The 1st trimester can be a real mixed bag! You are dealing with the excitement of getting pregnant, but then are alarmed at the whole new range of feelings and changes your body is going through. Most of us have read up what to expect, and are alarmed when we don’t experience any of the expected feelings, or if we feel them multiplied to a million!
And then, of course, there are the other things nobody told you would happen, that completely take you by surprise! I didn’t expect all the spotting that characterised my own 1st trimester!
From the day after my positive pregnancy test (when I was roughly about 4 weeks pregnant), till the day I had my cervical stitch (at about 12 weeks), I experienced varying degrees of spotting…the brown blood, the red spots, and even the clots (which I had at 9 weeks, the panic from which almost gave me a heart attack!), I spotted almost every day. As for morning sickness, I expected this, and was very surprised when I would leap out of bed every morning, as energetic as I could be.
But as the weeks rolled by, particularly in my 8th week, come 4pm, I would find myself slowly shutting down like a weak battery, and by 7pm…I would be completely out of it. So, in other words, mine wasn’t morning sickness, it was evening sickness! And the nausea? I was never prone to vomitting or spitting, but I had enough nausea for days! At a point, I almost wished that I could vomit or spit, as the nausea made all smells, tastes, and even sights extremely unappealing to me.
But even with all this, my 1st trimester wasn’t as hard, compared to a lot of other women. I have a friend who literally has to be admitted in the hospital from the week her pregnancy is confirmed, almost all the way through her 1st trimester. Another friend of mine loses almost half her body weight in those first 3 months, thanks to the fact that she finds it difficult to even hold down water. It varies from woman to woman, but thankfully, there are a few strategies to help make it easier!
1. Make the most of your good hours!
As mine was evening sickness, it meant that the first 12 hours of my day were my good hours. Thankfully, this meant that I was able to be useful to my Employers even in my 1st trimester. For those who suffer morning sickness, it just means you might have to thoroughly maximise the rest of your day, when you are feeling more like yourself.
2. Get enough sleep!
For a lot of women, getting ten or eleven hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, is enough to make the daytime hours much more productive. You could adjust your schedule so that you can get the rest your body and foetus need.
3. Find time for a nap!
Many women find naps to be effective in warding off major fatigue. If you can sneak in a power nap, even just ten to twenty minutes, it might help you feel refreshed and give you a burst of energy. But try not to sleep too much longer than twenty minutes, however, as you could end up feeling worse when you wake up.
4. Stay hydrated!
It is important to stay hydrated! Dehydration can lead to increased fatigue. It is advisable to drink at least eight 8-ounce cups of water daily (64 fluid ounces).
Now is not the time to feel like superwoman! It is important to get help when and where you need it. For instance, have a housekeeper, friend or family member come in and help with the housework. Instead of cooking, order take-out or have your husband cook dinner (*side eye*). And now is the time to get the junior members in your team pull their weight at work, so delegate as much as you can to them.
7. Be active!
Even though sleeping on the couch might be more appealing than going to the gym, or taking a walk, staying active can actually make you feel better. It facilitates your circulation, increases oxygen intake, and can ward off fatigue in the middle of the day.
8. Eat right!
Your body needs proper nutrients for you and your growing foetus, now more than ever. You have to make sure you are eating enough. When you are pregnant, you actually need about 300 calories more per day . But you need to make sure you are eating nutritious foods that will provide you with good sources of energy. Avoid foods that are high in animal-based saturated fat or refined sugar, as both could sabotage your efforts to maximize energy.
9. Eat small meals & identify foods that relieve nausea!
It is advisable to eat small, frequent meals, and stay away from fatty, fried, or spicy foods. Also, salty crackers and ginger ale are some common remedies for relieving nausea. Find what works for you, and incorporate it/them into your menu.
10. Take care of your breasts!
In early pregnancy, tender, swollen breasts or sore nipples are typical symptoms, as surging hormones prompt them to begin preparing to make milk. Your breasts will continue to grow throughout the nine months, but the soreness should subside by the end of the 1st trimester. It is important that you look for a bra made with soft, stretchy fabric. If you have the luxury to, avoid restrictive underwires, which can dig painfully into your tender breasts. If you’re a D cup or larger, you might also want wide, padded straps for extra support. At night, try wearing a snug-fitting tank top or a soft cotton sleep bra.
However, there are a few 1st trimester signs that should not be ignored!
1. Persistent Belly Pains
A twinge here and there is nothing to worry about, but strong, steady pains in the lower abdomen or pelvic area during the first trimester could mean an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, which can be dangerous.
2. Severe Nausea and Vomiting
If you haven’t been able to keep any food or fluids down for 24 hours, you could be at risk for dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance, both of which are hazardous to you and your baby. Not being able to pee for more than six hours is another red flag.
3. Heavy Bleeding
Occasional light spotting usually isn’t a problem, but if the bleeding resembles a period, it can spell trouble. Talk to your doctor about any bleeding you experience while pregnant.
4. Frequent Constipation
Irregularity is common during pregnancy, but be sure to let your healthcare provider know if it’s been more than three days since you’ve had a bowel movement.
Don’t worry, the 2nd trimester is much better…well, at least for most people. For me, the fatigue and nausea went away, the popular pregnancy glow set in, I finally had a bump to show off, and it was just a wonderful experience. So hang in there!
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With some references from: