Congratulations!!!!! If you’re reading this it can only mean one thing: YOU’RE PREGNANT!!!!!!!! You’ve either missed your period or you just had a feeling that this time it would stick and it has! It’s incredibly exciting and to be honest, a little scary, to be in this place but you’re here and with it come a whole slew of pregnancy symptoms. Some are more annoying than others but rest assured if you are experiencing them it’s a good thing. It means the pregnancy is strong and your body is doing what it should be.
How to cope with pregnancy symptoms in the first trimester
Nausea – Probably the most annoying of the early pregnancy symptom is nausea. About 50% of women experience it during the first trimester because of the increase in hormones during early pregnancy. It is not harmful for the mom or the baby and begins around six weeks and usually subsides around 12 weeks. Morning sickness, the common name for nausea during early pregnancy, can be quite a nuisance for women. One of the reasons why nausea occurs is early pregnancy is because of a hormone called progesterone. Progesterone is extremely important to pregnancy, however, your body also uses it to relax smooth muscle tissue most importantly the wall of the uterus. Relaxing smooth muscle tissue also causes some unpleasant side effects in your GI tract. That’s why you feel nauseous, bloated, have acid reflux, are prone to belching (that was always one of my early pregnancy symptoms) or are constipated.Here are a few tips to help with morning sickness:
- Eat small meals frequently so your stomach doesn’t get empty.
- Keep hydrated by drinking throughout the day.
- Sea Band Bracelet – I tried using Sea Band during my third pregnancy and was impressed by how it effective it was. According to their website,
A plastic stud is attached to the inside of the wrist band which exerts pressure and stimulates the P6 (or Nei-Kuan) acupressure point. It has been proven that pressure on this point relieves nausea and vomiting.
- Morning Sickness Tea – I didn’t have a ton of success with this remedy, however, some women swear by it. A few choices are Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Morning Wellness Tea, No To Morning Sickness Tea, Bundle Organics Pregnancy and Lactation Tea Variety Pack, and Pink Stork Tea: Morning Sickness Relief Pregnancy Tea -Organic Ginger Peach -Relief
Bloating – It’s in the first trimester that you start to retain a little bit of water and you feel so bloated. Most people don’t announce a pregnancy until after the first trimester so a lot of the first trimester is spent thinking, “I’m pregnant! I’m not getting fat!” It’s challenging though because you just don’t feel amazing and pair that with nausea and you’ve got a great combination. You can thank the every so important but annoying hormone progesterone for this lovely symptom.
- Hydrate with water!!! The best way to combat bloating is to drink 1/2 of your current weight with water.
- Avoid high sodium foods. Salt is a great flavor enhancer, however, it can also cause water retention. You can’t get rid of water if you’re consuming a lot of sodium. The biggest culprit of high sodium food is found in processed foods as well as restaurant menus. Everything in moderation, Mama, everything in moderation.
- Eat foods high in fiber because they add water to the digestive system which helps to eliminate water.
Exhaustion – I didn’t exactly know what exhaustion during pregnancy meant until I was pregnant with my second and was caring for a toddler. Looking back on my first pregnancy though I do remember taking lots of naps on the weekends so perhaps that’s when allowed myself to feel tired. Exhaustion during the first trimester is primarily caused by one thing – the developing placenta. Until the placenta is completely formed a woman’s body is sustaining the life that’s growing inside and that act is a lot of work! Plus, the work that goes into creating the placenta is exhausting; lowered blood pressure, faster metabolism, etc. You’re just a hot mess walking around trying to get through the day on your saltine crackers without having to puke.
- Eat well – So much of what we put into our bodies have a direct impact on the energy that we feel. To maximize the calories you’re ingesting, try to stick with natural foods like fruits, veggies, and proteins. Stay away from processed food and fast food restaurants. (I totally had a thing for McDonald’s Bacon, Egg and Cheese bagel sandwiches when I was pregnant with my third…40 lbs and almost three years later, I can tell you it wasn’t the best choice.)
- Go to bed early. While naps and sleeping in feel great and can give you that extra boost, the restorative sleep your body needs occurs at night which is why you want to try to get as many REM cycles in as possible. Whenever you can, try to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep; in an ideal world you would get eight. If you’re accustomed to late nights start with six hours and make your way to seven.
- Try to limit the caffeine and sugar – Obviously, I am a coffee lover and truth be told, I had about two cups of coffee at least when I was pregnant. Hindsight is 20/20 though and it’s better to get the sleep your body needs rather than use something like stimulant to energize it. Choose sleep over caffeine.
Cramping – I was so shocked that I still had what felt like menstrual cramps when I was early in my pregnancy. I remember being obsessive about checking to see if I was bleeding; I was constantly going to the bathroom to check and see what was happening. There’s this crippling fear that comes with cramps when you’re pregnant. Sometimes it means something concerning but more often than not it’s normal. Cramping can occur early in pregnancy when the egg attaches itself to the uterine wall; this is called implantation cramps and sometimes light spotting also happens. Cramping does not cause miscarriage nor is it the only symptom of miscarriage.
- Drink lots of water to help with bloating and constipation.
- Understand what is happening. I think one of the scariest parts of experiencing cramps early in pregnancy is the fear that comes with it. Understand what is happening to your body and try to keep that in mind so you don’t cause yourself undue stress.
Constipation – Remember that awesome hormone we talked about progesterone? That’s right…the hormone that can make you experience morning sickness? Well, it can also cause constipation as it slows down the muscles in your digestive system.
- Eat foods high in fiber – Oatmeal, raw fruits and veggies with the skin on, whole grains, any of the “p” foods – pears, prunes, etc., Oatmeal Squares and Frosted Mini Wheats were always my go-to relief foods. Your goal should be to get between 25 and 35 grams of fiber each day. Work up to that amount slowly or else you’ll have tons of gas and bloating.
- Drink….you guessed it – WATER.
- Get a great probiotic – A healthy gut keeps you regular!
- If you can try to set up a regular schedule so you have easy access to a bathroom. I have no idea how you train your body to do this though so don’t ask me!