The first trimester of pregnancy can be exciting and scary. A woman’s body goes through a lot of changes. Some of these changes may begin before you even know or confirm you are pregnant. It can help to know what to look for and expect so you can prepare.
Path to well being
How do I know I’m pregnant?
A missed period is often the first sign of pregnancy. You may have some other physical signs as well. These include mild cramping and a little bleeding when the fertilized egg implants itself in your uterus.
If you’ve missed your period and think you may be pregnant, you can take a home pregnancy test. These tests are very accurate if you take them a few days after you expected to get your period. Call your doctor if the test is positive.
Why do I feel so tired?
Feeling very tired is another common symptom of early pregnancy. Your body is working hard to adjust to all the new physical changes. This can cause extreme fatigue. You may need to sleep longer than usual at night. If possible, you can take short naps during the day. Your energy will most likely return in the second trimester of pregnancy.
What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness consists of nausea and vomiting. It is caused by pregnancy hormones. Many pregnant women have it to some degree in their first trimester. Despite what it sounds, morning sickness can occur at any time of day. Certain foods or smells might make you feel sick and sometimes vomit. Some women seem to feel sicker when their stomachs are empty. Morning sickness usually goes away by the second trimester.
What other changes can I expect during the first trimester?
Frequent urination. Towards the end of the first trimester, you will feel like urinating more often. This is because your growing uterus pushes on your bladder. You may even leak a little urine when you cough or sneeze.
Lightheadedness. Your body is working overtime to make extra blood to support your baby. This can cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded. Hunger, weakness, or stress can cause these symptoms as well.
Heartburn. The muscles that break down food become more relaxed during pregnancy. Hormone changes also slow down this process. Food also stays in your stomach longer to give your body more time to absorb nutrients. All these things can cause or worsen heartburn.
Constipation. You should be taking a daily prenatal vitamin that contains iron. The iron in the vitamin can lead to constipation. The slow process of breaking down food also can cause constipation, gas, and bloating. Your doctor may suggest taking fiber supplements or a stool softener to provide relief. Make sure you drink plenty of water (about eight glasses per day). Tell your doctor if you have severe problems. They may switch you to a different prenatal vitamin.
Visible veins. Your body makes extra blood and your heart pumps faster to meet the needs of pregnancy. This can cause the blue veins in your belly, breasts, and legs to become more noticeable. You may develop spider veins on your face, neck, or arms. These are tiny blood vessels that branch out from a central area, like the legs of a spider.
Skin changes. You may notice that your skin looks more rosy and shiny. Some people call this a “pregnancy glow.” It is caused by increased blood circulation. Pregnancy hormones can cause extra oil on your skin. It may cause you to have flares of acne.
Breast changes. Most women notice changes in their breasts early in pregnancy. The hormones in your body change to prepare for breastfeeding. As this occurs, your breasts may feel tender and swollen. You might notice small bumps forming in the area around your nipples. Your breasts will continue to grow and change throughout your pregnancy. They may feel even bigger and fuller later on.
Vaginal changes. The lining of your vagina will become thicker and less sensitive. You may notice a thin, white discharge. This is normal during pregnancy. Mild vaginal bleeding (spotting) is also normal and common. However, you should call your doctor if you have vaginal bleeding. If the bleeding is heavy or painful, go to the emergency room.
A growing belly. Your waistline will begin to expand as your baby and uterus grow larger. Depending on your size before pregnancy, you may not notice this change until the second trimester. It is normal to gain no or little weight in your first trimester.
Emotional symptoms. Your hormones are on overload during pregnancy. You might feel moody, forgetful, or unable to focus. Fatigue and stress can increase these symptoms.
Things to consider
Keep in mind that each pregnancy experience is unique. Even the same woman may have different changes in her multiple pregnancies. For each change, your symptoms may be mild or severe. Do not worry if the changes do not happen at a certain time. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
When to see your doctor
Contact your doctor if you think or know you are pregnant. They will make an appointment to confirm your pregnancy and talk to you about prenatal care.
Questions to ask your doctor
- Am I pregnant?
- How far along am I in my pregnancy?
- What kinds of physical and emotional changes should I expect?
- Are my symptoms normal?
- Are there any risks that I should be aware of?
- Which prenatal vitamin do you recommend I take?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.