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First Trimester Body Changes Explained


During your pregnancy, you might feel tired even when you've had a lot of sleep at night. Many women find they're exhausted in the first trimester. Don't worry -- this is normal! This is your body's way of telling you that you need more rest. After all, your body is working hard to develop another life. Tiredness will pass over time and will be replaced with a feeling of well-being and increased energy.
When you are tired, get some rest. Try to get about eight hours of sleep every night, and a nap during the day if you can. If you feel stressed, try to find a way to relax. You might want to start sleeping on your left side, if you find it more comfortable. This will relieve pressure on major blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. If you have high blood pressure during pregnancy, it is even more important to be on your left side when you are lying down.
Nausea and Vomiting
Usually called "morning sickness," nausea and vomiting are common during the first trimester of pregnancy. For many women, though, it isn't limited to just the morning. Although it can seem like it will last forever, nausea and vomiting usually go away after the first trimester. Try some of these tips to help your nausea:
  • Eat frequent, small meals (6 to 8 small meals a day, rather than 3 large meals).
  • Avoid fatty, fried, or spicy foods.
  • Try starchy foods, like toast, saltines, Cheerios, or other dry cereals. Keep some by your bed, and eat them before you get out of bed in the morning and when you get up in the middle of the night. Keep some with you at all times in case you feel nauseous.
  • Try drinking carbonated drinks, like ginger ale or seltzer water, in between meals.
  • Ask your doctor if you should stop taking your prenatal vitamin for a while if it adds to your morning sickness.
  • Ask your doctor if you should take vitamin B6 treatments for severe nausea and vomiting that doesn't get better with the dietary changes listed above.
If you are vomiting a lot during the first trimester, you might want to call your doctor to make sure you don't get dehydrated (lose too much fluid in your body). When the nausea and vomiting begins to go away, try to resume a healthy eating plan and take your prenatal vitamins.
Frequency of Urination
Running to the bathroom all the time? Frequent urination is common during pregnancy. During the first trimester, the growing uterus presses on your bladder. If you notice pain, burning, or pus or blood in your urine, see your doctor right away. You might have a urinary tract infection that needs treatment.
As your uterus begins to expand during the first trimester, you might notice that you're constipated. To prevent constipation, try to eat fresh or dried fruit, raw vegetables, and whole-grain cereals or breads every day. Also, try to drink eight to ten glasses of water every day. Some of these servings can be substituted with fruit or vegetable juice. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, colas, and some other sodas), since caffeine makes your body lose fluid and won't help with constipation.
Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, and even fainting can occur at any stage of pregnancy, since there now is extra blood going down toward your uterus and legs. You can help relieve these symptoms by lying on your left side. Or, to help prevent them, try moving around more instead of sitting or standing in one position for a long time.
Varicose Veins and Hemorrhoids
During pregnancy, pressure on the large veins behind the uterus causes the blood to slow in its return to the heart. This can lead to varicose veins in the legs and hemorrhoids (varicose veins in the vagina or around the anus). Varicose veins look like swollen veins raised above the surface of the skin. They can be twisted or bulging, and are dark purple or blue in color. They are found most often on the backs of the calves or on the inside of the leg, anywhere from the groin to the ankle.
You can try to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy by:
  • Avoiding tight knee-highs or garters.
  • Sitting with your legs and feet raised when possible. If you work at a desk, you can prop your feet up on a footstool, box, or several books. When relaxing at home, keep your feet up on a footstool, some pillows on the couch, or another chair.
Leg Cramps
At different times during your pregnancy, you might have cramps in your legs or feet. This is due to a change in the way your body processes, or metabolizes, calcium. One way to prevent these cramps is to make sure to get enough calcium through nonfat or low-fat milk and calcium-rich foods. You also get some calcium in your prenatal vitamin, but you might need to take a calcium supplement if you don't get enough through your diet. Talk with your doctor first about taking calcium supplements.
You can relieve leg and foot cramps by gently stretching the muscle. If you have a sudden leg cramp, flex your foot toward your body. If you point your foot to stretch your leg, the cramp could worsen. Wrapping a warm heating pad or warm, moist towel around the muscle also can help the muscle to relax.
Nosebleeds, Nasal Stuffiness, and Bleeding Gums
These little discomforts during the first trimester are the result of hormonal effects on the tissues of your throat, mouth, and nose. They usually are not serious, and you might not even notice them. When you blow your nose, you might see a small amount of blood in the tissue. Blow gently, and stop a nosebleed by squeezing your nose between your thumb and finger for a few minutes.
You should see your doctor if you have nosebleeds that do not stop in a few minutes or that happen often. Any nasal stuffiness that you experience during pregnancy should not be extreme and can be helped by drinking extra water or by using a cool-mist humidifier in your bedroom. Talk with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter or prescription medicines for colds or nasal stuffiness. You can help bleeding gums by brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing daily.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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