If you just got the positive pregnancy test, I’m sorry (but also, congrats!) Pregnancy is a series of ups and downs. It sucks in your first trimester, but then it’s not so bad. it sucks in your third trimester, but then you get a baby. So if you’re just getting started, you’ll want to know how those first few weeks compare to the last leg of the run, right? So just what is pregnancy like in your first trimester versus your third?
Well (and to absolutely no one's surprise, if they managed to pay attention in health class) throughout pregnancy, a number of changes occur. For some, the difficult side-effects of those inevitable changes only last those first few weeks. For others, they don’t show up until much later. And, for the truly unlucky, the entire experience is rough. Your body aches and feels totally uncomfortable and you often want to puke at inopportune times. You can’t really do a lot of the fun things you used to do (or pretended you would always do someday) and a constant state of fear becomes part of your every day pregnant life.
However, and it is definitely worth remembering, there’s also some really awesome, fun stuff you get to experience when you're pregnant. You get to buy new clothes. People (who aren’t rude) open doors for you, give up their seats, and even let you cut in line. You start feeling little tiny kicks in your belly that are akin to the butterflies you got when you developed your first crush. So don’t lament, it’s not all bad. Here’s a side by side comparison of what to expect.
For me, morning sickness was worse my first three months of pregnancy. Afterward, it was smooth sailing.
Nausea tends to vary from person to person (especially for those poor souls afflicted with hyperemesis gravidarum), but overall you should feel better in your final months versus the first few.
Due to the likely nausea you experience in your first trimester, your appetite might not really be there yet. By second and definitely by the third trimester, though, you’ll want to eat everything in sight. Some of us have to be a little extra cautious about this due to the potential for gestational diabetes. Still, you’ll probably never eat more satisfying meals than you will near the end of your pregnancy.
Those Energy Levels
When it comes to energy levels, you’ll be hurting in your first and third trimesters. The thing is, the lack of energy feels a bit different depending when it happens.
In my first trimester, I felt like something had internally zapped away all my strength and I could barely keep my eyes open, even if all I had done was wake up and sit in a chair for a couple hours. In my third trimester, it was less instantaneous and more related to what I was doing. I could more or less be fine if I just sat around all day, but if I decided to walk around the house too long, or leave the house at all, then I’d want to sleep for hours.
All That Bodily (Dis)comfort
In your first trimester, the only real discomfort you might feel will be in your breasts. I always know when I’m pregnant because my boobs feel incredibly sore, as though I’d just finished boxing with them.
In your third trimester, however, everything hurts. Feet and legs get aches, your back develops sciatica, your head might hurt, you might feel bloated or hungry, your belly might itch, your heart might burn: the list goes on.
Oh, The Gas
Hands down, third trimester wins this category. In your first trimester, you might get a little gassy if only because you might not be eating much. But in your third, everything gives you gas. Drink water, burp. Eat a sandwich, fart. Fall asleep, alternate between burping and farting (and to the delight of any and all partners you may or may not be sharing a bed with).
Your Skin Changes
Aside from the skin around your boobs, which might be a bit tender in first trimester, your skin is generally fine. However, over time, your skin will begin to behave in all sorts of strange ways. I developed skin tags around my neck and a bizarre, dark, splotchy rash right underneath my breasts in the third trimester. Coupled with super itchy belly and back acne, and the third trimester was basically the worst.
Your feet are wonderful and beautiful in your first trimester. You can easily give yourself pedicures and all is right with the world. Enter the third trimester, and anything from 20-50 lbs of additional weight, and your feet will swell and expand beyond recognition. Forget painting your nails. Forget cute shoes. Forget seeing your feet again, or at least until you pop the baby out.
Your belly is totally just itself during the first trimester, no matter how many times you look at yourself sideways. But in the third trimester, it will look like you’re smuggling a basketball (or two). It will feel rock hard, too, even if you’ve never once had abs. You may or may not have stretch marks all around it, too, which might appear bright red or dark brown. And, like I mentioned before, your skin will probably itch.
Yeah, all of this kinda sucks, but it’s part of becoming a mama.
In your first trimester, you’ll still be watching episodes of GIRLS with your besties, trying to hang at happy hour with your mocktail, still attending birthday parties and concerts, and living your life (or whatever you normally did pre-baby). Then your brain will kind of shift and you will basically be unable to function without thinking about or talking about the baby-to-be. Suddenly, you’ll be trying to convince all your child-free friends to come to your baby shower, or come over and watch The Business of Being Born with you, or drawing on onesies.
It doesn’t mean you’re not “hip” anymore, but rather that your life has expanded (as your belly has) to include additional interests.