8 Things Every Woman Should Know About The First Trimester
I can’t believe I’m writing this post around my fourth month of pregnancy! The weeks flew by as quickly as everyone said they would, and I’m happy I gave myself time to reflect before writing about my experience with the first trimester.
Pregnancy is such a wonderful gift, and I’m so happy to be able to enjoy every moment, since the beginning was—shall we say—rough.
Since my pregnancy came as a bit of a surprise, I don’t feel I was as prepared as I could’ve been for the things I would experience.
I believe you’re never fully prepared, but I also believe there’s a lot of “fluff” surrounding how women “should” feel about pregnancy—and it’s the fluff that can leave us feeling confused with false expectations.
So in true Healthy Wifestyle fashion, I wanted to get real about my experience, and drop some knowledge around what I think every woman should be prepared for in their first trimester.
My experience is not unique, but it’s also the complete opposite of how many of my friends and colleagues felt. I have a friend that barely felt pregnant until 14 weeks (lucky lady!), and as you’ll soon see, my experience was quite different.
Take this with a grain of salt, and hopefully you’ll get a few giggles about the reality of the past four months of my life. Here goes!
1. Your first trimester could be easy, but it could also be really, really hard.
I had heard that the first trimester could be a trying time. Nausea, fatigue, constipation, heartburn, and increased heart rate are only a few of the pregnancy symptoms that a woman can experience throughout pregnancy.
When it comes to the first trimester, the nausea is still something that doctors don’t have an answer for. As many as 90% of women experience some form of “morning sickness” in their pregnancies. In my case, evenings were my worst time.
I’m not a napper, so the fatigue would hit me hard, and there were plenty of days that I was in bed by 4pm binging on Pretty Little Liars and anything Bravo. When Ryan would get home from work, we’d have dinner, and I’d be back in bed by 8pm.
The nausea? Forget it. Pregnancy-related nausea is not like any nausea you’ve ever experienced, so don’t try to prepare yourself for it. The weeks went by fast, as I mentioned above, but the days went by s-l-o-w. When my sixth week hit, the nausea hit me like a bus. By week 7, I couldn’t imagine how I could bare the symptoms for potentially six more weeks (throughout the first trimester).
Luckily, mine subsided by week 11, but many women experience nausea into their second trimester, and some throughout their entire pregnancy. I’m telling you this so that you know it could happen to you, and it will suck, but for most, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel (typically between weeks 12 and 15!).
There are things you can do to help with the nausea: ginger ale, ginger candies, fresh ginger and lemon in the morning, long walks in nature, anti-nausea wrist bands, and trying to tell yourself you’re not sick. I tried all of those, and the two that worked best for me were long walks and mental preparation. By week 8, I was almost used to the nausea and taught myself how to function with it. I would force myself to workout, eat a few bites of salad (we’ll get to this in a second!), and do laundry so that I could feel somewhat normal. The power of the mind, right?!
2. If you’re used to eating a healthy diet, you may have to kiss that diet goodbye.
You guys know I’m a nutritionist and a notoriously healthy eater. Well, when the nausea hit, that all went away.
I couldn’t stand the thought of healthy food most days, and in fact ended up throwing out all of my vegetables. Ryan came home from work and was like, “Who are you, and what have you done with my wife?!”
It was pretty funny in retrospect, but very difficult to go through at the time. All I wanted to eat was carbs, cheese, and more carbs. Every morning started with two pieces of toast, one with PB&J and the other with loads of butter. For lunch, sometimes I could eat a healthy meal and would head to LPQ to order a quiche or salad. Dinner was my worst time. Mac n’ cheese was a regular occurrence, as was pizza and pasta, if I could stomach any of the above. More often than not, I resorted to half a bagel (a white, glutenous, sesame bagel) with PB&J. It was all I could stomach. And if that didn’t happen, I grabbed one or two So Delicious Coconut Ice Cream Sandwiches.
Again, some of my friends were totally fine and were able to maintain their diets throughout their entire pregnancy. I ate like my childhood self, and secretly loved every minute of it, especially the healthy version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch I found. It’s almost like I was grabbing foods that provided nostalgia, because it was my way of coping with how shitty I felt. Oh, and all I wanted for dessert was crumb cake (as evidenced by the above photo), another one of my childhood favorites.
Luckily, around week 12, everything changed. I made my first salad in a month, and was cooking again. Wild salmon, kale, grass-fed beef meatballs, and green smoothies slowly made their way back into my diet. My body is pretty darn happy about it. All that said, I’m so proud of myself for not judging my eating behaviors during the first trimester, which weren’t easy to handle for someone with a past of disordered eating.
3. It’s challenging to keep your pregnancy a secret.
Confession: I didn’t really keep my pregnancy a secret. If I saw a close friend, even as early as six weeks, I let the cat out of the bag. It was too hard for me to be going through the symptoms and attempting to pretend that everything was okay. I’m an open book.
In the instances where I did keep things quiet, it was hard. I felt like I was constantly lying, which isn’t really my thing. I wanted to bring this one up because it may feel challenging to hide your pregnancy (if you choose to until the rate of miscarriage drops around week 12) from your loved ones, and that’s okay. Whatever you choose to do is perfect, and knowing my husband supported my decision to tell people ahead of time made me feel so at ease.
4. You may feel isolated, or maybe even a little depressed.
I work from home, which was great given the symptoms I experienced during the first trimester, but it also made my normal feelings of isolation that much worse.
It was challenging for me to hide a secret, feel like poop, and try to put the pieces of my life together when nothing felt normal anymore. The hormones had me crying at random moments and questioning life—even my decision to get pregnant. Like some serious, deep stuff that I knew was only a result of the crazy hormones.
Ryan became not only my husband, partner, and best friend, but also my therapist. He would sit with me for an hour or more and talk me through whatever I was experiencing. This didn’t happen frequently, but it did happen, and thankfully I learned that these “crazy” feelings were normal, thanks to The Pregnancy Countdown Book.
Hormones are powerful mo-fo’s, and it’s totally okay to feel like a hot mess. Allow yourself to feel exactly what you’re feeling knowing that the moment will pass, and remember that everything is for this beautiful little being you’re building inside of you.
5. Sex with your partner? Ha…
Again, some women have no problem in this area, but the ones that tend to feel sick don’t even want to think about sex. Ryan knew that things in our sex life might change, but I don’t think either of us realized how much.
I enjoy sex and believe it is so very important to the happiness and success of any relationship, so it wasn’t easy for this to change for me. But again, I had to listen to my body, and my body (at least physically, see below) said NO WAY to sex. It would happen here and there, but nowhere near our normal frequency.
Luckily, again, things started to change after week 13, but it’s best to be prepared that you may want to glance the other way when your significant other gives you “that” look.
6. …But be prepared for sex dreams!
Ah, yes. The symptom no one told me about! When you’re used to having sex, or simply being physical with your partner (I’m even talking hugs and kisses), going from 60 to 0 can do funny things to your mind and body.
My desire for sex was still there, as was evidenced by the multiple sex dreams I had during the first trimester. Funny enough, Ryan and I had several good laughs when I would tell him I woke myself up from sex dreams (because what guy hasn't had one?!). I admit it was a weird form of bonding, but I’m sure it wasn’t long after that moment that we did actually have sex in real life.
P.S. this does get better as I did for me, but some women experience lack of desire their entire pregnancy. If this is you, that’s okay, too! Every body is different.
7. Don’t worry if you gain weight in the first trimester (because…CARBS); everything will even out afterward.
The books all say that you shouldn’t gain weight in the first trimester, or if anything, five pounds max. Since my diet and exercise routine went down the tubes, this was not possible for me.
In fact, I didn’t realize I was supposed to be using “tummy butter” on my belly and hips as early as possible (I started at 12 weeks), and could already notice stretch marks on my outer hips. At first glance, I was uncomfortable with the stretch marks, but then I decided they’re a part of my process, and may even go away with time.
In the first month of my second trimester, I could feel my body slowly getting back to its normal routine, and areas (like hips, back of arms) where “stuff” started accumulating returned to normal or are on their way of doing so. I’ve gained eight pounds so far (at Week 17) and I don’t care what the number on the scale says, as I never have before. But feeling good in my body is important, and I started to notice a positive change before I even stepped on the scale at the doctor’s a few days ago.
8. The joy you’ll feel once the feelings of the first trimester subside is unparalleled.
Okay, I know I dropped a lot on you. And I recognize that much of it didn’t come with the most positive of sentiment, but my job isn’t to give you the truth in a package with a pretty bow—it’s to give you the truth straight up, with a twist of humor.
Despite everything I mentioned, from the nausea, to the excess cellulite and stretch marks, to the sex dreams and lack of real sex, to the challenges that a first trimester may bring, pregnancy is amazing. Now that I have a little belly and I can feel things happening inside, I couldn’t be happier and am so very excited for the remainder of this journey and to one day meet our little girl.
To my ladies who have already had children, hopefully this brought back a mix of nostalgia combined with “I’m so glad that’s over with!” sentiments.
To my ladies who are currently pregnant, if you’ve ever felt any of the above, you’re not alone! I’ve NEVER received more comments on my Instagram stories or posts when I write about pregnancy stuff, probably because I’m a little too honest and people are eating it up. We’re all in this together.
To my ladies who are thinking about trying or are in the process, we’re all here for you, too. The journey of conception is one that is not typically discussed, and I’m always happy to answer any questions you have. Feel free to privately email me firstname.lastname@example.org! I’m going to be incorporating preconception and prenatal nutrition into my food coaching if that’s something you may be interested in.
Want to hear from me more often? Follow the fun on Instagram @healthy_wifestyle!
Also, click here to download my FREE 3-Day Eat Your Way Thin Meal Plan, relevant to any woman pregnant or not.
Thanks for being here!