Skip to main content

What are some common first trimester pregnancy symptoms? What to expect

Pregnancy is an amazing process that’s full of wonder. Once you get past the initial excitement of finding out that you’re expecting, you wait for those first fluttery kicks. Then you get to see your baby for the first time via ultrasound.

In the meantime, however, the first trimester has its own set of signs that might leave you perplexed. Finding out more about the first trimester symptoms and what to avoid during this early phase of pregnancy might help to clarify your questions.

Lady sitting at edge of bed with her hand on her mouth

Common first trimester symptoms

As you start out on your pregnancy journey, you’ll notice changes right away — both physical and emotional. For example, you might experience morning sickness which ranges from minor nausea in the early hours of the day to constant vomiting. Some women also complain of a constant queasiness during random times of the day while others do not suffer from morning sickness at all. Ironically, your best option for avoiding morning sickness is to refrain from going on an empty stomach all day and to eat much smaller meals about six times a day.

Another common symptom is fatigue which, oddly enough, doesn’t correlate to your sleep patterns but rather hormone changes. During the first trimester, your body produces more progesterone which causes you to feel more tired for no apparent reason. Fortunately, you can offset the pregnancy fatigue by maintaining a well-balanced diet and getting some light exercise like walking.

Other common first trimester symptoms include:

  • Cravings
  • Aversions to certain flavors or odors
  • Tenderness in your breasts
  • Changes in your complexion or “pregnancy glow”

All these symptoms can be attributed to rapid hormone changes taking place. However, these alterations serve the purpose of paving the way for the baby’s development and birth.

Unexpected early pregnancy symptoms

At the same time, some first trimester symptoms arrive unexpectedly. You might not expect these physical changes to relate directly to pregnancy, yet they do.

For example, the feeling of dizziness and being lightheaded is caused by alterations in your blood circulation. Due to the effort your body exerts puts forth to protect and nourish the developing child, more blood is produced and therefore, circulated around the body at a rapid pace. As a result, you might feel dizzy at times. Another contributing factor involves the morning sickness because of impending dehydration or lack of food.

Other early pregnancy symptoms that might occur at this time include:

  • Prominent veins due to the increased circulation
  • Sharp cramping caused by implantation of the embryo
  • A milky discharge brought about by rapid vaginal cell development
  • Mood fluctuations caused by hormonal changes

Additionally, you might notice some deep brown spotting. However, you shouldn’t be alarmed because this is caused by implantation as well.

Doctor talking to pregnant patient

What should I avoid during my first trimester?

If you think you might be pregnant, or you have been trying to conceive, you should avoid the following as a precaution:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco and nicotine products
  • Undercooked or raw meat
  • Processed deli products
  • Unpasteurized beverages
  • Excessive amounts of caffeine

Also, you may have heard the old saying about “eating for two”. However, according to JoLyn Seitz, MD of Sandford Health, a baby has an increased risk of obesity in later years if the mother gains too much weight while pregnant. She also recommends saving the extra calories for the second and third trimesters.

Plus, pregnancy gets you out of one household chore: cleaning the litter box. The cat’s box often contains parasites which can be harmful to both mom and baby. Therefore, your safest bet is to ask your partner or a friend to take on this chore.

In addition to these precautions, you’ll also need to stay away from saunas and jacuzzi tubs. During the first trimester, you risk a miscarriage due to overheating and dehydration. Once you become pregnant, your body can’t dispel heat as efficiently. Also, the high body temperature may have detrimental effects on the baby’s well-being, especially during the first three months.

Now that you have become more aware of the first trimester symptoms and have a deeper knowledge of what to avoid during this time, you might not be as surprised by the changes your body is experiencing. Pregnancy carries its own special memories and milestones. The first trimester is just the start of a life-changing, exciting journey.

Editors' Recommendations

How to help your toddler adjust to a new baby
Is a child's reaction to a new sibling abnormal toddler behavior? Maybe, but probably not. What to know
A toddler holding a new baby on a white bench

Your first baby completed you. You loved them so much that you decided to have another.

Parents may worry their kids won’t hit it off. These concerns may be amplified for parents having children close together. Toddlers don’t have the language or empathy to understand why a new loud, tiny human is commanding lots of attention — attention that used to be theirs.

Read more
Talking to your kids about how babies are made – making it simple and comfortable
Tips on "the talk" with children
Mom and preschooler talking on a couch

Talking to kids about how babies are made can sound very uncomfortable -- the talk many parents dread. But if you make it a lifelong, science-based conversation, answering their questions along the way, it doesn't have to be so bad. Here's how to talk to your kids so you're not left scrambling when they're already hitting puberty.

Age-appropriate sex ed
There's no need to tell young children about sex to find age-appropriate explanations while talking to kids about how babies are made. There is no shame or lewdness in talking about science, biology, and bodies. Only adult minds put sexuality into these discussions, but we can talk openly about these issues with children without ever mentioning sex.

Read more
These are the top subjects to cover when you talk to teens about sex – What your child needs to know
How to have the teen sex ed talk
Dad talking to daughter

Ideally, there shouldn't be one day where you sit down and have "the talk" with your tween or teen. Sexual education is a a lifelong conversation. But if you've reached the age where your tween or teen is already potentially thinking about sex and you haven't laid any groundwork, here's how to talk to your teen about sex.

When you're covering teen sex ed, you don't just educate your teenager about sex for them; you also talk about sex for their partner. They need to know what to do in a situation where a partner isn't respecting consent, and you also need to tell them to respect their partner's consent.

Read more