How To Survive The First Trimester Of Pregnancy
I think the first trimester of pregnancy is such a strange time: you’re initially so excited and/or anxious that you’re pregnant… then before you know it, those pesky first trimester symptoms hit you like a tonne of bricks. In this post, I’m sharing some of the most common symptoms you might experience as well as some suggestions for how you can survive the first trimester of pregnancy.
Let’s start with the basics: what symptoms are you likely to experience in the first few months of your pregnancy? The symptoms of pregnancy can vary a lot from person to person, but some of the most common symptoms you might experience during the first trimester include:
- Missed period: This is often the first sign of pregnancy (an obvious one but true nonetheless!). Small side note: you can experience some bleeding called implantation bleeding which you might mistake as the start of a period. Personally, I didn’t have any bleeding at all in my first trimester but it is fairly common.
- Nausea and vomiting: This is often referred to as morning sickness, but it can occur at any time of the day. I didn’t actually throw up but I did get very nauseous in the mornings and evenings. I had some plain biscuits (malted milk specifically) on my bedside table so I could have one as soon as I woke up and just before going to sleep to keep the nausea at bay.
- Tiredness and fatigue: Many people feel very tired during the first trimester, especially in the first few weeks after conceiving. In fact, I haven’t heard of anyone who WASN’T exhausted during this time. The reason for this is because until week 12, your body is doing all the work of growing the baby AND the placenta. Once you hit the second trimester, the placenta takes over and fatigue usually subsides. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so tired in my entire life as I did in the first trimester.
- Breast changes: Your boobs may become swollen, tender, and/or heavier in preparation for breastfeeding. Let me tell you – the boobs knew immediately. And the changes are weird – for me, I’m pretty sure I’ve increased 2-3 cup sizes (not as good as it sounds unless you’ve always wanted bigger boobs).
- Mood swings: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause mood swings. I didn’t suffer with this too badly but I did feel quite miserable from being so exhausted. Midwives assess your mental health at each appointment so if you’re suffering too badly, you can let them know at the 8 week booking appointment to see what support is available.
- Headaches: Increased hormone levels can cause headaches in some women. I got a few of these but nothing a couple of paracetamol couldn’t handle.
- Constipation: Pregnancy can cause changes in bowel movements. Again, not one I really suffered with too much but it’s worth knowing that this is quite common.
- Heartburn: The hormone progesterone can cause the stomach to empty more slowly, leading to heartburn. I’ve suffered much more with this in my second trimester but it did start in my first. Triggers can include spicy food, acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits, and eating portions that are too big as your stomach gets squeezed. Gaviscon is your friend.
- Needing to go for a wee more frequently: As the uterus grows, it puts pressure on the bladder, causing the need for more frequent bathroom trips. I got off pretty easily with this one in my first trimester. The worst night I had, I had to get up 3 times to go to the loo but I have heard some people need to go 7 or 8 times a night!
It’s important to note that not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary. In my experience, they also change as the pregnancy progresses and things move around and change in your body.
First trimester survival tips
So, bearing in mind that all sounds pretty grim, how can you make the first trimester more bearable? The first trimester of pregnancy can be a challenging time as the body undergoes many changes and you experience all these crazy symptoms that you didn’t have to deal with mere weeks ago. Here are a few tips to help you survive the first trimester:
- Take care of yourself: Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet (if you can), and try to reduce stress as much as possible. This can be easier said than done what with work, family responsibilities and wanting to hurl any time you see a vegetable. Be kind to yourself and know that the body is an amazing thing and will give your baby the nutrients it needs, even if your diet is primarily carb-based for a few months.
- Try to manage morning sickness: Some strategies that may help include eating small, frequent meals, avoiding strong odours, and getting plenty of rest. If you have severe morning sickness, speak to your midwife or doctor about medication that can help.
- Talk to your midwife or doctor: Don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions about your pregnancy.
- Stay active: Gentle exercise, such as walking or stretching, can help alleviate some pregnancy symptoms and improve your mood. I personally really enjoyed gentle yoga stretches in my first trimester and even walking around the block helped boost my mood.
- Reach out for support: Surround yourself with a supportive network of family and friends, and consider joining a pregnancy support group to connect with other people who are expecting. A lot of people want to keep the pregnancy completely private until the ‘safe’ 12 week mark but you really need to do what works for you. We told a few close family and friends around 8 weeks which made it a lot easier to feel supported.
Finally, remember that this is just a phase and you’ll soon be into your second trimester, when your symptoms should ease up (unless you’re really unlucky!).
If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms or are concerned about your pregnancy, it’s important to speak with your midwife or doctor so you can make sure you’re getting the right care for your individual circumstances.