Becoming a mom is no joke. You’ve heard that a million times but now it’s all starting to set in. Whether you’re reading this because you’re expecting, expecting to soon-be-expecting, or have a loved one that is expecting and struggling, we are all here for one reason. A helpful hand through that first trimester. There is no complete guide unfortunately. The first trimester is so different for everyone and for each person, it even breaks down to feeling different each day. Nevertheless, I did go ahead and put together these tips and tricks that not only helped me A LOT but have been doctor approved methods that have seemed to help my fellow quarantine mommas that have reached out to me. Let’s get started.
Get in the habit of going to bed early and waking yourself up a little earlier.
Going to bed early might not be that hard in the first trimester. It is pretty exhausting! A lot of T1 (trimester one, if you’re still learning
the lingo. I’ll admit, I Googled that one the first time I saw it.) toss and turn throughout the night. Between the hormones, the crazy dreams, the bloated belly at the end of everyday and the gas – it can be hard to find a comfortable position that works through the whole night. Give yourself that extra time by going to bed early. It might feel silly to lay down at 8pm, but if that is what’s going to work, then do it! If you already have kids, go to bed when they do instead of staying up a bit longer. Now we aren’t doing this so you can sleep for 11 hours. While mom’s do need more sleep during pregnancy, that is generally because American’s don’t get enough sleep as it is. Aim for 8 REAL hours of sleep. Not 8 hours, but two of them you’re watching TV or scrolling on your phone. 8 hours. In the dark. Under your favorite blanket.
So with going to bed early, I’m gonna ask that you get up a little earlier too. Doesn’t have to be obscenely earlier but even 30 minutes can make your morning routine in T1 more breezy. I always got a touch of nausea around 9a. I liked getting the bulk of my stuff done before that happened so I could slow down when I wasn’t feeling in tip top shape. Maybe you don’t get sick in the mornings. This extra time isn’t just for that. It’s to take some stress out of the morning rush. We know stress is bad for the bundle of joy growing inside. Take advantage of little things
Getting up earlier helped me beat the morning sickness. Luckily, a touch of nausea is all I ever got this first trimester. But I like to think it was a combination of all you’re about to read that helped curbed some of those awful symptoms you hear horror stories about and my doctor does too!
For some, this is probably the least appealing thing on the list. Especially if it wasn’t part of your life before. The thing is, you need it and so does your baby. Exercise relieves multiple pregnancy symptoms even when it feels like the last thing you want to do. For me, I do it first thing in the morning. I get up REALLY early. It’s a “no excuses” mentality I have. I know me, I know I’m going to come up with reasons why I can’t if I wait until after work. “I’m tired,” “It was a long day,” “I still have so much to do,” whatever it is. If I do it first thing, the only thing I have to overcome is waking up.
Think of it this way, you are about to need to get used to waking up early for the hungry babe that will be making its appearance soon. Motherhood is the biggest athletic event of your life. You need to start training now to make everything else downline feel more natural. And of course part of training is literally training. So do the exercise. There are lots of low impact workouts that are not only approved but highly recommended for moms-to-be by doctors and those certified in pre and postnatal therapy. There are prenatal versions of just about everything. Yoga, barre, pilates, cardio, and yes, even weight training. I do a little bit of it all to get that total body makeover, but working out daily was already a part of my life. You don’t need to dive in head first, but you do need to get into the water and keep swimming forward. Start with walks. Don’t end there.
Walking is great to get your respiratory system used to moving. Eventually you should try and do things that are going to help strengthen your pelvic floor further. Your core needs to be strengthened and so do your legs because no only are they about to hold more weight than usual, but they are all important for the big push. Having a strong pelvic floor and core is going to make healing easier after birth as well. One thing a lot of women don’t think about is your glutes. WORK YOUR GLUTES. The reason a lot of women have lower back pain during their pregnancy and have pregnancy-related injuries after birth is from weak gluteals. It is all connected. Your glutes help support your lower back and keep alignment as you pack on the happy pounds over the next few months.
Honestly, I could go on about why you need to exercise during your pregnancy. But don’t take my word for it. Research it yourself. Ask your doctor, of course there are special cases where maybe cardio isn’t advised but unless you’re on bedrest, there is always a safe alternative. Just ask. It is good for you and your baby and will make everything easier along the way, including easing symptoms of morning sickness from that endorphin rush.
Eat what feels good, but also FEEDS good.
I have been very blessed this pregnancy. Morning sickness hasn’t been an issue for me. However 50% of moms do have some awful stories about puking the day away. AS LONG AS YOU ARE TAKING PRENATALS – seriously they are no joke- eat what feels good. This is not permission to give into every craving. This is permission to not force yourself to eat what you made for dinner that night. I would frequently cook dinner and then be totally turned off by something that was previously a house favorite! My husband would eat what I made and then I would often end up eating a bowl of cereal and some fruit.
Eating what feels good can still be eating what FEEDS good. We aren’t all lucky enough to crave broccoli and salads. In fact, most of us don’t. But it’s kind of game I play with myself. You see, your cravings are happening for a reason. It’s because the baby is already talking to you! Pretty cool, right? Your cravings and aversions are there to tell you what nutrient your baby needs. So let’s say you’re craving nothing but garlic bread. You probably need carbs and fiber. This is where that healthy cereal comes into play. It can still taste good and once you start eating it, you’ll notice your body agrees too! Craving mac and cheese? You might be needing some more calcium- you are growing a whole other skeleton afterall! Calcium is found in all sorts of vegetables and of course, milk! (dairy or otherwise.) Try to identify what your baby is really saying when those cravings hit. And of course, give into them every now and again! Got to have some fun with all this hard work you’re putting in!
Up your water intake.
Here is an easy but crucial one! You know all that bloating that keeps happening? While you can’t really bypass it entirely, you can do some things to keep it more under control. Of course exercise but the biggest help is upping that water intake. Your body bloats to retain as much water as it can from food. As you grow throughout your pregnancy, your blood volume increases. By the end, you have 40%-60% more blood volume. Your blood is about half blood cells, half plasma. And water is a whopping 90% of plasma! All of these changes in your body equate to you needing more water. The standard increase is about 20 more fluid ounces a day than you did before. But the more the merrier here. I carry a reusable water bottle with my everywhere I go. Yes, I do have to pee more but you’re already going to be peeing a lot, might as well embrace it.
Most people don’t drink enough water as it is so make an extra effort to up that intake now! It’s going to benefit your in more ways than one.
Get a book for your partner that explains the changes happening to you.
The worst thing is going through these changes alone. You might not have any friends that are at this stage with you. You might even be the first of the friend group to take the parental plunge. Your partner wants to understand but they can’t read your mind. Even you explaining it to them sometimes doesn’t do the trick. Whether your partner is your significant other or a roommate/friend helping you through it all, it is important to find someone to help support you through the journey. And a good support system has a certain level of understanding.
What benefitted me and my husband the most is getting him a men’s guide to it all. Not all books are created equal though. Before you buy one for him, do a little research. A lot of the ones written by men mock pregnancy. They make it very light and not very informative, just like some of the ones geared towards women too. The one we liked the most was, “The Expectant Father.” It is written in a ton that is both fun to read but doesn’t take pregnancy lightly. It has been a great resource for him as my main support system. Both explaining what is happening with my body and how to help.
There are also books geared towards being the BFF, the wife, the baby daddy, whatever your situation is, there is already a book out there. If you, yourself are looking for a book for both of you to read together, I suggest the “Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.” Again, informative, easy to read, and gives real science rather than exploiting myths and fear mongering that many books lean towards.
Confide in someone that’s not your partner.
This one is for your mental health. Your mental health might be suffering a bit in T1. Uncertainty. Stress. Prepartum depression effects about 20% of women during their pregnancy. These feelings are often most present in T1 because you’re still keeping it a secret. Most people don’t formally announce until the end of first trimester when the chance of miscarriage decreases, so it can feel like your alone- even if your partner is involved. This is why I say CONFIDE IN SOMEONE THAT ISN’T YOUR PARTNER.
Let’s be real here, you might want to complain about your partner a lot during these first months. You don’t have to tell the world but find someone close to you emotionally that you can tell. A coworker is a great one so they can help you through the work day. A best friend. Maybe reach into your past and pick your old roommate. Someone that isn’t going to spill the beans to people close to you on accident. Maybe it’s your mom! Whoever you choose, just choose someone.
Talk it out. You might have already complained about your back pain to your spouse that day but you’re not done complaining yet. That’s OKAY! That’s why you have this extra person. Maybe what you need to complain about is your spouse, that’s okay too and totally normal. Actually, it’s expected. Your hormones are going to target those you love most. *joy*
Talking might not solve all your mental health issues but it definitely helps. If you your feelings of stress and depression get worse/remain consistent remember the most educated person you can speak with is your doctor. Side bar, make sure you’ve taken the time to find the right doctor for you. Get recommendations from friends, read reviews and last but not least, don’t be afraid to switch after meeting them yourself if they don’t meet your needs.
Treat yourself every now and again.
My favorite. Treat yo’self! Not all the time because we are still trying to have a healthy pregnancy here and if you do it all the time it won’t feel like a break. But most of us go into overdrive when we find out about the upcoming arrival of a new human. Make the time to do something for yourself. Don’t forget who you are during all of this. You’re not just a mom. You’re a lover of cake. You’re an artist. An animal lover. An athlete. Keep doing the things you love, you might have to modify but modify doesn’t mean stop!*normally*
The time might not come naturally so get it on the schedule. The spa day, the hour of crafting, getting up early to keep up your workout routine. You can do it. Giving up stuff that is important to you now is going to make it harder to keep being yourself once that baby arrives and your time is even more consumed. Get in the habit. Remember what i said at the start of this? Motherhood is a marathon you are training for. You need to train to be yourself in even the most challenging times because those are the times that you will need your true self the most!
Eat small, frequently.
Nausea is the biggest symptom of T1. While you might skip running the the toilet, almost everyone experiences nausea here and there or acid reflux. The biggest thing that has gotten rid of that for me is actually eating more. Eating little snacks all day, like every 2-3 hours has nearly eliminated that symptom. Healthy snacks here are key. Fruit, granola, yogurt, or sometimes it’s just whatever you can get your hands on. Eat before your nauseas. Eat before you’re hungry. When your pregnant, those increased hormones easily confused hunger for sickness. Just try it. This is my favorite piece of advice my doctor has given me. IT WORKS!
Other things to curb nausea.
There are other ways to curb the nasties. Drinking more water is a big one. Add some lemon in there. Lemon acid naturally aids with nausea. There are lemon-ginger and lemon-lavender chews/hard candies you can find in the pharmacy aisle at the store that help a lot too! I prefer the hard candies because when you are nauseous, the thought of chewing can feel deadly.
Try an anti-nausea bracelet. Yes, the exist. They are the material of the old Livestrong bracelets everyone used to have and are made with essential oils that naturally ease the symptom. I wore them during my workouts and while walking my dogs and saw a huge difference in those first couple of weeks.
Slow down. Sometimes all you have to do is slow down. Walk slower. Sit more. Be in a cooler room. Try doing some prenatal yoga, if it’s really bad though, skip the positions where your head is towards the floor!
If the nausea is full blown morning sickness and you really aren’t keeping anything down there are some prescriptions your doctor can write you to help.
Stay moving throughout the day.
One of the many symptoms to T1 is aches and pains. In fact, it’s not just T1. This is going to be the new normal for you for the next 9 months and beyond. Most of those aches and pains aren’t actually from doing too much. Often they are from not doing enough. Staying active is a great way to keep your muscles fired up, the nausea at bay, and get your joints used to all the wiggling around that is to come when you’re crawling on the floor with your new baby.
Be mindful in the way you move for the best results. Don’t hurl your body around like so many of us typically do. What I mean is, watch how you bend over to pick things up. Are you rounding your back? From now on, bend your knees and hinge. Do you slouch while driving or sitting at your desk? Think about that core activation. Core work is VERY important the next 9 months. A strong core is going to help with that spinal alignment. Misalignment is what causes a lot if that chronic back pain. Sometimes training for the motherhood marathon isn’t very physically exerting, it’s being mindful in your choices. It’s moving in a therapeutic way.
Take the plunge into maternity clothing before your bump is actually there.
Comfort. It can be the hardest thing to find while pregnant. Again, not just in T1, but this is where it starts. It’s not that you are really showing yet, but your clothes don’t feel the same anymore. Your favorite shirt now feels itchy. Your favorite shorts button just a smidge too tight or maybe squeeze your thighs the wrong way now. Wear the maternity stuff without the bump. You don’t have to wait to look pregnant to indulge in the comforts of the empire waist dress and flats.
Actually, the first thing to go for me was actually my bras. My boobs were my first pregnancy symptom. They were so sensitive and felt heavy. The last thing I wanted was underwire bothering me. I immediately started going braless/wearing nursing bras when a bra was necessary. They are stretchy and soft while providing support for your growing bossom. Next came the rest of the wardrobe.
Sometimes it doesn’t need to be labeled maternity. In fact, that will often increase the price. Find soft materials that don’t grip around the waist. I have been LIVING in dresses. Maternity and not. They are all pretty much the same soft material. I look put together with the least amount of effort and best of all, I’m comfy all day long. Find what works for you. Find brands you like. There are discount brands, second hand maternity places, and luxury maternity brands for those who want to treat themselves with some shopping!
Take the plunge into comfort. You won’t regret it.
Try new things.
A lot of these tips and tricks didn’t sound so fun, did they? Well maybe this one will pique your interest. I’m here to tell you to try new things. Motherhood is new, get used to doing things you’re not used to now. Try a new class. Maybe it’s baby related, maybe it’s hobby related, but try it! Cravings are a great excuse to try something new. Go ahead, dip your strawberries into your cream cheese. Doing new things is liberating. Feeling liberated one of the ways you can feel confident as a new mom when you’re entering into this foreign world.
When you try new things you want to try, it makes it easier to try those things you might not be so comfortable with. The mommy-and-me class. Breastfeeding. And eventually, leaving your child with a caretaker so you can go back to work. It’s all about, well, baby steps. Dip your toes into warm waters before you jump into a murky lake.
This list is based off of my own experience, experiences from other mommas, books I’ve read over the last couple of months, and consulting my doctor. I encourage you to do your own digging as well. Rule 1 of new motherhood: Don’t take one momma’s word for it! But I promise I put time and effort into this for you to be as helpful as possible. I wish you the best of luck on the journey ahead and would be ecstatic to hear from other mothers-to-be as you try some of these things! What worked for you? Did something not listed do the trick? I want to know! Comment or DM me on any of my social media pages linked below.