This is a milestone week. I’m now 20 weeks into my pregnancy – the halfway point – and time is starting to go by quite fast!
Finding out you’re pregnant for the first, whether it was planned or unexpected, will inevitably bring you to a place called: the unknown. As a first time mom, I felt like I knew so little about pregnancy after meeting with my doctor and doing research (which included binge-watching mom youtubers). Even though I had grown up exposed to babies and pregnant women, there is SO much that happens behind the scenes, on a day-to-day basis, that I was never aware of.
Today, I want to share with you what I experienced and learned in my first trimester. If you are newly pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, hopefully some of this insight will help you out. Every pregnancy is different, but if you are reading something I’m describing and you go “yes! That’s exactly how I feel! So glad I’m not alone!” then that’s exactly how I want you to feel. That being said, I’m not a doctor, so don’t ever hesitate to contact yours (or your doula) for advice or concerns!
First Trimester Emotions
How you feel during your pregnancy is important. So I want to cover what went on mentally before I get to the physical stuff.
While our pregnancy was completely unplanned, and I had a bit of a freak out when I found out, we always wanted kids. So we quickly transitioned into feeling anxiously excited for this new chapter in our lives.
I was, however, very cautious about getting too excited. Even a student of mine noted that I didn’t “seem happy to be pregnant”. Why? Because, unfortunately, I was very aware of how common miscarriages are. We found out when we were pregnant at only 4 weeks, which is really early! I had done the research and read the statistics. I was eager for my 12th week to come around so I could celebrate more confidently. I’m not recommending or suggesting that you shouldn’t be over the moon about your pregnancy. In fact, I’d advise you not to be so scared. As painful as a miscarriage can be, a pregnancy should be celebrated.
But, that’s how I felt, and that’s ok.
Another reason I wasn’t carrying the ‘happy glow’ of a pregnant woman, was because of my first trimester trials…
First Trimester Physical Changes
Every ache, sensation, and symptom during your pregnancy will be new and unfamiliar to you and every woman will have varying symptoms. I’m being bluntly honest here, I really didn’t like being pregnant during my first trimester. It really sucked. Some women have it worse than I did, and I pray yours goes better than mine! If you’re not too squeamish, go on to read what may be in store for you.
Upset Digestive System
You know how when you get food poisoning your stomach aches and aches, and as it travels to the intestines, you have pains until at last relief comes in the form of diarrhea? That’s basically what I had on and off (mostly on) from week four and a half until about week 9. The only upside to having this symptom is that it means I didn’t have to deal with nearly as much constipation as would have been expected. Yay.
How I Dealt With It:
According to my doctor, I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted (with the exception of these foods), because he knew that during this stage there was very little I would actually want to eat! So I ate what I could and felt like eating, which wasn’t much, but I tried to have snacks throughout the day so I wouldn’t go hungry, and it helped with nausea. (more to be said in Morning Sickness)
Science Fact: The reason your digestive system gets out of whack (and usually causes constipation) is because your body is getting pumped with hormones that is relaxing all soft tissue muscles. This helps prepare your body to stretch and make way for the baby. Unfortunately, this also means that your intestines are relaxing which slows down your whole digestive tract. Hello gas.
Let’s move on!
You think you know tired? Think again! Maybe it’s because you’re living off very select foods and eating less, or because you’re growing a human being inside you that is growing at a stellar rate, or both. It’s likely both. I have a feeling it is a way to prepare us moms for those sleepless nights when our precious one is waking up every couple of hours…
Fortunately, this wasn’t an all day tiredness. Thank goodness! I wouldn’t have been able to teach otherwise. This exhaustion wouldn’t kick in until about mid-day, and progressively got worse by the time I came home. Most days, I didn’t even cook dinner. My poor husband lived on peanut butter jelly sandwiches and order-in pizza. It was during this time that I simply couldn’t muster the mental or physical energy, nor the will, to keep up with this blog or almost any of my hobbies. When I did have energy, I would cook a decent meal, do groceries, and even hang out with people once in a blue moon.
This phase did let up, however, towards the last few weeks of the first trimester. So if you’re going through it now, hang on! It gets better!
How I Dealt With It:
I went to bed between 8-9 pm on average and occasionally took naps after coming home from work. Rest. Sleep. There’s no shame in it. You need it!
Let me start off my saying that there are a few misconceptions about morning sickness that I shall debunk for you right now.
- It does not strictly happen in the morning. If it were up to me, a petition would be signed to officially change the name to All-Day Sickness. The sensation of nausea comes and goes throughout the day, and you never really know when it will hit you hardest. Apparently, according to doctors, most women tend to get it worst in the morning.
- It is not the first symptom of pregnancy. Early pregnancy symptoms are usually confused with period symptoms, because they are nearly identical. Morning sickness doesn’t start kicking in until closer to 6-8 weeks. Although, this is usually when most women actually find out they are pregnant. As for me, I found that my morning sickness was much worse during mid to late first trimester and very early second trimester.
- You won’t be constantly puking (hopefully…). It will be different for every woman and every pregnancy, but I think movies have led us to believe that pregnant women puke a lot more than we actually do. Again, I have encountered women who DID puke on pretty much a daily basis for a few weeks, but for many women it isn’t so often.
How I Dealt With It:
- Eat small meals/snacks frequently. I found that by eating a small amount often, I could keep the nausea down.
- Avoid large meals. This is was probably the worst trigger for me, no matter how good you might suddenly feel, do not indulge!
- Listen to your doctor about those foods you should be avoiding! Greasy foods are not going to do you much good, even if it satisfies a craving.
- Keep it simple. Not only will you already experience aversion to certain foods as your tastes change, but you will probably notice that fancy and highly flavorful and spiced foods just won’t go well with you.
First Trimester Highlights
I don’t want to scare any young women off, or seem like the whole first trimester was a complete downer! So naturally I want to share with you the things from the first trimester that, not only were highlights, but could never happen in another trimester.
- Breaking the News
Whether you do it shortly after you find out, or wait a while, sharing the news is an exciting time! You’ll likely want to break the news to your family and friends before you start showing, which is why the first trimester is really the only time you can surprise your loved ones!
2. Hearing/Seeing Your Baby
Apart from the side effects of your raging pregnancy hormones, there is little for you to feel pregnant since baby is so tiny. So when you go to your first trimester appointment and ultrasound, it is both wonderful and relieving to hear or see your baby alive and well! I was very lucky to have multiple ultrasounds in my first trimester while in Egypt, and each time I felt this peace and assurance, and possibly tears…
3. The First Steps to Motherhood
I’m not sure how it is for most first time mothers, but my whole world changed when the reality of having a baby sank in. My goals, priorities and attitudes changed about many things. It’s hard to describe these feelings, they are quite unlike anything else I have experienced. All I can say is, cherish this transition!
There is so much more I could share about my pregnancy journey and survival tips I could give, but those will have to come up on a new blog post of their own. I’m halfway through my second trimester, so in a few weeks there will be a blog post covering how that phase went. If there is anything in particular you would like to know more about, don’t hesitate to ask! And if you’re not pregnant, but already thinking about babies, maybe you have baby fever!
I’m curious to know how your first trimester went! Any ladies here still going through it? Share your thoughts and experiences for other mothers and future mothers to relate to in the comments below!