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What Should I Expect in the First Trimester?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 05, 2024
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When a woman is pregnant, her body goes through rapid changes that are usually quite noticeable, especially to her. In the first trimester, everything is changing to adjust to the developing fetus and the needs that the woman will have after the baby is born. Certain new hormones are produced by the growing fetus or the placenta that may result in a lot of different symptoms, and the growth of the baby alone will make some changes in daily living. Symptoms and changes in the first trimester are variable, and some women will feel more uncomfortable than others.

The presences of hormones like human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) can cause some of the most uncomfortable and noticeable symptoms of first trimester pregnancy. HCG may create significant mood shifts. You may be joyously happy one minute and teary the next, and these feelings can seem a little overwhelming until you get used to them. Another common side effect of HCG is that it can cause the dreaded morning sickness, which may not always occur in the morning and many not always be so dreadful.

Some women find they are turned off by food smells, but rarely feel more than nauseous. Other women, especially from about week six on, find they get nauseous and vomit regularly. It can help to keep eating light meals — avoiding foods that seem repellent — since low blood sugar can make the situation worse. It’s also important to talk to your doctor about very frequent nausea, especially if you can’t seem to keep any food down. Fortunately morning sickness tends to cease by the end of the first trimester, though some women still remain sensitive to smells.

The mother’s body undergoes changes during the first trimester. These include swelling of the breasts, which can make breasts feel sore and painful. Skin around the nipples darkens within a few weeks after pregnancy has occurred. The abdomen may increase in size, and clothes may get a little tight. If it’s a first pregnancy, this may not be that noticeable and you usually won’t need maternity clothes this early. If you’ve had babies before, the abdominal muscles can be slightly weaker and cause the appearance of the baby belly a little sooner.

Other changes include the need to frequently urinate, as the uterus begins to put pressure on the bladder. This pressure may also cause constipation and hemorrhoids. Another thing women may experience in the first trimester is an overall sense of fatigue. Everything may seem exhausting but you won’t always feel this way. In fact, second trimesters can often be a time when you feel terrific and have high energy.

Expecting a baby can be an emotional time for anyone, and there can be some anxiety about getting through the discomfort of a first trimester. Discuss these feelings with your doctor, who you should start seeing per his/her recommended schedule once you know you’re pregnant. Physical symptoms can also seem a bit overwhelming at first and it’s important to be kind to yourself during this time period. Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet, and get out for light exercise regularly.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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