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Kirksville, MO 63501
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First Trimester: Know what to expect

The First Trimester: the beginning of the beginning for your little one! Tons of change is on the way for your body and Baby’s. Let’s talk about what symptoms to expect and how Baby is developing during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

First Trimester Symptoms

We could be far into the first trimester before we even realize we’re pregnant. Whether we’re expecting it or not, there are some telltale signs our bodies will give us to let us know something is up. Common symptoms during the first trimester include:

Breast tenderness

Since our hormone levels are out of the ordinary during pregnancy, our bodies react in all kinds of ways, including soreness of the breasts.


Due to a rise in progesterone levels, our intestines move a little slower as they push food through the digestive system. This slowness can cause back-up, leading to gas, constipation, and discomfort.


We may notice a white, creamy discharge from the vagina known as leukorrhea. This shouldn’t last long, but if you experience any foul-smelling or yellow/green discharge, or a lot of clear discharge, contact your doctor.


With all this change happening, no wonder we feel drained! Naps and getting enough iron can help curb fatigue.

Food cravings and aversions

About 60% of pregnant women experience food cravings, and 50% experience food aversions, so don’t be surprised if your tastebuds start acting up. The only thing to look out for is pica, or cravings for things humans shouldn’t eat like dirt or metal. That would be something to ask the doctor about immediately.

Frequent urination

The uterus is growing and puts extra pressure on the bladder, even in these early stages. This can lead to more trips to the bathroom. It’s important to listen to our bodies and not try to hold it in or drink less. Staying hydrated is super important during pregnancy!


That spike in progesterone also relaxes the muscles in the esophagus that prevents acid from rising out of the stomach, causing heartburn. Eating smaller meals throughout the day and avoiding greasy and acidic foods can keep the burn at bay.

Light bleeding

A quarter of women experience very light bleeding early on in pregnancy. This may be implantation bleeding, a result of the baby implanting into the uterine lining. But if we experience heavier bleeding or cramping, we should contact her doctor ASAP. This could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

Mood swings

Again, you can blame this on the hormones. Do not feel ashamed if you cry a lot or slide back and forth from giddiness to irritability. Talk to loved ones and your healthcare team about all that you’re feeling, and consider professional counseling if you feel like your emotions are more than you can handle.

Morning sickness

About 85% of pregnant women experience nausea, another result of hormonal changes. Check out our morning sickness survival guide for more info on handling this unpleasant change.

Weight gain

We need about 150 extra calories a day during the first trimester, and should gain three to six pounds during those first 12 weeks. The idea of “eating for two” isn’t the best advice, as it might cause us to overdo it. Listen to your body and ask your doctor about what works for your own body, since some of us may begin pregnancy already under or overweight.

Seek emergency help if…

Seek immediate attention if you experience:

  • Sharp abdominal pain
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Severe dizziness
  • Rapid weight gain or not enough weight gain

Do not wait until your next checkup to bring up any of these red flag symptoms.

What’s going on with Baby?

Throughout these first 12 weeks, Baby goes from a zygote (a single fertilized cell) to an embryo with developing organs and movement. Big milestones include:

  • Bones: arms, legs, hands, and feet are forming by week 6, and fingers and toes by week 10.
  • Hair and nails: from week 5 to 8, skin begins to develop along with nail beds and hair follicles at week 11.
  • Digestive system: Baby’s intestines develop around week 8, and will be working on his or her third set of kidneys (they will have already gone through two sets!).
  • Sense of touch: By week 8, touch receptors form on the face, and around the genitals, palms, and soles of the feet by week 12.
  • Eyesight: Optic nerves form around week 4, and the retina at week 8.
  • Heart: Around week 5, baby’s heart will start beating! This hearbeat gets stronger around week 9 or 10, when it may be heard by an ultrasound machine with a doppler.
  • Brain: Baby’s brain will start signaling Baby’s limbs to move around by week 8.
  • Sense of taste: while your own tastebuds are giving you food cravings and aversions, baby’s taste buds are forming around week 8. When their tastebuds fully develop, they’ll be able to taste the amniotic fluid, which will taste like whatever we eat!

Want to learn more?

Lifeline Pregnancy Help Clinic offers confidential services including pregnancy tests,ultrasounds, prenatal education, counseling, and more at no cost. From the first trimester and beyond, you can get the help you need. Call today or click below to make an appointment with our trained nurses.



By Kath Crane