In pregnancy, the 1st trimester is extremely exciting but at the same time extremely difficult. The obviously exciting reason being, you’re pregnant! So congratulations. But once the excitement settles, and week 5 hits you like a ton of bricks, you will be overcome with extreme exhaustion and nausea. As the pregnancy continues, you also start to feel bloated, hormones are raging, your boobs KILL, your wardrobe starts to fit tightly or not fit at all, and everything is in slow motion. Plus all you want to do is be in bed, your sense of smell becomes a weapon used against you, your pregnant belly looks more like a beer gut or that you’ve eaten to many donuts, and you literally cry over spilt milk.
It’s a beautiful time… 😳
Not to mention, the first trimester is a bit of a lonely period as you are going through this HUGE change, but haven’t told anyone you are pregnant. Besides your partner, maybe you have told only a few close family members and friends. Regardless, it is a bit of a closeted, vulnerable, and emotional time.
Luckily, this being my 3rd pregnancy, I have picked up a few tips along the way that may help first time mothers or even veterans get through the dreaded first 3 months of pregnancy.
Tip 1: Don’t Stress About Your Diet
Everything you read talks about this perfect pregnancy diet that every women should uphold. You see this photo of a beautiful glowing pregnant woman eating this idealistic healthy meal that honestly makes you feel like a horrible mom when you can’t uphold the “rules” of eating during your first trimester.
Throw it all out the window.
Trust me, you will have plenty of time to get in the 8 servings of leafy greens and the 5 servings of protein once the puking feeling lifts. At this point it’s just about survival. It’s important to let your body get through this time– your hormones are intense and the heavy amount of the initial progesterone running through your body can turn any girl’s stomach.
For my first 2 pregnancies, the site and smell of meat or eggs made me want to vomit, trying to force down leafy greens made my nausea worse, and the only thing that would give me some relief was anything made from refined white flour. I mean, there just HAS TO BE an evolutionary reason why all newly pregnant women only want to eat bagels!
To sum up:
- Eat what you can in small portions. You’re not supposed to increase calories in the first trimester (unless you start your pregnancy underweight).
- Eat the most freshly baked, least-processed plain bagel you can find. And if you can’t find that, it’s ok too.
- Try to eat any protein you can stomach, and protein does not just mean meat. This includes yogurt, cottage cheese, and beans.
- If you can only get down Saltines, plan to eat a more colorful diet once the nausea goes away and if it persists, talk to your doctor.
- Most importantly, don’t stress over it. The nausea is unfortunately normal, and will eventually pass.
Tip 2: Getting Through the Nausea
They call it morning sickness, but for many women it lasts all day. You may never throw up and just feel like you’re occasionally (or for me continually) seasick. Or you may throw up every morning as soon as your feet hit the floor. Don’t worry, this is unfortunately very normal.
Experts claim, most morning sickness disappears by the end of the first trimester. For my first 2 pregnancies, it lasted up until about 23 weeks which is way into the 2nd trimester! Brutal.
Fortunately I did pick up a few remedies along the way and though they don’t always work, it’s your best shot to feeling somewhat better! SO until the nausea lifts, follow these tips:
- When you first wake up, have saltines next to your bed, and eat them right before you get up.
- Eat bland foods when you feel nauseous (saltine crackers, gelatin desserts, popsicles, chicken or vegetable broth, ginger ale and pretzels).
- Eat small meals throughout the day so you’re never too full or too hungry.
- Avoid rich, spicy, greasy or fatty foods, and foods whose smells bother you.
- Eat more carbohydrates (plain baked potato, white rice, dry toast, a bagel).
- Use acupressure wristbands!! This is one of the things that truly helped me get through the day. My favorite brand is Sea Bands.
- If your prenatal vitamins make your nausea worse, talk to your health care provider about prescribing a vitamin without iron or switching to a different brand. I could only stomach the vitamins that were a gel capsule.
- During my 2nd pregnancy, I was prescribed medicine to help me with my nausea because I couldn’t keep anything down or stomach any food. Being prescribed medicine is another option, but again, talk to your health care provider to find the best option for you.
Tip 3: The Extreme Exhaustion
When exhaustion hits, it hits you hard. It’s unlike any “tired” feeling you have ever felt. It’s like the whole world is in slow motion and your every day becomes difficult. Lets remember, you are building a human inside of your body for the next 9 months. This is really hard work. It takes a lot of energy—your energy. So stop being superwoman for once and listen to what your body is telling you.
If you can, follow these tips:
- Napping on the weekends and when you get home from work. This may be difficult if you have other children to care for, but when you can, NAP. Reserve your energy and have your partner pitch in when he/she can.
- Putting your feet up as much as possible. Again, much harder when you have little ones to take care of, but this is the time your partner needs to step up and pick up the slack.
- Turning over housework, cooking, errands, etc., to your partner, friend or a professional agency—or just letting things go for a while.
- As mentioned, let things go for a while! Don’t worry; in your second and much of your third trimesters, you’ll have energy to burn.
Tip 4: Exercise Can Wait
Exercise has become a part of my every day life. I feel better when I go for a jog or run; however, I had to cut back for this 1st trimester. At first, I was running everyday, but afterwards, I would start to feel unbearably tired to the point I would start feeling sick. I clearly was pushing myself WAY to much and my doctor said I needed to stop. Not to fear, almost all women regain energy in the second trimester. I call it the 2nd trimester energy boost. So it’s ok if you’re not getting in your daily work outs. Exercise when you can and listen to your body.
To sum up:
- Don’t stress if you don’t work out and don’t stress about gaining weight.
- Look into options for pregnancy works outs but if you can’t actually get yourself on a treadmill or into a lap pool, pursue them later. You will soon get a burst of energy.
- Don’t sweat it if you’re thrown off your game. Serious, serious exhaustion is the number one bi-product of early pregnancy. It’s normal and it will pass.
- Don’t push yourself. Your body is already doing more than most people who are running a marathon. Your body needs rest, so give it the rest it needs.
- LISTEN to your body.
Tip 5: Tell the News to Whoever You Want
Tell your news to whoever you want. Back in the day, it use to be such a secret once you found out you were pregnant, but today, information is power. My rule of thumb is to tell whoever you would feel comfortable sharing with if you did unfortunately experience a miscarriage. That’s why the old way is to keep it to yourself incase the worst happens. However, I hate the “do not tell” rule because it almost silences a woman’s pain if they did experience a loss. If you do have the unfortunate experience of a loss, the best medicine is to talk about it and not hold in your feelings. I’m not saying make a public announcement, but I certainly believe that women should talk about what they have gone through and that would lead to healing and helping even more women. Again, information is power.
- Tell whomever you want to tell.
- There can be pressure to spill the beans or keep this news a secret so you do whatever feels right to you!
- Everyone is different. It can be helpful to have someone to talk to about what you’re going through. Preferably someone who understands how lame the first trimester can be.
- Don’t let anyone tell you that you are to early to tell anyone. Do whatever you want and feel comfortable in doing.