First trimester symptoms often come as a surprise, as it just doesn't seem possible that the body can experience so many changes before the belly even begins to show! But for most people, long before anyone notices your pregnancy from the outside, you feel pregnant from the inside out. First trimester symptoms can vary widely in type and intensity. While some spend a few days in the hospital during the first trimester (due to dehydration from hyperemesis gravidarum, for example), others breeze through and only feel a little more tired than normal. Below is a list of common first trimester symptoms and some "solutions," or rather, coping tips for feeling better (because let's be honest -- the only solution is to give birth to a baby!).
Implantation spotting (bleeding) - At about 6 to 12 days after fertilization, the egg will implant in the lining of your uterus which can cause light spotting.
Solution/Coping: Because the bleeding is so light with implantation, there's generally no need to wear a panty liner or pad. It's important to know about it, though, so you can be mentally prepared if you do have light spotting.
Tender breasts - Thanks to pregnancy hormones, tender breasts may be one of your first noticeable symptoms of pregnancy. But it could also be a sign of menstruation about to begin. Tender breasts can continue throughout the first trimester and even throughout pregnancy.
Solution: Wearing a supportive bra and avoiding tummy sleeping will help avoid some discomfort. Generally the tenderness does not cause aching that would require medication, but if so, talk to your care provider about over the counter pain relief medications.
Nausea - Again, another symptom caused by hormones. While most women don't report feeling nauseous until week 6 or 8 of their pregnancy, others report feeling queasy earlier.
Solution/Coping: Depending on your level of nausea, you can inquire about prescribed medication to curb it. If your nausea is mild, you can log which foods work well with your body and those that don't; some people find that eating a couple of crackers and drinking some water immediately upon waking helps prevent nausea; taking a prenatal vitamin at night can also help avoid a sour stomach.
Unusual tiredness - Hormones are also responsible for a feeling of intense tiredness that washes over you, making you feel like napping anytime, anywhere.
Solution/Coping: Sleep! Of course, taking a nap isn't always possible, but it will be helpful to get 8-10 hours of sleep of night. If you work a job outside the home, consider taking an early evening nap or sneaking away to your car (if possible) for a short 15-20 minute nap.
Cramping - As your uterus begins to change and grow -- especially if this is your first pregnancy -- you may experience cramping that feels similar to menstrual cramps.
Solution/Coping: Your go-to comfort strategies for menstrual cramps will also help during early pregnancy. A warm bath, a heating pad or rice sock, essential oils, and even over the counter (pregnancy safe) medication all can help with cramping.
Back ache - Often a result of the above symptom or due to a normal loosening of ligaments that occurs during pregnancy.
Solution/Coping: Similar to how you would cope with cramps (see above). Also, take care in how you use your back during day-to-day activities and exercise. Proper support and alignment helps.
Frequent urination - Yes, this begins early on. Not due to baby's growing size (as is the reason for late-in-pregnancy frequent urination), but an increase in fluids that your body produces.
Solution/Coping: Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to avoid this symptom.
Sensitivity to smells & food aversions - This is often part of the fun little early pregnancy "morning sickness" package.
Solution/Coping: Avoid places (when possible) with strong food smells, and considering you may not know which kinds of smells will offend you, have a quick-exit strategy when dining out or in the grocery store near the seafood aisle.
Light-headedness or fainting - Fainting isn't just for Hollywood, folks -- it can be a real symptom early on in pregnancy, caused by the major changes in blood volume in your body. It can also be caused by low blood sugar.
Solution/Coping: There's little you can do to avoid this, but it is important to be aware of your body's signals as they happen. If you feel like you need to sit down or get some air, do it right away -- don't wait for the symptom to worsen.
Mood swings - If you've noticed unusual spells of weepiness or irritability, you might just be pregnant! This is caused by -- you guessed it -- an increase in hormones brought on by pregnancy.
Solution/Coping: Like some of the other symptoms, there's not much you can do to avoid mood changes. But having a good support system in place to seek comfort and understanding really helps.