Long before anyone notices your pregnancy on the outside, you'll feel your pregnancy from the inside. First trimester symptoms can catch you off guard because the pregnancy is still so new and because it's often thought that pregnancy symptoms occur only when your further along.
First trimester pregnancy symptoms vary widely. You could be fortunate enough to breeze through your first trimester with only a few minor symptoms, like feeling more tired and having aversion to certain smells, or you could be part of the group that experiences extreme nausea from hyperemesis gravidarum. Below is a list of the more common first trimester symptoms along with tips that can help you cope better.
First Trimester Symptoms
Implantation spotting (bleeding) - Around 6 to 12 days after fertilization, the egg will implant in the lining of your uterus, which can cause light spotting.
Tips to Cope: Implantation bleeding is light so you can wear a panty liner if it makes you feel more comfortable, but there should not be enough blood to soak through your underwear (heavier bleeding could signal a problem). It helps to know about implantation bleeding so you can be mentally prepare and feel more relieved if you do experience spotting. Some people do not experience or notice implantation spotting.
Tender breasts - Thanks to pregnancy hormones, tender breasts may be one of your first noticeable symptoms of pregnancy. It could also be a sign that your period is about to start. Tender breasts will likely continue throughout the first trimester and possibly throughout pregnancy.
Tips to Cope: Wearing a supportive bra and avoiding tummy sleeping will help avoid some discomfort. Generally the tenderness does not cause pain that requires medication, but if so, talk to your care provider about safe over-the-counter pain relief medications. You can also try ice/cool packs and/or heating pads/rice socks to periodically and temporarily bring relief.
Nausea - Another symptom caused by those amazing, but sometimes pesky, pregnancy hormones. Some don't feel nauseous until week 6 or 8 of their pregnancy while others report feeling queasy earlier. A more serious form of nausea is called hyperemesis gravidarum for which medical attention and management is often required.
Tips to Cope: If the nausea is bad enough to affect your day-to-day ability to function, talk to your care provider about prescribed medication. If nausea is mild, start keeping track of which foods seem to work best with your stomach and stock up on those, even if means you're eating the same thing for a while. Some people find that eating a couple of crackers and drinking some water immediately upon waking helps curb/improve nausea in the morning. Taking a prenatal vitamin at night can also help avoid the sour stomach that often results from vitamins.
Tiredness - Pregnancy has the tendency to make you feel overly tired, even if you feel like you "haven't done anything." Thanks again to pregnancy hormones, you may find yourself trying to take a nap anytime, anywhere.
Tips to Cope: Sleep! Taking a nap or going to bed when you want to isn't always possible, but it does help to try and get a full 8-10 hours of sleep of night. If your work allows, consider sneaking away to your car for a short 15-20 minute nap -- it doesn't sound like much, but it can make a big difference. Early evening naps can help too. Coffee, for a quick pick-me-up, is safe in pregnancy up to 200 milligrams per day.
Cramping - As your uterus begins to change and grow -- especially if this is your first pregnancy -- you may experience frequent cramping that feels similar to menstrual cramps.
Tips to Cope: Your go-to comfort strategies for coping with cramps during your period will also help during early pregnancy. Rest, a warm bath, exercise, a heating pad or rice sock, having an orgasm, and over-the-counter (pregnancy safe) medication can help alleviate cramping.
Back ache - Cramping and the normal process of ligaments loosening from pregnancy hormones can result in a dull back ache.
Tips to Cope: Back ache can be treated the same way you would treat cramps (see above). Be sure to also take care in how you support your back during day-to-day activities and exercise, and with the shoes you wear (flats are best). Proper support and alignment can go a long way in preventing increased back pain.
Frequent urination - Peeing all the time begins in the first trimester, subsides in the second, and comes back with a vengeance in the third. In the first trimester, it isn't caused by baby's size, but an increase in your body's fluids and circulation.
Tips to Cope: Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to alleviate this symptom. Cope by mapping out the bathrooms in your environment, peeing before you leave to go anywhere, and going when you need to go. Don't limit fluids to avoid having to pee; staying hydrated during pregnancy is important!
Sensitivity to smells and food aversions - Most people experience some kind of aversion during pregnancy, thanks once again to hormones.
Tips to Cope: Avoid places (when possible) with strong smells. Considering you may not know which kinds of smells will offend you until it happens, create a quick-exit strategy when dining out or in grocery stores.
Light-headedness or fainting - Fainting isn't just for the movies -- it is a real symptom that often pops up in early pregnancy due to major changes in blood volume in your body. It can also be caused by low blood sugar.
Tips to Cope: Sometimes, there's not much you can do to avoid this except be aware of your body's signals. If you feel like you need to sit down or get some air, don't wait, do it right away. If you're prone to blood sugar issues, be sure to keep small simple carb snacks with you at all times. Don't go too long in between meals, if you can help it.
Mood swings - If you've noticed unusual spells of weepiness or irritability, you might just be pregnant! This is caused by -- you guessed it -- an increase in hormones.
Tips to Cope: There isn't much you can do to avoid mood changes. How you treat yourself during these times is perhaps most important. Be patient and allow yourself to feel what you need to feel without heaping on any guilt or shame. Call on your support system for comfort, empathy, and understanding.