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Coping with Common Symptoms of the First Trimester

Written by Amina Hatia RM
Medically reviewed by Marley Hall BA RM Diphe
June 29, 2020

The first 0-12 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy is called the first trimester. It is during this period that the body experiences drastic changes as it prepares to nurture the growing baby for the next few months. There are many commonly reported symptoms and discomforts that may be experienced during this time. To help you cope we have devised a list of the most common changes and discomforts and how to effectively deal with them. Coping with common symptoms of the first trimester:

Morning sickness and Nausea

Some women experience morning sickness and some don’t. It has a lot to do with the levels of HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) hormone in your system. The higher the level of HCG the more likely nausea is. The stretching of the uterine muscles coupled with the pressure on the digestive tract can also cause increased stomach acids.

More often than not, morning sickness totally resolves by about 12 weeks much to the delight of the expectant mother!

To help with morning sickness, try not too eat large meals instead eat small frequent meals.  Also, studies show that a diet abundant in complex carbohydrates, like bread and other starchy food, and proteins can help alleviate morning sickness. Also avoid eating fatty food and alcohol.

Breast swelling

The body, in its preparation for the arrival of the baby, releases progesterone and oestrogen in higher levels than usual. These hormones send a message to the breast to start preparing the milk ducts for milk production.

The areolas will most likely enlarge and darken. Later on you may notice that these areas start to have white bumps. There may also be increased sensitivity in the breast area and you will probably notice the veins in your breasts are more prominent.

Breast tenderness can be difficult to deal with in the early weeks but usually subsides mid trimester before reappearing in the third trimester as the body prepares for the birth. Swelling may increase during the latter period of pregnancy; in this case one must use a good support bra of the right size. Sleeping on your side as opposed to your front will avoid any pressure being put on your breasts.

Shortness of Breath and fatigue

Pregnancy can cause fatigue and other emotional changes. Even while you sleep, your body is working hard to sustain the life of your baby. This puts stress on the body which women are designed to cope with but it can leave them feeling tired! Try to rest where possible, even if it means having an early night or relaxing in the bath straight after work..

A healthy diet and exercise also helps with fatigue after all you’re already feeding two people.  A light jog a slow walk can in help increase energy levels.


During pregnancy the heart is pumping harder to provide extra blood to the legs and the uterus. It is not uncommon for a woman to experience dizzy spells as certain periods throughout the day, especially if she already has low blood pressure. . Low blood sugar levels can also contribute to dizziness. The best thing to do in this case is to make sure that you don’t go long periods without eating.

Urination Frequency

The rapid growth of the uterus presses the other internal organs away, this includes the bladder. Usually the frequency decreases when the uterus settles into the abdominal cavity. It may return in the third trimester when the uterus drops back down to prepare for birth.

Try leaning forward while urinating. This is to make sure that you empty your bladder completely and can help in decreasing the urination frequency.

Abdominal cramping

Some abdominal cramping in early pregnancy is quite common. The uterus is always contracting, even when not pregnant but most women don’t feel it. The uterus is like any other muscle that contracts. Most of the time, the cramping in the first trimester is not too noticeable but if it becomes extremely painful, especially when accompanied with bright red bleeding, advice should be sought immediately from a doctor.