Birth Series: The First Trimester
One of my favorite topics to discuss with patients or other healthcare practitioners is the process of pregnancy and the process of labor and delivery. So I think it would be great to begin an educational series on each of the trimesters during pregnancy, and then the phases of labor. Women, in most cases, would simply type into Google: what to expect during first trimester. The results would yield from various websites about different symptoms such as tender breasts, heartburn, constipation, discharge, fatigue, nausea, ect.. However all of these symptoms can easily be justified in EVERY trimester. Every woman has such a unique journey through pregnancy so that is why you will see the word “generally” when looking at websites and talking to your medial doctor.
So let us get into some details of the first trimester. This is the time where most women find out that they are pregnant. Most women will track their cycle and be testing their ovulation to see when the best time to conceive is. Then after they are past the part of “trying to conceive” (which is TTC in social media these days). So the first sign is typically a missed period. There are a variety of pregnancy tests out there, and if you test too early it CAN show up as negative, however if you give it more time and test again, it will show as positive. After that positive test, you will want to schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN medical doctor to do a confirmation ultrasound. That ultrasound will give you a good estimation of how far along you are, as well as your estimated due date! It is too soon to determine the gender, so do not get too excited about that yet!
So the excitement grows as you are finding out you’re pregnant and you have the cute ultrasound pictures of what looks like a tiny bean. Then the days come where fatigue and “morning sickness” can show up. So fatigue can look differently for everyone, it could be slight exhaustion with the work day that relieves some with extra rest and sitting down, or it can be the need to be in bed by 7 PM due to your body feeling so heavy and tired and all you did that day was sit at a desk. The morning sickness is my personal least favorite symptom, and this is because whoever decided to call it “morning sickness” had it pretty easy. So morning sickness can be all feelings of nausea, vomiting, scent and food aversions. For example: I love coffee, and have drank it pretty much every day since high school. When I was pregnant with my daughter, the scent of coffee made me so nauseous that I vomited a couple times. Even without coffee, I was nauseous daily and sick occasionally, and it lasted well past lunch time. There is a horrid condition that some pregnant women get where they are so sick throughout pregnancy that they get diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum. So if you are having excessive nausea and vomiting to the point of being bedridden and haven’t eaten in a few days, please call your doctor due to risk of dehydration and nutritional deficits!
Some women are blessed to have minimal sickness or fatigue and can continue on with barely feeling pregnant at all. These women do not really have to alter their exercise or physical exertion habits. Typically in the first trimester, the only scaling that needs to be done in regards to exercise, weight lifting or cardio will be based purely on how the woman feels. You can see where if someone is consistently sick, exhausted, and dehydrated – they won’t feel like going to their typical Crossfit class. However you could have someone who feels wonderful, just slightly tired, but is able to push through their usual fitness class.
In this phase of pregnancy no positional changes to exercises are needed or recommended. The only modifications that are usually needed are if you are a pro athlete in a contact sport such as rugby, soccer, basketball – where you could take a hit to the abdomen. Most women fear exercise when they become pregnant due to fear of hurting the baby, however research is becoming more prevalent and widely known that exercise is actually very beneficial for BOTH mother and baby.
I think this is the biggest obstacle for healthcare and practitioners such as myself, we see so many health benefits for physical activity during pregnancy but some other medical providers, and the general knowledge available to the public is still biased on NOT exercising or remaining active during pregnancy. So let us continue this movement of education and encouraging women to remain active in their first trimester!
Towards the end of your first trimester, you might begin to show a little as your uterus begins to expand to make room for your growing baby. You will potentially see a change in your bra size, as well as increased sensitivity and tenderness to the breasts. This is all your body’s way of preparing and adapting to the growing baby!
These are the biggest changes you are likely to see in your first trimester, there can be more, or there can also be less. The most important thing is just to welcome the change of your body and adapt as best suits your needs while taking care of your health, and the baby’s wellbeing. If you have any questions about something that was not covered please feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to your medical provider! No question is too silly or unwelcome, so ask the question any time you feel like you are unsure. My friends, do NOT go to Google first. Ask a medical provider. Stayed tuned for the second trimester talk 🙂