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What Should I Expect During The First Trimester?

Pregnancy during the first trimester resembles a roller coaster ride. During the first trimester, you may experience a variety of challenging symptoms such as headaches, backaches, morning sickness, implantation bleeding and cramping, frequent urination, cravings and food and odor aversions. Your symptoms may be severe one day and non-existent the next. In addition, you may have one symptom one day and another next. Do not worry if your symptoms appear to fade or disappear for a few days, they will appear in full force soon enough.first trimester pregnancy

The symptoms you experience are the result of increasing estrogen, progesterone and pregnancy hormones (HCG). Your hormone levels fluctuate wildly during pregnancy, so it is not uncommon to feel frustrated by your pregnancy symptoms. First trimester symptoms typically begin during your 5th or 6th week of pregnancy, but they can occur as early as the 4th week of pregnancy. These symptoms normally subside during the 2nd and 3rd trimester as new symptoms emerge.

Missed Period

I didn’t have a period this month.

One of the first pregnancy symptoms you may experience is a missed period. You notice that you are late for your period. This may be especially noticeable if you have your period at the same time each month. If you are irregular, you may actually miss this symptom and find out that your pregnant weeks or months later.

In addition, you may have spotting or light bleeding around the time of your expected period, but it will be lighter in color and amount then your normal period. The bleeding that occurs around your period is probably implantation bleeding. Implantation bleeding occurs around the time of your expected (approximately 6 to 12 days past ovulation) as your fertilized egg burrows deep into your uterine wall.  You may not have implantation bleeding, but notice cramps around the time of your period. This may also be considered part of implantation.

Morning Sickness

I constantly feel sick to my stomach.

A common first trimester pregnancy symptom is morning sickness (nausea and vomiting). Morning sickness can occur at any time of the day and last all day long. You may or may not have morning sickness, but for those who do suffer from this condition, it can be quite taxing on the body and mind. Morning sickness may begin as early as the 4th week of pregnancy and last throughout the pregnancy, but it typically occurs around the 6th week of pregnancy and last until the 2nd trimester.

The exact cause of morning sickness is unknown, but an increase in estrogen, progesterone and HCG can delay digestion, resulting in nausea and vomiting. In some cases morning sickness can lead to hyperemesis gravidarum, severe, life-threatening nausea and vomiting.

Frequent Urination

I feel like I have to pee every 10 minutes.

During the first trimester (weeks 1-12) of pregnancy, you may experience frequent urination. It may feel that you have to pee every 10 minutes. This symptom is commonly associated with early pregnancy, but it also occurs during the 2nd and 3rd trimester as your body produces excess fluid and your baby puts excess pressure on your kidneys. In early pregnancy, frequent urination is associated with an increase in hormones (estrogen, progesterone and HCG).


This headache will not go away.

During your first trimester you may notice that you are having more headaches than normal. This occurs as a result of increased blood flow throughout your body, hormonal sensitivities and fluctuations, genetics and/or fatigue. Increased blood flow can increase your risk of pregnancy-related headaches. In addition, if you have a pre-pregnancy history of headaches or migraines, you have an increased risk of having those same headaches or migraines during your pregnancy.

Moreover, if a family member had headaches during pregnancy, there is a good chance you will as well. Lastly, you may experience an increase in headaches simply because you are tired. Pregnancy can zap your energy levels and when you are tired, you are more likely to get a headache.

Gastrointestinal Distress

I have heartburn every time I eat something.

You may experience an increase in heartburn, constipation, flatulence (gas) and/or diarrhea during the first trimester of pregnancy. During this stage of pregnancy, foods are pushed down your esophagus to your stomach at a slower pace and digestion is delayed. The delayed digestion can cause gastrointestinal distress. The delayed digestion also causes your stomach to empty at a slower pace, which is needed to ensure that your unborn baby receives the nutrients he or she needs to develop properly.

Food Cravings and Aversions

I crave the strangest foods.

During your first trimester of pregnancy you may develop food cravings and aversions. Your favorite foods may become your enemy because they trigger bouts of morning sickness or foods that you used to detest may become your best friends. You may crave strange combinations of foods such as pizza and turnip greens or pickles and ice cream or you may shun foods such as popcorn or coffee because the smells make you sick to the stomach. Your food cravings and aversion may begin during the 6th week and last throughout your entire pregnancy.

Tender and Swollen Breasts

My breasts are so sore.

You may notice that your breasts have grown in size during the first trimester. They may also be sore to touch, tingle, ache or become numb at times. This is normal. Your breasts are preparing for the arrival of your unborn baby by increasing the size of your milk glands. In addition, hormonal fluctuations contribute to the tenderness you feel in your breasts and sometimes your nipples.

Extreme Tiredness

I can’t keep my eyes open anymore.

One of the most common first trimester symptoms is extreme tiredness (fatigue). During the first trimester your body is going through a plethora of changes. Your body is constantly changing to accommodate your growing baby, which can be quite taxing. At times you may be too tired to get out of bed or you may find yourself falling asleep sitting up on the couch. Do not worry, your energy should return during the 2nd trimester.


Brann, J. W. (2009). Your Pregnancy MD: The First Trimester.    New York, NY: CreateSpace Independent Publishing      Platform.


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