Pregnancy 1st Trimester: Symptoms, Body Changes, Diet & Precautions

First Trimester of Pregnancy – Symptoms, Body Changes & Diet

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Being pregnant is a wonderful feeling for every woman. You are laden with the feelings of motherhood as soon as you learn about your pregnancy. However, your mind may get flooded with various concerns and queries such as, what is happening inside you, how is your baby developing or what diet should you follow and many such questions. This is because at the onset of your pregnancy journey or your first trimester you will want to know, how you can make the right choices for you and your baby to have a hassle-free pregnancy journey.

Video: First Trimester of Pregnancy – What to Expect

How Long Does the First Trimester Last?

The moment you start planning to have a baby, or you get pregnant, you may come across various pregnancy terms and your first trimester is one of them. If you are wondering what is the first trimester and how long it may last? We have all the answers for you! Your first trimester is the first three months of your pregnancy that starts with your first week of pregnancy and transcends into the second trimester by week thirteenth. You can easily establish your first week of pregnancy if your periods are regular, however, for women with irregular periods, it may get little tricky.

Symptoms of Pregnancy in the First Trimester

If you are pregnant, then you may be eagerly waiting for the pregnancy symptoms to show. Here we will discuss some very common pregnancy or your first-trimester pregnancy symptoms:

  1. Your period stops: The first pregnancy symptom that you may notice is no menstrual period; this is because your body begins producing progesterone, which makes your period stop till you deliver your baby.
  1. You may experience spotting: It is very common to experience spotting in your first month of pregnancy because the egg implants itself to the uterus. The implantation process may cause spotting and cramping, however first trimester bleeding is not common and should be reported to the doctor.
  1. Breast tenderness: Your breasts may become sore and tender to touch. The areola or the dark area around the nipples become darker. You may even notice veins on your breasts.
  1. Changing moods: You may find yourself battling with changing moods, which is a very common pregnancy symptom. This happens due to the changing pregnancy hormones.
  1. More loo trips: The flow of the blood increases around your pelvic region to support your baby’s growth and development. The kidneys need to work harder to accommodate the increased fluid in the body. This leads to pressure on the bladder and thus more loo visits.
  1. You may experience fatigue and tiredness: There are too many changes happening inside your body and your body needs to work hard to accommodate all that. This may make you tired and exhausted.

    Symptoms of Pregnancy in the First Trimester
  1. You may experience constipation: Your body starts working differently because of changing hormones and thus may impact how your muscles work too. Progesterone relaxes your muscles and starts preparing it for the upcoming childbirth, and this makes other things slower in your body too. The food passes slowly through the intestines leading to constipation.
  1. You have food cravings and aversions: You may find yourself craving for certain food items that you may have despised in the past. On the contrary, your favourite food may no longer tempt you. Food craving and aversions are very common in pregnancy, and it is different for every woman.
  1. Nausea and vomiting: This can happen within two to three weeks into pregnancy. This is also called morning sickness; however, you may feel it at any time of the day.
  1. The feeling of heartburn: You may experience acid reflux or heartburns too. These are temporary symptoms that are present due to the hormonal disturbance in the body and may subside as you move ahead in your pregnancy journey.

Apart from the above-mentioned symptoms, it is very common to feel first-trimester cramping, dizziness, headache or backaches. These are all very common pregnancy symptoms that tell you that your body is undergoing changes.

Foetal Development

You may be intrigued to know what is going inside your body or how your baby is developing. Your baby grows tremendously in the first three months that is from a single fertilized cell or zygote to a plum-sized bundle that begins growing arms, legs and various other organs. Here is a peek-a-boo on your first-trimester baby or the foetal development in the first trimester:

  • By 6 weeks your baby’s body starts developing with tiny limbs sprouting and at around 10 weeks, the fingers and toes start developing too.
  • Your little one’s skin starts forming between 5 to 8 weeks, and the nail beds and hair follicles start forming at around 8 weeks.
  • Your baby’s eyesight, which includes optic nerves and lenses start developing by week four, whereas the retina begins forming by week eight.
  • Your baby’s heart begins forming by week five, but it will become more structured around week 9 or 10 when you will be able to listen to your baby’s heartbeat for the first time.
  • The brain development begins around week eight.
  • The digestion system begins forming around week eight.
  • Your baby will develop the sense of touch at around week eight, with the formation of receptors on the lips and nose. The receptors will form on the genitals, sole of the feet and palms by week 12.
  • The formation of taste buds takes place at around week eight, which is connected to the baby’s brain. However, the taste pores are still not developed.

Body Changes

Your body undergoes various changes internally and externally. Here are some of the changes that you may find in your body:

  • You may find an increase in your breast size, and this is due to the increased secretions.
  • You may feel bloated, and your jeans or pants may appear tighter around the waist.
  • Your areolas will become darker and bigger.
  • You may experience more vaginal secretions or discharge.
  • You may experience spotting.
  • You may feel giddy and dizzy.

Weight Gain

You may gain approximately 3 to 4 four pounds of weight in your first trimester. However, if you have severe nausea or you experience loss of appetite, you may not gain enough weight. There is not a problem as long as you can make up for it in your following trimesters. However, if you are losing excess weight in your first trimester or have gained tremendously, both the situations are a cause for concern. Get in touch with your doctor regarding your weight concerns during the first trimester of pregnancy.


Exercising is of vital importance to have a healthy body and mind, and its importance cannot be undermined in pregnancy too. It is very important that you exercise to have a healthy and hassle-free pregnancy. Here are some of the exercises that you may try to remain active and healthy during pregnancy:

  • Walking: Walking is the best and the safest form of exercise for pregnancy. If you are already into walking, and then you may easily walk for 30 minutes daily. However, if you are not regular with your exercising regime, then it is a good idea, to begin with, a moderate level by doing approximately 10-15 minutes of a walk for three to four times a week.
  • If you know swimming and love this form of workout, then you may engage in it for 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week. Swimming is a low-impact form of exercise and thus very safe for you during pregnancy.
  • Yoga is great for mental and physical health. There are numerous pregnancy asanas that you can do safely in pregnancy.
  • Weight training is an effective way to keep fit during pregnancy too. However, refrain from lifting heavyweights.
  • You can ride a bicycle or even try exercising bikes in the gym. However, make sure you keep your pace and intensity under check.
  • You may do Pilates too to remain energetic and healthy. Doing Pilates is beneficial in keeping off back troubles, and it also helps you in maintaining your balance.

All the above-mentioned exercises may help you remain fit and healthy during pregnancy. However, it is strictly recommended that as soon as you learn about your pregnancy, you should talk about your exercising regime with your doctor. Every pregnancy is different and thus may or may not have certain issues or complications. Before you begin any form of exercise, you should get your doctor’s consent.

To-Do List for First Three Months

As a pregnant woman, you must make the right choices and decisions for your health and also for the health and well-being of your baby. Here are some tips that may guide about what you should do in the first three months of your pregnancy or how you may engage in pregnancy care first trimester:

  • You can plan when you want to announce your pregnancy and tell your friends and family members about it. You may want to give the news out the moment you come to know about it. However, it will be a good idea to wait until your first trimester gets over because that is when the major risks associated with miscarriage subsides.
  • It is important that you plan for your pregnancy diet and nutrition because you are the sole source from where your baby gets nutrition to grow and develop. Make sure you include fresh fruits, vegetables, cereals, pulses, meat, poultry, and dairy products in your pregnancy diet.
  • You should start with your prenatal medicines which are important for optimal foetal growth and development and also saves your baby from various neural birth defects.
  • It is advisable that you choose your doctor soon after you come to know about your pregnancy.
  • You should get various tests and screenings done to rule out any possible complications and birth defects.
  • You should opt for a good insurance policy.
  • It will be a good idea that you plan and budget for the upcoming expenses.
  • You should follow a fitness regime to stay healthy and fit during your entire pregnancy.
  • You can think and plan for your baby’s name.

    To-Do List for First Three Months

Pregnancy Diet for First Trimester

As discussed before, it is very important for you to pay heed to your pregnancy diet and nutrition. Remember you are also providing nutrition to your growing baby. You will have to jump up your calorie intake to accommodate your baby’s growth and developmental needs. Here’s what you should do and what you should not do in terms of your pregnancy food and diet.

Foods to Eat:

Following are some dietary choices that you should make to have a healthy pregnancy:

  • Pep up your nutrition quotient by including fresh fruits in your diet. You may add fruit juices also, but it is better to eat fruits. Fresh fruits give you ample amounts of dietary fibre and roughage, which is good for your pregnancy-related constipation as well. Refrain from eating canned fruits and opt for fresh fruits instead. You may take 3-4 servings a day.
  • Pumpkin, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and many other fresh vegetables should be added to your pregnancy diet. You can take 3-4 servings of vegetables in a day.
  • Meats, poultry and eggs are a good source to spice up your protein intake in pregnancy and protein are very important for foetal development. However, if you are vegetarian, then you may add lentils, beans and nuts instead to take care of your protein intake.
  • Calcium is required not only for you, but it is very important for the formation of foetal bones and teeth. You should add three serving of dairy in your diet, and thus you should take milk, cheese, yoghurt or butter to cater for your calcium requirements.
  • You should have three to four serving of whole grains in a day. You can eat cereals, whole wheat bread or other such food items.

Foods to Avoid:

Following are some of the things that you should avoid during your pregnancy:

  • Stay away from processed and junk food as it is not only unhealthy, but it may cause unnecessary weight gain also.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake and thus stay away from tea, coffee or carbonated drinks.
  • Do not consume uncooked meat or poultry.
  • Avoid seafood which has high mercury content.
  • Do not consume unwashed fruits and vegetables.
  • Consuming alcohol and smoking should be strictly avoided.
  • Refrain from consuming unpasteurized food items.

Test and Screening

If you are pregnant for the first time, then you may get all confused about your pregnancy symptoms. However, home pregnancy kits may help you establish that you are pregnant, but most doctors will perform other tests and screening methods to establish and confirm your pregnancy. Here are some of the tests and screening methods that your doctor may adopt:

  • Physical examination and other medical information: Your doctor may ask you about your method of contraception and will also ask you about your last menstrual period. A thorough physical examination will also be performed to see if you have a healthy pregnancy and there are no complications or birth defects.
  • Urine and blood tests: Urine and blood tests will be conducted to check your general well-being and also to know about any probable signs of complications.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound scan may be done. It makes the detection of pregnancy and also the detection of any problems related to pregnancy very easy to establish.

With the above-mentioned ways, your doctor will not only be able to confirm your pregnancy but will also let you know about any complications that you may face during your pregnancy.

Precautions to Take During the First Trimester

Here are some of the precautions that you should exercise in your first trimester of pregnancy:

  1. Take care of your diet in pregnancy. Undernourishment is neither good for you nor for your baby. Therefore, eat well and at regular intervals to stay away from any symptoms of indigestion. Include fibre in your diet so that your constipation is under control. Have small meals all through the day to feel energetic.
  2. Drink adequate amounts of water and pep up your fluid intake too. Dehydration can cause complications in pregnancy, therefore have at least 8 to 10 glasses of water in a day.
  3. Exercising is important for the proper functioning of the body and same applies to pregnancy as well. Exercise regularly to keep fit in pregnancy. Whatever form of exercise you plan to undertake, talk to your doctor about it.
  4. It is essential that you have a positive frame of mind in pregnancy. The best way to keep your mind happy and positive is by practising meditation.
  5. Resting is very important in pregnancy. Your body undergoes a lot of changes during pregnancy, hence proper rest and sleep are mandatory for your body to function properly. You should get 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night and should take two to three small naps during the day.
  6. Pregnancy affects your immunity and thus makes you more susceptible to various infections and other ailments. Hence maintain hygiene and take good care of yourself.

Warning Signs to Watch Out For

Most women have a smooth sailing pregnancy; however, sometimes certain complications may crop up. It is very important to understand the signs and symptoms of any problem to take prompt action. We shall discuss some warning signs, which you should immediately report to your doctor:

  • If you notice any excessive vaginal bleeding or spotting.
  • If you are experiencing excessive nausea and vomiting.
  • If you have a high fever (more than 101 degrees).
  • If you are having any burning sensation or pain during urination.
  • If you are having excessive vaginal discharge and itching.
  • If your chronic illness flares up such as diabetes, asthma, lupus, etc.
  • If you experience any kind of calf or leg swelling (due to blood clotting) or a severe headache (due to blood clotting).

These are all the things you will need to know for your first trimester. Now as you are aware of all things related to the first trimester of pregnancy, take good care of yourself and stay happy.

Also Read: Second Month of Pregnancy Diet (5-8 Weeks)

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