Early Symptoms of Pregnancy Through First Trimester

Vilma Ruddock
fatigued woman

Common signs and symptoms of pregnancy that occur during the first trimester often start in the first few weeks. Some women become aware of them even before missing a period or getting a test to confirm they are pregnant. Fortunately, most of these early symptoms will likely diminish or disappear in the second trimester.

Common Early Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms

The following are the common early pregnancy signs and symptoms that are usually limited to or worse during the first trimester. Not every pregnant woman will experience all of these symptoms, and some women might not have any of them.

Fatigue

One of the most common signs in early pregnancy is extreme fatigue. Many women find they tire easily and want more rest or sleep before they even realize they are pregnant. The hormonal and physiological changes of pregnancy can put a demand on your body and decrease your energy.

According to the University of Rochester, the hormone progesterone might be a main factor in this symptom. The good news is that your energy level will likely improve during the early second trimester.

Morning Sickness

Young woman with morning sickness

The Mayo Clinic lists nausea as a common sign of pregnancy that starts during the early first trimester. For many women, morning nausea, or stomach queasiness, is their first clue they could be pregnant. The nausea might be accompanied by vomiting,

Although referred to as morning sickness, for some women, the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy can occur at any time of the day. Most women will get relief from morning sickness by the end of the first twelve weeks but for a few, the symptoms continue off and on throughout the pregnancy.

Tender or Swollen Breasts

Breast tenderness is also one of the first symptoms you might notice during the early days and weeks of pregnancy. The Pregnancy Bible (page 19) notes your breasts can feel heavier, sore, and more sensitive. The increase in hormones causes your breasts to grow and become swollen and tender.

The symptoms might remind you of how your breasts feel just before your normal monthly periods. The discomfort often decreases after the first trimester as your body adapts to the changes in your hormones.

Implantation Bleeding

Vaginal bleeding about six to twelve days after ovulation and conception could be a first sign of a pregnancy cycle, especially if you have never had this before. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, this occurs when the "fertilized egg (embryo) implants in the uterus." The implantation bleeding happens because small blood vessels bleed as the dividing mass of cells burrows beneath the blood-rich inner lining of the uterus.

Only a small percentage of women have implantation bleeding, and it is usually light and lasts no more than 24-to-48 hours. You might overlook this spotting, not realizing its significance until you miss your next expected period. Talk to your doctor if your vaginal bleeding lasts longer or is heavier because it could a sign of other problems.

Increased Basal Body Temperature

Your basal body temperature (BBT) chart can provide an early sign of pregnancy if you have been using them to track your ovulation to try to get pregnant. According to the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, a sustained rise in your BBT for more than two weeks after you ovulate is a likely clue you are pregnant. You might also notice your chart shows a slight shift to a higher level of temperatures about seven days after the initial shift after ovulation.

Mucus Secretions

An increase in the mucus secretions from your vagina can be a sign of early pregnancy. The increased mucus can be cloudy, thick and tacky, or thin and watery. What you see depends on the effects of the increase in estrogen and progesterone hormones on the glands lining the inside of your cervix. Please note that increased secretions can also be a sign of vaginal or cervical infections, especially if you also have vaginal itching, burning, or pain.

Pelvic Cramps or Pain

First trimester cramping

In the early days of pregnancy, many women have mild pelvic cramps or pain or a feeling of pelvic pressure. This is normal due to the changes in the tissues in and around your uterus, and your symptoms might be similar to menstrual cramps. You might, in fact, mistake these cramps as a sign your period will soon start and not realize you are pregnant.

According to the Merck Manual, pelvic pain or cramping in early pregnancy does not last long. However, as the ligaments that hold the uterus in place begin to stretch, some women might continue to have pelvic discomfort throughout the first trimester. Discuss any pelvic pain with your doctor to make sure it is not due to a serious problem, such as an ectopic pregnancy or pelvic infection.

Aversion to Odors and Foods

Parenting magazine writes sensitivity to odor is a first trimester pregnancy sign. Aversion to certain odors or the smell and taste of certain foods often accompanies morning sickness throughout the first trimester. These aversions include strong scents, such as cigarettes, perfumes, or even roses, and the smell of coffee, spicy dishes, and other strong-smelling foods can trigger nausea.

According to Essentials of Life Cycle Nutrition, about 54% of pregnant women experience aversions to the taste of some foods. These include orange and other acidic juices, some dairy products, meat, spicy foods, and the taste of coffee. It is possible that foods you once enjoyed are now unpalatable. Aversions to odors and foods may be related to the close relationship between the senses of smell and taste and may be due to changes in these senses during pregnancy.

Food Cravings

In contrast to food aversions, some pregnant women have cravings for certain foods or have an increased appetite. The Essentials of Life Cycle Nutrition states food cravings occur in about 61% of pregnant women. This symptom is often most prominent during the first trimester and improves later in pregnancy.

Frequent Urination

frequent urination

The Pregnancy Bible states frequent urination starts early during the first trimester. The position of your growing uterus low in your pelvis in early pregnancy compresses your bladder and triggers the frequent urge to urinate. In addition, the increase in your blood volume with pregnancy leads to more blood flow to your kidneys and the filtering of more urine to your bladder.

As the uterus grows out of the pelvis after week 12 to 13, the pressure is relieved, and the urge might decrease. In the late second trimester and the third trimester as your baby and uterus takes up more room in your abdomen and pelvis, urinary urgency and frequency will again increase. Be aware that frequent urination can also be a sign of a bladder infection, so it's important to speak with your doctor if you are experiencing this symptom.

Mood Swings

During the first trimester, you might experience extreme, constantly changing mood swings throughout the day. The American Pregnancy Association states changes in your hormones and the stress of a new pregnancy combined with other life stressors might be to blame.

An emotional expectant mother might find herself happy one moment then crying for no obvious reason, or getting angry with little provocation. Rest, a balanced diet, and regular exercise will help even out the emotional upheaval.

Later First Trimester Symptoms

Young woman with lower back pain

After the first few weeks of pregnancy, you may begin to notice other symptoms, as well. These include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Lower backaches
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Heartburn
  • A metallic taste in your mouth
  • An active gag reflex

Some of these symptoms may go away as you enter the second trimester, while others might stick around until your baby is born.

Pay Attention to Your Signs and Symptoms

Pregnancy causes many immediate changes in your body that can lead to early signs and symptoms. Some women barely notice or have any of these first trimester symptoms at all. Know what to look for and be aware that other conditions can also cause your new signs and symptoms. Consult your doctor to verify a pregnancy or to discuss any concerns you might have.

Early Symptoms of Pregnancy Through First Trimester