How to Recognize and Help Relieve Early Pregnancy Symptoms
Did you know that early pregnancy symptoms are often similar to pre-menstrual symptoms? Yes, it’s true! This makes distinguishing actual pregnancy symptoms — such as tender breasts, bloaty, crampy feelings — from your monthly period a little difficult. Luckily, relief measures for both are very similar. So once that positive pregnancy test is confirmed, moms-to-be can find ways to deal with discomfort, in hopes for a pleasant first trimester.
What are the Causes of All These Painful Pregnancy Symptoms?
At the core of painful pregnancy symptoms are fluctuating hormones. After conception, you have an increase in progesterone and estrogen levels. These are the hormones responsible for a number of changes taking place inside you, preparing your body to grow a new baby. It’s no wonder women are often left feeling a bit out of sorts. From morning sickness to tender breasts, the physical symptoms women experience those early weeks of pregnancy are actually all signs of growing life.
WHAT ARE THE TOP PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS DURING THE FIRST TRIMESTER?
There are a few physical symptoms that issues can occur during your first trimester:
One of the most common symptoms of the first trimester is, of course, morning sickness. Despite the name, it can strike at any time of the day. Whether it’s nausea, or the vomiting and nausea combo, morning sickness affects at least 70% of pregnant women. Morning sickness is often accompanied by food aversions, making it challenging to eat, or keep whatever you eat down.
Morning sickness can be a dark period for many women, causing major anxiety and, in some cases, even leading to weight loss from excessive vomiting or hyperemesis gravidarum (a condition with severe, persistent nausea, vomiting, weight loss and electrolyte disturbance).
According to the American Pregnancy Association, it’s normal to feel lacking in energy during those early weeks of pregnancy. Your body is working hard to create a new life. With this, comes increased blood production to carry nutrients to your growing baby and an increase in progesterone. A number of changes including pregnancy sleepiness is caused by the progesterone hormone. If you’re dozing off at work or in the middle of the day, pregnancy fatigue may be the culprit.
Bloating is another early pregnancy symptom that is a common sign of both pregnancy and your menstrual cycle approaching. This makes it harder to distinguish between the two early on. Pregnancy hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, can leave you feeling swollen. It can come with bloating, stomach fullness, gas or cramping — symptoms making it difficult to find comfort easily.
Tender, swollen breasts that almost feel painful to the touch, occur very early in pregnancy, often shortly after conception. Again, this is due to progesterone, working to transport blood throughout the body and causing breasts to retain fluid. So it makes sense that you experience breast and nipple sensitivity and struggle to get comfortable during pregnancy.
Feel like you are getting up to pee more often than usual? Frequent urination is another pregnancy symptom to look out for early on, as your uterus grows. And the need only intensifies with each trimester with a growing baby putting pressure on your bladder. You may find you even drool at night, due to the excess fluids flowing through you.
How to Relieve Early Pregnancy Symptoms
So what’s the best, most healthy, way to help relieve these first trimester symptoms that may linger for weeks?
Although it may take a little experimenting, treating pregnancy symptoms is possible. Below are some helpful ways to give yourself a little comfort early on.
How to Alleviate Morning Sickness
Morning sickness is a normal and generally unavoidable part of pregnancy. Some experts believe that morning sickness is a sign of a healthy, growing baby and correlates with lower levels of miscarriage.
But you don’t just have to suck it up and take it. There are many ways to find relief from nausea and vomiting that accompany morning sickness. It sometimes just takes trial and error.
- Start by paying attention to any foods that trigger nausea. Many women have specific food aversions or foods they cannot tolerate during pregnancy. Even just smelling or thinking about, much less ingesting these foods can induce nausea and/or vomiting. Keep track of the foods that set you off and avoid them. Check ingredient lists when shopping, in restaurants and when visiting friends and family.
- Eat small, frequent meals. Eating small, frequent meals is a tried-and-true morning sickness relief tip. Because nausea can be triggered by both an empty stomach and even a full stomach, you want to find a happy medium.
- Choose the right foods. What you ingest directly impacts how your hormonal system responds and your digestive tract reacts. Choose foods that are high in protein. Bland snacks like applesauce, crackers, toast and bananas are also good choices and are easy to digest. Avoid spicy or greasy foods that can exacerbate nausea.
- Stay hydrated. Water is something that can help you at every stage of pregnancy, first trimester morning sickness included. Make it a point to sip water throughout the day, adding lemon or ginger to quell nausea.
Reduce Pregnancy Fatigue
It’s imperative that you listen to your body in those early weeks of pregnancy, especially as exhaustion kicks in. Remember, your body is working hard to grow a baby. Rest accordingly, in order to refuel and regain your energy.
This may mean letting go of the “to-do’s” swirling around your head and napping instead. Go to bed earlier than you usually do. Take it easy at home and don’t over-exert yourself by lifting heavy things or engaging in strenuous exercises.
Think of the first trimester as your body telling you what you must do right now: slow down.
Treat a Bloated Belly
Pregnancy bloating can be quite uncomfortable. To alleviate pain, consider your diet.
Are you consuming fatty, processed foods that are hard to digest? Are you filling up on sugary, carbonated beverages? Many foods we eat can increase intestinal gas and contribute to more of the pregnancy bloat we experience naturally.
Because bloating is often related to constipation, pay attention to the fiber in your diet. Adequate fiber matters. Make sure your meals are balanced, including plenty of soluble and insoluble fiber to alleviate pregnancy bloating symptoms. Check with your healthcare provider to learn what’s best for you.
Comfort Swollen Breasts
It’s hard to avoid the telltale pregnancy signs of tender and swollen breasts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. Finding comfort measures in the clothes you wear is a great start.
Wear soft, supportive bras and avoid underwires. Opt for loose-fitting clothing instead of tight or fitted styles. Alternate between warm and cold compresses to alleviate any breast pain. Finally, talk to your healthcare provider about over-the-counter pain meds you can take during pregnancy to reduce swelling.
Relieve Your Bladder
The frequent urge to pee comes with pregnancy, so women should remember to relieve their bladder often. rather than holding things in. Many times, we wait to pee until we really, really have to go. That’s a bad habit to get into while pregnant, because it can only add more pressure and discomfort. That could even lead to an accident, and no one wants that to happen.
When you have to go, just go! Our tip: empty your bladder fully by leaning forward when on the toilet, and avoid pushing or straining.
Finally, hydrate throughout the day, but try to limit fluid intake right before bedtime. That way you’ll avoid having to get up throughout the night. You’ll be doing that plenty come trimester number three!
When you’re struggling to cope with early pregnancy symptoms, it helps to know that you’re not alone: Women often rank the first trimester as the hardest to get through.
Finding relief may take time, but tell yourself you can do it. And whether you think it’s your menstrual cycle approaching or wonder if it’s the real deal, be ready with a plan in place the minute you confirm that positive pregnancy test.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. If you think you are pregnant, consult with your healthcare provider.