You’re pregnant – congratulations! You are expected to feel all the feels: excitement, apprehension, fear, uncertainty but nevertheless, it’s a lot. The first trimester (or 12 weeks) of pregnancy is widely considered to be one of the hardest points of the whole 9 months both physically (hello, all day sickness and extreme fatigue), and mentally. Here are our top ten first trimester tips to see you through.
- Abandon the ‘12 week rule’ (if you want to)
If you feel able to share the news of your pregnancy with a trusted friend or relative, doing so can really help to alleviate the mental toll that the first trimester can bring. We’re quite anti the ‘12 week rule’ here; if you want to tell the world, tell them! If you just want to tell a small handful, or nobody at all, do that. With 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in miscarriage, it can be a really emotional and lonely time dealing with that uncertainty on your own. You may be one of the lucky ones who sails through with little to no adverse symptoms but if you’re not, or you unfortunately do suffer a miscarriage, being able to talk about how you feel and what you’re going through can help. You know what they say: a problem shared is a problem halved.
- Manage expectations – yours and others
Whether you’ve decided to let people know or it’s just between you and perhaps a partner – make sure your expectations of yourself are manageable. It’s important to listen to your body now and so no, that might not mean cleaning the bathroom, sticking to your usual workout routine or going to a mates party. Do what you feel up to and rope others in to help where possible!
- Keep nausea-free snacks on hand
Unfortunately there’s no magic cure to make ‘morning sickness’ (hello, all day pregnancy nausea) disappear but you can try avoiding rich or spicy food, eating small regular meals or snacks and drinking peppermint or ginger tea to help. Like with many things in motherhood, the name of the game is preparation. Making sure there’s something to eat on your bedside table for immediate consumption when you wake up and ensuring that your bag or pocket is always full of tasty snacks to help you graze can keep the nausea at bay.
If your sickness feels more severe you may be suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Do see a doctor.
SUGGESTED: My HG Pregnancy Experience
- Carry around a smell you love
If the sickness wasn’t enough, a heightened sense of smell is yet another thing some women have to contend with during the first trimester. Suddenly you might be able to smell all manor of disgusting whiffs which can in turn trigger feeling sick. Far from ideal! What may trigger you could be completely unpredictable so making sure to carry something you know you love smelling can be a game changer. First trimester tip: having some essential oils or your favourite perfume always on hand to whip out whenever the ick strikes can help trick your brain away from those nasty whiffs to something much more pleasant.
- Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.
You might feel very, very tired during those first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This fatigue can be especially problematic if you’re working full time and/or already have a little one who depends on you so like with many things a plan is crucial. Try to get as much sleep as your schedule possibly allows. Go to bed (really) early, ask for help and squeeze in as many naps as you can. The good news is that like the pregnancy sickness, the tiredness seems to peak at around 8-10 weeks and begins to tail off around the 18-20 week mark.
It’s no secret that growing a tiny human takes A LOT out of you! Taking a supplement containing folic acid is recommended by the NHS during your pregnancy but combining it as part of a dedicated prenatal vitamin can go a long way to topping up your body with those nutrients that get depleted. Aside from folic acid, iron and calcium are crucial nutrients that your body may lack. Naturally any supplementation should be an additional factor to a healthy, balanced diet.
- Try to stay active
If you were a total gym bunny or a running pro before you got pregnant there’s no reason to stop after seeing those two lines. If you’ve got the energy, incorporating some daily exercise into your routine can go a long way to boosting your energy levels, combating fatigue and alleviating any nausea you might be feeling. If you have any concerns, always consult your midwife or doctor but finding a pregnancy workout routine that works for you, even if it’s simply a brisk walk or some slow yoga, can help to keep a healthy and occupied mind during those first 12 weeks and beyond. First trimester tip: your mental fitness is just as important as your physical fitness and regular exercise can work to reduce anxiety and stress.
- Soothe sore nipples
Anecdotally, sore breasts can be one of the first signs of pregnancy for many women and the level of breast tenderness can sometimes be really alarming! Even the lightest touch can be surprisingly painful from as early as 6 weeks, especially if it’s your first pregnancy. Communicating with your partner and switching out any tight, lace bras for something a little softer and more comfortable can help to alleviate your discomfort. Like with many things first trimester related chanting: this too shall pass, can help. Well, okay, maybe not, but it might make you feel better momentarily.
- Know what’s what when it comes to bleeding
As alarming as it can be, a lot of women do experience a little bit of spotting during pregnancy. Whilst we can’t go as far as classifying it as a ‘common’ side effect, sometimes even the knowledge that this can and does happen as part of many successful pregnancies can help to calm concerns. As with most things, knowledge is power. If you do experience a little bit of spotting, a bit of rest and recuperation can be just what your body needs. However, it is important to get any bleeding or cramping that you’re concerned about checked out ASAP. Contact your midwife, doctor or self-refer if possible to your local Early Pregnancy Unit.
- Keep things regular
You’ll be recommended to drink water and increase your fibre intake during your pregnancy and with good reason. Between your fluctuating hormones and iron rich pregnancy supplements which do wonders for all the extra blood you’re now producing, your bowls might have some complaints! Constipation in the first trimester is REAL so staying as hydrated as possible and eating lots of fibre rich foods can help ease it and keep you as regular as possible.
READ NEXT: The First Trimester: Beth’s Pregnancy Diary