So, here’s my experience. Before I got pregnant with Grace I had this idyllic expectation of what pregnancy would be like. For me I was going to look like those beautiful pregnant women in the glossy magazines. The ones that stood in front of their perfectly designed nurseries, eager faces awaiting their perfect bundles. This was going to be me. It was going to be about that beautiful glow, the cute bump, the thicker longer hair and the sweet cravings. I was going to keep exercising through my pregnancy, eat incredibly healthily, read up on everything I needed to know about the first years and enjoy those amazing nine months I’d been eagerly awaiting for so long. Now, I don’t mean to seem all doom and gloom, and for some people that might be their pregnancy reality. But in my experience, this was not how my pregnancy went. Yes I’ve had those sweet cravings, I’ve got the ‘cute bump’ and my hair is growing faster, but I don’t have that glow (as far as I can tell) in fact my skin seems to be worse than ever, and the problems I’ve faced with both pregnancies have been challenging and exhausting. I’ve spent more hours sick in bed than I can count and second time around, I don’t even know if I’ll have a nursery set up in time for second babies arrival! Of course that’s not what’s important… but I want to share with you some personal pregnancy truths so that I can also share my tips and tricks to help you get through what can be some exciting but in reality, pretty tough months.
Finding out you’re expecting is one of the most elating wonderful experiences, besides the actual birth of course! If – like me – it didn’t just happen right away, it’s almost an in-denial experience. You’ve looked at those negative tests so often you almost don’t believe the positive reality you’re looking at. I actually had to go into my OB office to have them confirm it was in fact a positive test result, because I wasn’t sure whether or not to believe it! But along with the amazing news comes some first trimester realities and personally I found this trimester to be the toughest of the three. These were some of my experiences…
Tiredness – I think that most people feel pretty exhausted during the first trimester. It seems to be a very common side effect. Your body is working hard to form and create your little baby and the fatigue that comes during this time is felt fast and furious. Unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do about it. But for me I quickly recognized I needed an extra hour or two of sleep at night. I usually need a good 8 hours, so I needed 9-10 to feel okay. And as much of a nap through the day as was possible. The most important thing I realized was to make sure I got into bed early every night. That meant putting Grace down and going to bed at the same time as her. My body would quickly and happily do the rest!
Morning Sickness – This doesn’t effect everyone and it might not affect you, but for me this was the hardest element of pregnancy to get through. My nausea started at 6 weeks for both pregnancies and lasted until the middle of the second trimester. As I say some people get no nausea, and some people have it the whole nine months. If you do get it, it generally starts at about 6 weeks and will usually only last until the end of the first trimester. As I say mine lasted until the second and I found this part of pregnancy to be by far the most challenging. Morning sickness should not be called morning sickness. It can be just in the morning for some people but for most it’s an all day affair and for me it was at its worst at night. One of the main triggers for my nausea were smells. During pregnancy your sense of smell is heightened and odors I wouldn’t have even noticed previously became the trigger for sickness. There were the more obvious ones like the smell of the bin (or trash) and the smell of the opened fridge. But there were also ones that other people couldn’t even smell. For me it was a plasticy smell I smelt in my pan drawer. I quickly discerned it was coming from my plastic colanders and had to get rid of them (they’re actually still in our basement!). But it was also the smell of the leaves outside – I could actually smell the decay of the fallen Autumn leaves – and it was abhorrent! And last pregnancy it was the smell of our house! – We’ve moved since so this wasn’t a problem this pregnancy. But there were times I told Eric we had to move, I couldn’t bare it any more, I needed to move out because the minute I stepped foot through the door I’d run as fast as I could to the bathroom. It was so bad sometimes I remember throwing up before I even got into the house because I knew what I was about to expect. Nobody else could smell what I was talking about. This side effect as I say for me was by far the worst, and second time around with a three year old it was really really hard.
There are doctor prescribed medications you can take for nausea and I know people who have taken them and have had perfectly normal healthy babies, it’s just not something that I personally wanted to do. So I read up on alternative remedy ideas. For me what helped the most was eating small regular, carb rich meals through the day. Hunger and fatigue (apart from the smells I talked about above) were the two most common triggers for my sickness so I tried the best I could to not let them happen. If I ate too much I would get sick, if I ate too little I would get sick, so it was about figuring out the right amount of food to keep the nausea at bay and get me through the day. In order to help the fatigue in the first trimester I would nap whenever I could. I’d take Grace to preschool, come home, set my alarm for when she got out and nap the whole time in between. I’d nap if Grace’s grandparents could take her for a few hours and I’d nap if she ever (rarely these days) happened to nap too… if she did nap she would usually nap in the car, so I would too. I’d take every moment I could to sleep because if I didn’t I knew tiredness would make my sickness worse.
Asides from sleep and regular meals I found these tips and tricks to help:
Carrying Around A Lemon – This sounds like a strange one but carrying around a lemon or something with a strong citrus scent to sniff when a bad odor comes your way can really help you avoid getting sick by diverting your sense of smell. Of course, it’s not always a practical one though!
Keeping Crackers On Your Nightstand – Keeping crackers or dry toast by your bed to eat first thing in the morning or if needed during the night can help curb nausea by put something in your stomach before you start to feel hungry and sick.
Eating Ginger Candies or Drinking Ginger Tea – Ginger is a commonly known anti sickness remedy and a lot of people swear by it. It helped somewhat for me although I did find peppermint more beneficial.
Switching Toothpaste Brands and Using Mouthwash – By the end of the day I’d feel my worst, and I realized that brushing my teeth caused me to gag and be sick. In order to combat this I switched my toothpaste to Sensodyne – it has less of that strong minty taste and I’d try brush in the middle of the day instead of at night when I felt my worst. At night instead of brushing I’d use a good pro-enamel mouthwash instead.
Sipping on Peppermint Tea – Along with small regular carb rich meals (which keep you full) I’d sip on some non decaf peppermint tea. Peppermint is another recommended aid to help with nausea and for me this worked better than ginger.
Use of Sea Bands – Some people swear by sea-bands to help with nausea and I did feel these helped too, especially for car journeys but also through the day. They work by targeting two pressure points on the under-sides your wrists, and if you feel a pang of nausea pressing on these points can help.
Taking Baths – There’s a reason people have water births, there’s something soothing about being in the water and for me I found taking a bath at night before bed really helped with my nausea. It’s one that’s definitely worth a try.
And finally a doctor recommended over-the-counter combination of Vitman B6 and Unisom (sleeping pill) really helped me from getting up through the night to be sick. The quantities are important with this one so I’d definitely check with your OB to see what he/she recommends for this.
2nd and 3rd Trimesters
For most people it seems like the second trimester is the easiest of the three. Morning sickness is usually gone, and people often say they find they have more energy and feel less tired. For me the sickness wasn’t gone but I did feel I had a little more energy. Instead of that long two hour nap I’d happily take through the day, a small cat nap (30 minutes or less before getting into that REM sleep) would help give me the boost to keep going. The second trimester was when I noticed my bump get much larger and that’s also when I started to use stretch mark cream. This pregnancy I’ve been using Belly And The Bean‘s stretch mark cream and exfoliant. Their products smell divine, keep your skin hydrated and you get so much product I wouldn’t be surprised if they lasted until the end of the third trimester… I’ll let you know (blog review coming soon!).
The second trimester was also when I started to get some back pain – I’ve mentioned this on my Instagram before. I appealed to you guys for help and have loved the recommendations you’ve given me for this common side effect of pregnancy. It’s only been a few days since I’ve tried some of them out but these have been my most helpful remedies for back pain so far:
Maternity Belt – A velcro belt that wraps around your hips to help support your back and growing bump. You wear this under your clothes and it’s invisible to the eye once it’s on. Love this belt, it’s helped support my back so much.
Heating Pad – Applied to your back as and when needed. Can really help ease pain and alleviate discomfort.
Pregnancy Wedge – This was an Instagram recommended one. I bought a Boppy Pregnancy Wedge that has been amazing in providing that extra support where needed. Placing it between your knees when sleeping takes the pressure off your back and helps alleviate pain. What I love about this little wedge is it fits in anywhere. Between your knees, under your belly when lying on your side, at the base of your back… its proven a really good purchase for me.
Lastly, although I experienced this only at the end of my pregnancy last time it’s happened a lot sooner second pregnancy, and that is sleeping trouble due to feeling uncomfortable. The Pregnancy wedge has definitely helped but what’s been invaluable and I’ve mentioned this before, is the snoogle, a pregnancy pillow that wraps around your body and supports your back and bump at night… I can’t live without it!
So that’s my pregnancy experience so far. I’m currently a week off entering my third trimester and it’s been a rollercoaster of a ride so far. I’m hoping for a smooth and sickness free final trimester. I’ll let you know!