When you get pregnant for the first time, you want to talk to moms and find out if your experience is normal and when some symptoms might end. BUT! You might not be ready to tell anybody yet that you’re pregnant (I know we waited until the 2nd trimester). You might also worry that women who have had 2+ kids might not remember all the feelings from the first kid. So, what’s a lady to do? If you find yourself in this position, I’ve got your back! I was in your shoes just a short 9 months ago…excited to be pregnant, not yet ready to tell anyone, and in desperate need of advice. Looking back, here’s my advice to my 6-week pregnant self and any other first trimester mamas out there:
First off, how fantastic! Whether or not you meant to get pregnant, it’s amazing how our bodies can make another human being.
Second, making a human being is hard work. You’ve probably already figured that out, between the nausea and the exhaustion as your body creates the placenta and starts growing that tiny human inside you. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get easier. Take naps and enjoy them.
Third, I am so sorry if you have morning sickness. Or afternoon sickness. Or evening sickness. Or all day sickness. Whether you have nausea or vomiting or both, the experience sucks. If/when you do have morning sickness, here are a few things that might be good to know::
- Unfortunately, you can’t take PeptoBismol (I know because I asked)
- Have saltine crackers on hand at all times. I went through so many saltines during my first trimester. After about 7 weeks, I even kept a bag of saltines on my nightstand so I could eat a few first thing in the morning. If I did get out of bed without eating my saltines, my stomach would revolt and I would dry heave within a few minutes. So, saltines are your best friend.
- Have ginger ale on hand. Eating saltines and drinking ginger ale got me through many lunches at work…and dinners after work when my stomach could handle anything else. Though, given the very high sugar content, I saved ginger ale for when nothing else worked.
- Instead, go for ginger tea. Ginger-lemon tea is easily available and a good option to get some ginger without all the sugar from ginger ale.
- Ginger snaps are also great. Enjoying ginger snaps dipped in ginger-lemon tea was a favorite snack early in my pregnancy.
- If you can find them, ginger candies are amazing at reducing nausea. Ginger candies seem to come in 2 main forms – chews and crystallized ginger. The chews are very chewy and not as concentrated as the crystallized ginger. The crystallized ginger is very strong and helpful if you need something fast acting. The downside to ginger candies though is that you might need to keep eating them to enjoy the effects.
Fourth, yes, morning sickness should end at the end of the first trimester. This isn’t a guarantee (and you’ll hear horror stories from people about moms who had morning sickness the whole time), but it is the norm. Yes, I know moms who suffered the whole time. But I know even more moms who only suffered for the first trimester. My experience was that I woke up the morning of the 2nd trimester and my morning sickness was pretty much gone (it’s wasn’t quite overnight, but close). Hopefully you will also get over morning sickness at the end of the first trimester.
Fifth, you’ll get through this.
Sixth, you can go out and buy all the books (a popular one is What to Expect When You’re Expecting), but I only read 1 book – Expecting Better by Emily Oster. This book was well-written and goes into the nuances behind many of the pregnancy rules, which is why it was my favorite. Ms. Oster didn’t just accept the general advice, such as ‘no alcohol’ or ‘don’t clean litter boxes’ – she researched why. This book will give you some clarification about why you shouldn’t eat deli meat and how much alcohol you can drink if you feel comfortable with it and why you can actually clean the litter box but probably shouldn’t garden. If you only read one pregnancy book, read Expecting Better.
Seventh, yes, there are so many rules. And they suck. You’ll feel frustrated and annoyed by all the things you suddenly can’t do. I remember being extremely pissed that, all of a sudden, I wasn’t supposed to lift more than 20 lbs when I was used to replacing the water cooler at work and hoisting 100 lb Way Pup up onto the bed. I was also pissed that I suddenly wasn’t supposed to enjoy my eggs over-easy (the best way to eat eggs). There are more rules and people will treat you as a fragile little egg and your mom and mother-in-law will be astounded at the things you aren’t supposed to do that they were allowed to do. All the rules are extremely frustrating and annoying, and it’s totally fine if you break down and cry on the floor of your kitchen at how restricting it can be to be pregnant when you learn about yet another rule (you won’t be the first because I already did that). It’ll be okay and you’ll eventually learn to live with the rules.
Eighth, talk to other moms with whom you feel comfortable sharing your news. We’ve all been pregnant (unless we adopted) and we all support you. You’ll especially want to talk to your mom because her pregnancy with you is probably how your pregnancy will go. She can also commiserate with you and tell you more stories. This is a great chance to learn more about your mom. For example, you might learn that, when people wanted to feel the baby move, she would tell them to put a hand on one side of her stomach and she would quickly push the baby from the other side. When you first hear this, you might think, ‘cool trick!’ before realizing that you were the baby getting pushed quickly. For another example, your mom might be the one to tell you about keeping saltines on your nightstand and what a lifesaver that will be.
Ninth, try to enjoy being pregnant but it’s okay if you don’t. Even if you really, really, really wanted this baby, the reality of being pregnant hits you like a ton of bricks every day and it can hurt. It’s okay if you go through periods of not feeling excited. Other people might not understand (mainly men and non-moms), but there are a surprising number of us moms who experience unhappiness and overwhelm at being pregnant. You are not alone. Again, you might find yourself crying on your kitchen floor while your husband curiously asks why you don’t seem excited about the baby (and again, you won’t be the first to do this because I already did).
Tenth, your doctor’s office will have you pee into a cup at every single appointment to test for sugar and protein in your urine. Just a head’s up. They’ll also weigh you, take your blood pressure, and listen to the heartbeat. Listening to the heartbeat is easiest if you wear pants or a skirt and a shirt to the appointment so you can simply move your shirt out of the way instead of having to either pull up your dress or change into a gown.
Finally, these next 8 months or so really will go by so quickly. The moments will stretch on forever and each week will probably bring some new symptom or discomfort. But, you’ll also get to feel your baby move for the first time and hear his or her little hummingbird heartbeat. You’ll be amazed at how generous people can be with baby gifts and how good food tastes when you satisfy a craving (seriously, that was the best chocolate milkshake I have ever had). You’ll appreciate the second trimester when you feel the best. And of course, you’ll eventually have your own tiny human all too soon.
Congratulations, good luck, you got this, and I’m here if you ever have questions or comments. I know I go on about how busy I am, but I can and will always make time for helping others.