I feel like I need to first post a disclaimer here:
My first trimester wasn’t that bad.
At age 29, I am not the first of my friends to get pregnant and because of that, I’ve seen some truly nightmarish first trimesters and also some totally normal ones. I wouldn’t even say that mine was normal. I got very lucky. I didn’t experience any nausea or morning sickness, for which I am eternally grateful.
What I did experience amounted to food aversions, low energy, and dealing with a changing body that, while it didn’t look pregnant yet, also no longer felt like my own.
Those experiences can still be rough, but I did find a few ways to make life a little better and happier during what’s supposed to be the worst part of your pregnancy.
This one was pretty simple. I stayed far, far away from anything I didn’t want to eat and ate copious amounts of what I was craving. My doctor, bless her, gave me the go ahead to eat plenty of what I craved during the first trimester, as so many things just sounded disgusting, as long as I was taking my prenatal vitamins to supplement any potential nutritional shortcomings. For me, this meant I ate a ton of plain toast with butter, Caesar salad, and pineapple (never at the same time, I didn’t get that weird, thankfully). This also meant saying yes to takeout for my husband, because I’m not a monster and didn’t expect him to stay on a weird diet of toast and pineapple with me. It was a slightly expensive, and obviously not super healthy, habit for him to constantly order Chinese food (his favorite, which I could not bear the thought of eating during the first few weeks), but it did get make our lives a lot easier and happier to both get the things we wanted.
About a week after taking my positive pregnancy test, I felt like I got hit by a truck at the end of every workday. I would arrive home between 6:30 and 7 at night, put together my simple dinner, as nothing I craved was very complicated, eat, work out or spend time with my husband, and then would promptly fall into a deep sleep at 8:30 PM until 7 AM the next day. Again, this symptom was pretty simple to work around. I just let it happen and let a lot of other things go, like dishes and laundry. I can reassure you that your energy definitely does come back in the second trimester, so it’s not very long that you’ll be putting things off. Truly, there’s no point in fighting the exhaustion. I’d much rather give my body what it needs than struggle through a full work day operating with half of my normal amount of energy (I’m told you have to do this later anyway with the baby, so why not give yourself a break for three months, right?). It’s ok to ask your partner to take on more too during this time. There were plenty of days when my husband had some toast ready to go for me as soon as I got home so that I could immediately change into sweats and start reclining in bed.
This first trimester side effect is the hardest one in my opinion, because it means accepting yourself as you are, and a lot of us need self help books, therapy, and years of self reflection to do that effectively. I’ll try to help out here, though!
Right away, I had a lot of bloating and immediately noticed that it looked like I was gaining weight. This didn’t surprise me terribly, because I’m someone whose weight fluctuates pretty easily, but it was scary to think that there would be no “down” fluctuation. As I vented to my mom, “Everyday for the next nine months, I’m going to wake up fatter than the day before. Never thinner, never the same, always fatter.” After about two weeks of feeling sorry for myself, however, I moved on. I got sick of going through three potential outfits every morning to finally pick one that I didn’t hate. To do something productive about that feeling, I spent a Saturday going through each piece of clothing that I owned. Anything that wasn’t flattering, that didn’t make me look awesome, went into an underbed storage tub. A lot went into the tubs. I didn’t realize it before that time, but I owned a lot of body-conscious fitting clothing, which is definitely not first trimester friendly. Let’s be honest, none of that stuff will probably be friendly to my body until a year after the baby is born. I also picked up a few loose fitting, larger sized dresses and tops for relatively cheap prices so that I had some more flattering options, like this tee shirt dress I wore throughout my vacation with my husband during the first trimester.
I really can’t recommend this highly enough, especially if you are experiencing some of the worst symptoms of the first trimester. It’s incredibly liberating to have a closet full of nothing but clothes that make you feel great about yourself, even if you wake up that day feeling downright rotten. Just put everything away that doesn’t work and remember that there’s nothing wrong. It’s the clothes’ fault, not your fault, that something doesn’t fit, feels weird, or just no longer looks great.
While, admittedly, I did spend about two weeks feeling unhot, unsexy, and very sorry for myself, what turned it around was considering that, for all I know, this may be the only pregnancy I ever have. There is no guarantee that I’ll ever be able to conceive and carry a child again. This may be my only chance to experience the really remarkable changes that my body can go through while creating a life. This may be only chance I ever have a baby bump to dress around. If that turns out to the be the case, what a waste of nine months I could have savored and spent indulging myself, rather than hating myself.
This perspective, I think, is really what carried me through the first trimester- the idea that this may be it for all I know. If that’s the case, I want to lean into the good moments of pregnancy as much as possible and, at least, try to shift my thinking about the bad moments. Bad moments are inevitable, as I’m sure I’ll go into in some later posts, but we do have full control over how much those moments cloud our thinking.
I’d love to hear from other moms and moms to be as well! What are some things you did to make the first trimester more bearable?