If you’re pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, you have probably heard or read plenty of horror stories about first trimester symptoms. The truth is the number of symptoms, how long they last, as well as their severity, are different for every woman. Early symptoms like morning sickness and headaches can start just a few weeks into your pregnancy.
But there’s no need to worry. While at times uncomfortable, most of these symptoms are very manageable and will not last the entirety of your pregnancy. From morning sickness to stretch marks, learn what to expect in early pregnancy and some of the best methods to combatting uncomfortable symptoms.
Morning sickness is one of the most common symptoms in early pregnancy, affecting about three out of four women. Despite its name, the feelings of nausea or vomiting can occur at any time of day or even at night and can begin as early as two weeks after conception. Hormone levels are on the rise during pregnancy, causing the stomach to empty more slowly which can lead to nausea.
Additionally, pregnancy can cause a heightened sense of smell, meaning any strong odors (good and bad) can contribute to the queasiness. Luckily, for most women, morning sickness usually only lasts through the first trimester.
And there are plenty of techniques and solutions to combatting the nausea that are safe and even healthy during pregnancy, including:
- Ginger – Use natural ginger root in hot tea, grated over salads and other meals to neutralize stomach acids and help settle your upset stomach. There are also sugar free ginger candies, capsules, and of course natural ginger ale.
- Sea-bands – These wristbands can usually be found over the counter at most stores. They’re often used by people who regularly experience sea-sickness, relieving nausea by stimulating acupressure points on the wrist.
- B6 Supplements – B6 has been linked to reducing nausea in early pregnancy. If you’re taking a prenatal vitamin (and you should!), you’re likely already getting a dose of B6. But in more disruptive instances an additional supplement may be helpful.
- Unisom (doxylamine) taken with Vitamin B6 is also effective in treating nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
- Peppermint candies – Natural peppermint helps to reduce feelings of nausea and sucking on hard candy may also help relax your stressed mind.
The best course of action is to maintain a healthy diet. Try not to load up on big meals and eat easy to digest foods and snacks throughout the day. Stay hydrated and avoid anything that might upset your stomach further. Stress-reducing activities and treatment like relaxation techniques, yoga, aromatherapy, and even acupuncture may all be options to treat morning sickness. And if you’re still struggling, talk to your doctor. There are other medications that can help reduce your symptoms.
As with morning sickness and most other early pregnancy symptoms, the major hormonal changes your body is undergoing can cause a lot of physical stress. Another common, frequent symptom is a mild headache due to increased blood circulation. Changes in blood sugar levels along with any general fatigue also factor in. Though common, pregnancy headaches are easily treatable and even preventable.
Again, diet plays a major role. Make sure you’re eating enough throughout the day and properly hydrating. Getting enough rest at night and throughout the day will do wonders while doing your best to avoid headache triggers like bright, artificial lights, too much screen time, or loud, disruptive environments.
But sometimes, a headache is just unavoidable. While over the counter medication may be effective, you shouldn’t rely on it. Instead, practice those relaxation techniques that help calm your body during morning sickness as well. Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing exercises can help headaches.
Physically, you’ll need to relax. Try lying down in a cool, dark place. And, if possible, place a cool compress across your head to relieve some of the immediate pain. If the headache persists, a relaxing neck and/or shoulder rub can help relieve some of the physical tension. Though headaches may occur more frequently during pregnancy, they’re quite manageable with natural remedies. And, of course, if the headache is severe and unrelieved with medications and/or relaxation, see your doctor or go to the emergency room for evaluation.
Other Common Symptoms
Mood Swings, Cravings, and Distastes
As mentioned above, the dramatic increase in hormone levels can be shocking to the body. Early on in your pregnancy you may find yourself uncharacteristically emotional or experience substantial mood swings. It’s nothing to worry about, it’s perfectly common during the first trimester. Just be sure to cut yourself a break and be patient.
Additionally, you may find yourself craving odd foods or drinks while vigorously turning away from tastes you once loved or consumed daily. Again, this is completely normal. As long as your cravings are within the spectrum of a healthy diet, and you’re not denying yourself necessary nutrients, there’s nothing wrong with a strange snack request. Just be sure you’re properly hydrating as well.
The rise in progesterone levels that causes morning sickness can also lead to constipation, since food is passing more slowly through the body. It may be uncomfortable at times during your first trimester, but maintaining a fiber-rich diet with good hydration should provide some relief and keep bowel movements on a more regular schedule.
Your body is going through a lot of changes. Feeling exhausted is absolutely normal as well. Proper rest is one of the most important things to consider during pregnancy. The increase in hormone levels in conjunction with a drop in blood sugar levels, blood pressure and increased blood production can be taxing to your overall energy levels. Listen to your body. As long as you’re not neglecting other aspects of your personal health and the health of your baby, there’s really no harm in resting.
Meet With Your Physician
Every woman is different and will have a pregnancy experience that is individuaized. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the best way to be prepared for what may come is to have regular appointments and discussions with your doctor to better understand your symptoms.
For a clearer picture of your individual health and pregnancy plan, maintaining good prenatal care and regular communication with your doctor is imperative. Contact your Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville OB/GYN today and schedule a consultation.