The first weeks of pregnancy are a roller coaster ride of emotions, filled with joy and excitement along with stress and discomfort as you begin to experience some first symptoms of pregnancy.
But not to fear, because we’ve got you covered on what types of symptoms are most common during the first trimester and what items should be on the top of your to-do list!
What is the First Trimester in Pregnancy?
Wondering how long the first trimester in pregnancy is? All three trimesters last 3 months, with the first trimester beginning on the first day of your last period and lasting until the end of week 12 (i.e. months 1, 2 and 3 of pregnancy).
Often times, by the time a woman knows for sure she’s pregnant (after taking a test like the first response early result pregnancy test or having a pregnancy test done by her medical practitioner), she could already be 5 or 6 weeks along.
A lot happens during this first trimester and it’s the time of fastest growth for your baby.
Symptoms of Pregnancy in the First Trimester
In addition to your baby growing, your body will be going through a lot too. While first trimester symptoms will differ for each person, some of the most common symptoms you may experience during this trimester include:
- Morning sickness – The serious nausea and vomiting that many women experience during the first trimester is often one of the first signs of pregnancy. And, contrary to the name, it doesn’t necessarily only occur in the morning – it can happen at any time of day. In addition to feeling nauseous, many women also develop strong aversions to certain foods or smells.
Morning sickness commonly starts around the 5th or 6th week of pregnancy and peaks around the 9th week. Thankfully, it typically disappears by the second trimester, although some women still have it into their third trimester.
- Mood swings – By around week 7 you may start noticing significant swings in your mood. One moment you can be full of joy and the next feeling like you want to punch someone. But please don’t.
- Fatigue – The first trimester, more than the second and third, is one where you may experience fatigue like you never have before. Feeling this extreme tiredness can make it hard to function, so aim for quality sleep and take naps if possible. Thankfully, like morning sickness, fatigue typically passes after the first trimester and is often replaced by energy in the second trimester.
- Tender breasts – You may notice breast changes at this phase. They may start getting bigger and feeling sore or sensitive to the touch. While the tenderness should subside after your first trimester, your breasts will continue to grow and evolve throughout your pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
- Constipation – Constipation is very common during the first trimester. Help yourself by increasing your fiber intake and drinking plenty of water. Oats and raspberries are rich in fiber and easy to incorporate into breakfast, and perfect with a cup of prenatal tea.
- Increased need to pee – You may find yourself going to the bathroom a lot more than usual during the first trimester. But you still need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and reduce any potential symptoms of constipation, as mentioned above. However, in order to get the quality sleep you need, you might want to limit your fluid intake before going to bed – this way, you won’t find yourself getting up to go to the bathroom all hours of the night!
Remember that every woman is different and you may not experience some of these symptoms. Regardless, keep your eyes on the prize — your beautiful baby! — and you’ll get through it.
First Trimester To-Dos
To help you get through the first trimester and enjoy it as much as you can, here are a few items to put on your to-do list:
- Choose your practitioner – If you don’t already have a practitioner, decide which type of practitioner is best for you (e.g. OBGYN or midwife), do some research and choose the one you feel is the best match.
- Schedule your first pregnancy appointment with your practitioner – Your first prenatal appointment will typically include a thorough physical exam, as well as your first ultrasound in pregnancy. You’ll also find out your due date!
- Start taking a prenatal vitamin – Work with your practitioner to see which prenatal vitamin is best for you. Folic acid is especially important to incorporate in the first trimester.
- Create a budget – Now is a great time to review your monthly expenses and establish a new budget that incorporates anticipated costs of having a baby, from medical expenses to stocking up on supplies for the baby to designing a nursery and childcare costs if you plan to return to work after maternity leave.
- Eat properly – If you drink a lot of caffeinated beverages, now is the time to decrease your intake. You’ll also want to talk to your practitioner about which foods you should be eating more of and which foods to avoid in the first month of pregnancy.
- Exercise – Exercise is beneficial for both you and your growing baby. As long as you have the green light from your medical practitioner, aim to get 30 minutes of pregnancy-safe exercise on most days. Using a heart rate monitor is a good idea to ensure you’re not overexerting yourself. Check with your doctor to see what your maximum heart rate should be.
- Think about baby names – If you don’t already have a name picked out, start a list of potential names for both genders.
- Plan the announcement of your pregnancy – Think about how and when you want to tell your friends and family this wonderful news. Many women wait until the end of the first trimester to make this announcement since the risk of miscarriage is lower. But there’s no right or wrong time to share the news with your closest loved ones – do whatever you’re most comfortable with.
- Check your employer’s maternity leave policy – If you’re employed, think about when to let your boss know. You’ll also want to do some research on your employer’s maternity leave policy during this stage of your pregnancy so you can plan ahead.
Pregnancy is such an amazing time, full of a variety of emotions and physical changes! Use this guide to help you navigate your first trimester and gain peace of mind as you start out on this precious journey. Be sure to also check out our Second Trimester Guide and Third Trimester Guide.
Disclaimer: None of the information presented in this article is in any way intended to be medical advice. It’s essential to speak with your medical practitioner throughout your pregnancy to determine your unique nutrition, exercise and medical needs.