While pregnancy is one of life’s most joyful events, the first trimester can be overwhelming for first-time mothers. The first three months are marked by an invisible but amazing transformation within your body and the baby, too.
The baby develops rapidly during the first trimester, which lasts from fertilization to the 13th week. The fetus begins to develop a brain, spinal cord and other organs. Even the baby’s heart begins to beat during this time.
The rapid hormonal changes that go along with pregnancy also trigger a lot of changes in the mother’s body.
Knowing the physical changes that one goes through during the first trimester can help you face the months ahead with confidence.
If you’re concerned about anything during your pregnancy, always seek medical advice or talk to your midwife or general practitioner.
Here are some of the changes you can expect during the first trimester of pregnancy.
1. Nausea (with or without Vomiting)
Most pregnant women suffer from nausea in the first trimester. Although it is commonly known as “morning sickness”, one can experience it at any time of the day. The high levels of progesterone in the body due to hormonal changes slows down your digestive system. This in turn contributes to nausea.
Even though morning sickness during the first trimester is something no woman wishes to experience, it can be a good sign. A 2016 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of miscarriage.
To combat morning sickness, eat several small meals during the day, avoid spicy and greasy foods, and drink plenty of fluids. For most women, the nausea subsides during the second trimester.
Morning sickness does not usually cause any problems for the unborn baby. However, if vomiting is severe and interferes with your day-to-day activities, you must see your doctor.
2. Fatigue or Tiredness
In the early months of pregnancy, expectant mothers often experience fatigue or tiredness. This is mainly due to increasing levels of the hormone progesterone.
Also, the nausea and vomiting you may experience during the first trimester can deplete your energy reserves.
At the same time, your body needs extra energy to support the uterus that has begun to grow day by day.
Extreme fatigue during early pregnancy is not a good sign. A 2004 study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing reports that fatigue during pregnancy predicts caesarean deliveries.
By managing fatigue, you can reduce your chance of a caesarean delivery. To fight fatigue, sleep and rest as much as you can. A healthy diet and regular exercise will also help boost your energy level.
3. Tender and Swollen Breasts
Soon after conceiving, your body goes through a lot of hormonal changes, which can make your breasts sensitive or sore. Also, your breasts may become larger and heavier.
In fact, breast tenderness is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. It usually starts around 4 to 6 weeks and lasts through the first trimester.
The breast tenderness is likely to reduce after a few weeks, as your body adjusts to the hormonal changes.
However, your breasts will continue to undergo other changes during the later stages of pregnancy, culminating with the production of colostrum, the precursor to breast milk.
4. Food Aversions and Cravings
During early pregnancy, it’s common to have highly specific food cravings, and you may become totally uninterested in some foods. You may also have an aversion to certain smells and tastes that you once liked.
Food aversions as well as cravings are possibly caused by the ongoing hormonal changes in the body. The hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) doubles every few days during your first trimester. The rapid increase of this hormone in the body causes food aversions. Plus, the digestion process slows down during pregnancy, so some formerly appealing foods become intolerable.
Some common pregnancy food aversions include meat, eggs, milk, onions, garlic, spicy foods, and tea and coffee. You can always consult your doctor for other alternatives for food aversions to make sure your body is getting all the necessary nutrients.