If someone were to ask me what period of my pregnancy was the hardest, it wouldn’t take me longer than a second to blurt out “that damn first trimester”. I still have about a month of this last one, so I might change my mind, but remembering that beginning and flitting through my journal I can safely say it was full of ups and downs.
This is a chunk of time when it’s not recommended to tell anyone about the pregnancy since the risk of something going wrong is the highest. This means a couple of things;
- You can’t fully allow yourself to relax in that period because you’re afraid of the negative possibilities and statistics
- You can’t tell people which limits the circle that you can share something this important with
- You need to hide the symptoms you’re feeling and the changes in everyday habits, as well as not having an excuse for some things that are much more simple to explain later on
Other than the fears and insecurities I mentioned before (link), you get this plethora of symptoms (if you’re unlucky as I was, if you’re more like my friends then you won’t experience much of a change). Throughout the pregnancy, it was the hardest for me to deal with the particular symptoms of the first trimester, especially since I couldn’t just say “sorry, emergency bathroom break” in the middle of a meeting, or “please keep that baloney sandwich away from me or I might puke” to a random stranger, nor could I explain why I would fall asleep at my laptop.
Symptoms and how I dealt with them:
Oh that damned nausea. It frustrated me so much I prayed to God every single day to make it go away and that I’ll deal with everything else more easily. It’s funny how I actually only vomited once in those 3 months, but I lived in a CONSTANT state of “morning” sickness, every moment of the day. Literally a moment didn’t go by in which I didn’t feel nauseous, the question was simply with what intensity. It would get worse with hunger, or any stronger smell (which was kind of any smell at that time really). It got so intense that I lost about 4.5 kg in those 3 months (don’t worry, I got a lot of extra padding so the kid was just fine).
It came down to me not being able to stomach anything but soup, mixed salads and yogurt.
Unfortunately there isn’t a magic trick to get rid of this so called morning sickness, especially if they’re as intense as mine were. I read so many articles online, tried out everything I possibly could and only found a couple of things that made things more bearable (just to note, these are things that worked for me, doesn’t mean they will necessarily work for you)
- Ginger tea (this is honestly still a staple even in late pregnancy). Fresh ginger and lemon grated into a jar of honey (keep the jar in the fridge). Whenever you need some tea, just take a couple of spoons of the mixture and add hot water. The warmth of the tea calms the stomach, the honey coats it and the ginger is amazing when it comes to keeping nausea at bay (even if you’re not pregnant)
- Other teas: not as efficient as ginger, but some people just can’t stomach the taste, so in that case mint and chamomile are amazing alternatives
- Avoid coffee and milk
- What comes in handy are snacks such as breadsticks, popcorn, etc. (I personally found those little ginger breadsticks in DM to be a great help)
- Eat small but frequent meals filled with lots of veggies (avoid heavy, greasy, fried foods and fish)
- Drink loads of water (for some reason every time I’d feel an intense bout of nausea coming on, I’d have a drink of water and it would calm everything down a bit, so keep that bottle close)
- Avoid (as much as possible), places with intense odors (and never breath too close to garbage bins)
- I would carry a little piece of fabric with a couple of drops of essential oils to put under my nose if I needed to pass something particularly smelly. Later on I upgraded to a little roller mix with almond oil and a bit of essential oils.
- A strange thing that would help me when things got way too bad was taking a car ride. For some reason the motion soothed me so I would literally just drive around for a bit (or Petar would drive me) until the waves of nausea lessened
- I want to stress that you should take your prenatal vitamins, especially if the nausea is keeping you from eating enough because your body really needs all the extra nutrients. Take care not to take it on an empty stomach though, that can make the morning sickness worse since there’s no “base” for the vitamins
One of the symptoms I felt a lot at this time was unbelievable fatigue. When I say unbelievable I really mean it, as I’ve never experienced anything similar before (nor after for that case). It’s not so strange when you consider the fact that you’re not only growing a whole new organ, but also a whole new human being with all of its organs…but still…I didn’t expect something like this. It was kind of hilarious because I’d be feeling completely fine one moment, and fall asleep the next (I would literally be overcome by this insane wave of tiredness, even at work). In my journal I described the feelings as “being famished and feeling like I just climbed up a mountain without taking any breaks while solving math problems in my head”. There isn’t really a lot of advice I can give on this issue except:
- Sleep whenever you find the time for it
- Matcha and various teas can help
- Be patient, it will pass
I honestly slept through half of my first trimester (the moment I’d get home from work I’d go straight to bed hahaha), and as annoying as that fatigue was, it wasn’t all that bad since I’ve never had a better and more sound sleep in my life.
The need to pee
This will be your constant companion throughout pregnancy, just for differing reasons depending on the stage of your pregnancy. At this very moment I needed to run to the bathroom seeing as Zrin decided to stretch straight into my bladder.
In the first trimester however, the need to urinate frequently comes from the fact that your metabolism is working like crazy. This is nothing strange, it’s completely normal and you just need to adapt. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, because it’s really easy to get a UTI at this point, and you really don’t need the extra complications. If someone asks why do you keep making all these bathroom stops, just say you have bladder issues, people tend to avoid conversations about those.
Right at the very beginning, my boobs suddenly grew, hurt like crazy and I remember I kept thinking if they keep growing at this rate they’re gonna suffocate me while I sleep. Luckily they didn’t so you won’t be seeing any flashy headlines “Pregnant woman left without oxygen due to the weight of her constantly growing breasts”. What did help though was gentle massaging and changing my bra. Don’t stuff your girlies into your old bras that are too small, have uncomfortable wiring and especially avoid push-up bras (which were most of mine seeing as I’m small chested, and I hate spending lots of money on bras so the stores where I usually buy the cheap ones stock only push-ups for some reason). Find some comfortable and pretty maternity bras that can come in handy later on, especially if you’re planning on breastfeeding. I found mine in H&M after my friend (who is neither pregnant nor has kids) accidentally bought one and fell in love with how comfortable they are. They were pretty cheap, about 10 euros, came in multiple colors, with lace and other pretty stuff (so they weren’t the classic ugly maternity bras you’d imagine). They really offer great support, hold everything in place and are soooo comfy (plus they have the clip option for easier breastfeeding).
*Not all H&M stores have a maternity section so make sure to check before going*
Other than that the advice I can give (some I’ve already mentioned) is the following:
- Drink lots of water, you need it for a ton of stuff, especially since your body is working way overtime (plus keeping your body hydrated helps against stretch marks). Just keep a bottle close at all times to remind yourself
- Lather your skin in lotion from the second you find out you’re pregnant. Belly, boobs, hips, thighs. At the end of the day stretch marks are mostly a lottery based on genetics (how elastic your skin is), but you can minimize them with hydrating properly. My personal go-tos are Boolab body butter (orange), and Sapunoteka almond body lotion
- Take your prenatal vitamins. It’s best to drink them throughout your pregnancy, but it’s crucial to take them in the first trimester when the most important things are forming. There is a huge selection in any pharmacy, just make sure they have enough folic acid and that they sit well with you (some women try a couple of brands until they find one that works for them). I personally tried Novalac (recommended to me by my OBGYN) and am still taking them.
- This is a secret that can be hard to keep, mostly because you probably want to share the news but also because it can get difficult to explain your new symptoms and sudden habit changes. My advice would be to pick out a couple of people you trust (and that you hang out with often) and let them know. Firstly, it’s a huge relief when you have someone to talk to, secondly they can really help with keeping the secret and covering for you when needed. When it comes to quitting smoking, drinking, etc. I just told everyone I was doing a cleanse cause my body was in bad shape (which was also a convenient excuse for the nausea and fatigue)
- Give yourself some time and listen to your body. You’re pregnant, not sick, and you can continue doing everything as you did before. Also, if you feel like you can’t, just stop. Take a moment, take a breath. This is your time, even though it might not feel like it.
Soon I’ll be writing about the easier and far more enjoyable (at least for me!), second trimester, so if you have any questions, you know where to find me!