Oh, what a title! For those that follow the blog, I bet you think this post is a loooonnnggg time coming – and you’d be right!
For months I’ve been blogging/complaining about the all the wonderful symptoms that come with pregnancy but it’s not ALL bad ALL the time. And because I have several lovely ladies who have just found out they’re pregnant (congrats!!!), I’d love to share the joys and miseries of pregnancy, both what I’ve experienced and what I know others have.
FIRST TRIMESTER: WEEK 1 – WEEK 12
“Morning” Sickness: Unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, you’ve heard about morning sickness. What you might not know is that it is hardly ever just a morning thing – it can occur during any time of day, and it’s not just a feeling of being sick. Bloating, nausea, and vomiting can start as early as week 5. I personally only had bloating and nausea, thank God! “Morning” sickness occurs due to the rapid increase in estrogen, progesterone, and HGH or Human Gonadotropin Hormone. All three hormones take part in slowing down your metabolism and digestive system so that your body is able to absorb more nutrients and send them on to baby.
Eat 4-6 smaller meals throughout the day instead of the 3 normal sized meals. What really worked for me is not allowing myself to get too hungry or too full. Eat foods low in fat, non greasy, and high in protein. Avoid strong smelling foods. Drink water like it’s your freakin’ job. Even if you’re throwing it all up, eat whatever you can (if Twinkies are the only thing you can keep down, eat them!) and drink, drink, drink! Vomiting causes dehydration, dehydration causes nausea (and more!), rinse and repeat. Some swear by essential oils (I am one of those people!) but I’ve done SO MUCH research on them for pregnancy… Essential oils could cause uterine contractions or adversely affect your baby in his early developmental stages so you should obtain during the first trimester. Peppermint, one of the most popular EOs for nausea can be mimicked by just chewing peppermint gum and sucking on peppermint candy. Careful though – too much peppermint candy can cause ulcers. I’ve heard that ginger root works well too, which is why some swear by drinking ginger ale.
Food cravings/aversions: These two lovelies are linked to “morning” sickness. Cravings and aversions do not only show up during the first trimester and can last during your entire pregnancy. Depending on the severity of your nausea and vomiting, attempt not to only eat what you crave and avoid the foods to which you have aversions. I mentioned above that if you simply cannot keep anything but Twinkies down, then by all means, eat Twinkies. Baby needs calories, as do you! But if YOU CAN keep other things down, eat them. Prenatal vitamins are great but they’re not the only source of vitamins and minerals that we need to intake. Calcium/milk is very important during pregnancy but a lot of preggers have aversions to milk. Try to sneak it into your diet in anyway possible.
Luckily, I didn’t have any major cravings until later in pregnancy. I didn’t experience any aversions either… sometimes I wanted to have an aversion to sweets but sadly, I didn’t :/
Heightened sense of smell: Self explanatory. I didn’t experience this, if I recall correctly. They say this is an evolutionary thing… something about helping you stay away from foods that have a high bacterial content and might hurt the baby. Pretty cool if it actually works!
Fatigue: Now THIS I experienced! The hormone progesterone, which is excreted by the ovaries to thicken the lining of the uterus so baby and placenta can make a nice home in your womb, also has a sedative effect on your body. Because we did IVF, I was on a progesterone supplement during the entire first 13 weeks to make sure I didn’t miscarry so I had almost double the amount of progesterone in my system. Yea, I was pretty much a zombie! There’s literally nothing you can do about this so give into it as much as you can, aka sleep/rest/relax whenever you are able! Your body is going through SO MANY changes, hormonally and otherwise, and baby is doing most of its growth/development during the first trimester.
Frequent urination: Hormonal changes and the increase work of your kidneys to flush out toxins is filling your bladder more frequently. Plus your growing uterus is putting pressure on you bladder. I’ve never heard of a pregnant woman who did not experience this. Some, counting me, even have “leaks” when coughing, sneezing, and laughing. This is so much fun, guys. I tell ya :/ Again, nothing you can do about it. Don’t decrease your fluid intake. Deal with it. If frequent bathroom breaks during the night is keeping you from getting adequate sleep, stop drinking an hour or so before bedtime. I could not do that because of the loveliness of pregnancy discussed below…
Increased thirst: This is a grey area… INCREASED thirst is due to your body’s increase in blood volume to provide nutrients to baby through the placenta (via blood), while EXCESSIVE thirst is due to gestational diabetes. You’ll be tested for gestational diabetes during the end of your second trimester, and I passed with flying colors so I know mine is just due to the increase in blood volume. Anyway, pregnancy can make you feel SO dehydrated so I can’t go hardly anytime without drinking water, and that includes throughout the night. I can’t get away from it and you might be someone who can’t either. Sorry.
Acne: Puberty taught us all about hormonal acne. Pregnancy hormones are no different. Whatever worked for you during puberty to combat acne usually works during pregnancy. I didn’t experience this but many do.
Headaches/migraines: I mentioned at the beginning that I didn’t have vomiting due to “morning” sickness, but I did vomit due to HORRIBLE AWFUL KILLER migraines. Headaches/migraines can be caused by the increase in estrogen, low blood sugar from the change in metabolism, and/or a reduced blood flow to your brain (because baby is getting it all!). Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is safe for preggers but Tylenol never worked for me before pregnancy and it hardly works for me now. I took it anyway because I had to do something, you know? There is a prescription migraine medication that your OB can give you, and mine tried to, but I am pretty much against taking meds even when I’m not pregnant so I just dealt with it. Thank God the migraine period only lasted a couple weeks for me.
Tender/swollen breasts: Your body starts super early in preparation for all things baby and included in this is your breasts preparing to nurse baby. As early as 6 weeks, your milk ducts experience a growth spurt! That and hormonal changes cause tenderness and obviously swelling. Again, nothing you can do about this one. Go ahead and buy a few larger bras to make yourself more comfortable. If you’re planning on breastfeeding, I suggest only buying nursing bras in your new bigger booby size because bras are not cheap and you’ll be wearing nursing bras for the duration of breastfeeding. Be smart.
Changes in libido: Some preggers experience an increase in sex drive (I did) while others, a decrease. You should know the drill by now – all due to hormones and blood flow, yada yada. Nothing you can do about this one either. However you’re feeling, keep hubby in the know.
Changes in emotions: Those dang hormones! If they didn’t have everything to do with growing baby… Ahem. Emotional ups and downs are also due to lack of sleep, dehydration, and anything else you can think of. Oh, and you’re pregnant and all the emotions that come with the realization of that can impact your emotions: good and bad. Whatever you’re feeling, remember that it’s completely normal! You might need to also remind hubby and close family and friends of this fact. And try not to get upset when your mom and husband comment on your “pregnancy mood swings”. Sigh.
So this was a long one, huh? Precisely why I’m breaking the three trimesters into three different blog posts 🙂