Crickets . . . the only sound here for three months of extraordinary fatigue and nausea. That’s right—SURPRISE—we’re expecting a new baby come late October!
This recovering control freak has been a leetle anxious and blue. I wanted to be more prepared. To kill off the E. coli overgrowth my new Functional Medicine doctor found in my gut. To finish healing my diastasis recti. I wanted to meet up with my Peace Corps brother in Germany this October. You know, stuff.
I’ve come around, though. Beginning to feel the baby move, along with a surge of second trimester energy, changes everything. In the past 10 days I’ve gone from I-shall-never-have-another-baby-this-is-so-awful to !!!BABIES!!! And I’m so not a baby person. Sometimes pregnancy hormones are a blessing.
Fortunately, this pregnancy has been light years better than my first, to wit, not only more personal maturity but also less nausea, no insomnia, better skin, perfect gums, and less fatigue. Thank you, thank you, thank you, NAET! With a toddler running circles around me, however, it all seemed to even out. The first trimester is just hard for me.
I know I’m not the only one! Now that I feel well again, I’d like to share a few things that have helped me through two first trimesters. Maybe a few of them will ease your discomforts too.
Alison’s List won’t become Baby Central, but I will start sharing about certain aspects of holistic pregnancy, birth, nursing, parenting, and postpartum life. Some of you have asked for that information anyway, and it’s on my mind!
10 First Trimester Survival Tools
(Please note, there are NO affiliate links in this post. All opinions are exclusively my own.)
1. Peppermint Essential Oil
It’s pregnancy-safe and helps relieve first trimester headaches and nausea. While nothing can eliminate my gnawing all-day nausea, taking the edge off occasionally is nice, and the headache relief is superb! Read how I use it here.
2. The RAIN Meditation
A Godsend for processing the inevitable emotional ups and downs, it takes just 4 mindful minutes to Recognize what’s present, Allow it to be in your space, Investigate your body’s sensations and your mind’s stories, and Non-Identify, i.e. separate this fleeting experience from who you are. I practiced it daily. Find instructions here.
3. Dessicated Liver Pills & Fermented Cod Liver Oil in Capsules
However superior, eating liver pate and drinking fermented cod liver oil are NOT HAPPENING for most of us during this queasy time. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Buy the stupid pills and continue getting a whole-food source of the ever critical—and even more so during pregnancy—vitamins A, D, B12, and choline without the agony. I bought both from Radiant Life.
4. Heating Pad
Just when you’ve never wanted a scalding hot bath so badly in all your life, you can’t take one because it might cause birth defects. Ah, pregnancy. Enter the heating pad. Applied briefly to a single area of the body (not the abdomen), it can soothe body and mind without raising your core temperature too much. I was often bone-chilled at bedtime, so I put the hot pad under my shoulders for 5 minutes before going to sleep. Aaaaaahhh.
5. Natural Help in the Bathroom
If constipation plagues your first trimester, I feel your pain. AND I know some tricks beyond the standard prune juice and Metamucil advice, which can leave some of us in agony. These are my favorite:
- Magnesium Citrate or Natural Calm – These forms of magnesium both feed your body and draw water into the colon to produce softer, more frequent bowel movements. I take 400-600 mg per day at bedtime.
- Squatty Potty – There’s really no end to my devotion to this toilet stool that makes bowel movements easier and saves the pelvic floor. Read my story here.
- Rainbow Light Food-Based Complete Prenatal System – I don’t claim these are the best prenatals ever, but when I’m struggling, I take them. Online reviews prove I’m not the only woman they help with constipation. I currently alternate between them and my preferred prenatals.
- Fruits & Vegetables – This feels like a joke because I eat fewer of these foods during early pregnancy than any other time. That said, they do boost things when I can stomach them. Carrots, apples, and green beans are great for me, as is a reasonable amount of dried prunes.
6. Maternity Pants
You may not need maternity pants in the first trimester; just know that resisting them makes life more uncomfortable than it needs to be. A good pair of maternity pants will look just like normal ones but be the most comfortable pants you’ve ever put on your lower half. I “held out” until 17 weeks the first time around but slapped myself on the forehead as soon as I finally bought a pair. They instantly changed my life. Pride goeth before self-torture.
7. Dr. Alkaitis Nourishing Treatment Oil
Maybe it’s not a survival tool, but I have to mention it. Is this skin nutrition product why I didn’t get a single stretch mark during my first pregnancy, even though I’m susceptible to them? I don’t know. It could have been my overall health, good nutrition, and reasonable weight gain. But I’m not taking any chances! I ordered another bottle ASAP after my pregnancy test and returned to rubbing it all over my belly and sides twice a day. It’s pricy at $80 on Amazon but lasts me the whole pregnancy.
8. Freezer Meals
So no, I didn’t get to do this because—hello, SURPRISE!—but it was part of my Official Pre-Conception Plan. Hahahaha. Ha. Ha.
Anyway, fluctuating food aversions may keep you from eating the freezer meals, but at least your husband and family won’t go hungry. Then you can scrounge and eat nothing but potatoes and cheese or apples for days on end guilt-free. Soups, stews, casseroles, and the new generation of freeze-it-raw, cook-it-fresh meals work beautifully.
9. Good Dental Products & Care
Many women look in the mirror one day to see Count Dracula staring back. Badly bleeding gums are scary! I stopped mine in its tracks with three tools:
- Twice daily brushing with natural toothpaste
- WaterPik water flosser
- Religious mouth washing with an oral rinse from Natural Dentist (this step was essential)
This pregnancy, the bleeding hasn’t appeared at all, perhaps because of better health and nutrition, so I’m continuing with my new normal routine: Auromere Ayurvedic herbal toothpaste and, a few times per week, the corresponding mouthwash.
The first trimester can be lonely, and a little support goes a long way. It’s hard to find, though, because doctors don’t want to see you regularly this early, nor do most midwives. Some possibilities, besides friends and family:
- Interview two or three doulas if you’re interested in having one attend your birth. They tend to be nurturing souls, and just talking openly about pregnancy can help right now, even though you probably won’t hire one for a few more weeks.
- Invest in prenatal massage, an especially nurturing gift to yourself. Sometimes you can find a doula-massage therapist. Double win!
- Ask friends about good-hearted Facebook groups you can join to talk pregnancy and birth.
- Weekly emails from website like BabyCenter.com or WhattoExpect.com can give you a peek into what’s happening in your uterus right now. Since you can’t see any of it, it’s easy to feel like you’re just sick and not building a human being.
What do you think? Did I miss some big ones? What helps you in the first trimester?