First Trimester - Conception to 12 Weeks


Common Side Effects


Nausea and/or vomiting

Nausea affects approximately 80-85% of all pregnancies with vomiting an associated complaint in about 52% of women. There are a number of theories as to why this occurs including hormonal changes, changes in carbohydrate metabolism and fatigue, which explains why symptoms vary greatly from woman to woman and often from one pregnancy to another.

What does the First Trimester Screening test involve?

The combined First Trimester Screening test has two separate components:

  • Eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day and keep well hydrated. Often the taste of foods and in particular water taste different; water often has a metallic taste to it. Using fruit to flavor water either by adding the juice or you could try cutting up your favourite fruit and adding it to your water bottle to infuse.
  • During pregnancy women have a heightened sense of taste and smell often leading to food aversions. Avoid fatty, spicy or highly seasoned foods or foods with strong smells.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Acupressure (P6) in the form of “sea-sickness” bands can reduce the symptoms of nausea particularly if affected by motion. There is some evidence to support the use however the evidence is limited and inconsistent. There are no increased risks associated with using acupressure for the relief of nausea during pregnancy.
  • Acupuncture has also been used to reduce the severity of these symptoms. Again, there is limited evidence to suggest any benefit, but there is no evidence to suggest that it is harmful.
  • Ginger has been found to reduce the severity of nausea and vomiting in some women although there is inconsistent evidence due to the various ways ginger can be used. Dosages of up to 250mg four times a day appear to be safe.
  • Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) has been used to reduce the symptoms of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Can be taken individually or in combination with ginger in Morning Sickness preparations available at most pharmacy.
  • Doxylamine succinate is an anti-histamine medication that is available across the counter at all pharmacies. It can cause drowsiness so is best taken at night. It is safe to be taken in pregnancy & works quite effectively with supporting evidence from clinical trials. Dosage – I would recommend starting with 12.5mg (half a 25mg tablet) which can be increased to 25mg nightly if it doesn’t cause too much drowsiness.
  • Other antiemetic medicines such as metoclopramide (Maxalon®) or ondansetron (Zofran®) can be prescribed in cases where these symptoms are severe. Please seek medical review if you feel these are required.

When to seek help

If you are unable to tolerate food or fluids for greater than 12-24 hours due to nausea and vomiting please contact the Pregnancy Assessment Centre on 3163 7000.

For further information visit:


Rising levels of the hormone progesterone in pregnancy causes relaxation of smooth muscle particularly in the gastrointestinal tract. This can cause a reduction in gastric motility and increased gastric emptying time meaning that more water and electrolytes are absorbed as food passes through the bowel more slowly. This produces hard, compact stools with associated bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain. The prevalence is estimated to be somewhere between 25 - 40%.

Strategies that may help

  • Dietary strategies to alleviate constipation include increased dietary fibre intake from whole-grain cereals and breads, dried fruits, fruit and vegetables with skin, brown rice, pasta and legumes.
  • Increase fluid intake to approximately 2-2.5 litres daily with the majority of this in the form of water. Some women find that pear or prune juice once or twice a day can also help.
  • Increasing physical activity helps to stimulate gut activity helping food to move more quickly through the gut and bowel alleviating constipation.
  • Dietary fibre supplementation such as Metamucil, Normafibe, Psyllium Husk or adding bran to cereal
  • Movicol, Coloxyl, Senokot or Agarol are safe to take during pregnancy if needed.

When to seek help

If after trying these strategies constipation is still a concern or if you are unable to pass a bowel motion contact...


Flu Vaccine during pregnancy

Flu vaccination is safe and recommended for pregnant women to have at any stage during pregnancy. This is recommended because women are more at risk of severe illness during pregnancy due to their immune system being suppressed. There is also evidence supporting a protective effect for babies when Mums have been vaccinated during pregnancy. Flu vaccination is free for pregnant women and can be accessed via your GP (there may still be a charge for the consultation).


Whooping Cough Vaccination during pregnancy

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) is a highly contagious respiratory illness passed from one person to another by “droplet” transmission. This occurs when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Babies are particularly at risk of serious illness and many require hospitalization. For this reason, Whooping Cough vaccination is recommended for women each pregnancy ideally between 28-32 weeks gestation. It is also recommended for close contacts – partners, anyone living in the house with you or anyone who will be having close contact with you baby such as Grandparents to also be vaccinated. Vaccination for pregnant women is free and can be accessed via your GP.