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Pregnancy - What to Expect in the First Trimester

Pregnancy - What to Expect in the First Trimester

Before you even know you are pregnant, your body will undergo a whole spectrum of hormonal changes, which affect almost every organ system in your body and can trigger symptoms even in the very first weeks of pregnancy. Your period stopping is a clear sign that you are pregnant. There are a range of other changes, some of which are more subtle than others and include:

  • Feeling extremely tired.
  • Tender, swollen breasts. Your nipples might also stick out.
  • Morning sickness or stomach upset, with or without throwing up.
  • Cravings or distaste for certain foods.
  • Mood swings.
  • Constipation.
  • Need to urinate more frequently.
  • Headache.
  • Heartburn.
  • Weight gain or loss.

You will likely need to make some adjustments in your daily routines as your body begins to experience these changes, such as eating smaller, more frequent meals, and getting more sleep than you have in the past. Some of these first trimester symptoms, such as morning sickness, will subside as your pregnancy progresses. Some women do not feel much discomfort at all during the first trimester, and just because you felt one way during a pregnancy doesn’t mean another pregnancy will feel the same.

Being prepared for your first trimester

If you are preparing to become pregnant, or learn that you are in the early stages of a pregnancy, you will want to have a comprehensive conversation with your AOA doctor, so that you feel prepared for what is to come. Talk with your doctor about:

  • Your age and how it will affect your pregnancy.
  • Any previous pregnancies you’ve had. Did you have a full-term pregnancy (your baby was born close to your due date)? Did you give birth via a vaginal delivery or a cesarean section ("C-section") surgery? If you had a C-section, what type of C-section was it? Did any of your pregnancies end in miscarriage, voluntary abortion, or an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy?
  • Do you feel ready for this pregnancy? Does it come at a good time for you?
  • Is your partner supportive of this pregnancy?
  • When was the first day of your last menstrual period?
  • How long is your usual menstrual cycle?
  • Have you experienced any morning sickness? How severe?
  • Have you had any vaginal bleeding?
  • Are you having any significant pain?
  • Discuss any chronic medical conditions you may have, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid problems, asthma, tuberculosis, epilepsy, or heart disease.
  • Discuss any history you may have had with sexually transmitted infections.
  • Discuss your family medical history and identify if there are any problems that tend to run in your family.
  • Discuss any medications (including over-the-counter medications) you may be taking.
  • Discuss whether you smoke, use any recreational drugs, or if you drink alcohol and how much you consume during an average week.
  • Did you have any problems getting pregnant?
  • Do you eat a well-balanced diet?
  • Are you currently taking any vitamins?
  • Do you exercise regularly?

At your new pregnancy visit, your AOA physician also will give you a full examination that includes taking your blood pressure, pulse and weight; checking your heart, chest and abdomen; and doing a pelvic exam, a Pap smear and cervical cultures. You will have a test to confirm your pregnancy, along with blood tests to screen for sexually transmitted diseases, and a urinalysis. In addition, the doctor will use a portable Doppler instrument or stethoscope to measure fetal heart sounds if you are far enough along in your pregnancy.

The combination of medical history and tests provides you and your AOA physician with a clear baseline for monitoring your health and your baby’s health throughout your pregnancy. You may not “look pregnant” during this first trimester, but your body will be changing rapidly and being prepared for these changes can help alleviate some of the discomfort and get your pregnancy off to a smooth start.

Learn more about the first trimester of pregnancy: