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First Trimester of Pregnancy

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What to Expect: Changes in Your Body continued...

Food cravings and aversions. Although you may not want a bowl of mint chip ice cream topped with dill pickles, as the old stereotype goes, your tastes can change while you're pregnant. More than 60% of pregnant women experience food cravings, and more than half have food aversions, according to research. Giving in to cravings from time to time is OK, provided you are generally eating healthy, low-calorie foods. The exception is pica -- a craving for non-foods like clay, dirt, and laundry starch, which can be dangerous for you and your baby. If you experience this kind of craving, report it to your doctor right away.

Frequent urination. Your baby is still pretty small, but your uterus is growing and it's putting pressure on your bladder. As a result, you may feel like you constantly have to go to the bathroom. Don't stop drinking fluids -- your body needs them -- but do cut down on caffeine (which stimulates the bladder), especially before bedtime. When nature calls, answer it as soon as you can. Don't hold it in.

Heartburn. During pregnancy, your body produces more of the progesterone hormone which relaxes smooth muscles -- including the ring of muscle in your lower esophagus that normally keeps food and acids down in your stomach. This muscle relaxation can lead to acid reflux, otherwise known as heartburn. To avoid the burn, eat frequent, smaller meals throughout the day; don't lie down right after eating; and avoid greasy, spicy, and acidic foods (like citrus fruits). You can also try raising your pillows when you sleep.

Mood swings. Increased fatigue and changing hormones can put you on an emotional roller coaster that makes you feel alternately elated and miserable, cranky and terrified. It's OK to cry, but if you're feeling overwhelmed, try to find an understanding ear -- if not from your partner, then from a friend or family member.

Morning sickness. Nausea is one of the most universal pregnancy symptoms, affecting up to 85% of pregnant women. It's the result of hormone changes in the body, and it can last through the entire first trimester. For some pregnant women, nausea is mild; others can't start their day without vomiting. Nausea is usually worst in the morning (hence the name, "morning sickness"). To calm your nausea, try eating small, bland, or high-protein snacks (crackers, meat, or cheese) and sipping water, clear fruit juice (apple juice), or ginger ale. You may want to do even do this before getting out of bed. Avoid any foods that make you sick to your stomach. Nausea itself isn't anything to worry about, but if it persists or is severe, it can affect the amount of nutrition getting to your baby, so call your doctor if you can't stop vomiting or can't keep down any food.

Weight gain. Pregnancy is one of the few times in a woman's life when weight gain is considered a good thing, but don't overdo it. During the first trimester, you should gain about 3 to 6 pounds (your doctor may recommend that you adjust your weight gain up or down if you started your pregnancy underweight or overweight). Although you're carrying an extra person, don't go by the adage of "eating for two." You only need about an extra 150 calories a day during your first trimester. Get those calories the healthy way, by adding extra fruits and vegetables, milk, whole-grain bread, and lean meat to your diet.

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