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Pains to Expect Within First Trimester of Pregnancy

by
author image Tricia Mangan
Based in New York City, Tricia Mangan began her writing career in 2001. She has co-authored a National Cancer Institute report and a number of research articles that have appeared in medical journals. Tricia holds a Master of Arts in clinical psychology from Stony Brook University and boasts diverse clinical, research and teaching experience.
Pains to Expect Within First Trimester of Pregnancy
Pains to Expect Within First Trimester of Pregnancy Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

During the first trimester (or first three months) of pregnancy, changing hormone levels begin to transform a woman's body in ways that help to support the growing fetus and physically prepare the mother for childbirth. While normal, these changes can cause a number of painful or bothersome symptoms to the mother-to-be.

Gastrointestinal Pains

Commonly called morning sickness, nausea and vomiting are common symptoms that can actually occur at any time of the day or night. Involuntary contractions that aid in food digestion also slow down, causing it to take longer for food to move down your esophagus into the stomach and for the stomach to empty. This can lead to persistent and bothersome symptoms of heartburn. At the same time, normal and slight contractions of the uterus can interfere with large intestine and lead to constipation. Avoiding caffeine, drinking plenty of water and eating high-fiber fruits and vegetables may help relieve constipation, while avoiding spicy or fatty foods and carbonated or citrus (acidic) fruit drinks can prevent symptoms of heartburn. The Mayo Clinic advises that eating small, low-fat, easily digested meals frequently throughout the day can help keep nausea and vomiting under control.

Hemorrhoids and Varicose Veins

According to BabyCenter.com, the expanding uterus can put pressure on a large posterior vein (inferior vena cava), affecting blood flow to and from the heart. This can spur the development of varicose veins during the first trimester or later stages of pregnancy (though not all women will get them). Varicose veins are small, bluish veins often found on the legs that bulge from beneath the surface of the skin. While not typically painful, another type of varicose veins called hemorrhoids that develops around the rectum or anus, can lead to pain, itchiness or bleeding during a bowel movement. Constipation and straining to have a bowel movement can also cause or aggravate hemorrhoids. According to BabyCenter, varicose veins tend to improve after you give birth, particularly if you never had them prior to pregnancy. Hemorrhoids often go away on their own during pregnancy or soon after birth with the help of simple treatments including gentle cleansing of the affected area or applying alternating warm and cold bath and ice treatments or a topical ointment or suppository prescribed by your doctor.

Leg Cramps

Leg or foot cramps may occur in the first trimester or later stages of your pregnancy. According to BabyCenter.com, these cramps typically worsen as your belly gets bigger and commonly occur at night (although they can occur anytime). Elevating your legs, stretching your calves, staying hydrated and getting exercise to boost circulation can help to prevent leg cramps.

Other Pains

Another common pain that begins in the first trimester is breast tenderness. Breasts may start to swell and become sensitive to the touch, and these changes continue throughout the pregnancy.



Hormonal changes can affect the tissues of your mucus membranes, particularly those of your nose, mouth and throat. Consequently, you may experience minor nasal congestion, nosebleeds or bleeding gums. According to eMedTV, nosebleeds that occur often or that cannot be stopped within a few minutes should prompt you to contact your doctor.



Dizziness or lightheadedness is also possible during your first trimester as extra blood flow moves down toward the uterus and away from your head. If you have moderate to severe dizziness accompanied by abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, call your doctor right away as these may be signs of an ectopic pregnancy (fertilized egg implanted outside the uterus) or other serious problem.

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