My first trimester lasted about a year. The calendar said it was 13 weeks, but my body felt each week like a season.
I was super thrilled to be pregnant, and cautiously excited about the baby, but massively thrown off my equilibrium and days seemed to stretch into weeks. A lot was to do with waiting for the ‘dating scan’ , which is the general time when you’re mostly out of the woods for a miscarriage, and you have a 99% chance of the pregnancy being successful – having that looming in the future meant that the time before seemed interminable. But also a lot was to do with the fact that the first trimester is actually really hard, and quite lonely as you can’t really tell anyone about what you’re going through! So morning sickness, sore boobs, immense fatigue are all borne in private, while everyone thinks you’re either a bit peaky, a flake or have turned into a monumental bitch.
So, I write this post to share what I couldn’t at the time, and to offer support for anyone who is currently going through the same. “This too shall pass” isn’t that helpful when you’re in the middle of something, but it really will pass – almost all of this turned off like a light switch when I hit thirteen weeks pregnant. But it was a real rollercoaster up until that point…
Oh boy, first trimester fatigue is no joke. Pregnant women who already have children or do physical jobs – I SALUTE you. You are heroes. I was immensely selfish during this period, and could just about cope with my own physical needs, never mind dealing with little ones or being on my feet all day.
At the peak of my exhaustion, I needed about eleven hours of sleep and still not feel like it touched the sides of my tiredness. I’d go to bed an hour or two earlier, struggle to wake up with my alarm, and then occasionally still have to fit naps in through the day. About once a week, I would get so tired mid-morning, that I would drive to a nearby supermarket carpark, pop on an alarm and an eye mask, and grab fourty minutes sleep. It would tide me over for the afternoon when I could get home for, potentially, another nap.
Weirdly, I never felt too tired for exercise – I know in my heart that it’s one thing that helps create energy in my body rather than use it up, and so I still enjoyed going to running club, tap class and swimming. A full post on exercise in early pregnancy is currently being drafted, but for now I’ll say – it works! While I was still shattered even when I exercised, the mental health benefits meant that it bothered me less.
You guys know me, I love wholesome food – porridge with seeds in, crunchy organic veg, weird looking apples, vibrant salads – all the stuff your body needs to be healthy and strong. At least I loved it until I started producing a baby. Then all of a sudden, thought of the kind of food that I usually love started turning my stomach until about 6pm each day. My food choices became blander and beige-r, and all I could stomach was mass produced food no deeper in colour than a milky tea. For nearly two months, my daytime diet consisted of cheerios, Ritz crackers, hot cross buns, ginger nuts and Rich Tea biscuits. I have supplemented throughout with a good prenatal vitamin, which I would have done in any case, but it was so bizarre to have my preference so thoroughly upended for such a long spell and I had to try really hard not to beat myself up too much about it. From the moment I could drag my eyes open on a morning, until I got home from work, I needed to eat tiny portions of rubbish food every half hour or experience waves of nausea followed by dry heaving. Yum.
The advice I’d give for anyone experiencing similar, is 1) don’t sweat it too much if you’re also managing to keep down your multivitamin and water, and 2) get nutrition where and when you can – I figured out I could handle ‘wet’ fruits like strawberries, melon and nectarines through the day and then thankfully, the nausea would die down by evening time, and I would stockpile vitamins and fibre with big stir fries and brown rice before the cycle began again when I woke.
I was never really that fussed on fizzy drinks, but since I’ve been pregnant, I have not been able to get enough, especially in that first trimester. The fizz seemed to settle my stomach, and seemed to be the only thing that would properly quench my massive thirst.
I never drank ‘pop’ such as Coke or Fanta – they are made of actual poison after all – but I did get obsessed with Purdey’s Multivitamin, which I told myself was helping to offset my horrendous diet. It is still full of sugar, but at least it’s mostly juice, and something about drinking from the cold glass bottle was just too good to resist. For in the house, I started buying 6 packs of 2 litre mineral water (just from Lidl! I’m not made of money, and I’ve got a baby to save for…), which I drink with loads of ice, a slice of lime and Angustora Bitters and pretend it was a ‘real’ drink.
The selection of alcohol free beers available in the UK has completely exploded in the past couple of years, which I totally appreciated while marathon training and subsequently during preggo life. My favourites I’ve tried so far are Erdinger Alcoholfrei, Bavaria Wit 0.0% and BrewDog Nanny State, but I also have my eye on some of the mixed cases available from DryDrinker for when I get bored of what I can get from the supermarket. A nice bottle of alcohol free beer makes not-drinking feel like less childish, and it’s great to have options that actually taste good without tons of sugar and chemicals.
Since posting my pregnancy announcement, I’ve discovered how many people in various departments at my work read this blog, and so maybe I oughtn’t write the next bit. But I’ve always believed that I should be as honest as possible on here, so I’m not about to start self-censorship now.
Here we go – I knew that boobs grew during pregnancy. Everyone knows this. I just thought that it happened later, like when you’re about to drop a baby that needs to be fed. Turns out, soon as you see the plus sign on the pregnancy test, boobs are on the up and up – and they’re agony. All of my usual underwear cut and chafed me, with seams that I’d never noticed feeling like serrated knives. The only thing that I could stand to wear was my Sweaty Betty yoga bra, which I wore 24/7 for a couple of weeks. I have now bought FOUR of them, because I couldn’t bear to be without it on laundry day. It was the only change that I needed to make to my wardrobe during the first trimester, but it was a complete, desperate necessity. If you’re in the early stage of pregnancy, do yourself a favour and invest – it will change your life over the next few weeks.
I hope I don’t sound like a massive moaned – I’m so happy to be pregnant, but the beginning bit was tougher than I would have anticipated. The first trimester definitely wasn’t all bad – I was super dreamy about starting to feel excited about the baby, and I felt incredibly close to my husband and mum, who really stepped up to the plate in taking care of us – and it will be worth it in the end. I never lost sight of the fact that I was very fortunate to be pregnant, and if anything, experiencing pregnancy symptoms actually was reassuring in some ways – you’re less likely to be having a missed miscarriage if you continue to feel pukey and exhausted. I tried to view it as a good signal from my body that everything was continuing to progress as it should.
I’m still damn thankful that the first trimester is over though…
If you or your partner have been pregnant, how did you find the first few months? Did you have morning sickness? What were your coping strategies? Comment below!