The first trimester is a doozy of a trimester. While it’s definitely the most exciting one in one obvious way– you’re pregnant!– it’s really tough in about 20 other ways. I remember feeling floored with exhaustion, craving nothing but foods made from refined white flour, and having irritated intestines. Everything was in slow motion. I felt slumped. I did slump. I was not a glowing goddess. I thought my newly-wed husband smelled. It’s also the most closeted part of pregnancy so commiserating can be hard.
But I’m here with some reassurance that I’ve gathered over my two pregnancies and from all my years working with pregnant women. These tips might really get you those first uniquely distressing (but so exiting!) three months.
1. Don’t stress too much about your perfect pregnancy diet in the first trimester. You’ll have time for 5 servings of leafy greens and 8 servings of protein once the barfing feeling lifts. It’s important to let your body get through this time– your hormones are intense and a heavy dose of initial progesterone can turn any girl’s stomach. There just HAS TO BE an evolutionary reason why all newly pregnant women only want to eat plain bagels. You’re not supposed to increase calories in the first trimester (unless you start your pregnancy underweight) so just eat what you can in small portions. Try to keep it real: eat the most freshly baked, least-processed plain bagel you can find. Try to eat any protein you can stomach and plan to eat a more colorful diet soon.
2. Ditto for exercise. Almost all women regain energy in the second trimester. Look into options for pregnancy works outs but if you can’t actually get yourself on a treadmill or into a lap pool, pursue them in earnest later. And don’t sweat it if you’re thrown off your game. Serious, serious exhaustion is the number one bi-product of early pregnancy. It’s normal. It’ll lift. Take a nap.
3. Tell whomever you want to tell. There can be pressure to spill the beans or keep this news a secret. The answer to how to deal with it is this: You do whatever feels right to you! Everyone is different. It can be helpful to have someone to talk to about what you’re going through. Preferably someone who understands how lame the first tri can be.
4. Buy one of the non-alarmist pregnancy books, like the one I wrote (!) or The Panic-Free Pregnancy. Buy other ones too, if you want, but have at least one resource that can help you navigate the pregnancy food and toxin safety recommendations without completely losing your mind.
5. You will feel pregnant (and not just fat), you will feel kicks (and not just sluggish bowels, indigestion and gas) and you will glow (or at least get thicker hair) one day. I promise. It’s just not (likely) going to happen in the first trimester. The entire process of being pregnant, giving birth and caring for a baby is one transition after another. We’re presented so often with images of happy, glowing pregnant women with big bumps and then again with mothers, all settled with their babies or toddlers. But there are painful, dorky stages in amongst all of this. In fact, a lot of it is really dorky. The beginning of pregnancy is downright awkward. You are new to this, things are changing. It’s a bit like adolescence. Don’t judge yourself harshly (or at all!) in these early weeks while you get used to the weirdness. And the dorkiness is character building. Right?
Ceridwen Morris, CCE, is a writer, childbirth educator and the co-author of From The Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Becoming a Parent. Follow her on Facebook.
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