Another week into this pregnancy is down and as I approach my 3rd trimester and the aches and pains set in as my belly gets bigger, I still feel ten times better than I did just a few months ago. There are some women who waltz through their first trimester with their pregnancy glow and feeling good everyday….I do not. For me, all three pregnancies have given me similar symptoms; nausea from 6-20 weeks, extreme fatigue, and headaches. It’s a brutal experience and I have so much sympathy for other moms who have experiences similar to mine. This is my 3rd pregnancy in 3 years, with each one about 6 or 7 months apart, so while I feel like I just became a mother, I also feel like a veteran pregnant lady, and I want to share what has helped me make it through a few very hard times.
As a nurse I took care of many patients with nausea and pain, and the general consesus was they’d rather be in pain than nauseas and I am no exception. It is the worst part of pregnancy for me but I have a love/hate relationship with it; it’s debilitating and I dread how I know it’s going to get worse before it gets better, yet it’s a sign my numbers are rising and I have a healthy pregnancy. I actually worry if I have a couple days where I don’t feel terrible in the beginning. You may not experience nausea like I am describing but most women experience morning sickness to some degree in their first trimester. There are a few things I discovered over my pregnancies that gave me some relief:
There’s the usual remedies like eating Saltines, drinking ginerale, and keeping the hunger pains at bay by keeping food in your stomach, but there are a few not-so-common things that helped. Frequent snacking did indeed ease the nausea a little, but during my first pregnancy I worked in the OR and I couldn’t keep running out to eat my way through the day so I searched the internet and kept asking other moms what worked for them hoping to find some relief. One day my sister in-law told me about Preggy Drop Pops. They are basically a sour candy that literally changed my life. As long as I had one of these hard candies in my mouth the morning sickness either disappeared or was tolerable. Check these out and give them a try if you plan to be pregnant or have morning sickness. With pregancy #2 and #3 I ordered a stash the day I got my positive test. Keep in mind, what works for one may not work for another but when you feel like that, you’ll give anything a try.
With this pregnancy I decided to try this homemade ginger gummy recipe. It was so simple, it helped ease the nausea, and so its something else to add to my arsenal. It takes a little love to make these but all you need is a ginger root from the grocery store and some granulated sugar. These also make a nice thoughtful gift for any mom-to-be friends who are newly pregnant.
Other things in reference to morning sickness: Pregnant women tend to load up on carbs since that usually helps with nausea and most easy-to-grab snacks are loaded with carbs. You want to be taking in about 70 grams of protein per day so it’s important to keep this in mind while you’re trying to keep a full stomach and manage the nausea. I never really kept track of how much protein I ate before I became pregnant so I had to do a little research to look for the right foods that were appealing while feeling so sick. Here is what ended up working for me:
Keep hydrated with water and work your protein in when you can. I kept almonds and some peanut butter at work to snack on and planned to have my protein at the point in my day where I was feeling the least sick. My morning sickness starts in the afternoon and ramps up till I go to bed so I finally started having a big serving of eggs for breakfast, protein bars for snacks, and salads with grilled chicken for lunch, because all I wanted to eat was pasta or crackers come the afternoon. Here is a nice article that helps you get an idea of how many grams of protein are in certain foods. One more point; avoid having your prenatal vitamins when your nausea is at its peak because they can make it worse. I’d have mine in the morning since my nausea hadn’t kicked in yet. Remember that things will get better soon!
With #3 the nausea was especially bad and I had to ask my doctor for a prescription to help. I got Diclegis and even that didn’t take it away completely but it allowed me to make it through the day and take care of my 2 babies. People ask me if it’s really worse this time around or if it just feels that way because I’m chasing 2 little ones around and can’t really take a break. I don’t know the answer to that. I do know that you don’t get any extra points for suffering through morning sickness when there is a presciption available. I needed it this time and it helped so much.
You are so tired and you need extra rest! Take care of yourself and get a nap in when you can or go to bed early, and your energy will return in a few weeks. I was falling asleep on the train ride home from work with my first, and started taking naps when my kids would nap with my other two pregnancies. I really didn’t like sleeping during the day because I fell behind on cleaning, laundry, and all that stuff I get to do when my kids are asleep but by the third time around I knew I needed my sleep, and the house was going to be messy, and that was OK. Also, accept the help if someone offers to babysit so you can go rest. I was so stubborn about this and instead used the time to do more laundry when I should have been sleeping. Now if my husband offers to go it alone on a Saturday afternoon to let me sleep I take him up on it and get some extra rest. Finally, you may want to plan to get take-out once or twice a week for the family. I loved doing that so I didn’t have to cook and could spend more time resting. It’s all temporary and you and your growing baby need the extra sleep right now.
Round Ligament Pain
I walked 1 mile from Penn Station to my OR every morning and did the same every afternoon to get home. I would have to stop walking because of the cramping that I felt along the sides of my uterus that was exacerbated by walking. The only real relief was stopping and resting till it worked itself out or slowing my walk to a stroll. I didn’t experience this too much with #2 or 3 but it can get pretty painful. Just slow down or sit down and it should subside.
OBs recommend starting to sleep on your left side throughout your pregnancy to help with the bloodflow. The growing uterus can put pressure on your major vessels inside your torso when you lay on your back and you can feel pain like I did or can feel faint from the decreased blood flow. I picked up the Snoogle body pillow from Buy Buy Baby and it worked wonders to help me get comfortable. Mine lasted through 2 pregnancies until it lost it’s shape and firmness. Now I’m just using a straight body pillow and it’s doing the trick. We also had to get a soft foam overlay for our bed because with the added weight your hips might need a little more cushion.
Foods to Avoid
Everyone gets a run down of food to avoid from their OB when they go in for their first prenatal visit. There’s a lot on that list and it can be an adjustment at first. One important thing to understand is that your body’s immune system has weakened itself so as not to reject your fetus as a foreign agent. In turn, you are more susceptible to bacteria and viruses. The lunch meat precaution is one to be taken seriously because it can have listeria growing on it which is harmful to you and baby. Even if you know the deli you go to is clean and you’ve been going there for years, your body has changed and can’t fight off what it might have been able to fight off before so to be safe, skip the cold cuts all together or pop them on the fryer like I do when I want a sandwhich. This also forced me to start thinking ahead and planning my lunches. I have things like egg salad, veggie melts, and salads with grilled chicken for lunch.
The first trimester is a special time because the excitement of expecting a baby is still new, you get to see your sonogram for the first time, and you may even find out the sex of your baby early on, but as far as my experience has been, it’s the hardest to get through. I have always enjoyed reading about other moms’ experiences and learning what tips they have to offer. Hopefully you were able to pick up a thing or two to make life a little more enjoyable as you start off your pregnancy!