The first trimester may not be the most pleasant three months of your pregnancy, especially for first-time mothers, with everything so new and overwhelming. Add to the mix bouts of nausea and morning sickness, food aversions, and extreme fatigue, and you’ll quickly be hoping to be done with the first 12 weeks. Find out how you can best manage some of the most common symptoms and hang in there – the second trimester will offer welcome relief!Hello, Hormones!Hormones are responsible for many of pregnancy’s discomforts. The pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) keeps estrogen and progesterone levels in check until the placenta can take over this function. Progesterone helps maintain a supportive environment for the developing fetus while estrogen aids in the growth of the uterus, maintains the uterine lining (where your baby is nestled), steps up blood circulation, and is responsible for the production of other key hormones that are needed during pregnancy.An Emotional RollercoasterYour body’s level of neurotransmitters, which are mood-regulating brain chemicals, is affected by significant changes in your hormone levels. Hormones like estrogen and progesterone affect your brain’s serotonin levels. This means that if your serotonin levels drop, your mood will worsen. However, your hormone levels aren’t the only cause of your occasional emotional outbursts. Whether it’s your first child or your fifth, having a baby comes with its fair share of anxieties. And with so many things on your mind, it’s no wonder your emotions are unpredictable.A drop in your blood sugar level can increase the incidence of mood swings, so try to maintain a healthy diet. You can also take up prenatal yoga, Pilates, or low-impact exercise. They release endorphins which improve mood, while diminishing stress and anxiety. Remember to listen to your body and stop exercising as soon as you start to tire out, not after you’ve reached the point of exhaustion. Of utmost importance is to communicate with your partner. The more the people around you know about your mood swings and techniques for reducing their severity and frequency, the better for all of you.Mood swings are usually experienced between the first 10 weeks, and then again in the third trimester as your body prepares for birth. However, if they are getting worse, you should see your doctor because they can sometimes signal conditions like depression, anemia, gestational diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or migraines.That Nauseating FeelingMorning sickness is also a result of hCG. The pregnancy hormone, which is produced by cells formed in the placenta, doubles about every two days during the first 10 weeks, then drops and eventually plateaus around the fourth month.Because it’s often made worse by certain foods or odours, you might want to avoid those triggers. Other things you can do include avoiding rich or spicy foods, and snacking on plain crackers so that your stomach isn’t completely empty. Weird Cravings and Food AversionshCG is the hormone that triggers a positive pregnancy test. Up to week 11, the rapidly rising levels of hCG may be behind symptoms like nausea, cravings, and food aversions. However, your hormones will continue to affect your appetite throughout pregnancy. During pregnancy, it’s perfectly normal to crave something you used to dislike, and hate the foods you used to love. The most common aversions are toward foods with strong smells, and they could also be associated with morning sickness. In most cases, it’s usually fine to satisfy your cravings and avoid your aversions (within reason). But if this means you’ll end up completely devoid of foods that are important during pregnancy, make sure you’re getting those nutrients in other ways. Sensitivity and Breast TendernessBreast tenderness usually begins between week four and week seven, and lasts through the first trimester, though your breasts continue to change throughout your pregnancy. Increased hormone levels during pregnancy increases blood flow and causes changes in breast tissue, which can make your breasts feel swollen, sore, and more sensitive. Other factors include the build-up of good and necessary fat in your breasts and the expansion of your glands for milk production.Maternity and nursing bras may ease your discomfort. Start out with a maternity bra for extra support and comfort. They usually have extra hooks and come without underwire cups. If you’ll be breastfeeding, you might want to switch to a nursing bra during your last trimester. Moreover, when you exercise during pregnancy, it’s especially important to wear a supportive bra that fits properly because your breasts are heavier. A good sports bra can provide the additional support you need.Dreariness and FatigueFatigue typically gets better around the beginning of the second trimester, but returns in the third, though it varies from pregnancy to pregnancy. As your progesterone level rises, so does your fatigue. This is because the gonadal hormone is known for its soporific (sleep-inducing) and thermogenic (heat-producing) properties, promoting daytime sleepiness and early sleep onset.To keep your energy up, keep your diet rich in healthy, long-lasting energy boosters, like protein and complex carbohydrates. Also make sure you’re getting enough calories, since you’re not only eating for one. Caffeine and sugar might seem like a quick fix for a slump, but the initial burst they’ll give you will be followed by a crash, making you feel even more tired later.Getting yourself off the couch can do wonders, so you might want to take a slow jog in the park or a brisk walk around the block. Not only will you feel refreshed (and euphoric, thanks again to those mood-elevating endorphins), but you’ll sleep better at night.Keep in mind that fatigue during pregnancy can be your body telling you to get the rest you need, so it’s best to listen. And if you have young children to care for, now would be a good time to turn to your friends and family for support. Remember to go easy on yourself, as the best is yet to come!


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