Now that I'm safely well into my second trimester (my sixth second trimester!!), I feel like I can look back and say I had a great first trimester. No, I didn't feel completely “normal.” Yes, I had some nausea and a lot of fatigue. But overall its been the best first trimester I've had in several pregnancies.
I took some definite, planned steps when I got a positive pregnancy test, and I feel like these made a big difference. This article will share those steps and how I think they helped.
I'm a huge fan of freezer meals to get ready for baby's arrival — I do some freezing before each baby is born. But after having a pretty horrible first trimester with Honor, my fifth baby, I realized that freezer meals might be a big help before the baby is born. It's particularly true in the first trimester, when you get to the point where the thought of cooking is enough to make you sob!
I didn't do too many freezer meals — I picked a few entrees and simply doubled them across a few cooking sessions. When I get the positive test I generally have a couple of weeks before first trimester fatigue and nausea set in, so that's the time I used to get the freezer meals ready. I did easy things like chicken nuggets (breaded with Parmesan cheese since we're mostly grain free), chili, and a couple of casseroles.
I specifically picked foods that act as “comfort foods” for me. I knew this would also help stop cravings for things that are not so good for me. The chicken nuggets especially worked well. The chili backfired — I developed a crazy aversion for canned diced tomatoes. But everyone else in the family enjoyed the chili. I just ate something different :p
I'd heard to eat frequently, around the clock. I've given lip service to this, but this time I actually took every step needed to make it happen! I wanted protein foods, so if I needed to carry a little cooler or insulated lunch bag while we were out and about, I did that. I made sure there was always a variety of easy-to-eat protein at the house.
I picked foods that were pretty good for me, but I knew I could eat. For example, we don't usually eat peanuts, preferring the kids to get tree nuts rather than a legume, but I really like peanuts (and peanut butter) and they are easy for me to eat. So I had peanuts and peanut butter around. I also had old-fashioned sourdough bread for myself, since I know it's easy for me to eat a sandwich even if I feel bad.
I ate as soon as I got up in the morning — around 5-6am — and again at breakfast with the kids around 7:30am. I had a mid-morning snack, then lunch, then another snack, then supper, then a before-bed snack!! That's a lot of meals!
It's a little hard, especially if you've worried about weight gain in the past like I have. But it really works to keep nausea at bay, so to me gaining a few extra pounds in the first trimester versus not being able to function because of morning sickness was a good trade-off.
Now that I'm in the second trimester I still tend to have three meals and three snacks, but I've dropped the snack upon waking. If I were still feeling nausea, I'd still be eating it. Also, if you have severe nausea as soon as you get up, I'd consider setting an alarm and having a snack of protein and fresh orange slices in the middle of the night (keep a small cooler beside your bed). This will help keep blood sugar very stable and get you through the night.
I'd always heard of Sea-Band Wristbands, which are acupressure bands made to help with sea sickness and motion sickness. I hadn't ever given them a try, but my experience with going into labor with Honor (baby #5), made me decide to. I was having no labor symptoms at all when I went to a chiropractor's appointment at 5pm. She offered to stimulate some acupressure points that target the uterus and I agreed (I was 39 weeks, 5 days pregnant). My body apparently responded very well, because I went to the grocery store, went home, and labor started. I had Honor just minutes after midnight!
Because of this I figured my body might respond well to Sea-bands. At around $6 USD a set, it was a small investment. I really think they helped. I could tell a big difference on the days I didn't wear them. They were inexpensive enough that it's a good bet to give them a try, even if you find they don't do anything. They're available online and at most pharmacies.
I've been taking a B-complex vitamin since Honor was born to help prevent postpartum depression (I dealt with major prenatal depression with her). When I got pregnant this time, I decided to keep up the B-complex and take extra B-6 every day. I took the extra B-6 2-3 times every day throughout my first trimester.
Now that I'm well into my second trimester I've weaned off the extra B-6, but still take the B-complex. That gives me a little extra over my prenatal vitamin every day.
I feel like the B-6 also helped a lot, and would notice if I missed a dose.
Relax, Relax, Relax
I went into this pregnancy with a lot of prayer. As I mentioned above, I struggled with deep depression while pregnant with Honor. I prayed a lot before we conceived this time — for peace and for wisdom. I wanted to be sure I could relax.
Since we moved house while I was in my first trimester, I knew staying relaxed was going to take some real effort. I planned as much as a possibly could. I made freezer meals, kept snacks on hand, and was serious about wearing the Seabands and taking my vitamins.
I couldn't rest as much as I would have liked. I would recommend you take an afternoon nap (or at least lie down, put your feet up, and read or listen to music). Now that we're settled in the new house, I can nap every afternoon while Honor naps and the big kids either have a quiet time or play outside. I know that would have helped in the first trimester, when fatigue is really an issue.
But I think that prayer and relaxing really helped make it go smoothly. I focused on doing what it took to keep nausea to a minimum, and on my plans for keeping life running smoothly. Other than that, I worked hard at letting things go — and at letting other people handle as much stress as they could. For instance, I let my awesome real estate agent handle the grunt work and worry with the house. I'd researched her, felt confident in her, and I took her recommendations for just about everything (consulting with Scott, too, of course). I kept meals simple, had as much as I could have delivered rather than shopping, and kept outings with the kids to a minimum. Even now, we take simple outings to places like the library, where I can relax while they enjoy.
I think in addition to the steps to keep nausea down and get the rest you need, remembering to relax is key to getting through the first trimester. I'm so thankful my prayers were answered. I'm still dealing with some food aversions now, but on the whole I'm so glad that I took the steps needed to have a great first trimester; it has translated into a great, enjoyable pregnancy thus far. It's so much fun to truthfully say “I love being pregnant!“