Pregnancy Tips: Surviving the First Trimester

 That first trimester of pregnancy is a tricky time. There’s the sickness, the paranoia, the wondering whether to tell people or not? Typically, it’s when the side effects are most prevalent. Morning sickness is the arch nemesis. Now, I have to confess, I think I had it relatively easy. I haven’t actually *touches wood* been sick but I did spend around 7 or 8 weeks *feeling* sick 24 hours a day. What can make this more challenging, and it was in my case, is if you decide to keep the pregnancy under wraps.

We're Pregnant: To Tell or Not To Tell?

When I first heard about keeping a pregnancy under wraps for the first twelve weeks as a teenager, I was convinced I would adhere to it “to be on the safe side”. I recall my mother telling me she and my Dad had kept their pregnancy with my older sister a secret for almost sixteen weeks and they cherished the time when it was just the two of them who were in on it together! Listening to Giovanna Fletcher’s Happy Mum Happy Baby podcast where she discussed her miscarriage, made me think differently. If the worse did happen, that’s when you need your friends and family around you! But when faced with a positive pregnancy test, I had to keep it to myself for five days before my husband was back from an international trip and I felt it was only right that he be the first person to know.

Read more: FINDING OUT I'M PREGNANT - and how I told my husband!

Once we were both in on this amazing secret, don't get me wrong, there were many occasions I wanted to tell my Mum or girlfriends but each time I stopped myself. I felt a pressure on my body to keep this pregnancy going - I couldn’t bear the thought of more people knowing and, in turn, more pressure from outside sources. For me, in the end, we kept it out little secret. The timing meant that Week Twelve would be around Christmas Day and as we were hosting for everyone, it seemed like it would make a Christmas never to forget if we could hold out until then!

Getting Prepared

Whilst there's nothing really you can do to prepare for pregnancy, I have always followed the school of thought that 'knowledge is power'. That is why I have always been fascinated by One Born Every Minute, Emma Willis: Delivering Babies and reading books on pregnancy and motherhood before it was even on our five year plan! It may go back to my 16-year-old dream of being a midwife that I've always had a fascination but I found that when it is *actually* happening, sometimes you just want your peers to tell you like it is. Thank goodness, then, for YouTube. And in particular, Lily Pebbles, Fleur DeForce and Carly Rowena for recording pregnancy diaries when I know, for sure, sitting in front of a camera and speaking would be the last thing you wanted to do! They gave me three different versions of the upcoming weeks and so I had a taste for what *could* happen so I was somewhat prepared. 

Coping with the Sickness

Due to my longer-than-average cycle, when Ryan found out the news, we were already five weeks pregnant (don't get me started on pregnancy maths!) and by Week Six there were still no symptoms. The biggest thought I had on a daily basis was: am I still pregnant? Turns out that thought stays with you for quite a while. By Week Seven, it was a different story - I felt sick from the moment I woke up, like a horrible hangover just without the alcohol! Other symptoms I experiences were exhaustion, constant hunger, the most excruciating breasts and bloated AF. With just the two of us in-the-know, it meant double the effort from me to conceal just how I was feeling 90% of the day, especially at work!
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Here are my survival tips for getting through the early weeks.

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Tip 1 | Mints & pressure bands.

I was super grateful for a little care package that arrived thanks to my husband who, in his helpless state, had researched what could help me going through this time. Included in this little box were anti-sickness mints, wrist acu-pressure bands, anti-sickness teabags and a fragrance-free body butter. My “super smell” superpower was really tricky to navigate and often enhanced my feeling sick so fragrance-free was the only way to go. During those first few weeks most of our Hello Fresh meals were cooked in vein as I could not stomach complex flavours. I wanted plain, plain, plain. I can remember walking through a train station and thinking I can smell a fry-up (usually the reaction would be: I want one) but my nose managed to pick up the smell of the oil. Yuck. I had to hold my breath just to get passed it quickly without gagging! Needless to say, I wore the anti-sickness wrist bands daily, sucked on a mint whenever a wave of nausea hit and had a cup of tea before bed whilst applying the Mama Bee body lotion EVERY DAMN DAY.

Tip 2 | Bananas

These were the perfect potassium-rich hangover cure of my University days and they really came back into their own again here! I had heard that keeping food with you at all times was important because, funnily enough, eating helps curb the sickness. And it's true, it does! I'm not one for rice cakes but I had to have a fruit bowl stocked with bunches of bananas. Every morning, the first thing I would do (post-wee, obvs.) is eat one. It gave me an instant fix to help me get ready for work and into the office before breakfast number two (of three!)

Tip 3 | Water... by the gallon!

If there is one positive side effect its being constantly thirsty, it's hitting my 8 glasses of water a day! The colder the better, there was very little that truly quenched my thirst during these early days. In fact, my penchant for melon, mango sorbet and cucumber (yes, I would eat half a cucumber every day...my colleagues have since told me they *did* think that was a bit odd!). I invested in a new reusable bottle with a sippy straw (Lily Pebbles mentioned this particular bottle was handy in labour) and it was a lifeline whilst commuting on the hot London Underground. Oh yeah, have I mentioned yet that your body temperature will soar and you'll perpetually feel hot?! More reason to keep hydrated!

Tip 4 | Sleep Bras

The boob situation was off the chart. My god, I have never know pain like it. Getting up out of bed every morning felt like a rush of a thousand pins & needles to my boobs. Over time, it became a reassuring sign that Yes, my boobs were still pregnant! It was like my nipples had been burnt and anything that touched them was agony. Don't even THINK about coming near them! Very quickly I couldn't face the discomfort of wearing my usual bras so I wore sports bras for the first few days and nights. Oh yes, sleeping without some sort of containment was excruciating. I found these sleep bras at M&S and have lived in them ever since! (Side note, by about Week 14-16 I was back in my normal bras but with a wayyyyy more impressive cleavage. Soon you might need clasp extenders or new bras altogether to contain the new cup size you'll be hosting!)

Tip 5 | Sick Bag

I know that many people have a phobia of being sick. After several nasty hangovers, I kind of know the signs to read when I'm about to be sick. Excess saliva being one of them and pregnancy does come with its extra bodily fluids! To be on the safe side, I carried a paper sick bag (one of those that airlines give out on flights... you can stock up on some from Amazon) and that was for peace of mind. Luckily, it hasn't been used but I did have to randomly get it out the other morning around Week 20 so keep them on you just to be on the safe side!

Tip 6 | Secret Stash of Sweets

I observed this tip from a colleague who ate Fruit Pastilles the entire way through her pregnancy. Food cravings - or more realistically aversions - leaves little to the imagination when you know you should be eating but can't face much. Sweets seemed to be the exception to the rule. Whilst not nutritionally the best for you, I was doing what I needed to do to get through those train journeys and something sweet with a hit of energy did just the job. Keep some in your coat pocket, handbag(s), dressing gown and bedside table.

Tip 7 | A Private Scan

If all these obvious pregnancy symptoms aren't enough to reassure you that your body is doing its thing and growing a baby plus an entire new organ - the placenta - there is nothing quite like seeing the proof on an ultrasound screen. I felt like Week Five to Week Twelve was this never-ending no-mans land between pregnancy test and 12 Week Scan and I just needed reassurance that everything was OK. Ryan and I discussed it and decided to pay for a private scan around Week Nine. I was completely unprepared for the nerves and anxiety whilst sitting in the waiting room at The Birth Company Ltd. on Harley Street. Ryan did an amazing job of talking to me about the fish in the giant fish tank to get me through the wait before our turn! Luckily, a little bean-shaped sack was on the screen and a super fast heartbeat sound filled the room. It was INCREDIBLE and worth the £150. We left reassured baby was in there - just the one! - and doing fine. It was the perfect motivation I needed to keep calm and carry on!

Tip 8 | Ovia App

In the early days, I didn't have any recommendations from friends of apps to use so the Ovia app came to me quite late into my pregnancy but is definitely far superior to the What to Expect app I was relying on for the first trimester. Not only does Ovia have a handy food checker where you can type in and see what you can eat and what's recommended you avoid. You also get daily updates which is a great dose of motivation to get through each day and combat all the symptoms that are thrown at you! Plus, you can keep a record of your symptoms and side effects for each day. Having been so used to doing this with Clue during my monthly cycle, I had felt a little lost not having this in my daily routine during those early weeks so highly recommend downloading. Plus, it's FREE!

Tip 9 | Seedlip & Nosecco

Navigating weddings, birthdays or, in my case, Christmas parties, without drinking alcohol is tricky. Particularly when I'm known for loving a glass of bubbles or wine. To be honest, in those early weeks, alcohol - or the lack thereof - was the last thing on my mind. However, it seems when you move house and the G&Ts come out at 5pm in celebration or the Champagne gets popped on a Friday afternoon in the office, it's hard not to draw attention to your abstinence. Enter: Seedlip. A non-alcoholic gin-flavoured drink. My husband made sure he was on drinks duty throughout every social occasion, particularly at Christmas, to pour me my very special Seedlip G&T whilst the rest of the family were on the Bombay Sapphire. The perfect decoy! Nosecco, as you've probably guessed, is a alcohol-free alternative to Prosecco which comes in a fancy bottle with cork and all the bubbles. It looks the part so if you're seen holding one of these drinks in your hand, your secret is safe!

Tip 10 | Get Your Partner / Husband This Book!

I was lucky that Ryan found this book - We're Pregnant! The First Time Dad's Pregnancy Handbook - for himself as I did not have the mental capacity to think about how he was finding the first trimester (lucky bastard was my general day-to-day opinion). But, it has so many great tips for how your partner can support you: leaving you to get an early night (I was often asleep by 8pm), taking on the household duties of cooking and cleaning and to prepare him for the epic hormonal meltdowns that will invariably happen. I recall two occasions when I literally was hyperventilating with tears over the most irrational, minor things* (*I can see that now!) and he seemed perfectly prepared for these little outbreaks. It's the perfect advice from a father-of-four to a father-to-be.
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I hope these tips help you through your first precious weeks of pregnancy. It may be rough now, but it is totally worth it! Don't feel like you need to suffer in silence, my husband sure got the brunt of my moaning and there are people you can speak to via Peanut or similar apps to know you're not alone if you have decided to wait out the twelve weeks. By Week 16 you will feel like your old self again, be able to stay awake past 11pm and get your appetite and flavours back!

All for now,
Rose (her bump, and her rose-tinted spectacles)


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