Common discomforts in early pregnancy and the meaning behind them

Cara Wolf Patient Education

Pregnancy is an exciting time. Even in the first few weeks, the physiologic changes in the mom-to-be’s body are amazing. Many of the common discomforts women experience are due to these changes.  Many moms may wonder if what they feel is “normal.” They want to know that their baby is OK, and that they are too. Understanding the “why” behind common discomforts can be very reassuring

 

Fatigue

The hormones of pregnancy, Progesterone and Relaxin may cause sleepiness and fatigue. Some women didn’t “know they could be so tired!” This is normal. Growing another human being takes a lot of energy!  Add in a job, a household, and other children and Mom can feel completely drained. Nap when you can, add or continue with moderate exercise, and know that energy will improve in the second trimester.

 

Nausea, vomiting, & food aversions

Hormones play a role here also, but are not the whole picture.  This discomfort may be responsible for making sure the mom doesn’t ingest anything that may harm the developing baby. Be assured that the baby will get what it needs! Don’t worry too much about nutrition if you are struggling just to eat and drink. Prioritize fluids, and eat what you can.  Once symptoms improve you can focus on nutrition.

 

Constipation

Blame those hormones again! They relax the uterus to allow the baby to grow, and they relax the intestines to improve absorption of nutrients. Simple dietary measures like increasing fluids and fiber can help with this discomfort.

 

Headaches

Yep, those hormones again! They relax your blood vessels, which can cause “vascular expansion headaches.” They can be very uncomfortable, but are fairly common until about 20 weeks. Tell your provider if the headache is severe, or you have any neurological symptoms like numbness, weakness, or difficulty speaking.

 

Dizziness and feeling faint

Guess what? Hormones at work again! Just like with headaches, the relaxed blood vessels in your body are making way for more blood volume. Extra blood volume is needed to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the growing uterus and baby.  Drink lots of fluids to keep your blood vessels “full.” Watch concentrated sweets and increase your dietary protein so that low blood sugar doesn’t make you feel worse. Change your position slowly so your body has time to adjust, and this will usually pass.

 

Many women experience these common early discomforts. Discuss them with your health care provider for more tips on relief. Be assured that while you may be uncomfortable, your body is working to grow and nourish your baby, and these are temporary symptoms that mean everything is working as it should.