Physical Changes During Pregnancy For The First Trimester

By:    Published: October 13, 2011

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Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a woman's life, but during that time, she will experience many changes in her body and some of them can be disconcerting.

In general, it is quite common for a woman to feel run down and fatigued, especially during the first trimester. It is also common for women to come down with colds easier during the first trimester as well. Mom's body is working incredibly hard to make the millions of cells that make up a baby, and it can be tiring and take its toll on Mom's immune system.

Reproductive Changes

During the first trimester of pregnancy the woman will stop having her monthly period, although it's common for women to have some bleeding in the beginning. Note that this does not always indicate a miscarriage is imminent. Something called implantation bleeding occurs in about 20 percent of women. Cervical changes can also cause bleeding. Most of the changes that take place early on will go unnoticed by most women.

Vaginal discharge, either clear or white, also increases during early pregnancy. It is also common to contract minor infections such as yeast infections due to the changing environment in the vagina. While it is no cause for alarm it should be treated because it can lead to other problems with the pregnancy.

Breast Changes

During the first trimester of pregnancy, one of the first changes a woman may notice is in her breasts. They may swell, become tender, or even have a tingling feeling. This is a normal response to the increased levels of hormones that are required to support the pregnancy. To minimize the discomfort women should wear a supportive bra, even when sleeping if the tenderness is interfering with sleep. Sports bras are often the most comfortable and affordable options.

Cardiovascular Changes

During the first trimester the mother will experience some cardiovascular changes, though they will mostly go unnoticed. Over the entire pregnancy, blood volume will increase by up to 50 percent, and the increase in blood volume starts around the same time as implantation and peaks around 34 weeks of pregnancy. Mom will lose quite a bit of blood in labor and delivery, so the body compensates by making more red blood cells.

Urinary Tract Changes

One of the most noticeable changes in early pregnancy is increased urination. In the first trimester, hormones are responsible for the increased urination, as well as the increasing blood volume since the kidneys filter the blood. As the uterus grows in the first trimester, it is still nestled in the pelvis on top of the bladder, increasing pressure and causing Mom to have to go, seemingly every 10 minutes. This will ease some during the second trimester, but returns in the third. If Mom thinks she can ease this by cutting back on the fluids, think again. Mom and baby need plenty of water during the pregnancy, and decreasing fluids can lead to infections.

Urinary tract infections are common during pregnancy and are not a cause for alarm, but they should be treated to avoid further problems.

Respiratory Changes

During the first trimester, a pregnant woman may notice her breathing change. The hormone progesterone is responsible for this. It triggers the body to lower the carbon dioxide in the blood and as a result Mom will breathe faster and deeper.

A pregnant woman may also experience something called pregnancy rhinitis. The same hormone is responsible for this, which is characterized by a stuffy nose and sinus headache. It's nothing to worry about, and an over-the-counter decongestant can help relieve symptoms.

Digestive Changes

The most common change noticed in early pregnancy is morning sickness. This is caused by increased levels of hormones. The good news is that it is usually temporary and there are a number of natural ways to help relieve morning sickness. If morning sickness becomes too severe, it can affect the health of Mom and baby, causing Mom to need intravenous fluids, though this is not common.

Skin Changes

In early pregnancy, Mom may notice problems with acne developing. Those pesky hormones, again, are at work here. However, over-the-counter acne medications are safe for use during pregnancy, so Mom doesn't need to walk around with a face that resembles the surface of Mars. Skin may become more sensitive during pregnancy as well.

As a result of the rapid growth of baby, Mom's weight gain and rapid breast enlargement, stretch marks are quite common. While nothing can be done to prevent them, Mom can minimize discomfort and speed their fading by keeping skin hydrated. There are a number of products available that claim to minimize them, but it's up to each woman to decide if they work for her.

Hormone Changes

Hormone production increases rapidly during early pregnancy and it is these hormones that are responsible for supporting the pregnancy. Hormone changes are the main cause for every other change, physical and emotional, during early pregnancy. It is also changes in hormone production that cause such conditions as gestational diabetes, which Mom will be tested for in the second trimester.

Musculoskeletal Changes

The joints and ligaments in Mom's body begin to loosen in the first trimester thanks to the hormone, relaxin. This allows Mom's pelvis to spread to accommodate the baby and birth. Women may notice back pain in early pregnancy, but most musculoskeletal changes don't occur until later in the pregnancy. Pregnancy massage is a great way to relax and relieve some of the discomfort.

Warning Signs

Any type of bleeding, pain, fluid leaking from the vagina, contractions or fever should be reported to the doctor immediately. Any time Mom just doesn't feel right, call the doctor. It's better to be safe than sorry, especially when the life and health of a baby is at stake.

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