Common Discomforts of Pregnancy: The First Trimester
Updated: Oct 22, 2021
During the first trimester of pregnancy, while the baby might be very small, the symptoms you may experience may be large (but hopefully not in charge...).
In today's article, let's talk about some commonly experienced symptoms during the first trimester and ways that you can help alleviate the discomforts that these symptoms may cause.
Nausea: One of the most commonly known symptoms of pregnancy is nausea, and there is good reason for it! From the moment that conception occurs, your body floods with hormones to help support the rapid changes that are now taking place inside your uterus. Thanks to these hormones drastically rising, it can cause you to feel nauseous. The exact reasoning for this is not officially known but there are a few things that you can try to help reduce the discomfort of nausea. Luckily, nausea is reported to be for the most part exclusive to the first trimester and then it naturally subsides in most people.
Try: Eat frequently. Dips in blood sugar have been reported to increase the sensation of nausea. Now that your body is working extra hard to not only support you and your body's needs, it is also busy making another human being! This means that it will require that you properly nourish It to help assist with this task. When eating, try to eat balanced snack (protein, fat and carbs). The body's requirement for protein increases tremendously during pregnancy (80 - 100 grams daily) and by consuming somewhere within this range, you can minimize blood sugar dips.
Vomiting: For the same reason nausea exists in pregnancy, vomiting can be present as well. For most pregnant people, nausea and vomiting are symptoms that go away after the first trimester is over. Vomiting due to overwhelming amounts of nausea can be one of pregnancy's less than fun symptoms. One risk associated with vomiting (and any other kind of bodily fluid loss) is dehydration. Upon vomiting, it is very important to hydrate.
Try: Put electrolytes in your water! While this will not help with subsiding the vomiting, it will help you retain your hydration and can make water taste a heck of a lot more exciting than usual. A personal favorite of mine is a powder called Liquid IV. It goes directly into a water bottle and can add a hint of flavor that sits nicely on a nauseous tummy. Also try eating a diet that is easily digestible to help take a load off of your stomachs workload (e.g. cooked oatmeal, soup/bone broth, yogurt, congee).
Breast/Chest tenderness: As the breast/chest tissues begin to prepare for lactation, they can become noticeably tender. Unfortunately, as long as hormones are rising like they should to support the pregnancy, the tenderness will be present.
Try: Warm compresses can help alleviate some of the discomforts. For some individuals, a supportive bra can feel good as well. For others, no bra may feel good.
Increased urination: Ah yes...hormones. Progesterone and HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) are to blame for this one. Once again, as the pregnancy progresses, these hormones naturally rise which means that these symptoms do not have a cure. It is important to remember that even though the sensation of having to pee is obnoxious, it will subside a bit after the first trimester as hormones begin to settle in to their new normal.
Try: If out and about, make sure to go pee when the bathroom is available. This will feel like a lot but it is better to go while the bathroom is available than to wait and have a full bladder. Also keep in mind that this is not an excuse to cut back on fluid intake! It is VERY important to remember to continue to hydrate.
Mild cramping: As the uterus expands and progesterone levels rise, uterine cramping can be an experienced symptom. This type of cramping may feel similar to menstrual cramps and may occasionally be accompanied by light spotting. If these progress to becoming moderate and/or bleeding progresses, please contact your provider right away.
Try: Warm compresses are great to help alleviate discomfort. A warm bath is another way to apply warmth.
Fatigue: Fatigue is a very normal and expected symptom of early pregnancy. Your body is busy at work! The best thing that you can do to help your body through this time, is to support it through nutrition and supplementation. Your body will need a steady source of energy to be able to continue on with its normal functions as well as building the foundation of your baby!
Try: Prioritize eating a diet high in protein, vitamins and minerals. In our modern times, this can be challenging to do strictly through food so the use of high-quality vitamins and supplements can help bridge the gaps.
Bloating: Yet again, progesterone can be to blame for another undesirable early pregnancy symptom! Progesterone is known to slow down digestion, which can trap gas in the bowels.
Try: Some foods cause more gas and indigestion than others. During the first trimester, trying eating foods that are easily digestible to make for less work during the digestion process.
Increased flatulence: For the same reason that bloating can occur, so can gas. It can be very obnoxious to constantly have to pass gas but do know that it is normal!
Try: Same recommendations as listed for bloating. Another helpful resource is taking a probiotic. Probiotics help optimize gut health, and help move thing along through the bowels. Better out then in!
Appetite changes/Food aversions: The body is an expert at understanding its own needs! As it is busy building your baby, it will need nutrition and supplementation to give it the energy to complete these tasks. Your metabolism will change rapidly to keep up with the body's increasing needs. This may result in appetite changes as your body attempts to communicate its needs to you. Another contributing factor might be nausea/vomiting. It can be hard to want to eat a big juicy steak when nausea is your new best friend.
Try: Play around with finding sources of protein that you can tolerate. In our day and age, we have the ability to eat a large variety of foods, so do not limit yourself!Just because meats may not sound good (or you may be vegetarian/vegan) there are SO many other options for protein (e.g. legumes, humus, eggs, nuts, nut butters, chia seeds, etc.).
Muscle cramping: Muscle cramping can happen for a variety of reasons, some of which include: dehydration, change in blood flow or circulation, nerve compression, lack of minerals (potassium, calcium, or magnesium).
Try: Drink your fluids, eat a balanced diet and summplement in the areas that may be lacking (potassium, calcium, or magnesium).
American Pregnancy Association. (2021, October 12). Muscle Cramps During Pregnancy. Retrieved October 22, 2021, from https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/muscle-cramps-during-pregnancy/
Cheung, K. L., & Lafayette, R. A. (2013). Renal Physiology of Pregnancy. Division of Nephrology, Stanford University, 20(3), 209–214. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.ackd.2013.01.012
Gadsby, R., Ivanova, D., Trevelyan, E., Hutton, J. L., & Johnson, S. (2021). The onset of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a prospective cohort study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-020-03478-7
Moodt, G. (2017). Breast Tenderness in Pregnancy. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 32(1), 19–21.
Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/search/pregnancy%20announcement/