Ahhh, the first trimester. The magical time when a woman first finds out she's pregnant, when she starts coming to terms with the idea of a pregnancy, and the time when she starts to deal with the uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy. Some women sail through it, while others seem struck down by it. Either way, there’s no doubt that it’s a significant and exciting phase of life.
And while the first trimester lasts for around 13 weeks, most women don’t find out about their pregnancy until around the four- mark or later. That makes it usually the shortest of the trimesters in terms of weeks you actually know you’re pregnant. That’s why it can be helpful to know what other moms have gone through and understand what to prepare for in this period of time.
Luckily, we have experienced moms that we can rely on during this period of time to let us know what to expect. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and this is the first time that we start to experience it. Below are 20 things that women wished they knew about the first trimester. From how to survive morning sickness, to documenting the pregnancy, to ensuring you have all the right tests lined up, it’s both a checklist and some tips on how to get through some of the more annoying parts of early pregnancy.
And just remember, no matter how easy or hard it ends up being, at the end of the day this crazy, magical thing called pregnancy has a shelf life. So take the time to enjoy and appreciate the small moments. Before you know it, your days of pregnancy will be over, and you may end up missing some of these moments.
20 Morning Sickness Might Become All-Day Sickness
To some women, the term “morning sickness” can be a cruel joke. There are some that only feel the effects in the mornings before work, yet others are plagued with nausea and vomiting at all hours of the day.
Some, like Duchess Kate, suffer from an extreme version called hyperemesis gravidarum, which includes severe nausea, weight loss, dizziness, and dehydration. For those who do suffer throughout the work day and into the evening, they may be wondering who coined the term “morning” sickness. You know it must have been a man. It can come as a surprise to some that it can hit at any time.
19 Eating Can Help Morning Sickness
Something that many first time moms don’t realize is that what and when they eat can play a direct role in how morning sickness affects you. Many women find that the symptoms strike when they have an empty stomach (such as in the morning before breakfast). By realizing that one key nugget of information, women can take measures to counteract the symptoms.
Little tricks such as keeping healthy snacks by your bedside table, or simply not taking your prenatal vitamin on an empty stomach, can make a big difference in how many times you have to pull over on the side of the road in your morning commute!
18 Morning Sickness WILL Pass
After you’ve been hugging the toilet for several weeks, it can be unfathomable that this feeling will ever pass. You’re told that your friend’s symptoms eased after week 10, but here you are about to enter the second trimester and you’re still feeling awful.
The good news is that for the majority of women, nausea and vomiting will go away. It doesn’t happen immediately, and sadly it doesn’t disappear for all women. There are some that suffer through it throughout their entire pregnancy. Those women deserve a true gold star. But for the majority of women, take heed in the thought that like many things, this too shall pass.
17 Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins Early (Even Before Pregnancy)
Think once you see those two lines on a pregnancy test it’s time to head out to the store to stock up on prenatal vitamins? Not so, mama-to-be! As advanced as early pregnancy tests are, they’re still not able to detect pregnancy until a few weeks into the process, usually around the time that you would have missed your first period, which is technically around four weeks pregnant per doctor’s tracking.
That’s why it’s recommended for any female of childbearing age to take a prenatal vitamin. This helps to ensure that from day one of pregnancy, your body and your baby is receiving the right vitamins and minerals for proper development, including the ever-so-important folic acid.
16 But They May Make You Sick
Yet however important prenatal tablets are, nobody told me that they would have an impact on vomiting! They’re just a little tablet, after all.
This one goes back to morning sickness. Many women start their morning routine by using the washroom, taking a shower, and popping their morning prenatal, all before leaving the washroom. A better step is to hit the kitchen first. Get some healthy food into that rumbly pregnant stomach before you attempt to take a supplement. It will greatly increase the chances that you’ll be able to keep them down.
Alternatively, some manufacturers are now helping us out and making gummy prenatals. Yum!
15 Exhaustion Will Come…and it Will Get Better
I know they said that pregnant women need to rest, but you may be thinking to yourself “come on!”. Yes, exhaustion can get that overwhelming. The first trimester can kick you on your butt in a number of ways, one big one is making you feel as though you can barely drag yourself out of bed.
Many women are unprepared for how harsh the first-trimester exhaustion can get. But there is a silver lining. As with many (but not all) first trimester symptoms, this one can often ease up into the second trimester. There’s a reason they call the second trimester the best one!
14 A Change To The Ladies
In fact, some women can find changes to the ladies to be one of the first recognizable symptoms of pregnancy that they notice, even before getting a positive pregnancy test. Whether they’re tender, swollen, or sensitive, most women will find some sort of noticeable change at some point throughout their pregnancy.
Some women decide to go up a bra size during pregnancy or start wearing their breastfeeding bras a little early. They often offer some relief. It’s all normal and can be a sign of a healthy pregnancy. Just be prepared for the surprise that breast changes won’t wait for the few weeks before baby arrives to start happening!
13 Round Ligament Pain Can Be Normal
I get it. In pregnancy, any kind of pain can be concerning. You feel a little nudge or tweak of pain in your abdomen, and immediately start wondering if you should call the doctor. In some cases, the answer may be yes. However, there’s also pain from stretching of the round ligaments, which can be completely normal.
For those women who experience round ligament stretching and pain in the first trimester, it can, of course, be worrisome. Luckily, this is yet another healthy and normal part of pregnancy. When in doubt, always contact your doctor for the right diagnosis. But if they say it’s likely round ligament pain, you can breathe a sigh of relief.
12 Start Documenting It Early
One thing many women regret is not documenting their pregnancy more. It can be hard as a woman to experience the many bodily changes that pregnancy brings. Some don’t necessarily see the added weight gain as the beautiful thing that it is. This can result in avoiding photos or any documentation of them while pregnant. There have even been women who deleted all photos of them while pregnant.
The fact is, this period of life is a finite amount of time. Once it passes, it’s gone, and you’ll never get that time back. In my first pregnancy, I avoided taking the weekly photo, and now two years later regret not having marked those moments. Luckily, we’re pregnant again and have the second opportunity – but that’s never guaranteed. I can almost promise that when you’re 80, you won’t wish you hadn’t taken those.
11 Consider a Maternity Photo Shoot
Similarly to documenting weekly progress, consider investing into a maternity photo shoot. It can be an expensive, onsite, staged photo shoot. Or, it can be you and your hubby or friend hitting the local park and taking a few shots together. Whether it’s high end with a time and money investment, or something quick, there’s a way to do it that tailors to your style.
If you struggle with the thought of it, consider it as a gift to your future child. If your mother just now gave you photos from her maternity photo shoot while pregnant with you, wouldn’t you consider it an amazing gift to have?
10 Appointments & Tests: Which & When?
Quick – do you know every single test that’s needed in pregnancy, and which range of weeks each is required to be performed? Do you know which are optional vs. highly recommended, and which are paid vs. covered by the health care system? Now, did you know all of that information in week one of your pregnancy?
If you answered “no”, that’s okay and totally normal. Many women are not aware of all the requirements, or know most of them but can’t list every single one off of the top of her head. That’s why many women miss the window for early tests like dating ultrasounds and other early prenatal tests. The best way to ensure you’re on top of things is to make an appointment with your family doctor the moment you find out you’re pregnant, and ask about the relevant tests.
9 It’s Okay to Switch Doctors
What happens if you don’t jive with your doctor? Whether it’s an obstetrician, midwife, or family doctor that specializes in maternity care, there are so many differing opinions that medical practitioners can have nowadays. Do you prefer someone who lets you call the shots or someone that knows the latest medical research and directs you in their care? Someone who encourages home births, or someone who strictly works in hospitals?
The good news is there are choices, and if you find that your preferences aren’t lining up with your practitioner, it’s totally fine to shop around and find someone else who does.
8 It’s Okay that Emotions May Go Haywire
Have you found yourself starting to tear up watching a commercial about car insurance? Has a mild work disagreement hit you harder than you thought, and you could barely make it to the restroom before tears spilling over onto your cheeks? Welcome to pregnancy!
Some women don’t expect the emotions to ramp up so early into pregnancy. Yet here we are, tearful, emotional beings, unable to hold back the onslaught of emotions that seemingly come out of nowhere. You can blame these on pregnancy hormones, and it’s totally normal. Women may find it hard to accept this, but know that it’s not you – it’s hormones.
7 Worrying Can Also Start Early
I swear, my worrying started the moment I saw those two little lines on the pregnancy strip. And if I’m being honest, the worrying probably even before then. Suddenly, you’re responsible for another entire human life. From their proper development in utero to their health at birth, to their proper adjustment and support into the world as they grow, there are thousands of things you can be worried of when it comes to your most important thing in the world.
The worrying can be normal, and it can start early. If it starts getting excessive, feel free to bring it up to your doctor. Prenatal anxiety and depression can hit a good chunk of women, and it’s nothing to feel embarrassed about. But if you start worrying and caring for your baby before they’re even the size of a poppy seed, know that you’re in good company.
6 Pregnancy Brain Is Real
Pregnancy brain is real. And did you know…um…what was I going to say again?
Yup, that is pregnancy brain. It affects many women differently. Some continually forget where they placed certain things (why are my house keys on my office desk!). Some women have trouble remembering basic information that’s been passed along, which can cause some frustration at the office. And some women just get totally wrapped up in baby things that they have trouble focusing on the other areas of their lives.
However, if it affects you, just know that it’s normal. While it usually ramps up later in pregnancy, some women start noticing it in the first trimester. Get ready, baby brain is coming!
5 Take Time to Enjoy It
With all the nausea, prenatal appointments, work/family responsibilities, exhaustion, pregnancy brain, and what can seem like dozens of other symptoms, it can be sometimes hard to stop and smell the pregnancy roses.
But as was said earlier, pregnancy is a short, fleeting time in our lives. No matter how long it seems to drag on, at a certain point it will feel like you snapped your fingers and it’s over. Once it’s over, the truth is that you may never get the chance to have a child again. Or you may, and you’ll then be an expert at the first trimester! But either way, many times women forget to stop and appreciate the good things, through all the uncomfortable things. Even the morning sickness you may smile and look back on with fond memories.
4 You Don't Need Everything on the "Must Buy" Lists
Walk into any baby store and see the floor to ceiling shelves of baby equipment, or check out any online registry recommending the “must buy” baby essentials, and your head may start to spin. These lists can seem endless, listing out dozens of items. Before you know it, your home can become cramped with tons of large baby equipment, and your bank account can take a hit.
Seasoned moms realize that not everything on the list is required. In fact, babies need very little in those first few months. Some clothes, a crib, and feeding equipment are usually the basics. So before you get overwhelmed by these lists, talk to other moms and see what is truly needed.
3 Getting to Know Other Moms will Become Easy
If you’re one of those moms-to-be that doesn’t know many other moms, and worries that you may never meet any, fear not. In most towns and cities there are baby classes galore. You can often find both paid classes and free ones at libraries, community centers, nurses groups, etc. At these classes, all it takes is one mom to pass around a contact list and voila, a mom group has been found.
Fret not if you’re new to town, or don’t know many people. Having kids is a great way to make new friends, who are often going through the same challenges and cuteness as you are.
2 40 Weeks May Feel Like Forever
While nine months can seem to race by for some moms, it can crawl for others. Each week, each day can seem to drag on while you wait to meet your little one. Especially for first-time moms, it can seem to take forever to go by. You get your daily emails from baby newsletters, and weekly growth updates (the size of an orange seed this week!), but be prepared that you’re in for a bit of a wait.
Just know that Mother Nature knows what she’s doing. This time is the perfect amount of time for baby’s development, and for mom to mentally and physically prepare for this huge change to happen in her life. And until then? Keep reading the baby articles, and give that belly a hug every day.
1 Embrace It - You May Never Experience It Again
There’s nothing quite like being pregnant. While yes, there are some discomforts, there are also huge benefits. This may be the only time in your life to experience the joys, from people giving you passing smiles and seats on the subway, to seeing your baby on ultrasound, to getting a pass on indulging into your cravings, to simply feeling those adorable little baby kicks – these little perks are finite.
So try to enjoy this time. Focus on the good things while you’re curled in a ball, nauseous. This really is a magical time. As hard as it may be to contemplate, even the worst moments you can look back on with a certain romanticism as your kids grow bigger and bigger.