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5 tips for first trimester discomforts
The dating scan

5 Tips for First Trimester Discomforts

My Pregnancy Journey: First trimester

11 weeks
The dating scan (it was Christmas time) and this was the Christmas card I gave my parents.

My first trimester went by oh so slowly and I was definitely experiencing some common first trimester discomforts. Since we weren’t telling everyone yet, it meant I had to deal with these discomforts without letting on. Below I share these and give you my tips on how to deal with each.

We wanted to tell our family first. Our plan was to spend Christmas with my family in Spain, so we wanted to share the news in person rather than over the phone. This meant 2 months of being tight-lipped – ie the entire first trimester!

Each day went by and I would be looking up what size my little embryo was. I wanted to see pictures of the size and shape of this little growing group of cells! So, I took out my trusty Mayes Midwifery and Anatomy and Physiology for Midwives text books from my uni days. I wanted to know every detail of what was happening inside my body – I was fascinated!

The pregnancy journey is divided into 3 trimesters whilst the baby grows from a ball of cells into a fetus. And there is the 4th trimester for the first few weeks of baby’s life outside the uterus (more about that later).

The first trimester: 0-12 weeks gestation

In these first 3 months, there is a lot going on inside your body. These include many changes on a hormonal and cellular level – changes that are not visible on the outside. The placenta is starting to form and becomes fully functional taking over the hormone balance and providing nutrition for your baby at the end of your first trimester. This is also the period where the pregnancy when the fetus is still implanting and the risk of miscarriage is at its highest. This is the reason I ask my clients and yoga students to take it easy – not because anything they might do will cause miscarriage but more because they need to give their body time to rest.

5 signs and tips for first trimester discomforts

For me, the first signs that pointed me to reach out for pregnancy test kits, were breast tenderness and nausea at around 4 weeks. I had previously had some bleeding but only lasted one evening. I’m guesstimating a 10ml blood loss. This may have been an implantation bleed, where the embryo burrowed into the uterus lining and disrupted a few small blood vessels. At first I took it for a my period but after experiencing other signs, I decided it can’t have been a period and I reached out for the home test kit.

Below are 5 common first trimester discomforts and my tips on how to manage them:

1. Breast tenderness

The breasts undergo some changes as the blood supply to them increases which can leave women feeling tenderness, tingling or discomfort. Mine felt very tender and even bordering on painful, especially the nipple area.

TIP: wear a good supportive and soft sports bra made with cotton.

2. Nausea

I had nausea throughout the entire first trimester and well into the second trimester. It was not just in the morning, but all the time. Not fun. It basically felt like I constantly had a hangover feeling. Not quite vomiting but with that sensation of heaviness in the pit of my stomach. Nausea affects 70-80% of pregnant women and vomiting 50%. I thank my lucky stars I was not one of those 50% because I have emetophobia (fear of vomiting).

TIP: the usual remedy people tell you is ginger. However, what helped me was smelling my lemon, wild orange and peppermint essential oils. I carried these oils everywhere with me. If you want to know more about how essential oils can help you in your pregnancy then contact me. I also used some breathing and visualisation techniques to help the nausea wave subside.

5 tips for first trimester discomforts

3. Aversions & Cravings

When I tell people my cravings included salad and crunchy vegetables, they think I’m mad! But honestly, I was craving green leafy vegetables, raw peppers, juicy tomatoes. I already eat fairly healthily but went on a bit of a health streak.

5 tips for first trimester discomforts

My aversions included meat – which I hear is fairly common. I remember going to the tube station one morning and a kiosk next to the platform was warming up ham croissants – yuck! I nearly had to stick my head down the nearest bin.

The one I didn’t expect was an aversion to eggs. I love eggs. I mean, I absolutely love eggs and frequently eat up to 4 a day. I love them soft boiled, in omelette, scrambled, poached, fried… My sister even used to say I would turn into a chicken because I ate so many eggs (not sure on the logic there!). Anyways, the smell, texture and taste of eggs led to extreme nausea, so I had to lay off for about half my pregnancy. Funny how the body works!

TIP: just follow your gut’s instinct. And stay away from the kitchen when your partner is cooking that which you have an aversion to!

4. Fatigue

I felt so tired all the time and found it difficult to get up in the morning. I would find myself napping on the sofa in the afternoon. It was also challenging because I had not told anyone at work nor friends that I was expecting. I had 3 home births to attend in this time. Some of these labours were short (3 hours) and some were ultra long (24hrs). 

On top of that, I was trying to keep to my regular yoga class teaching timetable and do my antenatal and postnatal visits. So some days I was totally drained. Pregnancy fatigue is real! Luckily my partner was very supportive and made me dinner for after I woke up from a long labour.

5 tips for first trimester discomforts

TIP: Sleep whenever possible. There is no shame in having frequent naps! Perhaps get your haemoglobin levels checked and see if you need to increase iron in your diet or get a supplement (liquid ones are the best). I also enjoyed some restorative yoga classes. 

5. Frequent urination

The blood circulation of the bladder is increased resulting in frequent trips to the toilet, especially at night. I remember getting up 5 or 6 times at night needing to pass urine.

5 tips for first trimester discomforts

TIP: I am double voiding – ie. pee, brush teeth, and then pee again before going to bed. I read about double voiding here. You want to keep your bladder as empty as possible to avoid urinary tract infection. So, even though it seems contradictory, I also kept a glass of water next to my bedside. After my nightly trips to the loo, I would have a few sips before settling back to sleep.

I hope these 5 tips to manage your first trimester discomforts are useful to you. These are tips that got me through the first 3 months and beyond.

Read the next instalment My Second Trimester – where I recount the fiasco it was getting to the airport and nearly not making the flight home for Christmas!