First Trimester Body Changes

Stomach of the pregnant woman in a summer dress on the road outdoors

For you, the first trimester is a time of physical and emotional adjustments to being pregnant. The first trimester lasts from conception through 12-weeks, during which time your body will undergo considerable changes as it adjusts to your growing baby. Most of these changes are caused by a marked-shift in hormone production that begins almost immediately after conception. Many of the discomforts you may experience will be lessened or eliminated as your pregnancy progresses. You have probably already experienced some early signs and symptoms of pregnancy, such as missing your period.

Nausea & Vomiting

Commonly known as “morning sickness,” these symptoms can actually occur any time of day. This is caused by changing hormones, or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). While it sometimes lasts longer, morning sickness should go away by the 12th-week of Pregnancy.

It is helpful to try nibbling on soda-crackers or dry toast before you even get out of bed in the morning, and trying to eat smaller meals all throughout the day. Chewing peppermint gum or drinking peppermint tea may also be helpful. Acupressure or motion-sickness bands provide relief for many. Ginger chews may also help.

Sore & Swollen Breasts

Due to the increased amount of the hormones Estrogen and Progesterone, mammary glands cause the breasts to feel full and become tender. It is helpful to wear a supportive bra, or change to a more supportive bra, at this time.

Frequent Urination

There is only so much room in your abdomen! As your uterus expands with your growing fetus, pressure is increased on your partially-full bladder. We recommend staying near restroom facilities at all times, avoiding long car trips, and relieving yourself as often as necessary.

Increased Fatigue

A sudden increase of Progesterone in a woman’s system may cause a feeling of sluggishness or sleepiness. While perfectly normal, it is important to get plenty of rest during this time.

That Bloated Feeling in Your Belly

Due to hormone changes on your digestive tract – which can slow down bowel function – you may experience increased gas & bloating. We recommend reducing consumption of foods that commonly cause gas, such as beans, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus & carbonated drinks. Eat smaller meals throughout the day, and exercise often if you can. A 10 to 15 minute walk can do wonders!

Increased Vaginal Secretions or Discharge

A major shift in hormones can cause an increase in vaginal secretions, so this is quite normal.

This discharge will increase steadily throughout all 3 trimesters. Wearing a mini or maxi-pad will help. However, if the discharge turns yellowish/greenish or becomes very thick, notify your doctor or midwife immediately.

Gaining Weight

Below are some guidelines about weight gain during pregnancy. Talk to your health provider about your specific pregnancy weight gain goals.

If you began pregnancy at a normal weight, you should gain 25-35 pounds over the nine months. Assuming you gain between 1 and about 4.5 pounds in the first trimester, you should put on about one pound every week in the second and third trimesters.
If you began pregnancy underweight, you should probably gain a little more. That’s because underweight women are more likely to have small babies. A 28-40 pound gain is usually recommended. Assuming you gain between 1 and about 4.5 pounds in the first trimester, try to gain slightly over a pound a week in the second and third trimesters.

If you began pregnancy overweight, you should gain only 15-25 pounds over the nine months. Assuming you gain between 1 and about 4.5 pounds in the first trimester, you should put on slightly over 1/2 pound every week in the second and third trimesters. While you don’t want to gain too much weight, you should never try to lose weight during pregnancy because that could harm your baby.

If you were obese at the start of your pregnancy, you should gain only 11-20 pounds over the nine months. Assuming you gain between 1 and about 4.5 pounds in the first trimester, aim for gaining slightly under 1/2 pound every week in the second and third trimesters.

Where does it all go?

Approximate breakdown of a weight gain of 29 pounds:

  • Blood 3 pounds
  • Breasts 2 pounds
  • Womb 2 pounds
  • Baby 7.5 pounds
  • Placenta 1.5 pounds
  • Amniotic Fluid 2 pounds
  • Fat, protein & other nutrients 7 pounds
  • Retained Water 4 pounds

If you’re expecting twins and began pregnancy at a normal weight, you should probably gain between 37-54 pounds over the nine months. If you began pregnancy overweight, aim for gaining a total of 31-50 pounds. If you were obese at the start of your pregnancy, you should gain between 25-42 pounds over the nine months. That translates into about 1.5 pounds a week in the last two trimesters.

To find out if you were underweight or overweight before pregnancy, learn your Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

Putting on weight slowly and steadily is best. But don’t worry if you gain less than four pounds in the first trimester, and make up for it later, or vice versa. Also, many women have one or two “growth spurts” during which they gain several pounds in a short time period, and then level off. Again, this is not worrisome unless it becomes a pattern. The important thing is to keep an eye on your overall gain.

Feeling Hot & Sweaty

Near your 11th week of pregnancy, your basal metabolic-rate will have increased by 25%, and the amount of blood in your body will also have increased. This will cause feelings of warmth regardless of the temperature where you are, and perspiration helps to cool the body down. Start dressing in lighter colors (especially during summer months) and wear lighter-weight fabrics.


During the first trimester, changes in circulation & hormonal activity can cause headaches. Resting for a short time may help as well. We recommend alternating hot & cold compresses to the aching area for 10 minutes a piece. Brisk walks may also be helpful.


A burning sensation which occurs just below the ribs (usually after eating), Heartburn is a common complaint during pregnancy.

Avoiding the following foods may help:

  • carbonated beverages
  • caffeinated beverages
  • citrus products
  • chocolate
  • vinegar
  • tomato-based foods
  • fatty-foods
  • oils

It is also helpful to abstain from eating within 2-3 hours of sleeping. If heartburn continues to occur, your doctor or midwife can recommend an antacid that is safe for you to use.

Sudden Mood Swings

Throughout the course of a pregnancy, emotional experience will vary from person-to-person. The initial reaction to a positive test for pregnancy will vary from excitement & heartfelt joy to fear or sadness, depending on the circumstances. It is perfectly normal for an expectant-mother to be surprised by how easily she cries. This is caused by hormonal changes in her body combined with physical factors such as fatigue, nausea, soreness, and constantly-changing physiology. Shifting from happiness to sadness – and back again – can be part of this experience.

Accepted Insurances

May-Grant Obstetrics & Gynecology participates with the following insurances. Please note that office copays are due at the time of service and any co-insurances are the responsibility of the patient. Please check with your carrier or call our office at 717-397-8177 for an updated menu of insurance options.

May-Grant OBGYN - Logo

Each patient is unique, and so is each appointment type!

Online scheduling is currently for ESTABLISHED May-Grant patients only. If you are a new patient (GYN or OB), please call the office at 717-397-8177 to schedule your appointment to ensure that your provider has enough time to address your needs.

If you schedule an appointment online as a new patient, your appointment will be canceled and you will not be able to be seen. A “New patient” includes those who have not been seen in our offices in the past three years.