In my experience of carrying three babies to term, the first trimester has always been the hardest by far. The exhaustion, the nausea, the nipple soreness, the constant trips to the bathroom – I could do without all of it (except my little bean, of course). As a nurse, I know that these symptoms are part of the process of developing a tiny human (and are often reassuring), but that doesn’t make them any more fun. Here are some tips to help get you through the first trimester with a little more joy and a little less misery so you can enjoy the thought of your little one nestled inside you.
#1 Take more than one pregnancy test to confirm.
I love the dollar store tests (they’re even the kind we used when I worked at a doctor’s office). They are extremely accurate and don’t have you wasting a Benjamin like you would purchasing several of the digital versions. Any sign of a second line, no matter how faint it is, means “Congratulations!” are in order. That said, the second, third, and fifth tests come in handy in the following days when you want some peace of mind—and to make sure you weren’t seeing things the first time around!
#2 Wear a comfortable bra.
My first symptoms were nipple tenderness and breast changes. If you find yourself battling sore breasts and nipples, try wearing a softer, more comfortable bra. Tight clothing can feel restricting and cause you more pain. I loved wearing my Kindred Bravely Organic Cotton Bra during the first several weeks of pregnancy (but let’s be honest, I really loved it throughout my whole pregnancy).
#3 Get some extra rest.
My second symptom of pregnancy was utter exhaustion. When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I could fall asleep while taking my patients’ blood pressure (not really, but you get the idea). To help combat the fatigue, I would scarf down my lunch and use the rest of my lunch break to nap in an empty room.
#4 Keep that baby fed!
Pregnant-nausea hunger is the worst. You’re so hungry you feel nauseated, but you’re so nauseated you don’t want to eat anything. Take my advice: Eat. You will feel so much better! I snacked all day when I was pregnant. As long as there was food in my stomach, I was much less nauseated and able to take better care of myself and my family. Some easy snacks I kept on hand were protein bars, nuts, fruit, and yogurt.
#5 Drink up!
I’m talking water, water, and more water. If you find yourself sick of water, flavor it. I would flavor my water with lemon or even electrolyte tabs to help keep it fun and fresh. You can even drink other beverages like herbal teas, juices, broths, etc. Drink whenever you are thirsty and keep in mind that your urine should be straw colored if you have a good fluid intake. Water will help keep you hydrated and feeling great even on your most sluggish days.
#6 Don’t worry about gaining or losing weight.
With my first baby, I found myself a little worried that I hadn’t gained any weight by the end of my first trimester. My midwife assured me it was totally normal, and some women even lose weight during the first trimester due to nausea and not being able to keep food down. With my third baby, I got a positive pregnancy test and couldn’t get my pants buttoned the next day. Now I believe your body knows what to do in order to nourish your baby. Give yourself grace and try not to worry too much about weight. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions or concerns.
#7 Find a midwife or OBGYN.
Begin searching for a great midwife or OBGYN to accompany you on your pregnancy journey. Typically midwives want to see you around 10-12 weeks gestation. An OBGYN may want to see you as early as 6 weeks or as late as 12 weeks. Remember that you are “hiring” a care provider. If something feels off, don’t be afraid to look for another provider. This person will be with you and caring for you and your baby throughout your pregnancy. You want someone you trust who will support you in having the birth experience you want, whether that is a natural birth, VBAC, or C-section.
#8 Beware if you are sensitive to smells.
I had no idea an increase in my sense of smell would be a symptom of pregnancy, so it came as a complete surprise. As a nurse, this enhanced sense of smell was difficult to endure on certain days. Fortunately, my coworkers were great and would help me out when there was a situation I didn’t think I could handle due to the smell. If you are sensitive to certain smells, be sure to alert your partner, friends, and coworkers. You can also avoid places with strong fumes, like nail and hair salons, and choose not to cook certain foods.
#9 Keep up your exercise routine.
One of the best things I did during my pregnancies was continue to exercise. It helped me keep my energy levels up or boost them when they were down. Getting outside for a walk can also help you get your daily dose of vitamin D. Be gentle with yourself and adjust your workout if needed. Although I always wanted to continue running throughout each of my pregnancies, after about 16-20 weeks, it stopped feeling good, so I worked out in other ways. During my most recent pregnancy, I thoroughly enjoyed attending water aerobics classes at the YMCA. Talk to your health care provider about what exercise is safe for you and your baby and if any adjustments should be made to your workout routine.
#10 Eat a balanced diet.
A well-rounded diet will help you and your growing baby stay healthy and nourished. Be sure you are getting enough fat, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. All of these come into play during the early weeks of fetal development. For example, protein is necessary for the development of fetal cells, and fats assist in brain development. One of my favorite “pregnancy” meals was baked salmon drizzled with olive oil, topped with lemon slices and dill, and served with a side of roasted asparagus, wild rice, salad, and berries.
I hope these tips help you conquer your first trimester like a boss. Congratulations on your pregnancy, whether this is your first baby or your fifth! Have any other survival tips for the first trimester? Please comment below!