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Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms: What to Expect During Each Trimester

Pregnancy can be an exciting time for many women. As your body begins to change and prepare for the new life inside you, it can certainly feel like a mixed bag of emotions. If you’re experiencing pregnancy for the first time, you may have a lot of questions about the changes happening in your body. How will you know when it’s time to go to the hospital or if what you’re feeling is normal? To help answer those questions, let’s take a look at some of the common pregnancy symptoms that occur during each trimester—from early signs of pregnancy all the way through the delivery day.

What are the Early Signs of Pregnancy?

One of the earliest signs and symptoms of pregnancy is a missed period. Although this isn’t always a reliable indicator, as periods can sometimes be irregular, it’s one of the most common early signs that you may be pregnant. Other signs and symptoms can start as soon as conception occurs. For some women, these early symptoms can appear within days after conception while for others they may take weeks to manifest themselves. 

1st Trimester Symptoms: Week 4-6 Pregnancy Symptoms

The first trimester of pregnancy is marked by significant changes in your body as it adjusts to the baby’s growth. Hormonal fluctuations caused by pregnancy hormones like hCG and progesterone are the main culprits behind the common symptoms experienced during pregnancy. These hormones directly impact the way your body functions, resulting in physical and emotional changes. Some other pregnancy symptoms you might experience during these weeks include:

  • Missed period
  • Fatigue
  • Breast tenderness or soreness
  • Nausea or vomiting (also known as morning sickness)
  • Increased urination frequency
  • Food cravings and aversions to certain smells
  • Constipation, 
  • Headaches
  • Light spotting or bleeding
  • Cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Mood swings

2nd Trimester (Week 13-26) Pregnancy Symptoms

The second trimester of pregnancy is often the most comfortable point of pregnancy, as morning sickness usually eases up and energy levels return. During this time, you may experience physical symptoms like stretched skin, increased appetite, and swelling in your hands and feet. During this trimester, you will likely begin to experience the feeling of your baby moving and you may also start to feel Braxton Hicks contractions, which are mild, irregular contractions that feel like a “tightening” in your abdomen. Braxton Hicks contractions are your body’s way of getting ready for labor (however they do not mean that labor is coming). Other common pregnancy symptoms during the 2nd trimester:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Growing, rounder abdomen
  • Weight gain due to baby’s growth and maternal water retention
  • Darkening of the areolas (the skin around the nipples)
  • Stretch marks on the abdomen, breasts, hips, or buttocks
  • Itching on the abdomen, palms, or soles of feet as the skin stretches
  • Backache and abdominal pain caused by increased weight bearing down on muscles and ligaments
  • Heartburn
  • Leg cramps from hormonal changes in the body cause imbalances in electrolytes   
  • Heavier vaginal discharge that may have a slight odor
  • Possible Braxton Hicks contractions (irregular uterine tightening)

Third Trimester (Weeks 27-40)

The third trimester of pregnancy is often the most physically and emotionally challenging stage as the baby is growing and your body is beginning to prepare itself for labor. The end of your pregnancy is near and your baby is getting ready to make its appearance! Here are some of the third-trimester pregnancy symptoms you might experience during these final weeks:

  • Braxton Hicks contractions  
  • Increased urination frequency
  • Food cravings and aversions to certain smells
  • Fatigue due to the body working harder for oxygen and nutrients for the baby
  • Swelling in hands and feet
  • Backaches, headaches, constipation, or heartburn
  • Enlarged breasts and darkening of the areolas
  • Mood swings or emotional changes
  • Shortness of breath caused by pressure on internal organs

Of course, every pregnancy is different and not all pregnant women will experience all the symptoms listed above.  You may even find yourself experiencing symptoms that are more “uncommon”. Pregnancy requires a lot of change to your body as it cares for your growing baby and prepares for labor. Pregnancy symptoms are not always pleasant, but there are small things you can do to help make yourself more comfortable throughout your pregnancy. 

Tips for Helping with Symptoms

During pregnancy, it’s important to take extra care of yourself. Simple lifestyle tips such as eating a balanced diet full of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients can help reduce fatigue and keep your body nourished. Getting adequate sleep at night and taking regular breaks during the day will help with energy levels and overall well-being. 

Additionally, staying hydrated with plenty of water throughout the day will help reduce swelling in your hands and feet. Regular exercise such as walking, stretching, or swimming can also be beneficial for reducing stress levels as well as easing back pain and improving circulation. Lastly, creating an environment of emotional support during this time by seeking out family members or friends for comfort can be a great way to manage any mood swings or emotional changes you may experience. 

It can be a difficult and overwhelming experience to go through pregnancy (whether planned or unplanned). However, it is important to remember that all of the physical and emotional changes you may experience are natural parts of the process. 

Our team at HELP Pregnancy Aid is here and happy to help the best we can to find ways for you to be as comfortable as possible during your pregnancy as well as help you learn to manage many of your pregnancy symptoms.  We understand this can be a challenging time and are here to support you in whatever way we can.

Not Sure if You’re Pregnant?

If you find yourself experiencing early pregnancy symptoms and think you might be pregnant, the professionals at HELP Pregnancy Aid are here to support you.  We offer free and confidential, lab-quality pregnancy testing as well as a free ultrasound to confirm pregnancy and viability (no insurance necessary). 

Call or visit us today! 

Receive the HELP you deserve on your unexpected motherhood journey! Schedule a complimentary appointment for a pregnancy test, or ultrasound, or receive essential pregnancy items to take charge, make choices, and embark on a confident path with us. Your well-being is our priority – schedule your appointment now and let’s navigate this journey together.

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