First, I want to start this post by saying CONGRATULATIONS! If you are reading this you are most likely in your first trimester of pregnancy and that is a very exciting place to be. If you missed our announcement I am now pregnant with our fourth child and we are so excited to have this new baby, you can read more about that HERE. If you have interest in the possibility of going natural with your labor you can follow along as I share my preparation for using Hypnobabies an at home study program for natural birthing.
Although this is my fourth baby this is my 6th pregnancy and I can tell you from experience that the first trimester can be a mixture of so many highs and lows and one that is stacked FULL of questions. Yes, you may feel like you’ve been around the block if you have had more than one baby and you may not have the questions, but I am not surprised if you do. In fact, every pregnancy for me has been so different. I have experienced different levels of nausea and symptoms with each one. So although I am not a doctor and you should seek advice from a medical professional if you have any serious health concerns this is a list of things I have learned from my six pregnancies, and I am saying that makes me an expert. Ha! But really, consult a doctor if you have any questions.
1. Have a support system
Whether this is your first baby or your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 14th you need a support system in place. This means that you will want to tell at least a couple of people that you are expecting. I have learned from announcing my pregnancy too soon that having to retract your pregnancy announcement can be painful and for some silly reason embarrassing, but I have also learned that because I told a small tribe of people first they were there to support me emotionally as well as physically and I needed that. I needed someone to know besides my husband that knows what if feels like to carry a life inside of you and then feel the emptiness when it is gone in a way a man can’t understand. I needed someone to understand why I was down or needed some time alone for a cry.
I have talked to so many women who feel lost and empty when they are going through a loss and have no one to comfort them after losing a baby. This is the way I look at it, announcing a baby’s life to your close family and friends is a joyful time and one that should be celebrated no matter how short that life may be. It is up to you to decide when and with how many, but to me, life begins at conception and that is a reason for happiness.
Having a tribe of people as a support system isn’t just for the hard times but for those questions or support you may need along the way too. You may have questions that you would want to ask your best friend about symptoms that are funny or seem strange or you may need help with your older children if you aren’t feeling well. Motherly support and advice is vital to me, I love knowing I can seek out my mom in an hour of need, and I know I am lucky to have her.
2. Find a great doctor
Each doctor has there own “bedside manner”, it is now up to you to find what you are looking for. Are you looking for a female doctor, a male doctor, a midwife, or a team of midwives? When I was pregnant with my first baby I interviewed a few different doctors and felt like this was a wise use of my time. I wanted to find a doctor that I would stick with through it all, this baby, and the babies I had thereafter. I went my whole pregnancy seeing a female doctor and then six weeks before my due date she dropped the bomb on me that she was switching hospitals and would no longer be within my insurance policy. I was devastated and upset because I didn’t know where to go. This is when I had my interview process. I asked around of course, because my friends and family were a great resource. I also had to work within my insurance boundaries. I met with a midwife who I felt was too abrasive and matter-of-a-fact, and a male doctor with a very good reputation for being able to handle tough situations. I was pre-eclamptic and wanted to cover my basis in all scenarios. If I needed a c-section I wanted a doctor who knew his stuff and knew me. I went with the male doctor and was very happy I did. He was nurturing, kind, and had a calm confidence that was reassuring to me.
My insurance changed quickly and I was able to find a family practitioner that delivered babies and would treat families as we grew. It was the perfect fit for me because I wanted to feel like our doctor was part of our family and he does! I really feel like I have the best doctor in the world! He is supportive of my natural labor, which is rare in western culture here in Utah, and he is a trained doctor with lots of experience and that makes me feel good as well. I always thought I would want a female doctor but I found him and he is the right fit for me.
So don’t be afraid to test out a few. If you schedule in advance you can interview doctors for a couple of minutes and see if they jive with you and your approach to pregnancy and child birth. You may find that you need someone more gentle or someone more firm. And don’t forget that they are working for you! If you are not happy with your service feel free to try someone new!
3. Get your ZZZZZZ’s
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get your sleep while your are pregnant but especially during your first trimester. I am a “night sickness” gal more than a morning sickness gal and if I don’t go to sleep early enough it really effects my health and sanity. This can take some getting use to so enlist your partner in helping to remind you or even set a timer to remind yourself. I’ve never had to go this far because the overwhelming nausea has always been enough of an alarm for me.
4. Learn how to battle nausea
Now before getting into this topic we need to talk about the difference between morning sickness and Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Hyperemesis gravidarum causes severe weight loss, 10% or more and can greatly affect the health of you and your baby. If you are in this category you should seek medical attention and may need to visit a hospital. We are going to talk about how to deal with nausea in terms of morning sickness, here are some things that have worked for me.
- Get something in your tummy before you try to get up and about doing too many things in your morning routine. It is suggested that you even leave crackers by your bed and eat them before sitting up.
- Try Ginger. You can try this through Ginger ale, Ginger pills, Ginger essential oils, or Ginger root.
- Sip on Ice water, stay hydrated!
- Keep your mind busy. I have found that if I am busy with something I have an easier time forgetting how sick I am, it sounds silly but it works.
- Try sucking on lemon candy or peppermints.
- Stay active, I am even talking about walking.
- Eat small, frequent meals
- Don’t forget the protein, studies have shown that eating protein can actually reduce your nausea. Hate meat? Try cottage cheese, greek yogurt, or pregnancy safe protein shakes.
- Wear sea bands, simple bracelets that use a pressure point on your wrist to reduce nausea.
- Listen to your body. In my first pregnancy I threw up a LOT and I made choices that I knew worked well for my body. Sometimes that meant keeping anything down and knowing what it tasted like on the way back up. Gross…but true.
5. Take your Pre-Natal Vitamin
This alone can be a struggle for many women in the first trimester. Don’t lose heart if the brand of vitamin you have tried isn’t working for you. You can use gummy vitamins, protein powders, or try a different brand. Also, a bowl of Captain Crunch has a mighty fine dose of folic Acid in it if you find cereal if you want to give that a whirl. (Most cereals are great sources of folic acid, just make sure to check the label.)
6. Stay Active
It is highly encouraged to maintain the level of physical fitness you have maintained in your life before getting pregnant. If you weren’t in a regular physical routine there are many activities that you can do while pregnant. Try walking, yoga, jogging, or swimming. Again, consult your doctor on this.
During my third pregnancy I had a placental tear that occurred after going to a dance class. I was told that this did NOT cause my tear but in my heart of hearts I felt like they were linked because of the sequence of events. I decided I would tone down my physical activity and stick with walking for the duration of my pregnancy. Consult your doctor and decide what works for you. I have had a number of friends continue their intense running schedule or crossfit and they delivered healthy, strong babies. Do what is best for you, just keep moving.
I use my fitbit charge to motivate myself to do 10,000 steps a day. I don’t always get there, but I find that if I have my fitbit on I am much more likely to walk more.
7. Stay Hydrated
Water. Water. Water. And if you need to mix it up put some flavor in there. I always become so thirsty and it is no wonder why. When you are pregnant your blood volume increases by half! Water is the gas to your baby engine and you need to keep it fueled constantly. Unfortunately this means more trips to the bathroom too, but that is just part of the deal.
8. Eat the Rainbow
Try your best every day to represent all of the colors of the rainbow in your diet. This is an easy way to visualize your nutrition and get more fruits and vegetables in your day to day. If you find a fruit/vegetable that your sensitive tummy can agree with celebrate that and enjoy it as much as possible. Typically in the beginning of pregnancy it can be hard to find food that even sounds appealing. In fact, sometimes you choose the food you’ll eat based on what it tastes like coming back up! :/ It is a truth that some of us must face. So if you find something that sits well and is good for you that is a success alone!
9. Don’t worry about getting Nothing done
It’s going to happen. You are going to feel like you are getting nothing done and you are going to feel guilty. DON’T! This is a phase and time in your life when you may not be able to hold it all together and that is okay. There is a time and a season for everything and this is a time that your body and your baby need as much rest as you can give it. And months down the road your nesting will kick in and you’ll be a crazy, organizing machine. So don’t fret if there are still dishes in the sink and laundry piled high. Perhaps it is time to call a friendly member from your tribe.
10. You’re SICK. now what?
My friend. I cannot tell you how horrible it is to get the flu,a sinus infection, a yeast infection, or a fever. I have had them all while pregnant and it is no party. You can use essential oils to combat a lot of these ailments. I personally used oregano, lemon, and onguard. If you are dealing with MUCOUS and coughing you can used Mucinex D. Check with your doctor, but this is what mine told me. You can also use Tylenol for pain or fever. Rest up and drink LOTS and LOTS of fluid.
11. Taste and Smell
You may have already noticed that you have an extreme sensitivity to taste and smell. In fact, when I was throwing up the most it was oftentimes because of something I smelled. Be aware of your surroundings and take cover! I had no issue with telling my husband to eat his microwaved meal outside or better yet, I would go outside and get some fresh air.
You can also have a condition called Dysgeusia, which is a decrease in the ability to taste, is most commonly experienced during the first trimester of pregnancy. Whatever your sensitivities may be trust them and learn from them, they are your guide to knowing what you can and cannot handle during this first trimester and would hopefully change soon.
12. Celebrate the Good Times
The first trimester is no joke. You may have days or hours that are good in a mix of days and hours that you feel awful. Hold on to these times and celebrate them and know that this too shall pass!
13. Indulge your Cravings
Because why the heck not? Sometimes that is the only thing you can keep down during the first trimester. Of course this is assuming you are doing your best to eat all of the best things too. This pregnancy I have been craving cheeseburgers which is crazy for me! I don’t eat them all of the time, but when I have one I enjoy it and don’t feel guilty about it at all.
14. Find Apps that will guide you along the way.
I have a few favorites that I have used through the years and these are the ones that I love:
Nutrimom: a personal health coach to answer and help you through your pregnancy and your child’s first 1000 days.
Babycenter: Baby center is a great resource for questions and answers from mom’s like you. I also love the ability it has to track special dates along the way.
Nurture: This is a new app that I have really enjoyed as the images are realistic for little ones to see but not too scary. My son loves to see videos of what a REAL baby looks like while my daugher prefers a more cartoon looking baby. This app allows for you to track water, kegels, doctor’s visits, weight gain, photos and more.
15. Make special Time just for You
Take a bath. Go to a movie. Get a pedicure. Hire a cleaning service to deep clean your toilets. You are doing a lot of hard work as your build this little body inside of you, make sure you are taking time to care for yourself too.
Take a babymoon
If you can, do your best to get away for a night or two with your honey on a babymoon! It is a celebration of your pregnancy and time for you to enjoy the growing of your family. This is a special time for your partner too and a great way to involve him in on the fun. Do a couples massage, go for long walks, talk about baby names, start a registry, or just hang out and enjoy the time together.
Surround yourself with Happy
I am a strong believer of surrounding yourself with others that build you up no matter what phase of life you may be going through. This is a major part of your life and the perfect time to rally around those people and doing those things that make you happy. You are growing your family and truly embodying a miracle let that tiny life inside of you be surrounded by the most love and happiness you can offer.
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