What's Normal During Early Pregnancy?

woman
Laura Doss
Some seemingly weird symptoms are very normal when you're expecting a baby. Here's how to navigate your early pregnancy.
Thayer Allyson Gowdy
Thayer Allyson Gowdy

First, let us say that every pregnancy really is different, and only your obstetrician can tell you for certain if everything is as it should be in your first trimester. That said, there are some general norms that tend to hold true for four common symptoms -- read on, and don't hesitate to dial up your doc if something seems off.

BananaStock/ Jupiter
BananaStock/ Jupiter

1. Nausea

What's normal: Nausea and/or vomiting that starts as early as the third week of pregnancy and goes away at 12 weeks or soon after is common and usually nothing to worry about. It can happen any time of day or night, but you're able to at least keep some food and liquids down. Seventy to 80 percent of women experience some type of morning sickness during pregnancy.

What's not: Severe vomiting that does not go away after 12 weeks, causes dehydration, and doesn't allow you to keep any food down is not normal. This type of sickness is called hyperemesis gravidarium, and can require hospitalization or medication. Some women have also had great relief from acupuncture treatments.

Fancy Photography/Veer
Fancy Photography/Veer

2. Bleeding

What's normal: No bleeding, spotting, or very light bleeding in the first few weeks of pregnancy when the embryo implants in your uterine lining is normal and is likely not reason for alarm. Even a little later on, bleeding and cramping is not uncommon in the first trimester, says Freya E. Marshall, M.D., an ob/gyn at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in California. In fact, 20 to 30 percent of pregnant women have some bleeding during pregnancy -- and half of them go on to have healthy babies. Still, alert your doctor to any bleeding you may experience.

What's (probably) not: You should call your obstetrician anytime you notice spotting or bleeding so she can rule out infections or other problems like possible miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. But some signs of concerning bleeding include white-pink mucus, very painful cramps or contractions, bright red bleeding, clot-like discharge, or a sudden drop in other pregnancy symptoms.

PhotoAlto Photography/Veer
PhotoAlto Photography/Veer

3. Cramping

What's normal: Light cramping like you might have before or during a mild period is pretty typical. "Cramping can be very common early in pregnancy, however it can also be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage so it's important to seek advice from your medical provider," says says Freya E. Marshall, M.D., an ob/gyn at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in California.

What's (probably) not: Cramps that are more painful than those you have during your period, or true contractions that come every 5 to 20 minutes are not normal. These are signs of possible miscarriage, so call your obstetrician right away.

Laura Doss
Laura Doss

4. Discharge

What's normal: Thin, milky white discharge that starts early on in pregnancy and continues throughout your term. This extra discharge protects the birth canal from infection.

What's not: If you have a lot of clear discharge, it smells bad, or turns green or yellow, call your doctor and ask her to check you for infections like bacterial vaginosis that could cause pregnancy complications.

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