In the last three blog posts, we covered the growth cycle of a baby while in the womb through each trimester. In this post, we will focus on physical changes and symptoms you (the mother) can expect while pregnant. When pregnancy occurs, you have a huge surge in hormones estrogen and progesterone that can cause symptoms such as constipation, mood swings, and a frequent need to pee. Your heart is also working extra hard to provide enough blood flow to your baby. (12) Let’s look at specific symptoms that occur each week.
By week 4, the fertilized egg has implanted into the uterus and you may experience light cramping and spotting (light bleeding) when this happens. Cramps or spotting are normal until they become severe or painful or the spotting turns into heavy bleeding. These symptoms could indicate a miscarriage and you should call your healthcare provider. Some women do not experience any symptoms this early, but other women might experience breast tenderness/swelling, fatigue, gas and bloating, nausea, and/or vomiting. (1) If you don’t have any of these symptoms but your period is late, it is a good idea to go ahead and take a pregnancy test.
Throughout the pregnancy, a woman’s body makes more blood than normal to support the growing baby. Your body will make 20-100% more blood and this process begins around week 5. (2) The increase in blood circulation causes the kidneys to work more and will increase your need to pee. (3) This is also the week you may notice morning sickness and certain foods smelling or tasting unappetizing. It can help to eat smaller, more frequent meals of bland food. (3)
An increase in estrogen can cause a metallic taste in your mouth which can contribute to nausea and a decreased desire to eat. You may also start experiencing headaches around week 6 due to the increased hormones. Staying hydrated and avoiding the triggers of your headaches can help decrease symptoms. (4)
At this point, your womb is the size of a lemon. (5) You will probably notice that your sense of smell is heightened and this could contribute to nausea/vomiting. But this is temporary and your sense of smell will get back to normal in a few weeks. (6) Another symptom that may arise this week is heartburn or acid reflux. Heartburn can occur due to elevated hormones not allowing the flap between your stomach and esophagus to stay closed. Therefore stomach acid gets into the esophagus (area between the throat and breastbone) where you will feel a burning sensation. (6) A couple of things you can do to decrease this is to avoid spicy foods and sleep propped up. (6)
During week 8 you are probably experiencing similar symptoms to the prior weeks. Morning sickness could be continuing as well as breast tenderness and a heightened sense of smell. You may also notice an increase in vaginal discharge. Discharge is normal unless it is green, has a bad odor, or causes itching or burning. If you have any of these symptoms you should contact your healthcare provider. (7)
Week 9, symptoms will continue. But this week is when the placenta takes over providing hormones and nutrients to the baby. The placenta is an organ that has been growing in your womb. It is attached to your uterus and connects to the baby through the umbilical cord. From now on, this is how the baby will be nourished. (8)
You may notice some weight gain around your waist at this point. It could be actual weight gain or it could be bloating. This is normal and just means the baby is growing and your body is adapting. (9)
There are no significant changes in symptoms by week 11.
By week 12 the baby is fully formed. You still may be experiencing common first-trimester symptoms, but they should be coming to end soon. By week 12 your uterus is the size of a grapefruit and can be felt by your healthcare provider in your lower abdomen. This is also the week when miscarriage rates drop significantly! (10)
You have finally made it to the end of the first trimester! You should start feeling those unwanted symptoms fade and have more energy. Also, this week your breasts start making colostrum. Colostrum is the breast milk that feeds your baby the first few days after birth. It is thick, creamy, and very high in nutrients. (11)
In the next post, we will cover symptoms that occur during the second trimester. You can look forward to a growing belly, changes in your skin, and less nausea and exhaustion.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact;
Nurturing Center of Lubbock
3303 66th Street
Lubbock, TX 79413
Phone: 806-780-6853 (available 24 hours)
Marlee Henn, RN
Marlee has been a nurse for two years and currently works in a functional medical clinic and part time in a long term acute care center. She has a passion for natural living, women’s health, and education.