Resources for the First Trimester
The first trimester is the start of the pregnancy—technically the first day of the final menstrual period—until the thirteenth week. It’s a time full of physical and emotional changes, as your baby’s heart starts to beat and systems like the brain and intestines develop.
It is recommended that you find an obstetrician or pregnancy care provider as soon as you know you are pregnant.
The following resources can help with first trimester health and safety.
Medication and Vaccines
Most medicines are safe to use during pregnancy, though there are a handful that can pose a potential risk to mothers and babies.
Here are some medications that are safe to take when experiencing common first trimester symptoms:
|Pain, headaches||Tylenol (extra strength)|
|Cough, chest congestion||Mucinex, Robitussin DM|
|Head congestion||Sudafed, saline nasal spray|
|Sore throat (without fever or white patches on back of throat)||Chloraseptic|
|Heartburn||Tums, Pepcid, Prilosec|
|Constipation||Colace, Senakot, Surfak, Metamucil, Miralax|
|Allergies||Zyrtec, Claritin, Bendryl, Allegra|
Everyone is susceptible to influenza, or the flu, but pregnant women are at greater risk of complications like bronchitis, sinus infections, and pneumonia, making the flu vaccine especially important.
Healthy Eating and Nutrition
Toxins or bacteria in certain foods can be especially dangerous during the first few months of pregnancy. There are certain fish, meat, milk, cheese, and raw foods that should not be consumed when pregnant—it’s important to learn how to choose and prepare your food safely.
Snacking can contribute to a healthy diet and ensure that your body gets the fuel it needs every two to three hours to control your blood sugar and appetite and keep you energized.
A snack, as opposed to a treat, is a "mini-meal" meant to provide the nutrients the body requires. Snacks that contain a combination of carbohydrates, fiber, and protein—and are low in fat, salt, and sugar—are better at controlling blood sugar and appetite.
Healthy Snack Ideas
- One whole light multi-grain English muffin with one tablespoon nut butter
- Two tablespoons raisins and one-quarter cup almonds
- Hard-cooked egg and one slice of whole-wheat toast with a half teaspoon margarine
- A half banana or one medium apple with one tablespoon peanut butter
- Kabobs made with one cup melon and one ounce low-fat cheese
- Celery and dip made from one tablespoon peanut butter and two tablespoons raisins
- A half cup sugar snap peas and two tablespoons hummus
- Five reduced-fat Triscuits with one ounce low-fat cheese
- A half cup light tuna or egg salad in a half of a whole wheat pocket
- Whole light multi-grain English muffin topped with tomato sauce and low-fat mozzarella cheese, then baked
- Ten multi-grain Wheat Thins with one ounce low-fat string cheese and four fluid ounces tomato juice
- One small baked potato topped with salsa and one ounce low-fat cheese
- One ounce lean ham rolled in one whole-grain pancake
- Trail mix (example: combine one cup high fiber cereal, two tablespoons dried cranberries, one-quarter cup almonds)
- Whole wheat tortilla filled with a half cup low-fat refried beans, one ounce low-fat cheddar cheese, and salsa, heated in the microwave
- One half banana and one tablespoon peanut butter placed and rolled in a small whole wheat tortilla
- A half cup whole-grain cereal with a half cup skim milk
- Nachos made with eight baked multi-grain tortilla chips, one ounce cheese, and salsa
- A half cup goldfish whole-grain baked snack crackers and a medium apple
- Whole-wheat tortilla, topped with a half cup apples and low-fat cheddar the microwave, heated in microwave
- Nine ounces angel food cake or reduced-fat biscuit with one cup strawberries
- One small baked sweet potato, topped with a half cup pineapple tidbits
- One small baked potato, topped with a half cup chili
- Three cups low-fat popcorn with two tablespoons nuts
Folate is a man-made form of the B vitamin folate and plays a role in preventing neural tube defects in infants. It’s important to take a folic acid supplement—usually in the form of a prenatal vitamin—before conception and during pregnancy.
Nausea and Vomiting
Perhaps no medical issue is more common during pregnancy than nausea and vomiting, particularly in the first trimester. About 1 in 4 pregnant women have only mild nausea. Three of every 10 pregnant women have nausea that is bad enough to interfere with their daily lives.
Coping with Nausea and Vomiting
The onset of nausea and vomiting is usually at 4 to 10 weeks gestation, and the average is about 8 weeks. Typically, symptoms resolve by 16 weeks gestation. (You are "due" at 40 weeks.)
Some dietary and lifestyle remedies that can improve symptoms include:
- Small, frequent meals
- Dry foods (It may help to separate dry and wet foods.)
- Carbohydrates like chips, crackers, cereal, or toast
- Carbonated drinks
- Teas, especially mint, raspberry, or vanilla
- Nuts, especially almonds
- Ginger in any form
- Papaya and melons like watermelon and cantaloupe
- Avoiding spicy and strong-smelling food and drink
- Taking your vitamins with food or at bedtime
- Getting fresh air, especial cool air
- Lying down
- Exercising gently
Safe Alternative Remedies
- Sea Bands
- Hypnosis (Please be sure that your practitioner is aware that you are pregnant.)
- Chewable papaya enzymes: Two or three at a time as needed
- Vitamin B6: 10 to 25 milligrams three to four times a day
- Tums: One or two at a time; do not exceed six per day
You may talk with your provider about additional alternatives or a prescription if these methods are not helpful.
During pregnancy, women's bodies change dramatically. Hormone levels rise, which may affect eye health and vision.
Eye-related changes that may occur during pregnancy include:
- A change in refraction, requiring a different prescription for corrective eyewear
- Blurry vision
- Dry eyes
- Less tolerance of contact lenses
- Worsening of existing eye conditions
Vision problems during pregnancy may signal other health problems. Blurred vision or seeing spots indicate gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, or an increase in blood pressure that usually occurs after the twentieth week of pregnancy. Eclampsia or pre-eclampsia caused by extremely high blood pressure can cause eye hemorrhages and retinal detachment.
Not all pregnant women develop eye problems, but experts recommend routine examinations by an eye doctor each trimester. Early treatment is vital to the health of the mother and baby.
About 20 percent of women experience some bleeding during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Possible first trimester bleeding include:
Implantation Bleeding: You may experience some normal spotting within the first 6 to 12 weeks as the fertilized egg implants itself in the lining of the uterus. Some women don’t realize they are pregnant because they mistake this bleeding for a light period. The bleeding is usually very light and can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Miscarriage: Because miscarriage is the most common during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, it tends to be one of the biggest concerns with first trimester bleeding. About half of women who bleed during pregnancy eventually miscarry, but bleeding doesn’t necessarily mean a miscarriage, especially if you don’t have other symptoms.
Other symptoms of miscarriage are strong cramps in the lower abdomen and tissue passing through the vagina.
Please go to the nearest emergency room if you have any of these symptoms.
Urinary Tract Infections
Because hormonal and mechanical changes increase the risk of urinary stasis and vesicoureteral reflux, pregnancy causes numerous changes in the woman's body. These changes, along with an already short urethra (approximately 3 to 4 centimeters in females) and difficulty with hygiene due to a distended pregnant belly, increase the frequency of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in pregnant women. UTIs are among the most common bacterial infections during pregnancy.
Pyelonephritis is the most common urinary tract complication in pregnant women, occurring during approximately two percent of all pregnancies. Acute pyelonephritis is characterized by fever, flank pain, and tenderness, in addition to significant bacteriuria. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and dysuria. Furthermore, women with additional risk factors (immunosuppression, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, neurologic bladder, recurrent or persistent UTIs before pregnancy) are at an increased risk for UTI complications.
Back pain is among the most common symptoms of pregnancy, especially during the later months. The ligaments soften in preparation for labor, leading to possible strain on the joints and lower back.
Dental care during pregnancy is especially important because pregnant women are at higher risk for cavities and gum diseases like gingivitis. It is important for all pregnant women to brush their teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day and floss once a day.
Chemicals like pesticides are in water, on fruits, vegetables, in gardens and parks, and most places plants grow—and they can harm you or your baby.
Seatbelts During Pregnancy
Wearing a seatbelt is important for children and adults of all ages, and especially so during pregnancy.
Here are some seatbelt safety tips:
- Always wear both the lap and the shoulder strap, and make sure they both fit you snugly
- Buckle the lap belt under your belly and over your hips
- Put the shoulder strap between your breasts and off to the side of your belly
- Never place the shoulder strap under your arm
- If it adjusts, fix the length of the shoulder strap to fit you correctly
30 minutes of daily moderate exercise during pregnancy can help you and your baby be healthier, and may decrease your chances of issues like deep vein thrombosis.
What Is a Midwife?
A midwife is a provider who specializes in providing obstetric and gynecological services including routine care, primary care, annual exams, and contraception assistance. There are three main types of midwives, and there are some differences in the services offered by each type of midwife.
Learn more about the role of midwives: