Congratulations Mama! If you are reading this, you just found out you are expecting and wonder what now? What should I do? What should I expect? This is your guide to surviving the first trimester!
You have undoubtedly heard how hard the first trimester is. I am a mom of four and in each one of my pregnancies the first few weeks were brutal. The joy of finding out I was pregnant quickly gave way to being nauseated when I ate or didn’t eat (How is that even possible?!?) being consumed with fatigue, my other kids living off poptarts and Netflix, and don’t get me started on constipation…that’s a story of it’s own. I experienced weird headaches, crazy dreams and was super emotional when non-pregnant Heather barely cries 3 times a year.
Growing a human takes a huge toll on your body (see above), but you don’t have to be miserable! Here is everything you need to survive the first trimester of pregnancy!
WHAT IS THE FIRST TRIMESTER OF PREGNANCY?
There are three trimesters of pregnancy. The first trimester of pregnancy is the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy.
The first trimester is super important. Your baby is growing faster during this period than any other time. Usually by the 6-7th week of pregnancy a heart beat can be detected By the end of the first trimester, bones, organs and all other major systems have formed!
During this time you have to be really careful about certain things (activities & food/drink) that may not have been an issue before you were pregnant.
What to avoid in the first trimester:
- Smoking – If you are a smoker develop a plan to stop now, smoking can cause preterm birth and low birth weight in babies of mothers who smoke.
- Drinking alcohol – There is never a safe time to use alcohol if you are pregnant. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Babies can develop heart, vision or hearing defects and become prone to premature birth/low birth weight
- Saunas or hot tubs – This can put the mother to be at risk for hyperthermia and dehydration. Some studies have shown an increased risk of birth defects when used during the first trimester.
- Contact Sports – Can lead to placental abruption, this is the separation of the placenta from the uterine wall. This can lead to preterm birth and still birth.
- Changing the kitty litter – Changing the cat’s litter box puts you at risk of developing Toxoplasmosis, which, if passed on the the fetus can lead to blindness, intellectual disabilities, brain and eye damage.
- Certain medications: Ibuprofen and other NSAIDS, ACE inhibitors, cold and flu medications with certain ingredients, some acne medications.
- Illegal Drugs – When illegal drugs are used during pregnancy it puts the unborn child at risk to experience Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), meaning they will experience withdrawal symptoms after birth.
This should go without saying but any activity that has a fall risk associated with it ie: rock climbing, skiing, ice skating. Avoid amusement park rides and water slides. The jarring motion can cause placental abruption.
FIRST TRIMESTER CHECKLIST: 7 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU ARE EXPECTING
- Make an appointment with your OB/Midwife. They usually schedule you to come in around 6-8 weeks. You can expect them to draw bloodwork to confirm the pregnancy and check your other labs to make sure you are healthy. They will also usually perform an early ultrasound to determine how far along you are, unless you decline. Make a list a questions you would like to ask to bring with you.
- Start taking a prenatal vitamin. Invest in a good quality vitamin while you are pregnant. Many prenatal vitamins are full of binders and fillers, artificial dyes, flavors and sweeteners. None of which are good for you or the baby. These are the ones I have taken while pregnant. Make sure the ones you choose includes folate and DHA.
- Start researching now. Start thinking about your pregnancy and birth options, things such as prenatal testing, birth announcements and whether or not you want to find out the gender of the baby. Educate yourself on birth and what you desire your experience to be like. RELATED: Best Tips to Prepare for a Natural Labor.
- Document your pregnancy. You wont regret looking back and seeing those week to week pictures of how your baby has grown!
- Start eating healthier. Of course its always important to eat vitamin and mineral rich foods but its even more important now! Everything you eat good or bad is being passed on to your baby and influencing their growth and development.
- Drink more water. Your body is working hard to grow that baby! The average person is more dehydrated than not. It is recommended we consume half our body weight in ounces of water per day. For me that equals about 65 ounces a day which is about 2 liters! RELATED : 7 Proven Ways to Help You Drink More Water.
- Exercise. It is important for a healthy pregnancy and birth that you stay active. If you were not active before pregnancy now is NOT the time to start cross fit but moderate activity such as walking/jogging, yoga, swimming and other low impact exercises should be ok. If you were active before you conceived, unless your physician says otherwise, you should be able to continue the same level of activity you were used to. ** Always check with your physician before beginning or continuing any fitness program in pregnancy** Listen to your body and do what feels right.
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FIRST TRIMESTER IS THE WORST TRIMESTER
Nausea & Vomiting
Shortly after seeing two pink lines I was staring into the bottom of my toilet. Nausea and vomiting kicked my butt hard in all of my pregnancy. Here are some helpful tips to keep you from hugging the porcelain throne.
- EAT SMALL FREQUENT MEALS THROUGHOUT THE DAY. Your digestive track slows down during pregnancy thanks to your friend progesterone. This means your body is starting to process what you eat totally differently. You will be nauseated if you don’t eat BUT nauseated if you eat TOO MUCH!
- Try to eat well but EAT WHAT YOU CAN. I wanted to eat the rainbow and give my baby the best nutrients possible, unfortunately, my body wanted carbs. That was the only thing I could handle and eat without becoming nauseous. Eat as well as you can and know this phase will pass and as soon as you are able make good food choices.
- Some moms swear by HARD CANDY, peppermint, jolly ranchers or you could try these Preggy Pop Drops.
- Vitamin B6 and Unisom. I have not tried this personally but a lot of moms I know swear this is the HOLY GRAIL of nausea relief.
- Get plenty of rest. Remember being out all night in college then watching the sun rise? Remember that queasy feeling in your tummy before the Waffle House run? Yeah, not getting enough rest will make you sick, period.
- Avoid greasy, fried foods or foods with a strong odor.
- Ginger tea or ginger drops.
- Leave a glass of water and saltine crackers on your nightstand. Have a few before your feet ever hit the floor so you will have something to ease your tummy before standing upright.
Sore Nipples and Breasts
One of the most telling signs of pregnancy are sore breasts! So many times I have had friends and co-workers swear it was the first sign of pregnancy for them!
- Wear a supportive bra, you can try a sports bra or maternity bra.
- Wear a supportive bra to bed, that will decrease the movement of the breasts for comfort.
- Avoid tight clothing.
- Refrain from strenuous exercise until the soreness subsides.
This was one of the worst symptoms I experienced in my second pregnancy. Almost the entire trimester I felt like a walking inflated balloon! Here is what helped.
- Drink plenty of water!
- Increase the fiber in your diet with foods such as prunes, apples, pears, figs, spinach ect . . .
- My doctor gave me the go – ahead to use Gas-X as needed, milk of magnesia or a stool softener to help with the symptoms.
There are so many things changing in your body during the first trimester. One of the biggest things are hormonal changes. This can lead to headaches as well as dietary changes, such as cutting back on your caffeine intake.
- Tylenol is safe to use for headaches in pregnancy unless otherwise noted by your care provider.
- Make sure you are hydrated.
- Gradually cut back on caffeine intake instead of going cold turkey. A safe amount of caffeine during pregnancy would be 150-300 mg. That’s about 2 or 3- 6oz cups of coffee.
- Try a warm bath with cold compress on your head. This has been said to instantly relieve the headache by some of my other fellow mamas-to-be.
SLEEP!! Your body is growing a human! That’s an incredible feat! You are going to need your rest. When you have the opportunity lie down for a nap.
- Cut off Facebook, Instagram, Netflix…whatever will keep you up.
- Darken your room.
- Make the room cooler so you can rest easier.
- Go to bed an hour earlier.
- Give yourself a BREAK, there will be times when the dishes are piling up, errands need tending to and laundry needs washing. Your NOT GOING TO FEEL LIKE DOING IT and THATS OK! This exhaustion will not last forever and your baby needs you to rest.
Like I said before, one of the first clues I had that I was pregnant was sobbing while watching a movie with my husband that wasn’t even that sad. Your hormones are going NUTS right now increasing and decreasing to support your pregnancy and guess what . . . you have NO control over them. So be kind to yourself, if your not yourself right now . . .its because your NOT YOURSELF . . YOU’RE GROWING A HUMAN!
FIRST TRIMESTER ESSENTIALS
Here is your go-to guide for all of the essential items that will help you feel somewhat human the next few weeks.
Vitamin B6 & Unisom
These next few weeks may feel like an eternity but I promise they are going to fly by! The next trimester is called the “golden trimester”. That’s usually when most women enjoy pregnancy the most. The discomforts of the first trimester go away and the misery of the third trimester hasn’t set in.
Most importantly make sure you relax, get plenty of rest and enjoy the moments you can with your growing baby. This is the time to let others help you, let yourself be spoiled and take advantage of it!