormonal changes cause the blood to flow through your kidneys more quickly thus causing more frequent urination. In addition, your blood volume increases dramatically during pregnancy (by about 50%) and this is a further stress on the kidneys and increases the need to urinate. Of course, as the baby grows, because it rests just above the bladder, the increased weight adds pressure causing frequent urges.
Though this is a normal and healthy part of pregnancy, avoiding things that are diuretic (like coffee, tea, caffeine, and alcohol) can ease the burden on your hard working body.
Birth Boot Camp encourages a proper Kegel program to strengthen the pelvic floor. The muscles in the pelvic floor support the bladder and other organs and having them strong and flexible allows for more control of elimination.
Growing a human is hard work -
Sometimes it is tempting to focus on the “symptoms” of pregnancy. We prefer however to focus on what a miracle it is. A human being (you) is able to grow another human being. It is truly amazing (and yes, hard) work. You will find that there are many nutritional and lifestyle changes that can improve overall health and happiness throughout pregnancy.
Enjoy! The best is yet to come.