Your First Trimester

Your lifestyle

An average pregnancy lasts 280 days or 40 weeks. Take good care of yourself by eating well and exercising safely, to help provide for your baby’s good health and your own for the next nine months. Here are few other lifestyle tips to consider:

Woman showing safe exercise techniqueExercise. If you exercise regularly, keep it up, but talk to your doctor about how much is too much. If you don’t exercise, talk to your doctor about getting started. After your first trimester, don’t do activities that make you lie flat on your back.

Sex. Let your partner know how you feel about sex during pregnancy. Many women feel an increased interest in sex during some stages of pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you or your partner have a sexually transmitted disease.

Some STDs, like syphilis, can infect a baby while in the womb. Others, like gonorrhea, can be transmitted to the baby as he passes through the birth canal. So it is important you get treatment for STDs.

Car Safety. Always wear your seat belt, even during the late months of pregnancy. To provide the best protection for you and your baby, the shoulder harness should go between your breasts, and the lap belt should go snugly (yet comfortably) under your belly. 

Lifestyle cautions

Over-the-counter medicines. Don’t take aspirin, ibuprofen, laxatives or any over-the-counter medicine (including nasal spray) without your doctor’s permission.

Hot tubs. Sitting in hot tubs any time during pregnancy can cause you to overheat and lower your blood pressure, which can harm your baby’s oxygen supply.

Cat litter. Cat litter can contain a parasite that causes an infection called toxoplasmosis, which causes birth defects. To be safe, let someone else change the cat litter during your pregnancy.


Woman drinking from water bottle

Your body

Your body is making some big changes to nurture the baby you will carry for the next nine months. Some of these changes will go unnoticed; others will be very clear and present. By the end of your first trimester, your body will be producing more pregnancy hormones, and as your blood volume increases, people may begin saying you have a certain glow about you. 

Nausea. Also called “morning sickness,” nausea may occur off and on all day. Most women do not experience any morning sickness after the first trimester (or week 13).

To ease nausea:

  • Eat crackers or dry toast before you get out of bed. 
  • Avoid greasy or spicy foods, and cut back on caffeine in teas, coffee and soft drinks.
  • Eat several small meals a day. 
  • Call your doctor for help if your nausea is severe. 

Tender breasts. Increased hormones may make your breasts more sensitive. They may feel heavier and fuller. Wearing a supportive bra may make you more comfortable. 

Fatigue. You will probably feel very tired in the first few months of pregnancy. Rest when you can to protect yourself and your baby.

Constipation. Your digestion has slowed to allow nutrients to reach your baby. Bowel movements may become less frequent and hard to pass.

To avoid constipation:

  • Eat a high-fiber diet.
  • Drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day.
  • Get regular exercise, even if only a short, brisk walk.

Working pregnant: Your rights and responsibilities

It is your right to continue working during pregnancy. Women who like their jobs, are in good health, work in safe jobs and are having healthy pregnancies often continue working right up to their due dates. Others report that working becomes too difficult or uncomfortable. Here are some tips:

  • Go to bed early.
  • Allow more time in the morning to get ready for work.
  • Snack often to help ward off morning sickness.
  • Avoid things that make you queasy.
  • Avoid fatigue, muscle tension and fluid buildup in your feet and legs by taking short “moving” breaks every so often. 
  • Cut back on after-work activities.
  • Exercise and eat foods rich in iron and protein.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects. Ask for help.
  • Control stress by relaxing and sharing frustrations with a partner or friend.

Workplace risks to avoid

Certain working conditions may increase your risk of complications during pregnancy – especially if you’re at high risk of preterm labor. Avoid:

  • Exposure to harmful substances.
  • Excessive working hours.
  • Prolonged standing.
  • Heavy lifting.
  • Excessive noise.
  • Heavy vibrations, such as from large machines.
  • High stress.
  • Activities that require agility and good balance may become more difficult later in pregnancy.

If you’re concerned about any of these issues, talk to your doctor. 

Talk to your employer or human resources department about maternity leave and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This act requires companies to allow up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for employees (of companies with more than 50 employees) to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. 

Eating well

A healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby depend on eating the right foods. Many women are fearful of gaining weight (and losing their figures) during pregnancy. It is critical to your health and your baby’s to eat well during pregnancy. The weight you gain supports your pregnancy and developing baby and will come off after the baby is born, especially if you eat healthy foods and breastfeed your baby. 

But diet alone, even a balanced one, won’t give you all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs. So, when you see your doctor at your first prenatal visit, he or she probably will prescribe folic acid and a prenatal vitamin high in iron, calcium and other vitamins and minerals. You will take these throughout your pregnancy. 

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