It’s all I can talk about, I know – this pregnancy and everything about it, including now the things that got me through a natural first trimester. What is a natural first trimester? Well, part of a natural pregnancy, of course! Which to me means a pregnancy that is as sustainable, organic, healthy, nurturing, and natural as possible. Within reason (we’ll discuss more below…)
This pregnancy has been amazing already – oh, don’t get me wrong, I have been feeling absolutely AWFUL. But this pregnancy has been amazing for its power to educate and heal. See, I’m a completely different person than when I was carrying T for those 9 (and then some!) months. The last 8 years have been a huge journey in terms of my health and my entire world view – which lands me in this pregnancy, perfectly poised for the next level of growth and education. I haven’t had a natural pregnancy before. I ate terribly, had all the standard tests, and had an intervention-loaded (slow, difficult, traumatic) labour and delivery. This time, I want NONE OF THAT.
Over the last 8 years, I’ve developed vague ideas about how I would want my next pregnancy to unfold… whilst mostly casting these vague ideas aside in the ‘not relevant now’ basket in my brain. But now these ideas are forced out of the not relevant basket and into the ‘oh-my-goodness-you-need-to-know-and-do-all-of-these-things-NOW’ basket. I’ve had to quickly research and make decisions about some things already. Other thoughts/ideas/feelings/decisions are unfolding as my belly grows and the weeks roll by.
But, amazing as endless learning is, as wonderful as growing new life is, this pregnancy has been bloody tough too. Morning sickness sucks, decision-making is tough, and despite the joy found in learning it is also not always easy. I’m not a huge fan of the first trimester, obviously. But I got through it! Here are a few things that helped me through my natural first trimester…
1. Possibly the best pregnancy book I have ever read (at least so far!)
If you want to have a natural pregnancy, labour, childbirth, and/or fourth trimester, then Well Adjusted Babies is absolutely the resource for you. It covers all of these crucial moments in your (and your baby’s!) life, from an evidence-based perspective but with a natural slant. Everything I *vaguely* knew prior to this pregnancy was affirmed by this book, and I still learnt so much from it. It really helped me make tricky first trimester decisions and deal with first trimester issues (natural morning sickness remedies? Doppler heartbeat? 12 week ultrasound? and more).
I’ve since passed the book on to my husband, who is learning loads. We even had a conversation this morning about Doppler heartbeat scanners, in light of my upcoming appointment at the antenatal clinic! We’re both firmly on the same page about it now, and will choose to wait until the heartbeat can be heard using the safer fetoscope in a month or so. Well Adjusted Babies has helped bring us both on to the same page, so to speak.
2. These Honey Ginger Caramels
For several weeks, I could hardly eat anything. I lost a few kilos. I struggled with dizziness, as my blood sugar swung wildly all over the place. I needed something that I could eat quickly, that would raise my blood sugar quickly. Honey Ginger Caramels did just that… The stomach-soothing effects of ginger, the energy provided by honey, and the fact that it was a small, quickly-eaten mouthful less likely to make me gag! They worked a treat.
3. The Bellybelt from Fertile Mind
I am SO excited about this revolutionary little product. My belly has popped a little earlier this time, for sure. During my first trimester, the waistband of my jeans started to feel so very wrong. It was too tight, sitting in the wrong spot, digging in to my belly (okay, maybe my belly was pushing out against the waistband, but that’s just semantics!). The bellybelt basically extends out the waistband of your pants so that you can keep wearing them as your belly grows.
I’m hoping I won’t have to buy a single pair of maternity jeans this pregnancy (and hopefully my thighs get that message!). And I’m excited about that, because specialised maternity wear is comfortable but not exactly sustainable when we wear it for such a short time. Plus… I love the jeans I already have! If I can keep on wearing them through my pregnancy thanks to the Bellybelt, I’ll be one happy mama. And I’m sure my wallet will appreciate that too! But for now at least, I don’t have to unbutton my pants every time I sit down, or rip my jeans off as soon as I get home. Phew!
The incredible Genevieve from Mama Natural runs a free weekly pregnancy update newsletter, customised to your due date. BUT, she’s a natural mama so of course it is filled with tips for a natural first trimester (and second, and third). Plus plenty of articles about natural labour and childbirth which she shares along the way. I’ve found it really helpful to stay updated on baby’s growth and development, with a natural pregnancy in mind. It’s just different from those other weekly pregnancy updates. More helpful. More… in line with my own needs as a natural mama. If you are pregnant, I would definitely recommend signing up for it!
5. Patience, understanding, and compassion…
…and I’m talking mostly about having these feelings towards yourself. As I mentioned about a million times already, I’ve been much sicker this time than last time. I’ve also gone through patches of feeling incredibly frustrated, anxious, and especially depressed. Not all that surprising, given that depression and anxiety have always been a big part of my life. But difficult nonetheless. I was so incredibly frustrated with myself for not being able to achieve as much as normal, so anxious about what other people would think about my inability to function, and so deeply depressed about oh, anything and everything.
But I just had to keep reminding myself that I’m doing a damn big thing, growing a baby. That this phase will pass. That the best thing for baby and for me is to be patient, understanding, and compassionate towards myself. That it doesn’t matter how other mamas experienced morning sickness; this is my now and it’s okay to be in that now. I had to allow myself to lie down when I needed, to not feel guilty about it, and to let go of my own ridiculously high expectations of myself. It hasn’t been easy, these things don’t come naturally to me… There were rough moments, but I managed to stop my own internal bullying and shame cycles. And I feel so much better mentally for having nurtured myself through it.
(Very important side note: celebrate those moments when you can get up and achieve things – because you’re doing it while growing a human, and that’s a pretty big deal!)
In the early days of this pregnancy, I though I could get by with a super nourishing and very well-planned diet, and no prenatals. HA! Morning sickness had better ideas. I could hardly eat a thing, and the things I could eat weren’t always very nutrient-dense (corn thins, toast, not much else…). I realised pretty quickly that the whole ‘food as medicine’ idea wasn’t going to cut it – or, not exactly. Instead of relying solely on food for nutrition (impossible at that point!) or relying on synthetic supplements (not my cup of tea), I found a food-based prenatal supplement. One that gives me almost everything that baby and I need, but uses strictly food-based sources.
Of course, check that your doctor is happy with you taking these before you start, and pay attention to the nutrients these are low in – calcium, magnesium, zinc, and manganese. Boost your intake of these nutrients with foods, supplements, or other food-based supplements… These also don’t contain Omega-3s, so be sure to find a good source of these all-important healthy fats. But these prenatals won me over because they aren’t nearly as processed and may also be more bioavailable since they’re made from, you know, actual foods. Bonus: my morning sickness improved a little when I started taking them!
…Because when you want to eat perfectly for your growing baby but all you can manage is cheese on toast, that’s okay. You’ve got the rest of your pregnancy to do that. I had no option here, there’s no way I was going to be able to eat as well as I wanted to. I was just so sick. I’m still not well enough to eat perfectly, but I’m eating better with each passing week. I held on to two things: my food-based prenatals which provided what I couldn’t, and the fact that the placenta isn’t fully functioning until the end of the first trimester.
Now, I don’t know if that last fact actually means anything in terms of nutrient transfer to baby, but I’m quite happy living in that bubble thank-you-very-much. If all I can get in (and keep in!) is cheese on toast – well, that’s better than nothing! Sourdough bread and good quality cheese, even better! Make the best decisions within your capacity at the time – let go of anything beyond that. Forgive yourself and don’t burden yourself with this crazy notion of not eating well enough when you can hardly eat at all. It’s madness. You do the best you can, because that’s the best you can do – and that’s something to be proud of.
8. Anti-Nausea Oil Blend
Oh. My. Goodness.
I didn’t discover this until almost halfway through my second trimester. Still, I had to add it in to my natural first trimester post since it is the best thing for easing morning sickness! One day, I received a little parcel in the mail from my sister in Germany. I was really struggling with morning sickness and she wanted desperately to help me – and she did! Her friend Libby is a consultant for Doterra, and she made the most amazing anti-nausea oil blend for me in a cute little roll-on perfume tube. Let me tell you, the results were instant. It didn’t alleviate nausea completely for me, but made such a big difference. It made the nausea manageable, even in the car on twisty and bumpy rides down our dirt mountain road.
I tried everything to deal with my morning sickness during my first trimester, and into my second as the nausea stuck around. My nausea coping tools from my first pregnancy did nothing this time. I tried new things too, with no success. The oils were the only thing to actually make a significant difference in my nausea levels, and within seconds of using them. If you’re struggling with morning sickness, give the blend a try. It’s so worth it! For more info, contact Libby by clicking here.
(Note: I don’t work for Doterra, and receive no kickbacks for promoting this product. It was the most successful remedy for my morning sickness, and I want to share that with you all! Also, I don’t want to start an oil business, so please don’t take my glowing review of these oils as permission to flood me with emails to convince me to sign up with an oil company.)
Natural First Trimester Question Time!
Have you experienced a natural pregnancy and labour? Are you currently pregnant, and if so how far along are you and how are you feeling? Leave a comment below and share your story!