The First Trimester – What To Really Expect (From a Mom of Four)

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I made it through the first trimester of my fourth pregnancy, and I am soooooooo happy! All of my pregnancies have been completely different, this one no exception. There are definitely similarities I noticed and wonder if it is gender based (we will find out in a few weeks), but as far as all the first trimester symptoms and hurdles, I have learned to expect the unpredicatable.

For each of my pregnancies I purchased a journal to log feelings, symptoms, weight (eek) and appointment statistics. I found this one on when I was pregnant with my daughter 7 years ago and purchased the same for each subsequent pregnancy.

FYI – This is not an affiliate link, I just love the journal.

I recommend doing this for your pregnancies because it provides some fun things to look back at as your kids get older. Plus if you have more than one kid it is fun to compare your thoughts, feelings, and cravings. I recently looked back on my second pregnancy with my middle son and saw that I had a food aversion to chips and salsa. This was bizarre because during the first trimester of this pregnancy I craved chips and salsa like I would never get to have them again!

I am going to walk you through some of my experiences based on my pregnancies and provide you with a few helpful tips for what helped me get through it. Remember just that – you will get through it. Many moms go on to have one or multiple more babies so even if you feel like death, I promise you will survive!

Each mom is different so maybe you will be familiar with a few of these things, maybe not. Some of you may even be one of the lucky few who feel totally great,  no morning sickness, no fatigue. If this is you, that is great! Side note – If this is you, don’t tell other pregnant moms how great you feel during your pregnancy until after they have the baby. It is uber annoying to hear about one moms perfect experience when you personally feel like you were run over by a truck every single day. 

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First Trimester Changes

For me, baby number four blessed me with the worst first trimester of the bunch. I won’t dare complain as much as those who end up with hyperemesis gravidarum (a.k.a non-stop vomiting all day), but it was definitely not a walk in the park. I was lucky to have a few welcome changes though. The first being…


I have never been blessed in the chest. When I was pregnant with my first I anxiously awaited the big boobs promised by many pregnancy websites and friends who were pregnancy before me. After 7 months passed I realized it wasn’t happening for me. Same with my 2nd and 3rd pregnancy.


Don’t get me wrong, boobs blow UP after the baby is born (and then completely deflate to virtually nothing) but the perky boobs all the moms talk about – it isn’t a given.

This time though, around 9 weeks, I received a wonderful surprise! Boobs. They were not sore, as is frequently the case in the first trimester (and often one of the very first signs of pregnancy), but they were there. So this time I am going to enjoy them because I know after this pregnancy they may just never come back.

My daughter asked me a few months back why my boobs look like pyramids. I blamed it all on her and her brothers. In the end it doesn’t really matter and you know if you have a good man it won’t matter to him either.

Wide Pride

I would be curious to talk to a group of moms to see what they say about how their body changes based on the gender of the baby. In my experience, my pregnancy with my daughter made me wider all around. Hips, rib cage, thighs, calves. Everything.  This pregnancy has been the exact same with one exception, instead of the changes happening around 20 weeks, they happened around 10 weeks. With my boys my body did not grow as wide. In both instances I wore the same bras almost until I gave birth.

We will see what this baby is and if gender correlates, but for now the takeaway is this – every pregnancy is different. Before you chuck your bra or pants to the ground after fighting to get them on, remember to take a big breath and know… it is just hormones and you will get your body back after you have the baby.

Everything but the refrigerator

I gained 45 pounds with my first baby even as a part-time fitness instructor. I realized after I had the baby that the weight was pretty tough to take off. With the first baby you really don’t know what to expect or what the repercussions of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or Culvers three times a week will do to you (and dad). After I had her I further delved into nutrition for my career and became a Childbirth Educator so I learned a ton along the way.

With the next two pregnancies I gained 35 and 30 pound respectively. I can tell you I felt better during these pregnancies in general and the weight was much easier to take off. Most of it came off just by breastfeeding! Side note – the weight comes off much quicker after the baby is 2-3 months old because you are producing more milk (a.k.a – burning more calories). 

The Institute of Medicine recommends women gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy if starting pregnancy at a healthy, normal weight. The guidelines shift a bit if you are overweight or underweight. Here is a chart from the American Pregnancy Association explaining where that weight goes and how much to gain each trimester.

Average Pregnancy Weight Gain Distribution

  • 7 1/2 pounds is about how much the baby will weigh by the end of pregnancy.
  • 1 1/2 pounds is how much the placenta weighs.
  • 4 pounds is attributed to increased fluid volume.
  • 2 pounds is the weight of the uterus.
  • 2 pounds is the weight of breast tissue (I beg to differ).
  • 4 pounds is because of increased blood volume.
  • 7 pounds is attributed to maternal stores of fat, protein and other nutrients.
  • 2 pounds for the amniotic fluid.
  • Total: 30 pounds

On a trimester basis in a woman with a normal pre-pregnancy weight:

  • First trimester: 1-4.5 pounds
  • Second trimester: 1-2 pounds per week
  • Third trimester: 1-2 pounds per week

The recommendation here is 1-4.5 pounds of weight gain in the first trimester.  Well that just doesn’t happen for me so.  When I am sicker than a dog and feel like I am going to throw up all day, I eat cold pizza for breakfast (I hate cold pizza), sub sandwiches for lunch, and chips with cheese on them for dinner. Judge me you may but until you experience this outer life force taking over you it is really hard to know what it feels like to crave carbs to make the nausea go away. With each of my pregnancies I gained 8-10 pounds during the first trimester. Yikes!

I share this with you because I want you to know that if you have gained a little more than you are “supposed” to, let it go, and move forward with healthy choices from here on out. Somehow I made up for it in the second trimester of my pregnancies (except my first one), and you can too!weight gain, eating, pregnancy, cravings

Beyond The Cravings

If this sounds like you, here are a few suggestions to get you through this:

  1. Get through 12 weeks – then rein it in. I’m not saying to allow yourself to eat all junk all day and not even try to eat your fruits and veggies. Try your best to eat healthy because it is so good for you and for your baby plus it will keep your weight gain in check! However, if you find yourself eating things you normally despise or avoid, don’t beat yourself up! You don’t want to be in denial either so pay attention to your food choices and weight gain but embrace the time you are in for what it is.
  2. Stay active! Getting yourself outside is one of the best things you can do. Fresh air does wonders for nausea and fatigue. If you have to throw up while you are on a walk, throw up. Who cares! I threw up one time after I ran when I was around 10 weeks pregnant. Then I moved on and ran home. Even if it feels torturous to get out there and exercise, it will feel just as bad sitting around. The worst part of morning sickness is that it follows you everywhere. Let it follow you during your activity too.
  3. Stay hydrated! I know I hit on this point all the time, but it is so important! If you are dehydrated in any way, nausea worsens! Aim for at least half your current body weight in ounces per day.
  4. Do some research on Unisom +B6. My doctor recommended this to me in my first pregnancy and it was a lifesaver! I took it with my first three pregnancies. I don’t know why I did not take it this time, I think I was just too busy to get to the store! Studies have shown that this combination is as effective as prescription anti-nausea medication. Here is some more information for you to read through. Please speak with your provider before starting any medication, including this combo.
  5. Sleep. Lastly (but firstly), sleep! You have the wonderful and exhausting job of creating a human being. This may mean you could pass out at 4pm when you get home from work. The first trimester especially is not the time to push your “I have to stay up because I have so much to do” boundaries. Sleep when your tired. Call in the troops to help you with your other kiddos or put them to bed early too! Do whatever you need to do to sleep or rest. During the first trimester of this pregnancy my husband put our three kids to bed every night for five weeks straight so I could lay down at 6pm, watch 2 episodes of the original Will & Grace, and go to bed. It is all I could do to feel better. I ended up watching 60 episodes in total, no joke! It was secretly kind of nice, in a “I feel like I have a permanent hangover” type of way. 

Moody Mertle

Telling a pregnant woman she is “hormonal” when she is emotional is equivalent to telling a 50 year old “it  must be menopause” when she is moody. Boy is my poor husband guilty of this! Oh really honey? Let me reach out and claw our eyeballs out for saying that! Wait – would I normally tell my husband I would claw his eyeballs out? Debatable I suppose.

Oh, you are sick with a cold? I’m sorry, I don’t care. Try growing a human.

Hmmm… in hindsight maybe I am a little bit more emotional than the norm.

These are the conversations you have with yourself (or very close friends) when you are pregnant. The good news is, this gets a TON better in the second trimester and, at least in my experience, with each subsequent pregnancy. Over time you become more aware of your emotions so instead of getting upset and throwing a fit like a toddler, you will instead make yourself go to bed. 

Here are a few things that may help if you are having a hard time with your emotions.

  1. Know it is totally normal and it really isn’t you, it is this little human being in you taking over.
  2. Meditate or do yoga to help your brain body connection. This will calm your mood naturally and gives you time to focus on your growing baby.
  3. Get outside and away from the situation that is making you emotional.
  4. Sleep! I promise you will feel better after you rest.
  5. Lean on a close friend or sibling. Typically the husband is not the best for this, but that is just from my experience talking with hundreds of pregnant women. If you don’t have the XX chromosome pattern you are generally not as capable of “truly” understanding a womans emotions, especially during pregnancy.

emotional, first trimester, pregnancy


The first trimester brings with it the joys of constipation as your digestive system turns into a slow, leisurely turtle. This amazing feature of our bodies is purposeful and allows nutrients sufficient time to be absorbed for the baby. However for mom this can mean discomfort, pain, and bloating up to look like a balloon. If you have a shorter upper torso you may look pregnant much earlier than you want to announce.

The good news? There are ways to get things moving along so you look and feel better. 


Fiber helps you form stool and helps stool pass. Ideally our fiber should come from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However if you are super sick and not able to scarf down as many veggies as you would like, try this trick. Dried prunes. I know, gross. However, they are actually pretty good! I ate three dried prunes a day during the first trimester of this pregnancy and it helped a TON! Prunes really are the best for constipation, as they contain sorbitol, a natural laxative. However if you cannot stomach prunes at all, try dried figs, dates, or apricots

You can drink prune juice if you are a brave soul but juicing anything breaks down some of the fiber we are looking to consume, so fruit in its original form really is best and dried fruit helps you eat more in one sitting. On that note: After you are feeling better aim for the whole fruit instead of dried. Dried fruit tends to add more sugar to your diet (because we eat more) so have it in moderation but don’t overdo it.

Lastly, make sure your dried fruit does not have any sugar added. The sugar should come from the fruit.


When you increase your fiber you must increase your water intake. If you increase fiber intake without hydrating more you will create bulkier stool that is more difficult to pass. We don’t want that. So remember fiber + water = relief!


Last but most definitely not least, get active! You moving around means your bowels are moving around. In particular, yoga and walking can help.

Inversions, simple twists and flow movements will benefit your digestive system by putting a gentle pressure on your organs which stimulates blood flow.

The end result = more pooping. Yay!

I hope these tips help get you through your first trimester. If you have other suggestions, feel free to comment below!