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Wednesday by Leah: First Trimester

7 Sep ’11
LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers | Newborn Baby Maternity Pregnancy Talk
– Posted by Leah
For earlier posts on our journey to parenthood, see Here and Here and Here and Here!

Every pregnancy is different… and after hearing stories from other women, I would say that I had an amazingly easy first trimester.  I didn’t throw up, not once… partly due to my Jedi mind tricks I’ve honed over the years as a result of my intense loathing of vomit.  There were definitely times – mostly between weeks 5 and 10ish – when I felt like I might, but I didn’t.  I was tired.  A lot.  Insanely tired.  No matter how many naps I took or how early I went to bed, I was exhausted after a few hours of being up and about.  This was particularly frustrating for me because I am a high-energy person.  I’m used to having more than enough zip and zest to bounce through the day’s tasks, even on relatively little sleep.

But hey, my body was making another person…  so I cut myself some slack.  And on the days I was too tired to cut myself slack (or even a slice of cheese), Mark was great about reminding me to take it easy, because my body was working overtime.  I pretty much abandoned all household duties.  I went to work, came home, slept.  Mark did everything else.  Well, at least the really important things.  Maybe the toilet didn’t get scrubbed as often as I’d like, but that’s ok.
Sooo, here are some tips and tricks that helped me during the first trimester, aside from a supportive partner:
Snacks: I kept little snacks by my bed, because I noticed I felt less nauseous when I ate lots of little bites throughout the day.  And since I was sleeping a lot longer than usual (I went from 7 hours to around 10 hours a night!), I needed to get some food in my stomach before I jumped/slithered/crawled out of bed for the day.  My favorite snacks were Triple Ginger Snaps from Trader Joe’s, plain old saltine crackers, and trail mix with almonds, pistachios, pumpkin and sesame seeds, and dried berries.  I also made sure that I always had snacks in my purse, and I stocked up my work station with snacks, as well.  And then I just ate little bites of stuff all day long.
Anti-Nausea Candy: Yummy Earth Organic Ginger Zest candy drops were awesome when I was feeling pukey… and then my friend told me about Preggie Pops, which were also a lifesaver.  Both of these candies helped ease the nausea when it got rather intense.
Tea: I loved (and still love) the Yogi Mother-to-Be Tea… it’s got red raspberry leaf in it, which is great for toning your rapidly-expanding uterus, AND it has mint, which again helped with the nausea.  It was a nice, soothing tea that was good for me and replaced my morning cup of coffee.
Naps: I’ve never been much of a napper.  Pregnancy has changed this about me!  Now, I can nap!  I loooove to nap.  And during my first trimester, I really, really needed to nap.  So much so that I would go to my car on my lunch break and nap in the backseat.  If you do this, I recommend a few key items: a.) something to stuff under your head.  I had a travel pillow, but sometimes I would use a balled-up sweater or jacket, too.  b.) window shades (for the more self-conscious among us)… I have this weird thing about random people watching me sleep, and I couldn’t get really comfortable unless I knew people couldn’t see me.  My car has super-tinted windows cuz I used to live in Phoenix, AZ, so no one could see me.  But if you are self-conscious and don’t have tinted windows, just buy some of the stick-on window shades.  c.) a blanket if it’s cold (and please don’t try to sleep in your car if it’s HOT, ugh, that would just make the nausea worse), and d.) your cell phone or some other device with an alarm.  I almost missed a meeting the first time I napped in my car, because I forgot to set an alarm and didn’t realize how soundly I could sleep in my car in the middle of the day.
I also took a nap when I got home from work.  Sometimes I would take 2.  Usually I would take a nap, eat dinner, and then head to bed for the evening… around 8 pm!  So don’t feel bad for sleeping a lot.  Really.  Just do it.  Get the rest you need and know that your body is working overtime, even if no one can see it and you can’t even really tell!
LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers | Newborn Baby Maternity Pregnancy Talk
Avoiding smells: My sense of smell has always been quite sensitive, but pregnancy has taken it to a level I didn’t think possible. Smells definitely triggered nausea for me.  When possible, I would head outside for some fresh air – or just get as far away from the offending smell as possible. Like the wretched maple and brown sugar oatmeal that someone would heat up in the office microwave every morning.  Blehhhhh.  Time for a morning walk!  The walking and fresh air also helped me feel less tired.  Win!  However, there were definitely times I couldn’t avoid certain smells… in those instances, another tip from a friend really saved the day – rub something with a smell you LIKE under your nose.  For me, it was Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, which has menthol in it. I’m sure essential oils would work just fine, too, but for me the chapstick was easier and less messy.  The menthol was strong enough to keep any other odors at bay, and I’m just a big fan of minty and menthol-y smells.  The main thing is to find a smell that you do really like, and that is strong enough to mask other odors – citrus might be another good option.
Telling co-workers: I was lucky to work with an awesome team of women who are also dear friends – they are people I would tell about my pregnancy early on even if I didn’t work with them.  I realize not everyone is so lucky, and who you decide to tell in the first few weeks before you really “look” pregnant is completely up to you – but I will say it helps to have at least a few people you work with in on the news.  My co-workers were amazingly supportive – urging me to just head home on days I felt especially run down or sickish, taking on early-morning or late-night phone calls so that I could sleep a bit longer, etc.  If BabyRox hadn’t stuck around and I had a miscarriage, I would also want my co-workers to be aware of that…I would probably have needed a few days off, and I’m just not someone who can walk around and pretend like everything is ok when it’s not.  So taking the whole friend-factor out, it was important for me to let the people I work closely with know I was pregnant early on…. a.) so they understood why I wasn’t functioning at my best/most productive and b.) so that I had their support should anything take an unhappy turn…without having to be all “Oh, I’m just sick!” or “Oh yeah, by the way, I was pregnant and now I’m not.”  It was more comfortable for me to tell them upfront about the pregnancy, share my excitement and nervousness, and know I had support.
Vitamins and Nutrition: I started taking prenatal vitamins even before I got pregnant.  The first ones I took are awesome and were recommended by my midwife (whom I also spoke with even before getting pregnant – I know, I’m super prepared like a girl scout!): Vita Natal.  They are awesome and packed with nutrients, with lots of B vitamins to help fight fatigue, and herbal supplements to support a healthy pregnancy.  However, they are large-ish and you have to take 6 a day!  I was fine taking them up until week 5, when I started feeling nauseous.  Then it became a chore to choke ’em down.  So I switched to the Rainbow Light Prenatal Petite vitamins.  Petite is the key word!  These are much, much smaller and you only have to take 3 a day.  They do have a rather strong taste, but I found that if I took them with kefir, orange juice, or pomegranate juice I didn’t really notice. And then there were a few extra-nauseous days where I couldn’t even manage to swallow the petite vitamins…so on those days I just ate a few gummy vitamins.  Not nearly as good, but at least it was something.
Nutrition is so important throughout pregnancy, and the first trimester is when the brain and spinal column are developing, so I wanted to make sure I was getting lots of nutrients – it’s always better to get vitamins and minerals from food rather than supplements. So, I would make a protein and spinach smoothie in the mornings, and then I would make a crockpot dish I call veggie explosion and have that for lunch and/or dinner – it has beans and quinoa for protein, and a ton of veggies and tomatoes and some Bragg’s seasoning.  I also tossed nutritional yeast on snacks like popcorn, or bread with honey, and kept lots of healthy snacks like nuts and seeds and fruit on hand.
I have way more nutrition info if anyone is interested, but I won’t post it all here right now.  My midwife is really big on nutrition and shared a lot of great resources with me which I’m happy to share with anyone else!
Get Excited – It’s understandable to be nervous…to worry if the baby is developing properly, if he/she will “stick”, if you are getting enough nutrients (especially on the days it’s hard to eat and/or keep food down), but for me, having a positive mental state and generally feeling GOOD is so important to my overall health – which is now directly tied to the well-being of my child.  So in spite of the worries, I still took time to get excited.  To feel happy.  To talk to my tiny little not-quite-yet-a-fetus and imagine what our lives will be like a year from now.  It’s crazy to think that, even though you can’t really feel it yet, a person is growing inside of you.  I loved reading and looking at pictures of the early stages of development.  I loved wondering what the second and third…and fourth!… trimesters would be like.  This really is a journey – an unpredictable one – but it’s ok to have hopes, to feel giddy, to be distracted half the time because Wow I’m really tired and feeling gross but OMG there is someone inside of me and I’m going to be a mom!  Enjoy it.  You’ll only be pregnant for 9ish months, and it is amazing.  So get excited.  It will make the crappy-feeling days much less crappy.
Questions? Comments?  Anything you’re dying to know?  Shoot!

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