Tuesday, July 19, 2011

8 Things I Wish I'd Known About the First Trimester Before Living It

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="275" caption="I have a tiny bump!"]Finishing up trimester #1[/caption]

This week I am finally leaving the first trimester of my first pregnancy.  Yay!  And I say "finally" because I miscalculated.  I thought, "Hm, pregnancy is nine months, so once I hit the third month (or 12 week) mark, I'm out of trimester #1.  Yippee!"  But pregnancy isn't about months -- it's about weeks, 40 weeks to be precise.  And 40 weeks divided by 3 trimesters equals about 13.3 weeks, which is where I am at now.  I look forward to leaving pervasive nausea and extreme fatigue behind!

Now that I've experienced pregnancy (well, the first part of it, anyway), there are quite a few things that I found surprising.  It seems strange that these things do not seem to be commonly talked about -- I mean, if we can talk about things like morning sickness and sore breasts and frequent urination, why not talk about the other intricacies of first trimester life?

So, as you've probably guessed, I decided to dedicate this post to sharing all of those odd little things that surprised me about the first trimester of pregnancy.  Be warned -- if you don't like things like mucus, then this post is not for you.  If you are curious to find out more about the first trimester, however, read on.  (Also, another disclaimer: this is a totally subjective reflection on my personal experiences.  The first trimester may not be like this for every woman.)

Things I Wish I'd Known About the First Trimester Before Living It:

  1. Weird and random nausea.  Normally I really enjoy being out in the sunshine during the summer.  As soon as I became pregnant, however, exposure to the sun (especially the morning sun) seemed to trigger my normally (for my pregnancy) low-grade nausea into an oh-my-goodness-I'm-going-to-puke-right-now experience.  Fun.  I've only survived a few trips to the weekend farmer's market this year.

  2. Snacks defeat nausea.  I'm lucky in that, while I did experience pervasive low level nausea, I was not physically sick during my first trimester (and I'm not complaining!).  However, I did notice that eating regularly helped manage my nausea.  The day I discovered I was pregnant, I hadn't eaten anything all day because I felt so lousy.  Not eating makes my nausea worse, while keeping my metabolism steady makes it better, and apparently this is not an uncommon coping strategy for pregnant women.

  3. Unexpected food revulsions.  I expected to have odd food cravings during pregnancy (and I have had a few -- think ketchup and mustard on scrambled eggs).  I did not, however, expect to be unable to tolerate certain foods -- and healthy foods at that!  I was devastated to find out early on that vegetables made me gag.  I love my salads, and the idea of not being able to stomach something as nutritious and vitamin-rich as my beloved veggies was rather scary.  However, I soon discovered that what my body (and baby?) was craving was healthy fat.  When I added low-fat dressings to my salads, I was able to keep vegetables down again.  I also had some major beef cravings early on, which is interesting since I ordinarily eat beef twice a year.  I think my body was sending me a message!

  4. Rise of the super sniffer.  So I expected morning sickness.  I expected having to pee every five seconds.  I expected food cravings, and so the food revulsions weren't all that surprising.  But I definitely did not expect to suddenly develop the world's most sensitive sense of smell.  Early on, before I even knew that I was pregnant, I told the Best Husband Ever that the rainy day smelled polluted or metallic.  I could almost taste it, and it was gross.  Other smells that now bother me (that never did) include: window cleaner, our dogs, and my own breath.  Delightful.

  5. More mucus.  Expect to have a very wet vagina if you become pregnant.  When a woman becomes pregnant, a mucus plug appears in her cervix to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus.  So expect to very, ah, juicy.  It is normal.  I have never used so many panty liners in such a short time.

  6. Vaginal ultrasounds.  When the Best Husband Ever and I went to our first maternity appointment, I was excited at the prospect of having an early ultrasound photo of our baby.  What I was not excited about was the fact that, as we entered the exam room, the nurse instructed me to strip down for a vaginal ultrasound.  Um, what?!  Now, let me first say that the vaginal probe -- er, I mean ultrasound ;) did not hurt and turned out to be fairly comfortable.  But I did not like being surprised with the procedure.  I mean, I hadn't even known that such a thing existed.  I wish I had known to preserve my mental health while we waited for the doctor to come and administer said procedure.

  7. Navigating to the truth.  In researching pregnancy and childbirth, I have found it difficult to suss out what is actually best for the baby, and for me, from the rather rabid battle being fought between home birth advocates and medical birth advocates.  I don't know if I'm gullible in nature, but when I read a book published on something as important as birth, I assume that its writers are legit and the editors did not allow the skewing of facts.  Unfortunately, this does not seem to always be the case.  I have had to be really, really careful about what I believe, because I think that many (but definitely not all!) of the most active home birth supporters are unfortunately more interested in being right than preserving the health and safety of new babies and their mothers.  I was so sad to have to come to that conclusion.

  8. New fears.  When I found out I was pregnant, I initially felt bombarded by new fears -- miscarriage, developmental disorders, and cesareans topped the list, not to mention the worries that come with the daunting challenge of parenthood.  But I was not surprised by those fears.  I was, however, surprised to experience fear during procedures at my doctor appointments that I had been looking forward to -- namely ultrasounds and listening to the baby's heartbeat (which I already wrote about here).  Even with our first uncomplicated ultrasound, there was a brief moment while the doctor was searching for the baby that I thought a horrified, "What if . . . ?"  Deep breathing and prayer have gone a long way to help in those situations, and I imagine it will remain so for our exciting finding-out-the-baby's-sex ultrasound in a month and a half.  I have had to be careful not to allow the what-ifs to flood over me, but just to breathe and pray and trust.

For more first trimester insight, I recommend watching Goddess Leonie's Pregnant Goddess Diaries videos and her three-part Best Friend's Guide to Pregnancy.  The latter series has some excellent tips on the wearing of underwear.  ;)

If you've been pregnant before, what things surprised you about the experience?  If you haven't been pregnant, do you have any questions?  Maybe I can help! :)

"Hannah prayed: I'm bursting with God-news! I'm walking on air. I'm laughing at my rivals. I'm dancing my salvation." ~ 1 Samuel 2:1


  1. I just love you Beth! I love the way you write. I am excited to read more as this pregnancy progresses!

  2. Hello Western Beth! :) I love the picture - you are glowing! Sparkling and Radiant :))

    I like your eight things too - there is so much information out there and it is difficult to navigate through it all. I have found some good resources: La Leche League, Holistic Moms Network, Mothering Magazine (I think they are a website only now), Dr. William Sears (his baby book is the BEST all his books are great though - not yelling - just excited about Dr. Sears :)) get it now so you can read it and have it at hand for this little one ( and your peace of mind).

    The most important thing now it to enjoy, rest, take great care of yourself and love these moments of pregnancy! Enjoy!


    Eastern *Beth*

  3. Having so recently experienced this myself, I totally loved this post. If only #2 had worked for me, lol! I tried that and it only made things worse, but I've heard that for a LOT of women it is a great solution. So glad it worked for you! I hope, if/when I'm pregnant for the second time, that I'll have a more enjoyable experience with the whole nausea/sickness thing!!

    #3, for me, was similar—I could not stand the thought of vegetables, anything nutty (peanut butter or almonds, alas), chicken, or fish. I stared out with such good intentions to eat so well, and then…yeah. Fortunately, I'm back to loving everything except for fish (which is still kind of sad, since I have always loved fish before now…but I've gotten sick on it every time I've tried it while being pregnant).

    And, dude. Yeah, #6 came as a surprise to me, too! Yeesh. I felt the exact same way—excited about an ultrasound, only to be caught off guard with the way it was performed, haha. Glad those days are over.

    Congratulations on being out of your first trimester!!! My first one was so bad, I absolutely did not believe it when people would tell me I'd feel SO MUCH better during the second, but they were right. I hope yours is awesome, too! :)

    PS: Super cute picture!!!

  4. Aw! I love you, Stacy! :D Hope this week is treating you better.

  5. I'm glad (well, sort of . . .) that you could identify with some of that stuff, and that it wasn't all in my head! ;) It stinks that you had a rough go of tri #1 this time around . . . I was just thinking the other day that I better not get too complacent about expected every (if there are any more) pregnancy after this one to treat me exactly the same! I know lots of women have very different experiences with each baby -- maybe your #2 will be a un-nauseous breeze! :D

  6. Hello, Western Beth! :D Thanks for visiting and commenting! And thank you for the resources. Although I've heard some sketchy things about Mothering Mag, like they delete controversial posts (meaning posts that go against what they're trying to communicate, regardless of the truth of said posts). Eek it's so hard to know who to trust! But it seems like La Leche and Holistic Moms are pretty balanced, as is Sears.

  7. Congrats Beth! Love your candor in this post! Try to not worry and enjoy this time, God is covering you & baby & hubby!

  8. Really enjoyed your post - such an honest 'warts and all' look at pregnancy! Your journey is honest and inspiring too.

    Have a wonderful pregnancy - you know where I am if you need an unbiased birth chat via email!

  9. Thank you, Rebecca! :)

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  11. Hi again, Beth.

    So glad I stopped by. This was a really helpful post.

    I'm experiencing a lot of those things right now. It's nice to know I'm not the only one.

    Thanks again for stopping by my little blog :)

    I'll be back!


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"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King