Before I found out I was expecting I could not wait to be pregnant. I used to tell my husband that “I would be so happy if I was pregnant!” because I just knew that pregnancy would be amazing like everyone says and plus you get this cute bump to show off. I had no idea how much work it is to be pregnant! Despite the downsides of pregnancy I can never take for granted the ability to carry a child and I am grateful for this privilege every day. Especially the fact that I’m able to go through this experience with my husband. This has made the journey so much more special.
As I found out pregnancy isn’t all having a wonderful glow and feeling baby kicks. There are days when you don’t want to leave the house or you just go back to bed because you’re so sick. I wasn’t prepared for this reality before becoming pregnant. I’m one of those people who have to experience something before I can form an opinion on it. Pregnancy has definitely been one of those things.
If you’re a first-time mom to be or even hope to have kids one day I hope this post will be informative and encouraging <3
1. The first trimester is awful
Basically, you enter a level of exhaustion unknown to those not pregnant. This occurs partly because your body is creating a new ORGAN also known as the placenta. It’s a lot of work to grow this structure and your constant desire to sleep will keep you alerted to this new phenomenon.
Couple exhaustion and not wanting to do anything but lie on the couch with intense nausea and vomiting. Now all women experience this symptom to a varying degree (I threw up as much as 12 times a day). Either way, it is not pleasant.
Try your best to stay hydrated and nourished. Some of my favourite things to drink and eat were cold smoothies (to soothe my throat) or popsicles, applesauce, yogurt, cold sliced oranges (I was obsessed), baked potatoes, plain bread and of course ginger ale. Later on, I also started drinking ginger peach tea in the morning and cold lemon water during the day (both help with nausea).
You may become averse to certain smells or foods (such as eggs). Some women take offence to a smell so bad they have to leave the room or they will start gagging.
Another symptom I experienced in the first trimester was feelings of sadness and being overwhelmed because it felt like nausea would never end. Sometimes I would burst into tears on the bathroom floor after puking or lying in bed because I was so tired. At the same time, I was worried about falling behind in school and all the extra things my husband had to take on because I just couldn’t do anything other than rest.
At the same time, it’s so important to have support when you’re pregnant especially in the beginning stages. Even if someone can come over for a few hours and help clean your house or even bring a meal it can make a huge difference! One thing I really appreciated was my mom coming over. One day, she brought over food for us, cleaned up our apartment and even washed my hair. She went through the same symptoms when she was pregnant with me (and teaching school), so it was nice to have someone who understood exactly what I was going through.
2. Early midwife/doctor appointments aren’t very exciting
My very favourite appointment was the one where we could finally hear the baby’s heartbeat at around 8-10 weeks. I could listen to that sound all day! Prior to that we basically just talked with our doctor after confirming I was pregnant and then at our first midwife appointment we just made sure I was a good fit for midwifery. I was also given requisitions for blood work and our first ultrasound. Even now at 21 weeks my appointments mainly consist of talking about how I’m feeling, getting updates on any tests or ultrasounds and then listening to the heartbeat.
One thing I do appreciate about having a midwife is the appointments are scheduled for an hour and they don’t rush you even if you run over your time. In contrast to having an OB where you only get to see them for a limited time.
In the beginning, there are a lot of appointments to attend and schedule. At the same time, it’s all exciting and new and everything is for the baby which is very special.
3. Don’t expect to start showing until at least your 5th month
With your first pregnancy, all of your abdominal and uterine muscles are pretty tight since a baby has never stretched them out before. As such your stomach doesn’t grow too much in the first half of pregnancy. However, everybody is different and you may show earlier or later in your pregnancy.
I’m almost 21 weeks and still don’t have a very noticeable “bump”. When I look in the mirror I can see that I look pregnant but I’m still able to wear all my normal clothes. In fact, wearing a loose shirt or dress I don’t even appear pregnant to others. Sometimes I’m okay with this because I don’t want the attention of people looking at me or touching my stomach. At other times I wish people could see that I’m pregnant so they could understand why I’m maybe a little tired or slower or why I’m parking in the expectant mother spot.
4. You think about food all the time
I’ve studied nutrition in undergrad so I am very aware of the nutrient needs of the body especially before, during and after pregnancy while breastfeeding. Even though I have this knowledge I still find it difficult at times to keep up with eating enough. I struggle with this for a few reasons. First, I experienced morning sickness for about 6 weeks until it got more manageable so I basically had no appetite. Secondly, I’m not a very big eater, so having to eat every 2-3 hours is not something I’m used to. Thankfully pregnancy has increased my appetite when I do eat and I’ve learned what types of foods I like to eat best.
Before talking more about food, it is imperative whether one is already expecting or thinking they may conceive to be taking a prenatal supplement. In fact, Dieticians of Canada recommends that every woman of childbearing age should take one or at least 3 months before you become pregnant. When choosing a prenatal vitamin look for one that contains 400 mcg of folic acid, vitamin B12, and 16-20 mg of iron.
Now onto the food! Usually, in a typical day, I will eat
Breakfast: 1/4-1/2 C oatmeal with half a sliced apple, 1/4 C raisins, cinnamon and milk heated in the microwave for 2 minutes. Not only is this meal filling because of the fibre from the oats it helps prevent constipation which is a symptom many pregnant women face as the smooth muscles of the intestines relax.
Snack: plain yogurt with honey, granola, chia seeds and fruit, applesauce, cheese and crackers, a can of tuna with mayo on crackers or hummus and rice crackers.
Lunch: leftovers, or part of a crustless quiche made with veggies or sometimes a salad with fruit, nuts, and cheese.
Supper: meat or fish such as ribs, pork, beef or chicken with a vegetable or salad and either potato, sweet potatoes or rice. Some of my go-to suppers include: stir-fry, baked chicken thighs finished with bbq sauce and bread crumbs, pasta bake with tuna, fajitas in the crock pot or chilli with black beans or lentils (also a great source of folate).
Typically after supper, I’ll have another snack like fruit and yogurt or a PB and J sandwich.
I’m pretty much thinking about food all day. I always ensure to have my water by my side. I like juicing half a lemon and adding it to my water because it tastes like sugar-free lemonade and I tend to drink more water that way. I also find it helpful to have a container with a straw so I can quickly sip water whenever I need it.
One more thing I would add is to be aware of how much sugar you are consuming. It is very important your blood sugar stays consistent rather than fluctuating. As this can affect the baby’s growth. Eating wholesome meals filled with fibre, fruit, and vegetables will ensure you are not craving sugar throughout the day.
5. Trust your instincts
Ever since finding out I was pregnant (even before when I suspected I was) my mom instincts and protective instincts have been very present. I’m highly aware of activities that could be dangerous for me or my spouse.
Overall though I feel a lot braver. I know I would do anything for my child, even before they are here. If someone says something about our baby or I’m not okay with something I feel a lot more freedom to speak up and not care as much what other people think. I want the best for my baby and I know that I have to trust my gut.
If you feel like something is wrong or you have a question call your midwife or doctor or go to the emergency room. You’re pregnant and your health and the baby’s health are a priority. Don’t let other people discourage you from asking for help. Or entice you to do things you absolutely don’t want to do. You know what is best for your child and no one else should have that power over you.
As I said above I am incredibly grateful to be pregnant and to be halfway through my pregnancy. I hope that any new moms find this post helpful and insightful <3
For any seasoned moms, what are some things you would add to this list?
Prenatal Nutrition Guidelines for Health Professionals: Folate Contributes to a Healthy Pregnancy [Health Canada, 2009]. (2017). Hc-sc.gc.ca. Retrieved 10 June 2017, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/pubs/nutrition/folate-eng.php
Do I Need a Supplement?. (2013). Dietitians of Canada. Retrieved 10 June 2017, from https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Supplements/Do-I-Need-a-Supplement-.aspx
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