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What to expect in the first trimester

The first trimester is from 0 to 12 weeks. This is the beginning of your pregnancy and is a very important time for its development.

You may feel more tired, and will experience some physical and emotional changes.

You can also get started with the medical and maternity care that is available for you and your baby. Talk to your GP about the options available to you.

Pregnancy tests

Appointments to make

See your GP or midwife as soon as possible to confirm you are pregnant. You can discuss the options available to you for antenatal or maternity care.

Your GP can also register you for the Maternity and Infant Care scheme.

It is important to take folic acid and to get the COVID-19, whooping cough and flu vaccines.

Your GP will refer you for your first hospital antenatal appointment and dating scan.

Confirming your pregnancy with your GP

Physical changes

You may experience some symptoms in your first trimester:

  • mood swings and tiredness due to hormonal changes
  • morning sickness (nausea and vomiting) - this can happen at any time of day and usually settles by 20 weeks
  • clear or white vaginal discharge
  • frequent peeing due to hormonal changes
  • breast changes – they may get bigger and feel tender to touch
  • dizziness due to changes in circulation and hormones

Emergency action required: Contact your GP, midwife or maternity unit immediately if:

  • you have bleeding from your vagina or severe stomach pain

Warning signs during pregnancy

Feeling tired

Your baby is growing at a rapid rate. This can be tiring work for your body.

There are a few things you can do to improve your energy levels:

  • Rest when you can and get a good night’s sleep.
  • Ask for help and accept offers of help.
  • Drink lots of fluids (2 litres per day).
  • Eat small meals often.
  • Do regular physical activity.

Tiredness and fatigue in pregnancy

Healthy eating in pregnancy

Safe exercise during pregnancy

Morning sickness

Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is called 'morning sickness'. It is very common, affecting 8 out of 10 pregnant women.

It usually starts between 4 to 7 weeks of pregnancy and ends around 16 to 20 weeks. It can happen any time of day or night. Some women find the sickness lasts through the entire day.

Talk to your GP or midwife if your morning sickness is severe, especially if you cannot keep fluids down.

More vaginal discharge

You may experience increased vaginal discharge during the first trimester. Do not clean or douche the inside of your vagina.

If your vagina is itchy or sore, or you notice a bad or unusual smell from your discharge, you may have an infection. Speak to your GP or midwife.

Frequent urination

Most people need to pee more frequently when they are pregnant. This can be annoying. It is important to keep hydrated and drink plenty of water.

If you have pain when you pee or if there is blood in your urine, contact your GP or midwife. This could be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI).

A UTI is an infection of your bladder, urethra or kidneys. They are common during pregnancy. Being pregnant increases your risk of complications from a UTI. See your GP, midwife or obstetrician if you think you have a UTI.

You may need to get up during the night to pee. To help with this, keep drinking plenty during the day but cut out drinks in the late evening.

Changes to your breasts

You may have noticed your breasts changing after becoming pregnant. Your breasts will grow in preparation for breastfeeding.

Breast changes during pregnancy

Staying healthy during your pregnancy - HSE

Emotional changes

Finding out you are pregnant can be a very emotional time. This news may bring feelings such as nervousness, excitement, joy and fear. Or you may not be sure how you feel.

If you are pregnant but not sure you want to be, you can talk to your GP or a counselling service.

It is normal to wonder “do I want to be a parent?” as you think about the responsibilities of caring for your baby. Talking to people you trust, your partner, family or friends will help you with these feelings.

Some people choose not to tell others about their pregnancy in the first 12 weeks. Do whatever feels right for you.

You may feel less interested in sex and other activities. This is normal.

Non-urgent advice: Talk to your GP or midwife if:

  • your feelings of anxiety or sadness become severe
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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 23 September 2022
Next review due: 23 September 2025