So you missed your period, peed on a stick, and got a positive result – yay!!! But, wait, what now??? Is the mild cramping you’re experiencing normal or a problem? What about your extremely tender breasts – is there anything you can do for that? And, oh that debilitating fatigue!! Welcome to your first trimester.
You may be wondering why such a joyous experience as developing a human life has to be accompanied by such awful side effects. Yes, what you are accomplishing is momentous and your body is engaging in extremely vital work but it’s difficult to fully appreciate pregnancy when you’re feeling so out of sorts. Below are some tips to help make some common first trimester pregnancy symptoms more manageable.
1. Breast Tenderness
Pregnancy hormones will make your breasts swell and become sore, one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Wear a well-fitting bra to reduce the discomfort. Find a location that offers bra fitting services so you get the perfect fit.
Nausea in pregnancy is common and may or may not be accompanied by vomiting. To manage this pesky side effect of pregnancy, eat bland foods, such as toast and crackers, especially in the morning to help ward off the onset of your queasiness. Continue to eat protein snacks throughout the day to prevent hunger pangs, which can lead to nausea, and keep your blood sugar at an even level. Vitamin B6 and ginger products can also be very helpful in diminishing this symptom.
3. Urinary Frequency
During the first trimester the uterus grows within the pelvic space and applies increasing pressure directly on the bladder. As this happens, you will find that you need to void more frequently and perhaps more urgently than you did prior to becoming pregnant. Begin practicing perineal muscle contractions (i.e. Kegel exercises) to increase perineal strength and prevent urinary stress incontinence later in your pregnancy. To learn how to perform perineal muscle contractions in an effective manner, ask your provider to teach you during one of your exams.
Progesterone and the enlarging uterus can impair motility of stool causing bloating, gas, and discomfort. To help relieve constipation, drink lots of fluids, get ample exercise, and eat a diet high in fiber including foods such as whole grains, bran, fruits, and veggies. Iron can exacerbate constipation when it is not fully absorbed. Take your prenatal vitamins and iron supplements with orange juice as vitamin C will increase iron absorption. Calcium impedes absorption, avoid taking iron with milk.
Fatigue is another common symptom experienced by expecting women in their first trimester. Your body is working hard and needs extra rest. Some days you’ll feel so sluggish that you could go to bed before eating dinner. To help manage your exhaustion during the daytime, take short naps, go for brisk walks, try some stretching exercises, and eat protein snacks to re-energize.
The good news is that, in most cases, all of these symptoms will disappear by the second trimester. This much appreciated reprieve will give you a chance to enjoy your pregnancy again. Be aware that fatigue, constipation, and urinary frequency may reappear in the third trimester. When these pregnancy side effects start to get you down, reframe the situation in a more positive light and keep your eye on the prize – a beautiful baby!