The 1st Trimester

Some of the earliest signs of pregnancy include breast tenderness, nausea, extreme fatigue and maybe even a little spotting. These can be brief or they can continue on throughout your pregnancy. But these are not all of the symptoms you may experience, just those that get all of the publicity. You can experience all or none of the below at any and all stages of pregnancy, but these are most common during the first trimester:

  • Headaches: increased blood flow, stress & hormonal changes

  • Gullstones: high estrogen levels during pregnancy can cause an increase in cholesterol levels in bile

  • Kidneystones: often times caused by dehydration or a deficiency in water consumption allowing for the buildup of calcium in the urine

  • UTI’s: changes in your urinary tract, as well as pressure that is placed on the bladder from your growing uterus, making it difficult to expel all your urine

  • Increase in STD flares: if previously a carrier of the viruses

  • Raised bumps on your aerials: called Montgomery’s Tubercles- an Irishman literally named these after himself after claiming he “discovered” them…seriously?!?!- these tiny raised bumps are just the swelling of oil glands that is eventually supposed to help protect your breasts during breastfeeding

  • Darkened and enlarged areolas: this is likely hormonal, but it is also believed that this is the body’s response to evolutionary need. Babies are born with blurry and limited vision. The enlarged and darkened areola make it easier for the baby to see and find the nipple for feeding.

  • Darkened freckles and moles: hyperpigmentation is thought to be caused by the increased levels of hormones that stimulate melanocyte, or the cells that produce pigment in your body.

  • Nose bleeds: the nose has small blood vessles and the increase of blood supply can cause them to burst more often.

  • Spotting, particularly after sex: see above! small blood vessels. extra blood flow. penetration, bursting. nothing to worry about

  • Gingivitus: again, the increased blood flow causes gums to become swollen & sensitive- if your gums bleed when you floss when they never have before, you can expect they will return to normal postpartum

  • Constipation: the hormone progesterone causes the intestinal muscle to relax, causing food to pass through your system more slowly.

  • Keratoconus: when the shape of cornea can changes- if your contacts are feeling uncomfortable or you feel your vision changes, this too is linked to pregnancy as there is a decrease in protective antioxidants in the cornea.

  • Heightened Sense of Smell (hyperosmia): caused by the increase in estrogen

Those first few months of pregnancy can be very exciting, but they can also come with a landslide of odd and unknown symptoms, often times causing worry or anxiety that something may be wrong with you or the baby. This is typically not the case, and is instead just the gloriously painful side effects of your changing hormones and body. Similarly, if you don't experience any early symptoms this too does not mean that anything is wrong. Try to remind yourself that with each stage of pregnancy comes different feelings, symptoms and changes, so most symptoms will come and go over time. Never has the saying "this too shall pass" been more appropriate than in regards to pregnancy.

The first trimester can be particularly difficult because it is customarily a time when pregnant women do not openly share with others that they are expecting. I think this tradition is very unfortunate, considering the common struggles that accompany this time physically for expecting moms, such as nausea and fatigue. Fortunately, we have begun to talk about miscarriage more openly, not only among women, but within society, so I am hoping this secrecy custom might soon change so that women feel supported and less alone in those early months, as well as in the unfortunate experiences of loss.

The first trimester is filled with doctor visits, many blood draws, and a couple of ultrasounds, usually leaving you feeling a sense of worried excitement with each occasion. Try to have grace for yourself as you navigate this new journey. You are transforming into a mother over this time, and this change in identity can be difficult, even if welcomed. Being open about what you are experiencing, both with you spouse, but also your family and friends, can be extremely helpful. Finally, ask your doctor all the questions. Don't be shy. They are there to be your leaders during this time, and the more you can develop a real and trusting relationship, the more comfortable and calm you will remain throughout the next 9 months. The doctor who delivered my last baby comes over for dinner now. Just sayin' ;)

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