The first trimester brings with it a lot of change. As your body adapts to pregnancy and your hormones go into overdrive, you may notice a number of possible symptoms. All women and all pregnancies, are unique and some women do not report many symptoms. Other women, however, find themselves experiencing a number of the following 10 common first trimester symptoms:
1. Missed periods
This is probably one of the better-known pregnancy symptoms. For many women, a missed period may be the first clue to pregnancy. Most women find that their periods stop during pregnancy, and for some, these will not return until months after the birth. A small number of women experience regular vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, though this is not really a menstrual period. Any vaginal bleeding during pregnancy should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
2. Morning sickness
Though the name cruelly suggests otherwise, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day. Nausea and vomiting are caused by rapidly increasing hormones during the first trimester. According to Stanford Children’s Health, “about half of all pregnant women experience nausea and sometimes vomiting in the first trimester–also called morning sickness because symptoms are most severe in the morning. Some women may have nausea and vomiting throughout the pregnancy.” That said, this symptom starts around week six of pregnancy and usually eases off by the end of the first trimester.
Your body is working hard during the first trimester and you may find yourself exhausted before the end of the day. There’s not much you can do to fight it, so your best bet is to get as much rest as possible.
4. Food aversions and cravings
Cravings is another infamous pregnancy symptom, with some women eating bizarre food choices as they battle with nausea, sickness, and hormonal changes. You may also find yourself experiencing food aversions. Indulge the odd craving, but do try to eat a healthy, balanced diet throughout your pregnancy. Be aware of cravings to eat substances not commonly known as food like dirt, clay, paint or coal. This is a condition called “pica” and may indicate a nutritional deficiency (Stanford Children’s Health), so be sure to tell your doctor about these rare cravings and do not eat these substances. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of studies and published in the International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics that 70 studies showed a PICA prevalence estimate of 27.8% during pregnancy and postpartum; incidents being higher in Arica and among women with anemia.
5. Breast changes
Your tender breasts may have been one of the first giveaways that you were expecting, and over the first trimester you will notice a number of changes to your breasts. You may find that your breasts are sore, tender and, as a result, out of bounds to your partner. By the end of the first trimester, you may find that you need to buy new bras to accommodate your growing breasts. Your nipples may darken and become larger, and you may notice the appearance of small bumps on your areola.
6. Mood swings
It’s never nice to be accused of having mood swings, especially when you are. The hormonal roller coaster of the first trimester can leave you feeling a little emotional. On top of this, you may be feeling worried about your pregnancy and impending motherhood. If you find yourself reacting irrationally to situations, chalk it up to a symptom of early pregnancy.
7. Frequent urination
Many people assume that the frequent urination during pregnancy occurs during the final trimester, when a baby is pressing down on your bladder, but it can start as early as week six. It should ease off slightly towards the end of the first trimester, as your uterus shifts position, putting less pressure on your bladder. This symptom will be back with a vengeance during the final months of pregnancy though.
8. Increased vaginal discharge
You may notice an increase in vaginal discharge during the first trimester. Your body produces mucus to prevent infections from traveling to your uterus. “Normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy is called leukorrhea and is thin, white, milky, and mild smelling. Leukorrhea is normal and nothing for you to worry about,” according to the American Pregnancy Association.
9. Increased sex drive
When you’re not throwing up or emptying your bladder, you may find yourself feeling more aroused than usual. Increased blood volume during pregnancy means there is now more blood flowing to your genitals. This can cause increased sensitivity, and leave you with an increased sex drive.
10. Shortness of breath
Progesterone, one of those pesky pregnancy hormones, increases your lung capacity, allowing you to breathe deeper during pregnancy. It may take you a while to get used to this change, leaving you feeling short of breath in the first trimester. You need around 20 percent more oxygen during pregnancy.
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- Common Discomforts During Pregnancy (n.d.). Stanford Children’s Health. Retrieved from https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=common-discomforts-during-pregnancy-85-P01207
- Vaginal discharge in pregnancy – Pregnancy and baby guide – NHS Choices. (28/02/2018). Retrieved from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/vaginal-discharge-pregnant/
- Stages of Pregnancy. First Stages and More. Pregnancy Info | Patient. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://patient.info/doctor/physiological-changes-in-pregnancy
- Mood swings in pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a253/mood-swings-in-pregnancy
- Fawcett EJ, Fawcett JM, Mazmanian D. (Epub 2016 Feb 3.). A meta-analysis of the worldwide prevalence of pica during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2016 Jun;133(3):277-83. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2015.10.012. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26892693
- The Alpha Parent: Timeline of Breast Changes in Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.thealphaparent.com/2012/08/timeline-of-breast-changes-in-pregnancy.html
- Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy (07/2015). American Pregnancy Association. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/vaginal-discharge-during-pregnancy/