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20 things pregnant mums need to know about the first trimester

20 survival tips for the first trimester of pregnancy
The first trimester is tough on your body but it’s also an exciting time as you think of your baby growing

Women have a lot to cope with during the first trimester of pregnancy.

A lot is going on inside your body as it grows and nourishes the tiny life inside of you.

It’s pretty amazing when you think about it, how a teeny tiny thing can grow from almost nothing to a little baby with a heartbeat in just 12 weeks.

Because our bodies are doing a lot of hard work, we suffer the consequences.

It is a tough time, but there are things you can do to cope. Here is a survival guide to getting through those difficult first 12 weeks.

Don’t forget to check out the next posts in the series: 

20 things pregnant mamas need to know about the second trimester

20 things pregnant mamas need to know about the third trimester

Essential things to know about the first trimester

1. Morning sickness sucks

They really need to rename this. For the record, it absolutely is not confined to the morning.

It strikes at any time of day and night. It can be constant – as it was in my case with both pregnancies.

The name covers nausea as well as vomiting. Some women suffer from the more severe form of morning sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum. For these women medical help and lots of rest is the only answer.

When you do feel sick, it’s very difficult to eat and it’s physically draining.

Try to remember to drink a lot of water, eat simple foods like soup and dry toast or crackers and get some early nights. It will pass.

Many people swear by ginger nuts or biscuits, though these never helped me. You can also try travel sickness bands that you wear on the wrist.

My nausea lasted through to 20 weeks with both pregnancies but for most women it passes fairly quickly.

Check out tips for coping with nausea in the early weeks over on this post about early pregnancy symptoms. 

There’s also a whole post on dealing with 24/7 pregnancy nausea.

2. Bleeding can be normal

This doesn’t necessarily mean something bad. Early bleeding can be a sign of implantation where the baby is getting nice and cosy in the lining of the womb.

I had bleeding with both pregnancies. It was heavy and quite worrying. I had an early scan at six weeks which reassured us the baby was fine. No explanation has ever been found for my bleeding.

If you do have pain or bleeding or both, tell your midwife and do try not to assume the worst straight away.

3. Preggo hormones can cause a bad taste

This can make eating really tricky and it can drive you to distraction. It’s a grim taste, quite bitter, and just constant.

The only thing that helped for me was rinsing out my mouth with salt water.

Dissolve some salt in boiling water, let it cool and then rinse around your mouth for 30 seconds. Spit it out, don’t swallow.

4. Fatigue is a killer!

20 things expectant mums need to know about the first trimester
Rest when you need to rest

Your body is going through a lot as it nurtures the little life inside of you. Rest as much as possible.

Keeping up with gentle exercise can do wonder as well, however. Try to walk for at least 30 minutes every day. Fresh air can really help with some of the other unpleasant symptoms too.

5. Cravings

Sugar was my weakness during pregnancy. I never craved anything weird, but lots of women report wanting to eat things they never liked before falling pregnant.

Surrender to the cravings, you’ve got a lot going on after all!

But do try to remember that during pregnancy you don’t actually need any extra calories until the final trimester, when you need an extra 200 calories a day. That’s equivalent to a slice of toast and butter.

6. You might lose your appetite

I struggled to eat during both of my early pregnancies.

I ate because I felt I should for the baby’s sake, but I really didn’t want to!

Try to find something your body can tolerate, you need to keep up your strength.

7. Mood swings are real!

Your hormones are having a field day as the pregnancy develops.

This means the slightest thing can set off tears or tantrums.

Hopefully you have a partner who understands. Try to remind them that you need a lot of extra moral support right now. Cuddles and cake help a lot too.

8. Watch out for dizziness

My first sign of pregnancy was a rush of dizziness even though I was sitting down.

I knew something was going on.

Try not to rush around, always carry a bottle of water with you and, if you need to, wear a Baby on Board badge on the tube to make sure you can get a seat.

Overdoing it during things like housework or exercise can really make this worse. Try to be aware of what the triggers for this are and remember to take care of yourself.

9. Your body may heat up

Even in the coldest of nights I would be laying in bed in just my underwear with the fan on and an ice drink next to me.

No one is sure why pregnancy can leave you feeling hot, but it definitely made me uncomfortable.

Do what you can to keep cool, lighter clothes and lots of fluids will help. Unfortunately this gets worse as pregnancy continues.

10. Dodge the awkward questions

If you are feeling unwell or having to duck out of the office to run to an antenatal appointment then this may throw up questions.

If you’re not yet ready to announce your pregnancy – and most parents don’t until the second trimester – then make sure you have your story straight.

Think of something you will tell people in advance, and get your partner on board so that they tell the same lie.

What to do on a night out when you are pregnant? This is a tricky one, because someone is bound to notice and ask “Why aren’t you having a drink tonight?”

Try to have a story prepared in advance. Driving is a good one. Also creating a story about an early morning the next day may take the focus off of you.

Some people may guess your news. If they’re sensible, they won’t point it out to the entire table.

11. Headaches can be common

These are particularly awful when combined with the other grim pregnancy symptoms.

Aspirin and ibuprofen should be avoided during pregnancy so they aren’t an option as painkillers.

However paracetamol is considered safe according to NHS recommendations. Do consult your midwife if you’re worried.

12. Work might be tough

If you are really struggling to make it through your commute or days at work, it may be best to have a chat with your manager.

Most should be understanding, they are human beings after all, and can discuss possible changes you can make. This could include working from home or flexible hours.

If you need to take a day off, don’t feel guilty. You need to take care of yourself.

13. Who should you tell?

Apart from your other half, who should you let in on your secret!? Most people like to keep it quiet until they have had their first scan at 12 weeks, which gives you the reassurances that all is well with your baby.

You may want to restrict the news to close family only, such as your parents and siblings, until then.

However there’s no law telling you not to tell other people. If you want to tell friends your happy news, then go for it.

14. You may be desperate for a baby bump

20 things expectant mums need to know about the first trimester
You’re desperate to show off a baby bump as soon as possible

During my first pregnancy I couldn’t wait to start showing. It took until well beyond the first trimester.

In the meantime you can browse all those lovely maternity clothes and plan how you will dress that beautiful bump.

15. Weight gain won’t happen for a while!

Its unlikely, especially in your first pregnancy, that you will even notice a bump during the first trimester. Many women don’t start to show until around weeks 12 to 16.

Some women are all bump and some put on some weight during pregnancy.

Women gain between 22lb and 28lb during the entire pregnancy. Don’t obsess over the scales, however. Every woman is different. Your midwife wippcan reassure you if you’re worried.

16. You may have a constant need to wee

Because of hormones this can strike before the baby has grown big enough to play your bladder like a bongo drum.

You need to drink loads of fluids though so don’t stop doing that. Unfortunately you will just need to get used to hopping in and out of bed in the middle of the night.

17. Take your vitamins

You need to take folic acid as soon as you find out you are pregnant. Ideally you will start as soon as you start trying to conceive.

Taking 400 micro grams of folic acid can help to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.

Brands such as Pregnacare make a supplement for pregnant women with other vitamins such as iron and vitamin D that will help nourish your body at this time too.

Avoid supplements with vitamin A.

18. What you should be avoiding

You will need to cut out alcohol and caffeine. Now is a good time to quit smoking too.

I did have the odd glass of wine when I was pregnant with both my children. The advice is now veering towards abstaining altogether.

If you’re worried, it’s best just to avoid the booze. Nine months isn’t that long after all.

19. Make your medical appointments

You will see a midwife pretty early on before having your 12-week scan.

They will do checks such as your blood pressure and checking your urine for protein and other substances to see if you’re at risk of infection or developing pre-eclampsia.

Your medical history will also be taken and the midwife will offer you lots of advice about how to take care of yourself.

20. Waiting for the scan is hard!

It is hard to wait to see your little baby the first time. The weeks go by incredibly slowly in the first trimester.

Try to take your mind off of the wait by getting out of the house whenever you can. Spend time with your other half, because soon you will have a baby to keep you busy!

Congratulations on your pregnancy mama, I hope these tips helped! 

Don’t forget to check out these posts about pregnancy: 

What to buy for your baby

I’m pregnant, now what? 11 things to do after getting a positive pregnancy test

20 things pregnant mums-to-be need to know about the first trimester of pregnancy
20 things pregnant women need to know about the first trimester

Helen-marie Porter

Monday 4th of September 2017

this seems all still very fresh in my mind even though my twins are five and a half months now great advice/list #thelistlinky


Monday 4th of September 2017

Thank you lovely. Twins, wow, you're a star! X

Vicky Smith is a mother of two daughters and a journalist. She has been writing and vlogging about parenting for over five years.