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Changes You'll Experience During Early Pregnancy
So you're finally pregnant…you wake up in the morning with a queasy feeling and nothing seems appealing to eat. Your normally bouncy energy has fallen flat and you only want to sleep. Along with the rising hormone levels, a number of physiologic changes are occurring throughout your body. These changes are designed to allow your body to nourish and accommodate your growing baby and to prepare for eventual breast feeding.

Morning sickness can occur any time of day, and often fades by 14 weeks of pregnancy. Some tips to lessen your nausea include:
  • Eat smaller meals 5–6 times a day. Sometimes, just eating one bite of food every 10-15 minutes is easier than eating a meal.

  • Bland foods may be more appealing. Try crackers, toast, potatoes, rice, and tofu. Salty foods like pretzels, or acidic foods like lemonade may help.

  • Drink fluids to avoid getting dehydrated. Even one sip every few minutes may work. Liquids to try include water with lemon, chicken broth, miso soup, raspberry leaf tea, and ginger root tea.

  • Avoid spicy or greasy foods, coffee, alcohol, and cigarette smoke. Dairy products, red meat and eggs may be difficult to eat. Avoid cooking odors; if you can, let someone else do the cooking.

  • Try munching on dry crackers before getting out of bed.

  • Vitamin B6 (25 milligrams twice a day) can be helpful.

  • For severe nausea and vomiting, contact your doctor. There are prescription medications that can help in severe cases, and intravenous fluids are sometimes necessary.
  • Headaches are common throughout pregnancy and may result from fatigue, inadequate fluid or calorie intake, or stress. Check to see that you are eating at least small amounts throughout the day and are drinking adequate amounts of fluid (8–12 cups of liquid a day). Exercise may help, by gently stretching the muscles of your neck. Also try massaging your shoulders, head and forehead. If you're feeling stressed, relaxation exercises and meditation can be helpful. Tylenol is safe to take in pregnancy, but be careful not to exceed the recommended dosages. A severe, unrelenting headache should be reported to your doctor.

    Fatigue is common, resulting from higher levels of progesterone in your body. Your energy will improve in the second trimester of pregnancy. Rest when you feel tired—obviously, this is harder to do if you're working or caring for a child. Consider getting a babysitter or using lunch breaks to take catnaps. Mild exercise during the day may also increase your energy and help you to sleep better at night. Don't drink caffeine during the evening to minimize chances for insomnia. And make sure to eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids during the day.

    Vaginal secretions increase in pregnancy, and are normal. If you have an unusual odor or itching, check with your provider to see if you have an infection. Sometimes using water to splash off your skin and a hairdryer to "blow dry" your vulva can help your skin to feel more comfortable.

    Urinary frequency is common throughout the pregnancy as a result of increasing pressure from your growing uterus. You still need to keep drinking during pregnancy, and completely treat any bladder infection that is detected in your pregnancy.

    Constipation begins in early pregnancy, and is a reminder that it's important to drink plenty of water (8–12 cups a day), eat whole grains and fiber, and eat bran daily. Sometimes, the iron in prenatal supplements can cause constipation. Try eating cooked oatmeal with oat bran every morning; it can really help! There are also over-the-counter stool softeners—ask your practitioner for a recommendation.

    Vaginal spotting may occur in the first few weeks of pregnancy. This is sometimes an early sign of problems in the pregnancy; however, 50% of pregnancies with bleeding are completely normal. Avoid strenuous exercise and sexual relations, and call your doctor if you experience increasingly heavy bleeding or menstrual-like cramping or severe pain. Blood tests to detect rising hormone levels or an ultrasound done in the early weeks of pregnancy will show you if the pregnancy is developing normally.

    Cramping often occurs as the uterus expands. If you're having your second or third child you may experience more cramping than you did the first time you were pregnant. Mild cramping unaccompanied by bleeding is completely normal. If you have rhythmic cramping in your second trimester, or if you also have bleeding—contact your health care provider.

    Weight gain usually begins in the first trimester. Some women hardly show any outward signs of being pregnant initially, while others begin to show in the first three months. If you've had a baby before, you're likely to appear bigger at an earlier stage this time around.

    Breast changes include fullness, tingling and tenderness as your body prepares for lactation. The colour of your nipples may darken, too.

    Emotional highs and lows are common. Your moods may seem out of your control, especially if you're ambivalent about being pregnant. Fears about the pregnancy and about having a baby are natural. You may have new concerns about your relationship as you look forward to parenthood. Your pregnancy may bring up worries related to prior pregnancy-related events in your life, such as previous losses or complications. This is a great time to talk about your feelings with supportive friends, relatives or a counselor. And be sure to discuss any pregnancy fears with your health care provider.

    With all of these changes happening, you may find it difficult to feel excited about being pregnant. Try to have an adventurous attitude about your body's changes, and keep in mind that many of your these symptoms will improve in a few weeks
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist