What to Expect During Pregnancy: First Trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy is a big adjustment period for every woman. Not only will you begin preparing your life and your home for a new little one, your body also begins to go through a number of changes as it creates a nurturing environment for the growing baby.

This physical change evidences itself differently for each woman. Some women will feel healthy and strong as they increase their nutrition intake and healthy habits for pregnancy, while others will have symptoms from the hormonal and physical changes in their body.

Call your doctor if you experience:

  • Significant bleeding
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Urinating only small amounts of liquid or urine that’s dark in color
  • Rapid weight gain, or not enough weight gain
  • Severe dizziness

Changes to your body

During the first trimester, some women will experience the following changes:

Breast tenderness

Hormone changes that occur during the first part of a pregnancy often cause a woman’s breasts to feel sore or tender as they are prepared to produce milk. This is usually the earliest indicator of pregnancy.

Wearing a support bra or a larger bra size can help ease some of the discomfort.

Weight gain

It’s good for a woman to gain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy. However, most women only need an extra 150-300 calories (from nutritious sources) a day and will gain less than 10 pounds in the first trimester.

If rapid (or not enough) weight gain occurs, contact your doctor to adjust your diet.

Change in eating habits

Women often experience food cravings and food aversions. A woman’s taste buds can actually change during pregnancy. Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet is an important part of having a good pregnancy, so make sure to monitor food intake.

A condition called pica, a craving for non-food items, may occur during the first trimester and can be dangerous. If you experience pica, discuss it with your doctor.

Symptoms & side effects of pregnancy

During the first trimester, a woman may also experience:

Morning sickness (nausea)

One of the most common – and well-known – first-trimester pregnancy symptoms is morning sickness. Nausea can range from mild and infrequent to extreme and constant, and can be worse in the morning.

Bland foods, water or light-colored juices, and lying down can help calm nausea. Contact your doctor if you’re having a hard time keeping food down because it can negatively impact the baby’s nutrition intake.


Since a pregnant woman’s body has to invest a lot of energy into the developing baby, you may feel more tired than usual. Resting as needed, as well as increasing iron intake, will help you feel better.


Increased blood flow during pregnancy can cause dizziness or lightheadedness. You can generally prevent dizziness by avoiding long periods of standing and rising slowly after sitting or lying down. If you experience severe dizziness, it may indicate a problem, so contact your doctor.

Mood swings & strong emotional response

Hormones and fatigue during pregnancy can cause a change in a woman’s moods. These can run the gamut from extremely happy to depressed, scared, or angry. Emotional responses to the many expected life changes a baby brings can also cause anxiety or stress.

Talking about how you’re feeling – with your partner, family, or friend – will help manage your mood. Additionally, communicating with your partner about your upcoming role as parents and other changes will help address any worries or fears either of you have, and can help strengthen your relationship.


Some women experience spotting or slight bleeding in early pregnancy. This is normal, and often indicates the newly fertilized embryo has implanted in the uterus and has begun developing.

However, if the bleeding is significant (similar to a woman’s menstrual cycle) – especially when accompanied by sharp pain or cramping – it could signal a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo implants in the fallopian tube instead of dropping to the uterus). If you experience heavy bleeding, call your doctor immediately.


During the first trimester, many women have a white discharge (leucorrhea), which is normal. You can wear a light day pad to catch the discharge. However, if the discharge is clear, greenish or yellow, or has a bad smell, call your doctor.

Frequent urination

A woman’s uterus expands as the baby grows. Even in the first trimester, this can put pressure on the bladder, which can cause the feeling of always needing to urinate. It’s important to continue drinking liquids, although cutting down on caffeine will lessen the urge to urinate.

As soon as you do feel the need to urinate, you should go as soon as possible to avoid infection.


During your first trimester, the production of the hormone progesterone is increased and women taking prenatal vitamins will also have higher levels of iron. The combination can cause constipation, gas, and bloating.

Increasing your intake of fiber and liquids – or taking mild laxatives for more severe cases – can help alleviate these symptoms.


Increased progesterone production causes smooth muscles to relax, affecting the esophagus, which helps keep food and acids down. This can cause acid reflux (heartburn). Waiting to lie down right after meals; eating smaller, more frequent meals; and avoiding greasy, spicy or acidic foods will help you avoid heartburn.