The first trimester is full of exciting things, from finding out you’re expecting to hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Not to mention seeing your tiny one on a sonogram screen! While there’s plenty of excitement, the first trimester also comes with plenty of symptoms to cope with.
Unfortunately, the first trimester is known to bring many uncomfortable symptoms with it. Often times, pregnancy symptoms are at their worst during the first trimester, although symptoms can come up at any point during your pregnancy.
And of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some lucky expecting mamas experience few or even none of these symptoms! However, experiencing no adverse symptoms is fairly rare. With that in mind, here are some common symptoms you can expect during your first trimester.
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Common First Trimester Symptoms
While there are many things to do in the first trimester, dealing with any symptoms is typically your first priority—and understandably so! Thankfully, many common symptoms have many natural remedies to help ease them and even relieve them altogether.
Morning sickness is typically the first pregnancy symptom that people think of when they talk about pregnancy. That’s probably because it’s one of the most uncomfortable side effects of being pregnant! According to the American Pregnancy Association, over 50% of pregnant women experience morning sickness at some point in their pregnancy.
While there’s not a definite known cause, it is generally believed that pregnancy nausea is caused by the rapidly rising pregnancy hormone hCG. But of course, there are plenty of other factors that can make your morning sickness better or worse.
And despite its name, morning sickness can strike at any time of the day. I personally had it both in the morning and again at night when I was pregnant with Elijah. It made for a pretty miserable first trimester! Morning sickness is most commonly associated with the first trimester; however, it can also make an appearance in the third and even second trimesters.
Morning sickness does not necessarily mean that you will be throwing up. Although that may be the case, you may also just feel nauseous without actual vomiting.
Some easy remedies for morning sickness include:
- Eating dry, bland food
- Eating crackers first thing in the morning before you get up
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day
- Lemon scents
- Preggie Drops or Upspring Stomach Settles (my personal favorite for upset stomach)
- Get plenty of rest, and nap when needed
- Eat food from the nausea section of The Pregnancy Cookbook
Even if you get lucky enough to dodge morning sickness, you’ll likely experience at least some fatigue in your first trimester. Unfortunately, the first trimester can make you feel extremely tired.
The reason behind this is fairly obvious…your body is literally growing another human being! Your amazing body is doing a lot of work, and you’ll feel the effects of that.
Fatigue is particularly prominent in the first trimester. It will likely decline once you get into your second trimester. Then, return at least in somewhat in the third trimester.
The best things you can do to remedy or at least manage your exhaustion are to:
- Get plenty of sleep and rest often
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat as well as you are able—I recommend checking out The Pregnancy Cookbook for healthy recipes designed specifically for pregnancy
Although it’s very important to do your best to eat healthy and nutritious food during pregnancy, it can be difficult. Besides morning sickness, food aversions frequently make it difficult to eat well.
It’s not uncommon to have aversions to certain foods when you are pregnant. Aversions can be as mild as not wanting to eat something you usually like. Or, as severe as prompting a vomiting or nausea episode at the site, smell, or even thought of it.
There’s really not much that can be done as far as remedying this particular symptom. The best you can really do is ride it out and hope that food is more appealing later on in your pregnancy. Don’t worry, food aversions typically disappear immediately or shortly after you give birth.
If you find that you have a strong aversion to a food that is highly beneficial to pregnancy, try to find a good substitute for it for the time being.
Smell aversions are linked closely to food aversions, since your sense of taste and smell are closely tied. If you have a food aversion, you’ll likely be turned off from it as soon as you smell it.
However, smell aversions aren’t limited to edibles. You may find that certain fragrances, perfumes, or scents can set off your aversion. Much like food aversions, your reaction to a smell aversion can be mild or severe.
In my pregnancy with Elijah, I had very strong aversions to the smell of salsa, among other things. Later on I became very sensitive to strong perfumes. Often these smells would set off my gag reflex and even prompt nausea.
Again, there’s not much that you can do about aversions to certain smells. Except avoid them when you can, of course!
The Need To Pee
Although you probably won’t see a noticeable bump until your second trimester, you will notice the urge to pee more often. While frequent urination later on can be attributed to more pressure on your bladder, in the first trimester the reasoning is a little more subtle.
The reality is that your body is increasing it’s blood flow, processing blood for two people (you and your baby), and taking care of both your needs. What all that comes down to is more waste to be filtered out of your body. That waste exits through your urine.
The increased volume due to pregnancy can cause you to feel the need to pee more frequently. Thankfully, there are a few things that can be done to ease this first trimester symptom:
- Drink plenty of water, frequently
- Lean forward when you pee—this helps your bladder empty more fully
- Plan on more bathroom trips for a few weeks
Yet another common symptom early in pregnancy is heartburn. For some, heartburn can be pretty severe. Of course, even mild heartburn is uncomfortable.
The changes going on in your body can easily cause heartburn, especially in response to certain foods. The best thing you can do for it is to keep track of the foods you eat so that you can identify which ones give you heartburn. And then avoid those foods!
Some other easy remedies for heartburn include:
- Avoid drinking during a meal
- Avoid foods that trigger your heartburn
- Sit up for a while after eating
- Use tums to manage heartburn when it does happen
Oh, constipation. If you are unfortunate enough to experience it, you know it can be uncomfortable at best. Again, the hormones and changes to your body can cause you to become constipated. Not eating well can also hinder your digestion system from working properly.
The best thing you can do to alleviate and avoid constipation is to eat well and drink plenty of water. If you’re having trouble eating well, I highly recommend The Pregnancy Cookbook for easy pregnancy recipes.
If you are experiencing this uncomfortable symptom, try some of these simple remedies:
- Eat as healthy and nutritiously as you can
- Drink plenty of water, often
- Eat lots of fiber—this will help keep things moving along
If you manage to escape this first trimester symptom, let me know. Because I will be very, very impressed. Haha! But really, the emotional roller coaster is real.
Can I be honest? I was not an emotional person before I got pregnant and had a baby. Or maybe it was just that I had very good control of them? I don’t even know. Point being, pregnancy was an emotionally rough time.
And it didn’t even end with birth. Pre-pregnancy, you’d never catch me crying over a movie. Not even the one (exactly one) that could make me feel sorta like crying. Now…different story.
The best thing you can do is to give yourself grace. Most people understand that pregnancy messes with your emotions, and most will extend grace towards you. Do the same for yourself.
Ways to ease the emotional roller coaster:
- Give yourself plenty of grace
- Get plenty of rest—exhaustion will aggravate it
- Eat well—how your body feels will play a role in how you feel mentally/emotionally
Cravings, another of the well known first trimester symptoms. This particular symptom may or may not start in the first trimester. Or, you may not experience it at all.
Personally, I really didn’t have any cravings when I was pregnant with Elijah. There was exactly one time that I really wanted pickles, but that ended pretty much immediately when I ate one too many. After that I couldn’t stand the thought of them until well after birth.
Other first trimester symptoms such as morning sickness and aversions can dampen any cravings you may be feeling. Or perhaps not.
Although they may be strange or inconvenient at times, cravings can actually give you good insight into what your body needs. Often times, your cravings will drive you toward foods that contain nutrients that your body needs. For example, pickles are high in salt/iodine. Ice cream or dairy products contain plenty of other nutrients you need.
If you’re having cravings, it may be good to allow yourself to follow them within reason. It’s also a good idea to find healthier alternatives if you’re craving a lot of junk food.
Tips for Cravings:
- Listen to your body
- Find healthy alternatives when possible
Swollen & Tender Breasts
Although labor and delivery are a ways off, your body is already preparing to feed your baby. As your body prepares to breastfeed your baby, your breasts may become swollen and tender. While this is uncomfortable, you can find some comfort in knowing that your body is simply preparing to provide for your little one.
As your pregnancy progresses, hormones will produce milk glands in your breast tissue. You may also notice that your breasts go up a size or two, which may produce some stretch marks as well. These are all good signs that your body is preparing for breastfeeding.
While you can’t really prevent tender breasts from occur, there are things you can do to ease the discomfort (source):
- Warm showers
- Cold compresses
- Supportive bras
- Loose clothes
Sensitive Gag Reflex
Right up alongside morning sickness, this was probably the among the worst of the first trimester symptoms I experienced. I found that my gag reflex become super sensitive, even if I wasn’t feeling nauseous. It made life a bit challenging for a while, with little indication of when it may be set off.
If you find that your gag reflex is extra sensitive, it may be difficult to swallow prenatal pills. Personally, I used and loved Vitafusion’s prenatal gummy vitamins. I have a hard time swallowing pill on a good day. With my pregnant gag reflex out of control, forget it. Gummy vitamins were the way to go for me.
There’s not a ton that you can do to remedy a sensitive gag reflex. Really, you just have to try to avoid anything that sets it off and hope for the best.
Have you experienced any of these symptoms yet?
While you probably won’t experience every possible pregnancy symptom, you will likely have at least one of them present during your early pregnancy. Drop a comment below and let me know what symptoms you have been having in your first trimester!