From morning sickness, bloating and first flutters, to back pain and a growing belly, here’s what you can expect as your body changes during pregnancy
I loved being pregnant. I seriously miss it. Every week there was a new exciting milestone knowing a little baby was growing inside there: from hearing the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, to that first feeling of a “pop” to the constant kicks. Sure there were plenty of uncomfortable moments associated with a growing belly, but being pregnant felt like I and my baby had this little secret, our own bond, that no one could understand. I miss those kicks so much!
This article is a good portion of the google doc that started this whole idea to create New Modern Mom. Below is my original documentation of my pregnancy symptoms by trimester.
As a reminder, every Mama has her own unique experiences. I have several friends who didn’t experience any of those nasty first trimester symptoms. I have others who suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) who sadly were puking every single day.
One thing is consistent for everyone though: your body will be undergoing huge changes. I can’t stress enough to document it – take the photos. Even if you put them in a hidden folder on your phone, it’s amazing how much you will change and you should celebrate it.
Check out my shopping list of pregnancy must-haves.
Quick recap of how your body changes each trimester.
Scroll down to read my full experiences!
The Bump Arrives
Back & Pelvic Pain
Out of Breath
Feet in Your Ribs
First Trimester: The constant hangover
If I were to describe the first trimester simply: imagine a hangover that never goes away. I was tired… like eyes burning at 2 PM sitting at my desk. I was nauseous most of the time. If I wasn’t nauseous I was starving, mostly interested in carbs.
The worst part is you are suffering in silence as most symptoms are externally unnoticeable with these pregnancy body changes. Not to mention, most people don’t share the news until the second trimester. I vividly remember standing in the elevator with a coworker on a Thursday morning who was complaining of being hungover. I wanted to scream out “you don’t even know!” But of course I couldn’t say a thing since it was so early on in my pregnancy.
I don’t know why it’s called morning sickness, because the nausea was pretty constant. I suppose for me it was always worse in the mornings. This famous symptom started around Week 6. I kept a box of Cheerios by my bed for when I woke up in the middle of the night and to stuff my face with first thing in the morning before I got out of bed. This helped a lot.
The moment I let myself get to the point of hunger, the nausea would turn up a notch so snacks were crucial. I was never a breakfast person, but had to eat something substantial in the morning to function. Eating protein in the morning helped tremendously. I ate these breakfast sandwiches almost every single day of my pregnancy. They saved me.
Some people find success in eating Vitamin B6 rich foods which is supposed to help curb nausea. These include pineapple, carrots, bananas, sunflower seeds, spinach, avocado.
I hated the taste of garlic in my first trimester. It made me so nauseous, which was sad because we cook with garlic constantly, and it’s added to so many foods. I got less disgusted starting in my second trimester, but still didn’t love the taste throughout the rest of my pregnancy.
My friends have had aversions to different things like scrambled eggs, meat, vegetables. Really you name it, you can easily become disgusted with it during your first trimester.
Increase in Breast Size & Sensitivity
This is one of my first noticeable body changes, and one that seems to be common with every pregnant friend. In fact, someone at work told me she suspected I was pregnant way before I announced I was because my boobs were huge. First trimester they hurt so badly to the point where sleeping was incredibly uncomfortable. Second trimester sensitivity went back to being normal(ish).
I wish I could have napped every single day. Many nights I was in bed asleep by 9pm because my eyes were just burning and I was so exhausted from the day.
Since food helps curb the nausea and is a great energy source, you can try making these Apricot Almond Coconut Energy Bites to get you through your afternoon.
I remember taking a photo of myself at 11 weeks at the end of the day. My stomach which started out with zero bump in the morning was legitimately the same size as my stomach was when I was 24 weeks pregnant.
The tough part was clothing, because I didn’t start the day off with a belly large enough to hold up maternity jeans. I swore by the Bellaband which made me super comfortable in my first trimester and made my non-maternity jeans last to the beginning of my third trimester.
I’m not sure the word ravenous is meant to be for liquids, but I was ravenously thirsty most of the time. No amount of water could help.
One of my first pregnancy symptoms was actually the need to pee in the middle of the night. Prior to being pregnant I never woke up during the night for anything. I was a very sound sleeper. But starting around Week 5, I would wake up once in the night to pee. This continued throughout my pregnancy. I’m going to assume this is nature’s way of preparing Mamas to be up multiple times in the night when duty calls for a baby.
Second trimester: full of fun “firsts”
At around Week 15 my unpleasant pregnancy symptoms (tired, nauseous, starving all at the same time) subsided. Most friends agree between Week 14 and Week 16 is when you start to get that second trimester glow and the first trimester seems behind you.
I had a few weeks starting at the end of my first trimester where I was constantly starving. It started around 11 weeks and leveled out around 17 weeks. I wasn’t craving anything specific, just so incredibly hungry.
I actually didn’t have any cravings in my second trimester (mine didn’t start until the third trimester), but many ladies I know did in the second trimester so I’m including it here. My random cravings: Dots Pretzels and Passion Fruit Lemonade from Starbucks.
The Bump Arrives
Oh this is just so exciting and something every pregnant woman waits for: the moment you go from just feeling fat to having that round little bump no one can deny is a tiny baby growing in your belly.
Every person starts showing at different points in their pregnancy. My belly grew a lot between Week 18 and Week 24.
I felt my first “pop” at exactly 18 weeks. Many agree those first flutters feel like bubbles popping in your stomach. During the rest of that week I waited to feel more and intermittently felt some little flutters more constantly as the week went by. By 22 weeks, I was feeling him move every day, and the kicks were getting strong enough so my husband could finally feel them himself. It’s magical!
My energy picked back up this trimester. I was no longer fighting that middle of the afternoon slump like I was in my first thankfully. Don’t get me wrong – if a nap was manageable on a weekend afternoon, I took it, but that eye burning tiredness decreased.
This is good timing for that energy, because now is the time to start building your registry. Check out my Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist to get started.
3rd Trimester: Undeniably Pregnant
Third trimester is when things really start to feel near and imminent. Your belly is undeniably… large. The nesting comes in full force. Lists on top of lists of to-dos start to form. This is also when your baby can start to take a more uncomfortable toll on your body.
Back & Pelvic Pain
This is very real. I started having terrible pelvic pain around 24 weeks after we spent almost an entire day cleaning. After that the pain was on and off the rest of pregnancy. During week 27 (welcome third trimester) I experienced my first excruciating sciatica pain… basically an intense shooting burning pain from my lower back to my butt every time I went from sitting to standing.
How can you ease the pain? Frequent exercise with at least a couple daily walks helped me a lot. Doing some lighter rides on the Peloton was helpful to get my muscles really moving. Take a look at our list of Best Peloton Instructors Based on Your Mood to find one that suits your pregnancy comfort level. Now is the time to focus on strengthening your pelvic floor if you haven’t already started incorporating breathing and core exercises.
I also introduced stretching into my nightly routine before bed. You can try having your partner massage with a tennis ball as well. Some people try a chiropractor or acupuncture. I was about to go this route, but everything shut down due to COVID so I never had the opportunity.
If you are stuck sitting at your desk working all day like I was, my coworker was kind enough to let me borrow this back massager which felt ahhh-mazing.
Out of Breath Easily
I started feeling quite large. Pregnancy waddling? Yes it’s a thing. Shelter in place happened during my third trimester so my husband and I started to go on more frequent walks. We live in a hilly part of San Francisco, and oh boy were those hills hard to make it up. I got out of breath really quickly doing physical activity. I used to use my Bernese Mountain Dog for leverage to help me up the hills and my husband behind me to push for a little extra support. ?
Sleeping became pretty uncomfortable even with a pregnancy pillow. Watching Gilmore Girls at 4am on the couch become my go-to overnight routine.
My feet, ankles & calves started swelling noticeably at 35 weeks. My husband’s daily job became helping me squeeze my feet into compression socks since I couldn’t do it myself. Compression socks really helped by the end of the day with the swelling.
My little baby was causing serious heartburn, oddly just on my left side. Regardless, it was very uncomfortable. I started popping Tums pretty regularly around 34 weeks.
Peeing… Even More
Just when you thought it wasn’t possible, you’ll need to pee even more throughout the day… and night, multiple times.
Feet in Your Ribs
Those little kicks I loved so much got very strong near the end. The kicks turned more into what I would call “shoves” straight into my lungs. I still loved them though 🙂
To wrap it up, there is a whole world of pregnancy body changes you can expect, and while some things are uncomfortable, pregnancy is absolutely beautiful. Oh and women are badass for making humans. Enough said.
Check out my shopping list of pregnancy must-haves.