I’m a little late to getting to this blog post, but I am officially through my first trimester! I thought it would be fun to answer some common questions, share my experience during this time and also some products and habits that got me through the first 12 weeks! First and foremost, thank you all for the warm wishes and love after we announced our pregnancy news! It really has been surreal to finally share this with everyone! With that being said, let’s get started!
For us, the process of finding out we were pregnant was a little unconventional since we conceived via IVF. What I mean by that is that we knew the exact moment our eggs were fertilized and transferred into my uterus, which made determining how far along I was very easy to calculate. I will say that despite being super stressed during our two week wait for our blood pregnancy test, we were really optimistic. After we found out that we were pregnant, I was waiting for the onset of the usual symptoms – morning sickness, heartburn fatigue – and boy did they hit hard.
I started feeling nauseous around 5 weeks, which made eating really hard. Almost nothing sounded good to me except fresh fruit and plain pasta. I was always told that snacking throughout the day was a great way to stave off the nausea, but even simple snacks like crackers made me gag, ugh! I also napped pretty much every single day. I’m sure it was a combination of lack of caffeine, lack of food and just normal pregnancy fatigue, but it made getting through the workday a real challenge. I also had other typical symptoms like sore breasts, nasal congestion, a metallic taste in my mouth, round ligament pain and a few other minor symptoms. Luckily, the majority of those started to wane when I hit 12 weeks. If you are going through this, just stick with it and eventually you will get through! If you do have morning sickness or heartburn symptoms, below are some remedies that my friends suggested!
What I did experience was a lot of bloating. Pretty much from 5 weeks and on I had what looked like a little pregnancy belly. Obviously it was way too soon to be showing yet, so I attribute that belly to bloating from the hormones. I also started to feel some minor pains in my belly, which is usually normal (but if persistent check with your doctor) and can be attributed to your uterus stretching and expanding to accommodate your growing baby, also known as round ligament pain! Around week 8, I started experiencing some trouble sleeping. I would fall asleep around 9:30pm every night, but then wake up at 4:30am and have trouble getting back to sleep. Sometimes it was because I had to go to the bathroom (another fun symptom), but sometimes there was really no reason at all.
During my two IVF procedures (retrieval and transfer), I had no desire to exercise. I was tired and experienced some cramping from both procedures, so I mostly took it easy. Once we found out I was pregnant, I was told to refrain from any heavy lifting or exercise until further notice. I would definitely check with your doctor if you are not sure if you should be exercising. Because I am someone who usually works out almost everyday, I did get a bit stir crazy and I really struggled to follow this mandate. Since it was the Summer, we had beautiful weather in the mornings, so Eric and I stuck to our normal walking routine around our neighborhood just to get our blood flowing a bit. It helped to keep me sane without technically breaking the “no exercise” rule. Finally, at 8 weeks, I was cleared to exercise again. Since it had been 2 months since I had done any sort of physical activity, I tried to ease into it slowly.
To be honest, many days, I was too nauseous and too tired to even attempt to do anything physical. My nausea was the worst in the evenings, so sometimes, our morning walks were pretty much the only exercise I got all day. My plan was to start riding the Peloton again for 15 minutes every other day, picking Low Impact or Warm Up rides rather than HIIT or Climb rides to make sure I didn’t overexert myself . On the days I didn’t ride, I wanted to do 10-15 minutes of prenatal yoga. I found some great channels on YouTube for beginners, first trimester, second trimester and third trimester exercises. I guess you can’t always predict how you will feel, but I am hopeful that I will be able to resume some of my normal exercise routine once I am feeling better!
Obviously, check with your doctor about when you can start exercising again and what kinds of exercises are off limits!
MUST HAVE PRODUCTS
I haven’t purchased too many pregnancy specific items yet, but I’ll share a few that got me through the first 12 weeks! During my two IVF procedures, I experienced a lot of cramping, so having a heating pad or heating blanket handy was a must for me. You have to be careful about getting your body temperature above a certain level once you are actually pregnant (definitely check with your doctor on this one), but if you are in the process of trying to get pregnant or going through IVF, I highly recommend investing in either or both of these. I also invested in an adjustable computer tray. During those procedures and just sometimes throughout the day, I got tired of sitting at my work desk. My butt would go numb and my back and neck would hurt from sitting in the same position all day. This way, I could sit in bed or on the couch with my feet up and still work on my computer.
For those of you going through IVF, you probably know that even after you get the great news that you are pregnant, you still have a ways to go until you are done with medications and shots. You will likely be taking some form of estrogen and progesterone until you are about 10 or even 12 weeks along. If your progesterone is taken via intramuscular shots (probably in your butt), I have a few tips to make the process a bit more painless. First, try heating your progesterone vial in warm water to thin the liquid a bit. This will make it a bit easier to inject. Second, don’t ice the area before injecting. Apparently icing before doing an intramuscular shot can actually make it harder for the medication to be injected and also harder for it to be absorbed properly in the muscle. Instead, after you inject, massage the area and then apply wet heat (like a warm compress). To be completely honest, we did all of these things, and I still formed two huge hematoma knots in my butt that were painful and also made injecting future shots that much harder. I invested in a massage gun, which definitely helped to breakup the hematomas that formed.
Now on to the more generic pregnancy products!
Belly Butter // This was one of the first things I ordered as soon as we got the good news! I did a ton of research on organic belly butter and lotion options and also consulted with this website, which has been super helpful! I bought the Fearless MaMa Belly Butter (unscented) because it is organic and has really great reviews, but it’s a bit pricey. My neighbors actually stopped by and gave me a care package that had the Burt’s Bees Belly Butter in it, which is much more affordable and got rave reviews from all of my mama friends! I’ve also been using this belly oil most recently. Be really careful about the products you use. I was actually surprised how many products that are supposed to be made for pregnant women that actually aren’t pregnancy safe. Always check with your doctor if you have any questions about what products are and are not safe!
Pregnancy Pillow // This was another item I started researching right from the start. My best friend and sister-in-law both recommended this pillow, but to me, it just seemed so big and bulky. Instead, I started our using this wedge pillow, which is nice and small, so it doesn’t take up the whole bed, and is perfect for a smaller belly. It’s also super affordable if you aren’t ready to make a big investment just yet. From there, I decided I needed something bigger and was planning to invest in this pillow, but instead, my amazing bestie lent me hers and it’s been a godsend! Eric calls it “the clam” and it’s literally the most comfortable thing I’ve ever slept in. I started using it around 10 weeks and I haven’t looked back since!
Pregnancy Leggings // Believe it or not, a lot of my leggings felt really confining almost immediately. I think it was partially because I was so bloated from the IVF medications, but I took to wearing sweatpants instead of leggings almost immediately. My neighbors got me this pair of pregnancy leggings and so far, they are great! They allow for just enough give, but still look really good with an oversized sweater or sweatshirt over them. I’ve also been wearing a bunch of the Beyond Yoga maternity leggings and they’ve been amazing. I know there are tons of pregnancy leggings brands out there, but these are the ones I’ve tried and I like them. If you have others that you love – let me know if the comments below and I’ll check them out!
Bras // I mentioned that one of my early symptoms was tender boobs and when I say tender, they were quite painful. I had a hard time wearing my usual underwire bras, but I also didn’t like wearing nothing and I found most sports bras to be too constricting. After about 8 weeks, I finally caved and bought two new bras during the Soma BOGO sale – one in tan and one in black. I bought the larger of the suggested sizes so that I would have some room to grow into them throughout my pregnancy and after. I was really excited because these were said to be seamless and have no underwire and minimal padding. So far, they have been a real game changer for me since this was one of my worst symptoms.
Clean Skincare & Hair Products // I remember just a few years ago when one of my friends got pregnant (she was the first out of our whole group of girls), she complained that there was basically no skincare that was pregnancy safe. Almost 5 years later, that has significantly changed. There are so many organic and pregnancy safe brands out there that you should have no trouble finding something that works for you! I have heard rave reviews about Drunk Elephant, but I have also heard that they are very pricey. I’ve been using a lot of Tula products, which is actually what I was using even before I got pregnant, including their Cleanser and Nightly Moisturizer. I am not a doctor, so definitely consult with yours if you have specific questions, but I do know that anything including Retinols is a no-no!
Prenatal Vitamins // Prenatal vitamins are a must, even before you get pregnant. I took these Nature Made vitamins, which are packed with 800 mcg of Folic Acid and DHA, from the time we started trying and I am still taking them today. When we first started speaking with our fertility doctor, he specifically mentioned that my prenatal vitamin should include these two ingredients. Obviously check with your doctor as well, but you can’t go wrong with extra nutrients! This particular vitamin has almost 100% of the recommended servings for all of the important vitamins you need. Anything else, you should be able to get from your regular diet.
CRAVINGS & HEALTHY SNACK OPTIONS
I’m not going to say that my diet is perfect, but I have really tried not to give in to any sugary cravings too much. To be honest, I haven’t really experienced too many cravings – at least not yet. As I mentioned before, my friends told me to snack right off the bat, to keep nausea at bay. It wasn’t hard to follow their suggestions, because almost immediately, I found myself hungry between meals.
I added snacks like walnuts, wheat thin crackers and rice cakes with peanut butter or nutella to my daily snack rotation. I always add avocado if I am having a salad (literally who doesn’t?) and then in the evenings after dinner, I like to have strawberries with a little dark chocolate drizzled on top or apples and peanut butter! I also added V8 to my diet, which I drink in the mornings when we are making coffee and breakfast. If I find that I am particularly thirsty one day, I’ll add a mini bottle of gatorade to my drink rotation for the extra electrolytes.
If I had to pick my guilty pleasure snacks, it would definitely be Sour Patch Kids. We bought the 3lb bag during the beginning of quarantine last year, and Eric and I ate it alarmingly fast. We don’t allow ourselves to keep that size bag in the house anymore, but my neighbor snuck me a few small packages to satisfy my sweet tooth!
I’ve downloaded a handful of apps that I have found to be both fun and helpful!
What to Expect // This app tracks your pregnancy progress, gives you great insights about what is happening to both your body and the baby, and has an unending plethora of helpful articles. I particularly like this app because I have found the articles to be the best and most relevant for what I am looking to learn, I enjoy the daily tips and I also love that it tracks your baby’s size via fruits and veges!
BabyCenter // This app is very similar to the What to Expect app. I don’t like the articles quite as much, however, I do like that some of the pregnancy stats are a little more scientific and detailed. I also liked that there was a place to take and save weekly “Bumpie” pictures in a gallery.
Daddy Up // This app is a man version of the What to Expect and BabyCenter apps. It puts everything into to guy terms, like your baby is your “cub” and today it is the size of a “lightening bug”, which Eric seemed to like and think was funny. It got him a little more engaged with the daily tracking process.
Monitor Your Weight // This is a no frills weight app that tracks your weight, BMI, etc. During IVF, I had to track my weight daily to make sure I wasn’t excessively gaining weight after each procedure, which could indicate infection or inflammation. Even after that tracking was no longer necessary, I decided to track my weight throughout my pregnancy just to make sure I was on the right track with where I should be. I’m sure there are a ton of apps out there that are adequate weight trackers, but I liked this one because I would literally weight in every morning, enter my weight and then close it down.
There are a ton of other pregnancy apps out there that you can also use, but these are the ones I liked the most! If you have one that I need to try, let me know in the comments! I hope this post was helpful and I’ll be doing Second and Third Trimester posts as well!