30 Truths About the First Trimester - Baby Chick

30 Truths About the First Trimester

Discover the weird and wonderful truth about the first trimester from a Mom who lived it more than once.

Updated December 11, 2023 Opinion
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One truth about the first trimester of pregnancy is that it’s weird. You’re overwhelmed with shock, joy, fear, and gratitude. But you might feel sicker than you’ve ever felt in your life and for weeks on end. One minute you’re scrolling baby names with your partner and excitedly looking at nursery theme ideas on IG, and the next, you’re growling at them in anger as you fight your 11th bout of nausea that day and see him eating the last of your crackers.

Your body is expanding in ways it’s never expanded before, and while you know this is necessary, it feels strange, and you don’t know how to dress if you haven’t told people yet. As someone who lived it three times, I thought I’d share some relatable and funny truths about the first trimester — because you’re a parent now. And let me tell you that you’ll need a good sense of humor if you don’t already have one. Laughter is the best medicine for everything child-rearing will throw at you, so buckle up and try to have a good time!

30 Truths About the First Trimester

Here are some good, bad, ugly, but funny truths about the first trimester that nearly every pregnant person goes through.

1. You Will Fall Asleep Mid-Conversation

We tried the traditional “don’t tell people until 12 weeks” thing with our first child, but it didn’t work. Especially after we had friends, I fell asleep hanging out with them at 7:45 at night in our living room. Combined with me not drinking a glass of wine, they cracked the code, and the cat was out of the bag. But seriously, it’s not like you’re “tired.” It’s like 100-pound weights are on your shoulders, feet, and eyeballs during that first trimester.

2. You Don’t ‘Look Cute Pregnant.’ You Look Like You Ate 3 Burritos for Lunch

First-trimester bloat means your favorite jeans don’t fit anymore, but you’re not quite ready for maternity wear as you look like it’s Thanksgiving afternoon and you’re stuffed with turkey and pie. Don’t worry — that belly with pop, and then everyone will know. (You can still eat all the burritos you want, though.)

3. You’ll Look at the World Differently

Another truth about the first trimester is that you suddenly see dangers and risks you’ve never noticed. Crazy drivers on the road anger you in a whole new way. And what’s this weird long word on the list of chemicals in your sunscreen? You’ll Google it, so you know exactly what you are putting on your skin and potentially have seeping into your pores. You’re already in mama mode, protecting this little bean in there well before they’re ready to face the world.

4. You’ll Assume Everyone Knows Just by Looking at You

I was so consumed by the idea that I was growing a living thing inside my body that I assumed everyone would look at me and know. How could they not know? Wasn’t I glowing? The truth about the first trimester is that most people don’t know at the beginning, which helps if you haven’t let the secret out yet. Also, I was not glowing. I was randomly sweaty a lot and had excessive gas.

5. You Expect It to Be Big News When You Tell, But Most People Already Guessed

It’s hard to keep it a big secret when you’re puking in your office trash can and falling asleep at 3 p.m. meetings. We know you tried to hide it, but you can do only so much. A truth about the first trimester is that there’s a good chance you’ll excitedly break the news and be met with a bunch of “we know” faces.

6. You Might Want to Tell Random Strangers

One of the first people we told was a nice man who sold us ice cream cones at a local market. We weren’t telling the world yet. But the truth about the first trimester is we were bursting with excitement, so telling a no-risk stranger who we’d never see again seemed normal somehow. And he was so kind and genuinely happy for us. Sharing our news with him remains one of my favorite pregnancy memories.

7. You’ll Over-Analyze Everything Your Body Does

Sneeze? World ending! Unexpected pain in your left boob? Call the doctor. Inexplicable eye pain? Panic attack. It’s often not until you’ve made it through the first trimester that you can take a breath about how much your body is going through. Random aches and pains become normal. You get used to your stomach stretching and cramping and your boobs doing . . . whatever they’re doing. But those first few weeks, you might find yourself looking up, “Why does my pinky toe hurt during pregnancy?” in the middle of the night.

8. You’ll Make a Baby List Even Though You Won’t Need It All for Another 2-3 Seasons

The truth about the first trimester is you’ll find yourself endlessly researching “best strollers” and “should my baby use glass or plastic bottles” when your little nugget is still only the size of a tennis ball. We all do it, especially with our first. There’s much to learn, so don’t hesitate to start reading up! Just know that products change, and you might have your heart set on a fancy organic muslin swaddle from Sweden only to find out they discontinued it. Now everyone is getting theirs from a seamstress in Arkansas whose handmade blankets are covered in baby cows.

9. You’ll Wonder What’s Going on At That First Ultrasound

Because this isn’t like in the movies. At the first checkup, when you’re still only like eight weeks along, the ultrasound is vaginal. And they want your bladder to be super full. Those five minutes the ultrasound tech was up in there looking around with that gel-covered wand were the longest five minutes of my life. I still do not know how I didn’t pee over her hand. After that experience, I learned to make my bladder “full” but not super-duper full for my other pregnancies.

10. Certain Smells are Now Off-Limits

I had a close friend who absolutely could not stand the smell of coffee during the first trimester. Her husband learned quickly to stop and get his morning brew on the way to work because perking it at home was NOT happening. For me, it was shrimp (something I loved to eat pre-pregnancy and love to eat today). But while newly pregnant? Nope. One night my husband spent hours preparing a delicious meal for us and tossed the entire thing in the trash because I needed the shrimp smell out of the house STAT.

11. But There are Also Foods You Must Have in the House

You may have banned coffee and shrimp, but if you run out of saltines, almond butter, or your favorite raspberry sparkling water, everyone knows you’ll turn into a fire-breathing dragon. A pregnant mama knows what a pregnant mama needs.

12. You Now Know ‘Morning Sickness’ is a Dumb Phrase

Morning sickness should be called “all-day sickness” or “anytime it feels like hitting me and making me run to the bathroom” sickness. And if you have a friend who doesn’t get sick during her pregnancy, you secretly hate her now and hope something happens to even the score. Like, maybe her nose gets obnoxiously big. You’re not proud of this, but honestly, why is she glowing and skipping off to the gym while you’re on your sixth round of puking before 9 a.m.?

13. And ‘All-Day Sickness’ Isn’t Just for Home — It Happens Anywhere

When I was about 10 weeks pregnant with my first child, my husband and I went to dinner with friends. I ordered my favorite — lobster ravioli — and the regret was swift. Within the first few bites, I had to dash out of the restaurant and puke in the bushes. During happy hour on a Friday night, I saw judgmental stares as I vomited all over their outdoor landscaping. I wanted to scream, “I didn’t have too much to drink! I’m pregnant!” but I didn’t because I was too busy hurling up lobster ravioli.

14. You’re So Gassy That Your Partner Looks at You in Horror, Trying to Remember That Romantic Night the Baby was Conceived

And, sorry, but this one isn’t exclusive to the first trimester, either. Mama is going to have gas until the very end. And then she’ll probably poop on the birthing table. So, buckle up because child-rearing is a wild and stinky ride.

15. Your Boobs are Sore and Off-Limits for Awhile

Your partner can look, but no touching. Hormones are raging, they are bigger and fuller and more sensitive than ever, and suddenly none of your bras fit comfortably anymore.

16. You Become a Super Smeller

If there were a superpower for pregnant women, it would be their sense of smell. The good smells — like the double cheeseburger you’ve been craving — and the bad smells. For example, your favorite lavender candle is suddenly in the trash, and your spouse has just learned they can never make eggs again (or at least not until you say so).

17. Sometimes You Forget You’re Pregnant

If you don’t have constant symptoms (which is common), you might get distracted throughout your day, and then suddenly, it hits you. You’re pregnant! And you look around because you realize you’re rubbing your belly and grinning from ear to ear but also about to cry with overwhelming emotion.

18. You Have Constant Brain Fog

Mommy Brain” has officially set in — even before the baby comes. You might find yourself wondering what on earth your zip code is when asked. Or walking through the grocery store aimlessly because you forgot your list and have no idea what you came here to buy. It’s not your fault. Pregnancy brain fog is a thing.

19. Family Learns to Steer Clear of Your Unpredictable Emotions

You go from laughing hysterically at an old “The Office” episode to ugly crying over a Gerber commercial. You swing from “I am going to love motherhood!” to “What the hell am I doing? How will I keep this baby alive?” within five minutes. Back and forth all day. It’s like PMS-ing on steroids.

20. If You’ve Never Had Boobs Before, You Do Now . . . But They’re Useless

If you’re like me, pregnancy is the first time you have big boobs and need a bra. You can finally wear one of those cute sexy tops your friends always wear, show off a little cleavage, and look like a hot mama going out this weekend. But, no. You’re exhausted, throwing up, and can’t have a glass of wine, so forget it. You’re staying home in your husband’s old T-shirt and re-watching “Schitt’s Creek.”

21. Your Bodily Functions Have Changed

You suddenly need to pee ALL the time. Like, by the time you’ve peed and washed your hands, you already must pee again. This is because your uterus is growing. (Yay!) And pushing on your bladder. (Sob.) And poop? Ugh, you might already have noticed that constipation has set in. So, while one thing is happening too often, the other barely happens anymore. How much fun is this, right? Don’t worry; you only have 9,000 weeks to go.

22. Heartburn

Another super fun symptom. You might take comfort in that old wives’ tale that lots of heartburn during pregnancy means the baby will be born with a full head of hair. If that’s what you want and you’re already dreaming of bows and pigtails, let those happy thoughts get you through until the antacid kicks in.

23. You Use a Tracker That Tells You What Size Fruit Your Baby Is

How big is the baby today? The size of an avocado? A mango? A kumquat? And you text this baby-to-fruit comparison to your partner while they’re in an important meeting, as this is clearly the bigger priority.

24. You Expect More Fanfare Than You Get at Your First Doctor’s Appointment

My first pregnancy was all-consuming and the biggest thing ever happening in my world. So surely it was also a huge deal for everyone else. When I floated into my first OB appointment, beaming and glowing, and the grumpy receptionist barely acknowledged my existence, I was befuddled. Um, hello! Where are my parade and the 10-piece band? Then I sat down in a sea of pregnant women and realized that although my pregnancy was super special to me, the staff at my OBGYN office was unfazed.

25. You Suffer from Insomnia

Not only are you up all night overanalyzing, planning, worrying, having to pee, making lists, and researching the “best diaper caddy for nursery,” but everyone in your life likes to say unhelpful things like, “You better sleep now. You’ll never sleep again when the baby comes.” Gee, thanks for the tip, Aunt Mary.

26. Your Anxiety is Through the Roof

Whether you’ve always been an anxious person and pregnancy has just heightened it, or you suddenly find yourself panicking at 3 a.m. for the first time, growing another human inside of you that you’ll be responsible for keeping alive can be quite stress-inducing. Especially when you see your husband snoring away while you’re hours into the rabbit hole of mastitis horror stories (with images). Yikes.

27. You Have a Weird Cough That Came Out of Nowhere

The thing about pregnancy is your body produces more of everything. There’s more blood flowing through your veins. More urine coming out of your bladder. More gas emitting from your backside. And, for funsies, more mucus in your nasal cavities. And that means you might have some post-nasal drip and a phlegmy cough to add to this mix. It’s okay because you’re already running to the bathroom 87 times a day, so blow your nose while you’re in there.

28. You Have Legit Period Symptoms

Aren’t you supposed to get a break, finally, from the cramps, fatigue, and bloating? Well, yes, you are. And hopefully, by the second trimester, you will. But the truth about the first trimester is that those first few weeks can feel like you’re getting your period. But don’t worry; it’s common. If you have bleeding or cramping worse than usual, call your doctor.

29. You’re Always Thirsty

Because your body is pumping a lot more blood, you need more water to flush out the kidneys. Being thirsty is good — your body tells you what it needs. And maybe it also needs a pizza at 10 p.m. You’ve got to listen to your body.

30. Week 10 is Hell

A lot of women say their morning sickness peaked around week 10. Plus, every other symptom also seems to be in high gear. The exhaustion is overwhelming. You puke (or feel like you’re going to) every second you’re awake. Your boobs hurt. Your stomach hurts. You can’t stop passing gas, and your mouth tastes weirdly metallic. If you’re hitting the 10-week mark and are miserable, remember this is probably the worst it will be. Well, until the end, when you can barely walk and can’t tie your shoes, but don’t worry about that right now. Just take week 10 one hour at a time, and hopefully, within the next couple of weeks, you’ll come up for air and feel like yourself again.

The truth about the first trimester is that it’s the best one and the worst one. Some women feel like they have had a horrible case of PMS plus the flu for weeks, and some don’t. Either way, you probably haven’t told people yet, so you have to lie about why you can’t meet up for a happy hour on Friday night. But, no matter what, it’s also the most exciting time in your life — that first positive pregnancy test, the first time you hear your baby’s heartbeat, telling your closest friends and family the news. It’s magical, even if you throw up in Grandma’s bathroom. Try to rest, care for yourself as best you can, and settle in for the long haul. You’ve got many weeks to go, and in the end, you’ll get the best gift you could have ever asked for. A gift that will poop and pee on you, but that’s okay. All those wild first-trimester weeks will be worth it a million times over.

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Karen Johnson is a busy mom of three who is probably driving a child to practice or a game right now. She writes about all things parenthood. Read more

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