Welcome to the first trimester! As you can see, your body is going to be in overdrive by making a human! Sounds a little nuts when you say it out loud, right? But it’s amazing what a woman’s body can do.
First trimester pregnancy symptoms can be tough to deal with, especially when you add in work and other obligations that take up your time.
Your body will be starting to adjust to the immense physical and hormonal changes that will be happening as it grows another living thing inside of it.
Even though your belly may not look like it’s carrying a baby, your body sure knows that something is up. During this stage, you probably won’t be showing and telling many people that you’re pregnant, so the changes and symptoms will have to be kept quiet.
Symptoms of the First Trimester of Pregnancy and How to Manage Them
Most women experience the toughest symptoms during this trimester. Unfortunately, some of them you’re just going to have to live with for the next few weeks, but there are ways to manage others.
Every woman experiences pregnancy a bit differently. Therefore, this is not an exhaustive list, but here are some of the most common symptoms that you may encounter and the best *natural* ways to manage them:
Serious fatigue will kick in during your first trimester. The rush of hormones that your body started to release can really run your body down and causes extreme exhaustion.
Your body is working overtime as it begins to produce all the blood and nutrients to supply your new baby with everything they need to thrive and grow. It does this at the expense of your body and can hit you like a ton of bricks.
You may find yourself dozing off during a 7pm dinner or an 11am conference call. This is totally normal and you’ll get your energy back once the second trimester starts.
Until then, here are some ways to manage the fatigue:
- Time management – prioritize your tasks and schedule so the important tasks get done when you have the most energy and fit in more time for sleep
- Take naps if needed – during a lunch break or ay down time
- Go to sleep early
- Have your partner take over more household responsibilities
2. NAUSEA OR GAGGING
Whoever coined the term ‘morning sickness’ must not have been a pregnant woman. Pregnancy sickness can actually last all day! Don’t expect full-on vomiting in early pregnancy (although that may happen for some). You may even just experience slight gagging or a nauseous feeling in your stomach.
If you’re worried about not getting enough calories or nutrition for your baby because you can’t keep any food down, don’t stress! Your baby is so small now that he doesn’t require much of a caloric intake at all.
- Eat plain crackers
- Drink ginger tea
- Eat small, frequent meals throughout your day
- Take 10-25mg of Vitamin B6 3-4 time per day (in addition to your prenatal vitamin)
- B-Natal Vitamin B lollipops
- Preggie Pop Drops
- Diffuse ginger or peppermint essential oil
- Eat cucumbers soaked in water (an old wives tale, but it’s supposed to work!)
- Take a whiff of a dampened cloth with a few drops of lavender or citrus essential oil (whatever smells best to you) if it’s the smells that are making you nauseous.
If you’ve tried all of these remedies for nausea and you’re still throwing up excessively, consult your doctor. There are prescription medications that can reduce the nausea and help to keep you from dehydration and malnutrition.
3. ABNORMAL EMOTIONS AND MOOD SWINGS
The influx of hormones in your body can cause your emotions to run wild. You may get teary-eyed at the simplest things that would not normally make you cry, frequent mood swings, or anger that isn’t typical of your personality.
4. IMPLANTATION CRAMPING OR SPOTTING
Some women can feel implantation (when the fertilized egg actually implants itself into the uterus), while others may not. If you are able to feel it, it should be around 1.5 weeks after conception.
This kind of cramping is not going to be like the dull cramping experienced before a period. Although it differs for many women, it is often a sharp pain on one side of your abdomen. It can last for a few hours, but may be longer or shorter than that.
While some women feel cramping, others may just get spotting instead. It’s normal for a little bit of blood to come out as the embryo has disturbed the tissue within the uterine wall. I know it seems abnormal to see blood when you’re pregnant, however a little bit of blood is common. So don’t freak out as it may just be implantation bleeding, but contact your doctor always to be sure.
5. BREAST SORENESS OR TINGLING
Pregnancy hormones can make your breasts feel tingly as your body produces more blood supply and the breast tissue expands.
You will see and feel your breasts getting bigger as the first trimester goes on, but the initial tingling on your breasts and around your nipples can happen immediately after conception. With the tingling may come some itching and you will notice your breasts becoming increasingly larger.
6. HEIGHTENED SENSE OF SMELL
The increase in hormones (estrogen) cause your nose to be much more sensitive to smells. Not just to good smells like fresh baked cookies, but the fumes at a gas station or heating stove burners.
This can also be a trigger for nausea because those gross things that I got a whiff of can cause serious gagging.
7. FREQUENT URINATION
The frequent urge to pee doesn’t always have to do with a large baby pushing on your bladder. Soon after conception, the increased hormones can cause frequent urination.
This usually subsides in the second trimester and resurfaces again in the third when the baby is actually pushing on your bladder.
Always remember to urinate before leaving anywhere and make sure you never stray too far from a bathroom!
8. INCREASED VAGINAL DISCHARGE
Pregnancy can cause an increase in your vaginal discharge because of the increased blood flow and fluid to the vaginal region. Although this could be a bit annoying, it can also be a positive symptom if your libido is increased at this time.
9. FOOD AVERSIONS OR CRAVINGS
The thought or sight of some foods that you used to love may completely gross you out. Even smelling or touching that food can cause you to gag or throw up.
On the other hand, you may even crave certain foods that you never had a taste for.
10. GAS, BLOATING, & CONSTIPATION
The hormone progesterone is one of the main causes of excess gas during pregnancy. Progesterone is produced in greater amounts during pregnancy and causes the muscles in your body (specifically, intestines) to relax.
Slower moving intestine muscles mean that your digestion slows down. This allows gas to build up, which in turn leads to bloating, burping, and flatulence.
This uncomfortable, and sometimes painful, gas is generally due to constipation, and it can get worse as your pregnancy progresses.
Here are a few things you can do to manage these symptoms. The more consistent you are with these lifestyle changes, the better results you are likely to see.
- Eat foods high in fiber (ie. prunes, apples, pears, kiwi, citrus fruits, spinach, artichoke)
- Drink plenty of water
- Fiber supplements
- Stool softeners
- Metamucil, Colace, Citracel, Milk of Magnesia, & Dulcolax are safe for constipation
- Take a Papaya Enzyme supplement
The same hormone (progesterone) that causes the intestines to relax causing gas, is the one responsible for heartburn, as well.
The hormone causes the valve connecting the esophagus and stomach to relax, leading to a build-up of stomach acid up into the esophagus.
Here are some natural tips to combatting heartburn:
- Avoid fried, spicy, acidic, or rich (fatty) foods
- Eat slowly
- Drink less while eating
- Don’t lie down immediately after eating
- Sleep with your head elevated
- Over-the-counter medications are typically safe to use (Tums, Mylanta)
- Wear loose fitting clothing
- Take a papaya enzyme supplement
- Eat several small meals each day instead of three large ones
While pregnancy makes most women exhausted throughout the day, there are some who experience insomnia at night. Whether it’s anxiety, urge to urinate, or bad dreams, there are a bunch of things that cause pregnancy insomnia.
Many women note that diffusing essential oils before or during bedtime can be a big help to get them to sleep. Try lavender and chamomile for calming and relaxation.
13. SENSITIVE & BLEEDING GUMS
Some women get swollen and sore gums, which may bleed, during pregnancy. Bleeding and inflamed gums are caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth and hormonal changes.
Here are some guidelines to follow to reduce sensitivity and risk of inflammation or bleeding:
- Clean your teeth carefully twice a day for 2 minutes with a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss once a day to remove small bits of food from between your teeth
- Use soft bristles for sensitive gums
- Avoid having sugary drinks and foods too often
- If you’re hungry between meals, snack on foods such as vegetables, fresh fruit or plain yogurt, and avoid sugary or acidic foods
- Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol.
- Stop smoking, as it can make gum disease worse.
- A daily salt rinse (1 teaspoon of salt added to a cup of warm water) can help reduce gum inflammation. Swirl the wash around your mouth a few times before spitting it out (do not swallow).
OTHER SYMPTOMS TO NOTE:
- Nasal congestion
- Weight gain
- Strong and healthy hair and nails (the one positive symptom)
- Increased libido (sex drive)
- Excessive drool during sleep
- Abdominal cramps
While there are a lot of strange, but normal, things happening to your body during pregnancy, there can be some red flags, as well. If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, consult with your health care provider immediately.
- Severe abdominal pain or cramps
- Significant bleeding
- Severe dizziness
- Rapid weight gain or loss
The good news is that most of these tough symptoms resolve by the early second trimester. So if you’re thinking that you can’t possibly imagine feeling this way for the next 9 months, it won’t be that long.
Just take it day by day and think about the end result which is meeting your sweet baby so very soon.