The First Trimester of Pregnancy Unveiled

During the first trimester of your pregnancy, the fetus begins to form and develop, leading to many hormonal, physiological and emotional changes. These changes often have an effect on your dietary intake, as well as other aspects of your life. If you’ve recently found out that you’re pregnant or if you’re planning on getting pregnant soon, this article will shed light on some of the changes that you’re bound to face during your first trimester.

Morning Sickness/Nausea

You’ve certainly heard of morning sickness (or nausea). As the name indicates, the nausea usually begins in the morning; however, it may also occur at anytime – day or night. The severity of the nausea varies from woman to woman and can, at times, hinder adequate nutrition and weight gain. What causes the dreaded morning sickness? Well, during pregnancy your hormones fluctuate. Changes in your Estrogen and Progesterone levels are believed to be the culprits behind morning sickness. Progesterone is responsible for relaxing your uterus, but it also relaxes your stomach and sphincter muscles (the muscles that keep food inside the stomach and prevent it from coming back up your esophagus). As your stomach muscle relaxes, it takes longer to digest the food it contains, thereby causing the food to remain in your stomach for longer. When food remains in your tummy for long hours, it causes nausea.

With most women, nausea usually begins at week six of the pregnancy and lasts until weeks 12-15. In 1% of women, morning sickness accompanies them throughout their entire pregnancy and warrants close monitoring by an Obstetrician, as it may seriously hinder their intake of adequate nutrition.

There are a few measures that you can take to help alleviate these symptoms:

  1. Eat small frequent meals. The more food you eat, the longer it takes to digest.
  2. Avoid foods high in fat as they take longer to digest.
  3. Drink liquids frequently and in small amounts.
  4. Identify your nausea triggers and avoid them as soon as possible!
  5. Some studies show that ginger helps. Try having a cup of ginger tea.
  6. Rest! If you’re tired, the nausea will get worse, so keep yourself relaxed and rested.
  7. Medication. If your symptoms persist and are hindering your ability to function properly, contact your Obstetrician and discuss this option with him/her.

Food Cravings or Aversions

If you suddenly develop intense cravings for foods that you disliked pre-pregnancy, don’t be surprised! You may find that you’re craving very specific foods, and may even avoid some foods you used to eat regularly. Similar to morning sickness, this is caused by the drastic changes in hormones that your body is experiencing.


Constipation is yet another side-effect faced in the early stages of pregnancy. It is also attributed to hormonal changes, but could also be caused by poor dietary choices. You can make some small amendments to your diet to help alleviate this:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids. If you’re experiencing morning sickness, avoid having large amounts in one go. Keep a bottle of water handy and sip on it throughout the day.
  2. Pump up the fiber content of your meals. Add vegetables to your meals, and have three servings of fruits per day. Try including whole grain pasta, whole grain cereals, and legumes in your diet.


Slow digestion caused by elevated Progesterone levels will result in food spending more time in your stomach. In addition, the muscle that keeps the food from coming back up to your esophagus relaxes, causing heartburn. This is yet another reason it’s advisable to avoid having large meals. To relieve heartburn, try the following:

  1. Stay away from irritants like spicy foods, caffeine, acidic foods, and juices.
  2. Avoid fried foods, and foods high in fat.
  3. Avoid laying down directly after meals.
  4. Stay away from tight clothes that press against your stomach.
  5. If your symptoms are severe, consult your healthcare professional and discuss medicinal options.

These are some of the most challenging changes you’ll face during the first trimester of your pregnancy. With some simple changes to your diet, these nuisances can be tackled and hopefully short-lived.


This article offers general advice and may not be applicable to you. Before making any changes to your diet, be sure to consult a qualified healthcare professional.

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