The first trimester can be a lot more challenging than you might have expected… or maybe that was just me!
From nausea to fatigue to food aversions to headaches to bloating to emotional ups and downs of “Is this pregnancy gonna stick?” and “Is this symptom normal?” — let’s just say, the first trimester can be a LOT.
For many reasons, you may not be up for sharing your pregnancy news with others early on, which can make the experience lonely.
I think for many first timers, this trimester was not the one they anticipated being challenging. The expectation is that the 3rd trimester will be hard, when you’re visibly quite pregnant and carrying a full grown baby in there (no doubt, that trimester has its own challenges), but that the first trimester will be a breeze minus a little nausea.
Sometimes the first trimester is, in fact, a breeze, but this is not the norm. For one of the most common early pregnancy symptoms —nausea — estimates are that 90% of women will experience some degree of nausea and it’s most likely to show up in trimester one (before 13 weeks).
Pregnancy is an absolute miracle and it’s also full of ups and downs.
Some days you feel energized and ready to take on the world and others you feel, well, not so great.
Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy are often referred to as morning sickness, but this is a bit of a misnomer. For many pregnant women, any-time-of-day sickness is a better description. Your nausea may last for a few weeks, a few months, and—I’m sorry to say—it may even stick around for your entire pregnancy.
Most often, nausea is a fleeting symptom that occurs in the first few months, then gradually eases up. In approximately 60% of women, nausea and vomiting will resolve by the end of the first trimester (13 weeks) and if it doesn’t, know that only 9% of women experience it past 20 weeks.
Not to worry, though! Everything is a phase, including the tiring and nauseating first few months of pregnancy.
When I polled my social media audience for questions about the first trimester, I had so many good ones come in! I addressed as many questions as I could in the following video, which originally appeared on my Instagram page. I address first trimester tips for nausea, food aversions, fatigue, headaches, bloating and more! I hope it’s helpful and reassuring.
If you’re silently slogging through the first trimester wondering when you’re going to start feeling better, I see you. I’ve been there (twice) and it DOES get easier.
A few quick tips for nausea (there are more discussed in the video above + in Ch 7 of Real Food for Pregnancy):
- Eat small, frequent meals or snacks.
- Balance your blood sugar—aim to include some protein and fat when you eat, even if the portion is small).
- Try salty, sour, or cold foods.
- Keep a snack at your bedside and move slowly first thing in the morning.
- Consider eating more (and/or supplementing with) ginger, vitamin B6, and magnesium.
More than anything, remember this: You’re doing the incredibly demanding job of growing a new human (and a whole new organ that supports baby’s growth called the placenta) and this takes SO. MUCH. ENERGY.
In fact, there is probably never a time in your life when your mitochondria — the energy-producing parts of your cells — are under such an intense demand. All of those rapidly dividing cells and organs being formed require energy at a cellular level and your mitochondria are working at max capacity to pull this off.
This is why you feel wiped out. Lean into it. Trust that the signals for rest that your body is sending you are for good reason… because guess what? They are!
Hang in there, mama. Your body is doing an amazing job.
Until next time,
PPS – Before you go, I’d love to hear your top tips for getting through the first trimester. What symptom was most challenging for you and how did you get through it? Everybody is different and every pregnancy is different, so we can all learn from each other.