Congratulations! You may have just found that you’re pregnant, but your body has been undergoing a number of changes, from the moment of conception. Most women will experience some if not most of the typical pregnancy symptoms, and a lucky few will sail through with little to complain about. For your body, the first trimester of pregnancy is quite possibly the most transformative in terms of the changes your body, and your baby undergo. The first trimester may be the most difficult to cope with, but the good news is that by your second trimester, you will most likely be feeling much better.
One major complaint during the first trimester is nausea — about 75% of women report it during their first trimester. Commonly known as morning sickness, nausea can hit any time of the day, and night. Some women will feel mild nausea at specific times of day (or night), while others may feel mildly or severely nauseous 24/7. These women may have to resort to anti-nausea medication to keep food and fluids down, so if you are struggling with your morning sickness, ask your doctor if it is appropriate for you.
For women with mild to moderate nausea, avoid an empty stomach by snacking lightly throughout the day. Women who have nausea primarily in the morning may benefit from eating crackers when they wake up. Stay away from foods that are hard to digest, such as fatty, rich or acidic foods. Acupressure bracelets, typically sold in drugstores, may be useful as well.
Even the most energetic women may find themselves stricken with mind-numbing exhaustion their first trimester. That extreme desire for sleep is due to higher levels of progesterone in the body, which is normally found in the body and keeps your reproductive cycle running smoothly. This spike in progesterone not only makes you sleepy during the day, but can affect nighttime sleep cycles, additionally compounding your daytime fatigue. Go to sleep a little earlier at night, and make time for cat naps during the day.
That pesky progesterone not only causes exhaustion, but also contributes to bloating and gas by relaxing your gastrointestinal tract, thus slowing down your digestion. Fluid retention may also add to that bloated feeling you may experience in your first trimester. You may have to start shopping for some comfy (stretchy) pants, or consider low rise maternity pants that are designed to go under your belly. Drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated and to keep things moving along.
Your rapidly expanding uterus needs room to grow, crowding other organs in your pelvis. The uterus rests on the bladder, reducing its capacity and increasing the urge to urinate. Don’t hold it — you may find as your pregnancy progresses it gets more difficult to hold a full bladder.
Most loved ones can attest to the roller coaster ride that is pregnancy. In your first trimester, your body is just getting used to the increase in hormones and the added physical demand of pregnancy — this can be both physically and emotionally exhausting. You’ll find that you may cry more often, fly off the handle easier and the next minute feel euphorically happy. While you’ll definitely be hormonal for pretty much all of your pregnancy, these hormones will level out and you’ll be better equipped to deal with them.
Many women notice tenderness in their breasts even before they know they’re pregnant. Again, the surge in pregnancy hormones in the first trimester is the culprit, as well as changes your breast tissue is undergoing in preparation for breastfeeding. In addition to soreness, they may feel tight, and may even go up a cup size or more over the course of your pregnancy. They also may change in appearance, with more veins visible and darker, larger areolas.
There’s not much you can do to change the side effects of pregnancy in the first trimester. Put up your best defense by watching your pregnancy diet and eating healthy. You’ll only need an additional 300 calories. Expect to gain anywhere from six to 11 pounds (2.72 to 5 kg) — depending on your pre-pregnancy weight you may gain more or less. Remember to take your prenatal vitamins, either over the counter or as prescribed by your doctor. While you may find exercising more difficult in the first trimester, try to keep some form of exercise in your routine. You’ll feel better, and once you get over the first trimester blahs, you may be able to add more types of exercise to your regimen. Prenatal care is of the utmost importance during your first trimester, so make that a priority as well.