The First Trimester

First Trimester Symptoms, First Trimester, Pregnancy, First Baby, What I Wish I would have known about my first trimester

WhatIWore: The first trimester of pregnancy threw me for one hell of a loop. I had an old copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting on hand, along with the ap on my phone and I dangerously fed my curiousity by reading mommy-to-be forums all over the internet (don’t do it!) I eventually asked Adam to check my symptoms instead of scaring myself to death reading things online.  I also keep regular lists of questions and concerns for my doctor and midwife, plus have their office number programmed into my phone. 

Here are some of the things I dealt with and how I got through them (or at least how I tried!)

Food Aversions This was by far, my biggest issue. At exactly 7 days into my annual Whole 30, the sight of chicken breast would make me gag and veggies just didn’t sound good. I didn’t make any announcements, but I prompted quit the Whole 30. I read about women who were able to tough it out, but eating for me became miserable, and I’m a women who loves to eat and huge portions at that. My sense of smell has also become a lot more powerful and for that, I couldn’t be in the kitchen for more than making scrambled eggs.  

Here’s what helped: simple, slightly salty snacks like pretzel sticks or saltines let me get something into my stomach. Half the problem was that I was always hungry, but didn’t crave anything.  Next, I’d advise you to not over do the foods that do work. For me, I got into a rice phase and quickly got over it. Next was the mashed potatoes (now the smell of them makes me gaggy). I made big steps when I craved Chipotle, but again, I’ve had too much and can’t stomach it now.  Fruits were also key! Bananas are easy to digest and pack in carbs, which I needed (because I was losing weight from not being able to eat, which is not uncommon for the first trimester). I also went on a binge with cherries, which were awesome.  Other than the sweet, tangy fruits, everything else I ate was bland or straight up junk food (when your pregnant wife craves pork dumplings, give her pork dumplings!) Your baby’s needs are pretty small at this point, so just eat what you can to keep your energy going (and take your prenatal vitamins!)

This lasted almost exactly from 6 to 11 weeks and I’m thrilled it’s over.

Slowed Digestion (TMI) Probably the most annoying part of pregnancy has been the huge slow down in my digestive system. My pre-pregnancy diet was so high in fiber filled fruits and veggies that I never had any issues in this department, but it’s a common complaint from pregnant women.  The slow down is nature’s design - letting your digestive track absorb even more nutrients into your system.

Frustratingly, NO ONE REALLY TALKS ABOUT THIS, yet it’s on your mind ALL OF THE TIME.  You read about it in your pregnancy books, but it’s not exactly polite conversation to have at a dinner party. 

Here’s what helped: After not eating much gluten or bread products for all of 2013, I did NOT want to go that route, but found that a high fiber, whole wheat bread really helped me (I like Ezekial 4:9 Whole Grain). I ate it with almond butter or with eggs in the morning. I have now added in a slice or two every other morning or so. 

Kiwis are delicious, sweet and also reputed to help move things along. I really enjoyed having one with breakfast when I could stomach it. 

My doctor said to try prune juice on the rocks, but I actually got into white grape juice instead! Because it has so much sugar, I limit myself to a small class. Loads of water is good if you can handle it, but like many other things, too much sloshing around in my stomach was unpleasant. 

I gave up coffee when I found out I was expecting, by accident, actually! I like Hazelnut coffee and was drinking that at my parent’s house over the holidays and later realized it was decaf! It was a nice transition off caffeine, but I still like a hot drink in the mornings. The solution: hot lemon water! It’s also reputed to help speed things up, but it was a nice way to get fluids and lemon usually doesn’t upset pregnant women’s senses. 

And the best thing that’s helped me here (TMI warning!): Using a short stool under your feet when it’s time to go. For thousands of years, people would squat to go #2 and now our comfort level toilets don’t position our bodies in our naturally evolved stance. 

Extreme Exhaustion: I’m pretty happy with going to bed at 9 or 10 at night and sleeping a solid 8, 9 or 10 hours each night, but since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve added a 2-3 hour nap in each day. I realize I’m very lucky to have a flexible schedule, but I don’t know how I would have survived without all that sleep.

Here’s what helped: Resigning the notion that I needed a clean house, perfect outfit photos (or photos at all! Notice how I was so MIA this winter?) or to keep social commitments when i didn’t feel well. I’m a pretty high energy person by nature and felt so lazy early on, until I realized listening to my body was the only way to go. I’m happy I did!

Giant and Tender Boobs: It takes 3-4 months before your baby bump shows (or longer!), but your breasts immediately begin to swell up and grow when you’re pregs. Hormones cause your boobs to grow throughout your pregnancy in preparation for nursing your baby, but for the first few months, your ta tas are so sore and tender!

What helped me: I used to go all the time without wearing a bra around the house, to bed or under summer dresses. Not anymore. I ALWAYS wear a bra, usually a soft cotton sports bra around the house and at night. It gives your girls the support you need and decreases a lot of the soreness.  Truth be told, I’ve actually liked this symptom, because I constantly wondered if I was still pregnant. Boob check? Still sore! Ok!

Worry and Anxiety: One of the biggest components to my pregnancy has been a huge weight of worry on my shoulders. I’ve never said anything about this online, but I had a miscarriage a couple of years ago and learned about it at our first ultrasound at 8 weeks.  This is another thing no one ever talks about, but it’s quite common early on. One in four women has a miscarriage, sometimes without knowing it. When it happened to us, we were devastated and it took a long time to grieve privately. Needless to say, that has added an extra amount of worry to my first trimester.

Here’s what helped: Changing my mindset. Babies are a straight up miracle! There are so many pieces that have to come together, in just the right circumstances for a baby to grow and develop, and yet, look at our world’s population! Babies are being born! For as many things that could go wrong, look at the billions of times they went right.  My midwife said something to me that just put it into perspective. She told me “There’s nothing you can do to mess this up or make it work. It will just happen.” Outside of common sense prenatal health (no booze, no Advil, eating good foods, taking your vitamins, resting), it’s out of your hands!  Knowing that worrying wouldn’t make anything change, I’ve done my best to give it up (it’s not easy and it’s still something I struggle with!) I’ve also worked with my doctor to have my progesterone levels checked as we’ve been going (all good) and that’s given me a little more piece of mind.  This is by far the hardest thing to keep in check (all expectant mothers worry!) but it doesn’t make me happier to go down a rabbit hole of bad thoughts.

Having a supportive partner has been so important too. Adam looks me straight in the eye and says “you’re pregnant!!” (and I believe him) and won’t entertain any of my “what if scenarios” which helps settle me down.

Another thing that has brought me a lot of peace are Ina May Gaskin’s books (Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery). They make pregnancy feel normal and natural instead of scary or something that needs to be cured. What To Expect has been good as a reference, but I’d advise against reading it cover to cover (it’s rather alarmist in my opinion). The free iPhone ap and website cover much of what’s in the book as well. 

Keeping Your Secret in Social Settings: I found out I was pregnant on Christmas Eve. We have been wanting a baby for three years and as I mentioned before, had some bum luck. I thought it would be so cool if I found out I was pregnant and could tell Adam on Christmas morning, so once I was one day late, I ran to the store for a test. I’ve probably bought two dozen of these over the years, so I never get my hopes too far up there, but lo and behold, we were finally PREGNANT!!  We told our immediate families during Christmas and then waited until about 10 weeks to tell our close friends and business partners. I also told my trainer at the gym to give him a heads up on taking things easier and being more exhausted. Adam was dying to tell people, so he mentioned it to a few friends here and there but I’ve been a lot more on the shy side to spill to more people.

Here’s what helped: There’s no set “right” time to share your good news. A lot of parents wait until they’ve entered the second trimester, when the risk of miscarriage drops significantly. Sharing our good news in person has been the most joyous thing for us and we started by telling our close family, then closest friends and then let grandma/grandpa tell extended family before we mentioned anything online.  At the end of the day, it’s your business and it’s up to you how to share!

PRO TIP: Never ever ask a woman if she’s pregnant. EVER.  If and when she is expecting, let her be the one to give away the good news. Weirdly enough, this seems to happen way too much (although it only happened with me when I had was not pregnant and only by randos online). Bad manners! 

If you’re not a drinker, it’s easy to keep your friends from wondering, but my group of friends likes to imbibe so getting together for birthdays, basketball and playoff games was kind of tough. Luckily, we had our annual Whole30 excuse on hand! Since both Adam and I were sober, no one had any reason to wonder, which was great. After January, I always played designated driver or just said I was getting over a headache or whatever.  Also, drink your water in a cocktail glass with a garnish. Most people won’t notice! 

Now What? I’m quickly realizing that each stage of the game brings on new changes and challenges and am learning daily how to adapt. Despite being uncomfortable from time to time, it’s all so completely worth it! 

Fine Print: I’m not a doctor or health care provider. This material is not intended to diagnose or treat any health or pregnancy related issues. Always ask your OB/midwife before starting or changing any new health regimen.