Pregnancy week by week

Baby

Toddler

Symptoms of first trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy also referred to as early pregnancy extends from the time of conception to twelve weeks of gestation. This stage of pregnancy is marked by an invisible yet amazing transformation. For the foetus, this is a very crucial period as the vital organs begin to form during this time. Some women experience symptoms of pregnancy within a week of conception. For other women, pregnancy symptoms may develop over a few weeks. Knowing what physical and emotional changes lay ahead can help you face the months ahead with confidence.  If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is important that you take a home pregnancy test.


1) Missed period

Perhaps the most obvious early symptom of pregnancy is missed period. The rising hormone levels prevent you from shedding the uterine lining at the time you had expected to have your period. However, some women may experience slight spotting or a much lighter period compared to their usual.


2) Nausea or vomiting

This early and uncomfortable sign of pregnancy usually begins around the sixth week of pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting are usually worse in the morning but may continue throughout the day. It may range from mild queasiness to frequent vomiting. There may be a persistent metallic taste in the mouth and you may not feel like eating.  It has been attributed to the swift rise in the hormone levels and once this settles down, the sickness usually disappears. This usually happens around 12-16 weeks as your body adjusts to these hormonal changes.

However, some women may have this feeling throughout their pregnancy; a condition called “hyper emesis gravidarum”. This is an unusual form of pregnancy sickness which can cause dehydration, electrolyte disturbance and starvation as a result of excessive vomiting. See your doctor if you are being sick several times a day for more than three days.

You may feel that it is part of being pregnant, but still you can do plenty of things to keep yourself comfortable. Here are few tips that might help to ease the symptoms:

Ways to cope with morning sickness

  • Eat little and often. Have 4 to 6 smaller meals on a regular schedule and plan to have healthy snacks in between.
     
  • Avoid having an empty stomach. Keep healthy snacks like dried fruits, ginger biscuits, fruits and nuts with you.

  • Maintain a healthy, well balanced diet during pregnancy.

  • Try eating a dry toast or a biscuit before you get out of bed, and get up slowly

  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep and take short naps during the day if possible.

  • Ginger helps some women; try ginger biscuits, or ginger tea

  • Sucking peppermints, or drinking peppermint tea may help

  • Get a fresh lemon, cut it in half and give it a good sniff.

  • Avoid food or smells that aggravate  the nausea

  • Increase your intake of fluids to combat dehydration

  • Avoid eating fatty and spicy food

  • Eat before nausea strikes that is eat well before going to bed and before stepping out of bed

  • Get enough of sleep and rest. Try not to get too tired or stressed out.

  • Go for a walk and take deep breaths of fresh air.

 
3) Tender, swollen breasts

One of the very noticeable early signs of pregnancy is tender and swollen breasts. The breasts grow quickly in size and density during pregnancy and hence, feel full and heavy. The rapid growth causes breasts to be tender and painful. As pregnancy progresses, hormone changes stimulate milk production, causing breast to increase even more as milk ducts get filled with milk in anticipation for breast feeding. During the third trimester, many pregnant women start leaking milk from their breast. Nipples, particularly the dark area around the nipple called the areola, enlarge and darken in anticipation of breast feeding. These changes are due to hormone releases in the body.

Ways to cope with breast pain and tenderness
  • Start using a good fitting maternity bra early in the pregnancy
     
  • Put lotion or cocoa butter on your nipples

  • Puts pads in your bra to help ease the pressure and absorb leakage when breasts start leaking milk.


4) Implantation bleeding

Some women may get light bleeding in the early weeks of pregnancy. There may be slight staining of pink or brown colour, with some cramps. This is sometimes caused by the embryo implanting in the uterus. If the bleeding is painless, that’s a good sign. If the bleeding is accompanied by the cramps, that’s not so good. Consult your doctor immediately, even if the bleeding stops. Usually light spotting or dark brown bleeding is not considered a major problem. However, if there’s bright red bleeding, especially if it’s accompanied by pain, you will need immediate attention. It may be a sign of a miscarriage, or an ectopic pregnancy. Refer to the section on Danger signs of pregnancy to read more. In any case, you must consult your doctor to rule out any complication.


5) Fatigue

For some women, one of the earliest signs of pregnancy may be fatigue and exhaustion. You may find it harder than usual to get out of bed in the morning. During early pregnancy, levels of the hormone progesterone rises which can make you feel tired and sleepy. Additionally, low blood sugar levels, low blood pressure and increased blood production might together may leave you feeling exhausted. Don’t worry, this is normal. This is your body’s way of telling you that you need to slow and rest. As you move to the second trimester, tiredness is usually replaced with a feeling of well being and energy.


6) Frequent urination

Another early symptom of pregnancy is a need to pass urine more often. Pressure from your enlarging uterus can lead to frequent need to pass urine, as well as leaking of urine while sneezing, coughing, or laughing.

Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Do your Kegel exercises to tone up your pelvic floor muscles. If you experience burning sensation while passing urine, or you have fever, abdominal pain or backache; it may be a sign of an infection. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms as urinary infections if untreated increase the risk of pregnancy complications.


7) Headaches

You may feel pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck in the early weeks of pregnancy. This is due to sudden rise of hormones in your body that can cause you to have headaches. By mid pregnancy, most headaches decrease in severity or disappear.

Ways to alleviate headaches

  • Place a cool compress on your forehead or on the back of your neck and sit in a dark, quiet room.
     
  • Avoid loud noise, bright lights and strong smells.

  • Try yoga or meditation.

  • Make sure you are hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

  • Do gentle exercises for at least 30 minutes a day.

  • Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night.

  • Avoid chocolate, artificial sweeteners, MSG


8) Heartburn or indigestion

Many women get heartburn during pregnancy. Heart burn is a burning feeling in your stomach, sometimes rising up to your throat. This may be accompanied by nausea, bloating, burping and abdominal discomfort. Pregnancy hormones make the muscles at the top of the stomach lax so they don’t close properly. This allows the acids to come back up from the stomach. As your baby grows bigger, the uterus pushes on the stomach, making this symptom worse during late pregnancy.

Ways to cope with heart burn

  • Try to eat small, frequent meals (have 6 smaller meals rather than 3 large ones)
     
  • Avoid spicy and fried food.

  • Do not lie down after meals

  • Drink water or milk when you get the burning feeling.

  • Sleep propped up on pillows.

  • If heartburn keeps you awake at night, eat early rather than late in the evening.

  • Ask for a remedy from your doctor that is safe to take in pregnancy

In early pregnancy, several small meals are often easier to cope with than two or three larger ones. Try these ideas; they will also help you make every meal count in that they provide good nutrition for you and your growing baby:

  • Well- cooked scrambled egg with grilled tomatoes
     
  • Fruit salad with yoghurt

  • Ginger and digestive biscuits with cheese spread

  • Cheese, crackers and grapes

  • Toasted sandwich with cheese and tomato

  • Home- made soups with plenty of vegetables and pulses (peas, beans, lentils)

  • For drinks have orange, apple, mango juice, a glass of milk, or tomato juice.

 
9) Constipation

The constantly changing level of the hormone progesterone, which slows down the movement of food through your digestive system, can result in constipation. Many women who are pregnant but don’t realize it, may write it off as an unrelated problem. Signs of constipation include having hard, dry stools; fewer than three bowel movements per week; and painful bowel movements. Constipation is not harmful in itself, but it can be very uncomfortable and can lead to haemorrhoids or piles in late pregnancy.

Tips for dealing with constipation

  • Regular exercise can help your bowel to work better.
  • Have regular meals with plenty of fibre (fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals and breads)

  • Drink lots of water (8-10 glasses daily)

  • If your constipation does not go away, ask your doctor to advise you a laxative that is safe to use during pregnancy

 
10) Feeling faint or light headed.

You may feel light-headed or faint while going up the stairs, standing up suddenly after sitting for some time, or when you have gone without eating for long. As the uterus enlarges it compresses arteries in your legs. This can drop your blood pressure and make you dizzy. Since your body is using all the extra energy to nourish your baby, it becomes important that you don’t go without food for too long. Make it a habit of munching some snacks in between meals. Some healthy snack options are bananas, grapes, apples, flavoured yoghurt cups, fruit juice, and pack of raisins or cereal bars. Avoid standing for long and stand up slowly. Don’t skip meals and lie on your left side while sleeping.

 

11) Your emotions

Being pregnant brings with it a whole host of emotions. You may be ecstatic one moment and sad the other. Your emotional state may range from periods of euphoria to bouts of depression. You may also experience bouts of crying for no reason at all. In addition, positive and negative feelings about your family, finances, career, and relationships may all come out at once. It is natural to worry about your baby’s health or financial demands of raising a child. If you are working, you might worry about how to balance the competing demands of your career and your health.

Mood swings can occur at any time during pregnancy as your hormones fluctuate, but most women experience an increase in the third trimester. Depression and anxiety are common during pregnancy and pose no harm to your baby. To cope with your emotions, remind yourself that what you are feeling is normal. If the mood changes become severe and start interfering with you day to day activities, consult your doctor for advice.


Ways of coping with mood swings

  • Try deep breathing/relaxation techniques  to cope with all the negative emotions swirling about in your mind.
     
  • Think calm thoughts, and try to lean on your husband, close relatives and friends for support.

  • Try to get involved in activities that you enjoy.

  • Exercise daily

     
 

 

 



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