First Trimester: Warning Signs and Symptoms

Carrying a baby inside the womb is both an exciting and a threatening experience for women. Exciting, very true to primi gravid (first pregnancy), because of the joy and thought of a baby coming in after nine months. Threatening because of the numerous changes that the body has to go through which may affect not just the baby’s health but the mother’s as well.

The first trimester of pregnancy is said to be the most crucial stage. It is during that stage that the baby’s major organs are developed. With this in mind, expecting mothers should always be on their toes to monitor abnormal changes in their body. This article will talk about the seven signs and symptoms that pregnant women should be conscious about as they go through the crucial stage of their pregnancy.

Seven Signs and Symptoms to Watch out For

First: Vaginal Bleeding

According to Dr. Natali Aziz, a maternal-fetal specialist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital located in Palo Alto, California, minimal vaginal spotting is a normal occurrence during pregnancy. She added that heavy vaginal bleeding is the one to watch out for as this may mean ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. The idea here is that the more reddish or brighter the discharge, the more significant it is.

According to Dr. Manju Monga, a maternal-fetal specialist at the University of Texas health Science Center located in Houston, if the vaginal bleeding is accompanied by abdominal pain that is as bad as menstrual cramps, it may mean that the mother is undergoing a threatened abortion. She further explained that if the abdominal pain is sharp in nature (like someone stabbed you), it might mean that the pregnancy is ectopic. Ectopic pregnancy denotes that the fertilized ovum is implanted outside the uterus (such as in the fallopian tube).

Intervention: When the vaginal bleeding is accompanied with abdominal pain, the best thing to do is call for professional help. Women with moderate to heavy vaginal bleeding are likely to undergo ultrasound to check the status of the fetus inside the womb and have some blood works to see for infection.

Second: Nausea and Vomiting (Excessive in Nature)

It is during the first trimester that morning sickness kicks in. Here, women go through intense hormonal changes that cause them to feel nauseated or worst, vomit. This phenomenon is a normal occurrence. It becomes abnormal when the mother gets dehydrated from severe vomiting, feels dizzy all the time, lost a significant amount of weight and feels weak to even stand up.

Vomiting gets the fluid and electrolytes out of the body. Majority of those who vomit have difficulty in replacing their fluid loss because the body usually reject the oral intake of fluids by vomiting again.

Intervention: Pregnant women who look dehydrated (dry looking, weak, and have sunken eye balls) are advised for admission to have proper fluid replacement. The fluid is replaced intravenously by hooking up and running a number of intravenous fluid cycles to reestablish hydration and electrolyte balance.

Dr. Stanley M. Berry of William Beaumont Hospital located in Royal Oak, Michigan assured pregnant women that mild nausea and vomiting are normal occurrences during the first three months of pregnancy and would not affect their baby’s health-unless they become extreme.

Third: Fever

A body temperature of greater than 38°C or 101°F means infection. Infection, whether bacterial, viral or fungal in nature, should be managed immediately because it can affect the baby’s development.

A fever that is accompanied by joint pains or rashes may mean one of the following: cytomegalovirus (CMV), parvovirus or toxoplasma. According to Dr. Aziz, cytomegalovirus is the most common etiology for congenital deafness and a lot of pregnant women are affected by it.

Intervention. If fever alone or in combination with body pains, rashes, joint pains and colds exist during the first trimester, the attention of the physician should be called to immediately determine the cause and implement needed treatment. Moreover, getting a yearly flu vaccine may help in preventing such conditions.

Fourth: Vaginal Itching and Discharge

Whitish vaginal discharge is a normal occurrence but yellowish and foul smelling discharge is not. The latter may mean vaginal infection (such as sexually transmitted disease) and should be managed immediately. Vaginal infection could lead to systemic infection and affect the baby’s development and worst, infect the baby at birth.

Intervention: Report foul smelling vaginal discharge to the doctor and have it checked to determine the causative agent for proper treatment (Usually oral antibiotic).

Fifth: Dysuria (Pain or burning sensation during urination)




Pain when urinating may mean urinary tract infection (UTI). If UTI is not immediately addressed, it can lead to systemic infection, pre-term labor and pre-term birth.

Intervention. Proper genital hygiene, increase in fluid intake and intake of oral antibiotics usually advised to manage urinary tract infections.

Sixth: Severe headache or Leg or calf Pain

As said earlier, hormones tend to be very spiky during pregnancy and this may cause the formation of blood clots (this happens rarely but still could happen). Blood clots, when stucked in the blood vessel, cause local pain and inflammation. If the clot reaches the brain, it initially cause severe headache and later cause irreversible brain damage. On the other note, if the clot is stucked on the legs, it causes leg or calf pain. Clots may travel and cause injuries to other organs as well thus they should be managed at their earliest form.

Intervention. Get checked for history of blood clots and immediately notify the physician if the above symptoms are felt.

Seventh: Worsening of Chronic Diseases

Pregnant women who were diagnosed to have diabetes, hypertension, asthma, thyroid problems or lupus should strictly monitor their condition. These diseases may worsen during pregnancy because of the hormonal changes. If they are not controlled, they may take their toll not just on the baby but on the mother’s as well.

Example. For those with thyroid problems, the risk of miscarriage is very high if the thyroid level in the body is not maintained within the normal limits. The same thing happens with those who are diagnosed with diabetes. Too low or too high blood sugar can cause not just miscarriage but also developmental delays and abnormality.

Intervention. Daily monitoring and intake of medications are very crucial. For example, hypertensive women should check their blood pressure every day and regularly take their maintenance medication.

These are some of the symptoms that should be monitored during the first trimester of pregnancy to ascertain the health of both the baby and the mother.