The first trimester of pregnancy consists of the time of conception up until the 14th week of pregnancy. During the first trimester the body undergoes many changes and there are many things a woman should watch out for.
1. Morning Sickness
Morning sickness is something that occurs most frequently in the first trimester and resolves by the second trimester. Morning sickness is caused by the elevating hormones that are developing as the pregnancy grows. Once the hormones level out, nausea typically goes away.
For many women they can treat hyperemisis with natural remedies, but for others, it may involve more aggressive treatment. Some natural remedies include eating crackers before getting out of bed, sipping on ginger ale and avoiding foods with strong odors that trigger nausea.
Serious symptoms that call for close attention and intervention from a healthcare professional include nausea and vomiting that are persistent and does not get better with natural remedies.
Women who are also experiencing dehydration, and weight loss because of morning sickness should also be aware that medical attention may be warranted and should contact a medical health care provider.
A small portion of women will also develop a more sever form of nausea in pregnancy called hyperemesis gravidarum which requires immediate medical treatment and intervention which may include intravenous fluids and medications.
As the body changes in pregnancy one common concern to watch out for is for heartburn.
Heartburn is a pain in the epigastric region, causing a great deal of discomfort. During pregnancy, this is caused by progesterone, which causes a relaxing effect on the gastric system. This relaxation effect results in a delay of consumed foods being digested. In addition a growing pregnancy puts an upward pressure on the stomach causing heartburn.
There are many natural methods to relieve heartburn, such as eating small frequent meals, dried papaya, avoiding spicy foods and eating late at night. If heartburn persist despite natural methods some women may need stronger treatments requiring medications.
3. Weight Gain
Obesity is a growing problem worldwide and adversely effects a healthy pregnancy and growing baby.
In the first trimester there can be a misconception that a women needs to eat for two. This however is a harmful misconception and can lead to excessive weight gain.
Eating poorly in pregnancy can increase the chance of putting on too much weight. Putting on too much weight can lead to problems in your pregnancy such as high blood pressure; gestational diabetes and can cause problems for the growing baby.
Proper weight gain in the first trimester should range between 3-4lbs for women who are a single pregnancy. For most women they will likely see a healthcare professional once every month starting at around week 8 therefore a healthcare provider may not be able to pick up on an excessive weight gain in the early weeks of pregnancy. It is important to monitor your weight once a week so that you can maintain a healthy weight gain.
4. Changes In Emotional Stability
When a woman gets pregnant, there are many hormonal changes that can bring about a change in emotions which can adversely affect the pregnancy. Through out the pregnancy, there can many different triggers for negative changes in emotions.
For many a pregnancy is planned and welcomed event, and for other women it was unplanned and this can lead to some negative emotions. Changes in the body or the many discomforts women can experience while pregnant can also bring about some negative emotions.
Additionally, external stressors such as conflicts, relation issues, financial issues or fear of the unknown can all exacerbate or contribute to negatively to emotional issues. Emotional issues can lead to adverse health events that can impact at the health of a pregnancy.
If a woman prefers natural methods to help regulate or optimize their hormones then methods such as having adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet and physical activity can all help with negative emotions. Negative emotions in the pregnancy period can lead to postpartum depression.
If negative emotions are occurring frequently, then this may be a time that you should consider reconnecting with support persons or therapists, especially if these emotions become worse or interfere with your daily life.
5. Urinary Tract Infections
There are many changes in the body once you become pregnant. Your body is producing progesterone and this has a relaxing effect on many body systems. The bladder and urinary tract are affected by progesterone and predisposes a woman to a urinary tract infection.
Many times there are no obvious symptoms but women may experience mild cramping, frequent urination, and burning with urination. One of the tests that is routinely done when seeing a health professional during the pregnancy period is testing frequently for urinary tract infections because they can be common and not have any obvious signs or symptoms.
6. Vaginal Bleeding
Vaginal bleeding is something that some women can experience during their pregnancy. All vaginal bleeding in pregnancy should be evaluated to determine if it poses any risks to the pregnancy or growing fetus.
In the early days of pregnancy there are changes in the body, one of which includes increase blood flow to the cervix. The cervix becomes blue in nature and very vascular. This change makes the cervix friable and can bleed easily. You may experience some bleeding after having intercourse, exercising or even lifting heavy materials. If you had a recent gynecological exam you may also experience some bleeding afterwards. This type of bleeding is usually mild and may appear reddish or brownish in nature and does not last long. Bleeding from the cervix is often benign in nature; however there can be other reasons for vaginal bleeding which are worrisome such as a miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies.
The first trimester, or before 12 weeks gestation, is typically when miscarriages occur. Miscarriage occurs in 25% of pregnancies. Most women who have a miscarriage will have vaginal bleeding, cramping and pain.
The amount of vaginal bleeding can range in amount and color. If you are early in your pregnancy then typically you will bleed less than someone is further along. Sometimes you can even pass blood clots or even tissue, which is typically whitish in color. The abdominal pain and cramping in a miscarriage can range from minimal and mild cramping to intense pain similar to being in labor. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to stop a miscarriage and any signs of bleeding in the first trimester could be cause for concern.
Treatment for miscarriages can vary from staying at home and close observation on the amount of bleeding to having a surgical procedure. Most times women will go on to have a healthy pregnancy but if a women has had more than 3 miscarriages then typically an extensive reproductive and genetic work-up is warranted.
8. Ectopic Pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy can be a life-threatening emergency. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when there is implantation of the fertilized egg outside of the uterus. Implantation can occur in the Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and even outside the reproductive track in the abdomen.
Typically the first sign is pain in the lower abdomen, typically on one side, left or right. There can also be some vaginal bleeding, often it is a mild bleeding, but can be extreme if the ectopic pregnancy is further along and has ruptured.
Treatment typically varies from closely watching and having blood work drawn, to medical chemotherapy treatment to even a surgical procedure. Any lower abdominal pain that persists and vaginal bleeding should be cause for concern and require evaluation from a health professional.