10 nuggets of advice to help expecting moms make it through those first twelve weeks.
Congratulations! You just found out you have a baby on the way! Let the happy dancing ensue! Oh, wait…what’s that feeling? Nausea you say? Nausea is just one of the symptoms many of us experience in early pregnancy that can take a little edge off that early pregnancy joy. No fear! The following are some tried and true tips to get help temper some of the anxiety and discomfort that early pregnancy often brings.
1. Buy A Well-Fitting And Supportive Bra
What? It seems like my breasts grew overnight, and man do they hurt! This is common. Breasts and nipples can become swollen and sore because of increased blood flow to the area from hormone surges. This might just last your whole pregnancy, so it’s best to get a supportive maternity bra, with a little extra room built in, in case you expand a little more throughout your pregnancy. You might even want to get one made for nursing and it can do double duty if you are planning to breastfeed. It’s best to head to a bra specialty store or a department store to seek expert help finding the right one for you.
2. Fight Nausea
No one really knows why women experience nausea during pregnancy, often called “morning sickness”, but more than 50% of us will experience it at some time during a pregnancy. There are a few ways to combat it. Mint and ginger are great at easing a troubled tummy. Herbal teas, ginger or peppermint drops, or suckers and hard candies made specifically to combat pregnancy nausea are great choices when you are on the go. Nausea can also sometimes be triggered by hunger, so keep high protein small snacks with you, such as string cheese or bags of raw almonds to snack on when feeling a little queasy. Eating small meals, more frequently also helps keep nausea at bay and there is some evidence that vitamin B6 can help your stomach empty faster so there is less to get rid of if you are fighting lots of sickness.
3. Stave Off Bad Smells
Many women experience a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy and, while there is no concrete scientific explanation for it, it doesn’t have to be a huge problem. Avoid areas where there are smokers, switch laundry detergents and perfumes for the duration of your pregnancy, wash your clothes often, switch to natural cleaning products, and try carrying a bottle of your favorite essential oil with you. This way, if you are in a situation where a smell is really bothering you, you can dab a little under your nose so that you can get temporary odor relief.
4. Nourish Your Body And Take Your Vitamins
Taking a good pregnancy vitamin is essential for ensuring that you and your baby are getting the nutrients you need, especially if you are experiencing a lot of nausea or food aversions. Also, replace foods you are having aversions to with others with a similar nutrient profile. For example, if you are finding meat hard to stomach, have plenty of beans and eggs. If you can’t keep veggies down, try getting fruits rich in beta carotene like cantaloupe and apricot. Some people may also find they just can’t do dairy during this phase. If that is you, try to sneak it into oatmeal, soups, and sauces.
5. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is key during pregnancy. Drinking water helps your body in numerous ways during this time, so make sure you drink about half your body weight in ounces throughout your pregnancy (i.e. if you way 140 lbs, drink 70 oz of water, about 9 glasses); Try it with lemon or cucumber if it isn’t appealing to you on its own. Also, steer clear of BPA, so look for glass or stainless steel drinking bottles.
6. Beat Fatigue
Early pregnancy can be exhausting! Your body is in overdrive working to grow and build a little human inside! It’s really important that you keep your energy up. Frequent snacks and light exercise, such as a brisk walk once or twice a day should really help. Also, take sleep seriously. If you are able to nap once during the day, do so! It will make all of the difference. Try to get a full eight hours at night. Alternatively, taking a warm bath or shower before sleeping can help you to relax and unwind and help you drift off easier. Also consider splurging on a pregnancy pillow to help keep you comfortable at night and while napping. Having a pregnancy pillow can also help alleviate swelling you may experience later in your pregnancy.
7. Stay Clean And Dry
While not everyone experiences this, extra discharge and urine leakage is commonly reported during all stages of pregnancy, especially if it is not your first child. Using pantiliners is a great way to protect your undergarments and clothing and keep you comfortable. There are many disposable options on the market, but cloth pads are a great option as well.
8. Try Yoga Or Pilates
Yoga and pilates are both great for improving flexibility, strengthening your core muscles and helping you keep active without putting great strain on your body. Having strong core muscles will make it easier on your body while carrying your little bundle of joy and will help you recover more quickly after he or she is born. It also builds up your lower back muscles, making it easier to tote babies and toddlers around. If you can’t make it to a gym, try an at home prenatal pregnancy pilates video.
9. Dress Comfortably
While some women are comfortable in their normal clothes during the first trimester, some of us feel a little squeezed early on. Two great investments are belly bands and leggings. A belly band is a long stretchy band you wear under shirts that stretches beneath your chest and over your hips to compensate for shirt that are becoming too short and waistbands that are becoming too tight. Leggings are so much easier, and comfortable, than tights to throw under a great dress or loose skirt throughout your pregnancy. You’ll also get a lot of use out of them in the postpartum period while your body is recovering from the birth of your little one. Finally, get a couple of pairs of great fitting flats. They go with everything and will help you keep your balance better as your body changes.
10. The Right Pregnancy Reads
There are so many books out there! It can be hard to choose, but for the first trimester, I would steer away from the heavier stuff about the mechanics of labor and birth and focus on books that meet your nutritional and emotional needs at the moment. My three favorites for this stage are:
- Beautiful Babies: Nutrition For Fertility, Pregnancy, Breast-Feeding And Baby’s First Foods by Kristen Michaelis
- The Pregnancy Book: Month-by-Month, Everything You Need to Know From America’s Baby Experts by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.
- Sacred Pregnancy: A Loving Guide and Journal for Expectant Moms by Anni Daulter
The first book focuses mostly on nutrition, the second on general information for your whole pregnancy and the third, goes through your pregnancy week by week addressing physical, emotional and even spiritual needs. They are great reads for your entire pregnancy, but especially in the first trimester and don’t deal so much with labor and birth, so a lot of the things that could freak you out, aren’t really present.
Pregnancy can be hard, especially in the beginning. It doesn’t help that you feel your worst when most people won’t even be able to tell you are pregnant yet. However, with the right tools, frame of mind, and supportive friends and family, you can sail through it and meet your little one on the other end. Good luck and happy birthing!