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    First Trimester of Pregnancy

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    Having a baby is one of the most joyous times in many women's lives. From anticipating the day you'll bring your little one home, to picking a name and nursery colors, the excitement is palpable.

    But no matter how well you plan for their arrival, you may not be fully prepared for all of the changes your body will go through now. Knowing what to expect will help you get ready for the months ahead.

    What to Expect: Changes in Your Body

    Pregnancy is different for every woman. Some women glow with good health and vitality during those first three months; others feel absolutely miserable. Here are some of the changes you might experience, what they mean, and which signs warrant a call to your doctor.

    Bleeding. About 25% of pregnant women experience slight bleeding during their first trimester. Early in the pregnancy, light spotting may be a sign that the fertilized embryo has implanted in the uterus. However, if you have significant bleeding, cramping, or sharp pain in your abdomen, call your doctor. These could be signs of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside of the uterus).

    Breast tenderness. Sore breasts are one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. They're triggered by hormonal changes, which are preparing your milk ducts to feed your baby, and will probably last through the first trimester. Going up a bra size (or more) and wearing a support bra can make you feel more comfortable; you can go back to the lacy bras after your baby is finished nursing.

    Constipation . During pregnancy, the muscle contractions that normally move food through your intestines slow down because of higher levels of the hormone progesterone. Add to that the extra iron you're getting from your prenatal vitamin, and the result is uncomfortable constipation and gas that can keep you feeling bloated throughout your pregnancy. Increase your fiber intake and drink extra fluids to keep things moving more smoothly. Physical activity can also help.

    If your constipation is really bothering you, talk to your doctor about what mild laxative or stool softeners are safe to use during pregnancy.

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