There are women out there who will tell you pregnancy is a beautiful time of blooming and happiness and that they loved every minute of it. I am here to tell you that these women are liars. Or even possibly robots. Pregnancy for me is a continuous flow of shitty problems; pain, vomit, fainting, and massive engorged breasts that look nothing like the perfectly pert models with their fake bumps on the ASOS maternity section. It’s shit and I hate it.
However, for most of us it is the simplest way to get our hands on a tiny squishy baby. So it’s something of a necessity.
The first three months were for me – like so many, many others – hell. Sickness, fainting, constipation, anxiety, zero sex drive, agonisingly painful breasts. This post is a combination of little things that might help others find it a bit easier and a chance to moan about it all to garner some sympathy. Which I think are both important and necessary.
(Note: yes, I’m going to moan about pregnancy in this post, because it’s hard. This doesn’t mean I don’t realise how lucky I am to be having a healthy pregnancy. It doesn’t mean I’m not thrilled to be having another baby. We are more than aware just how hashtag blessed we are, this doesn’t stop it being a crappy experience.)
Ah morning sickness, the one symptom we are all prepped and ready for. Except we’re not. Partly because of the terrible lie that is the name, mourning sickness maybe, but it’s definitely not reserved just for a little ladylike spew first thing.
There’s a million different ways women experience this delightful time. Some women feel nauseous all the time, some can’t handle certain smells, some have the occasional post-shower spew, some have the occasional mid-shower spew, and some women turn into the girl from the Exorcist. I am a combination of all these women, so that’s nice.
For me nothing really helped the feeling of nausea, but eating as early as possible and then throughout the day was the best way to keep from projectiling. My saviours were salt and vinegar crisps, Ritz crackers, or cinnamon and raisin bagels. Plus loads of water just in case. Crisps make nasty vomit. The ginger thing didn’t work for me in my last pregnancy or this one, and ginger snap biscuits get boring pretty quick.
My entire diet became based on the most bland foods I could find. Cooking smells were an instant ticket on the barf train and living in an open plan flat there’s nowhere to hide from them. Frying meat, heavy sauces, cheese…pretty much anything was likely to send me running from the room. Many nights ended in me locking myself in the bathroom while Matt frantically cleaned anything that had the slightest link to cooking and Febreezing every corner. Romance. (I am kinda tempted to keep playing on this one though, my kitchen has never been cleaner.)
Oh, and definitely don’t cook fish. Worst. Idea. Ever.
Of course if you can’t keep anything down at all it could put your baby at risk, the NHS have tips for when to speak to your Dr about morning sickness.
Dizziness and Fainting
This is the symptom that gives me the most trouble in pregnancy. It was the same with TI so I was a little more prepared this time around, but it’s still a struggle. I have low blood pressure, low iron, and blood sugar that likes to drop with no warning all the time. Add a baby parasite to that and it’s the perfect combination for not being able to see straight for months on end.
Iron is easy enough to sort, your midwife will repeatedly test your blood to ensure your iron levels are high enough and will prescribe supplements if they’re not (beware the black poo!). Eating iron rich foods are good too, spinach, broccoli, STEAK! If you can stomach it obviously.
Blood sugar is basically about making sure you’re eating at regular intervals, something I am shit at. Especially with the nausea. But yeah making yourself eat a piece of fruit of a slice of toast is actually much easier than having to sit with your head between your knees in the middle of Asda. (Look at me, with the advice, imagine if I followed my own tips.)
Blood pressure is a wanker. Midwives and Drs will mostly just tell you you’re lucky it’s not high, which is true, but also makes you want to stamp your feet and then have to sit down for a bit. The usual advice is to make sure you’e drinking lots of water and to stand up slowly when getting up from sitting or lying down. I found having someone willing to catch you helps too.
Some more medical and helpful advise here.
Right, this is something nobody ever tells you about. I swear any amount of baby bump you have in the first trimester is actually just due to being blocked up. It makes sense when you see what your expanding uterus does to your colon, also progestorone, apparently. *shrug emoji*
I don’t actually have much helpful advice for this, I just wanted to have a bit of a whinge. Prune juice and Senakot. Usually I’d say a strong black coffee and a fag but that would probably be frowned upon.
This hasn’t got better for me either, I went ten days over Christmas. Ten. Days. Imagine.
That was no help, NHS has a little bit more info.
This is less a symptom and more a reaction. And it is probably the part I found most difficult. During the first trimester is a terrifying time. You don’t have a bump, you can’t feel the baby moving, you haven’t even had the first scan to confirm yes, it’s definitely a baby.
Suddenly it feels like there are baby loss statistics everywhere you look and the idea that you get to be one of the lucky 3 in 4 seems almost impossible. I was a mess of anxiety until the sonographer smiled at me and I knew it was ok. I didn’t want to be excited about it, our parents wanted to be thrilled and I just felt dread. I chewed my lip so hard on the way to the scan that everything for days tasted of pennies.
Basically anxiety is a bitch.
I’ve discussed my poor relationship with my body a few times on here. For many years control over my body was the only thing I felt I could do to have any control of my life. Although I am slowly becoming a much healthier person as far as body image is concerned watching it change, rapidly, with no control over it is hard.
The changes during the first trimester look slight to the outside eye, but when it’s your own body they are so obvious. A slight swelling around the waste, not yet a defined, gorgeous bump, it just looks like you’ve spent a month in Italy. Swollen, sore boobs, meaning none of your bras come close to fitting anymore, and any top with a slightly low neckline looks obscene. Break outs, greasy hair, and overwhelming of gross. Pregnancy is like being a teenager again, except your friends aren’t going through the same and J17 doesn’t have any tips.
Yeah, sorry but every pregnant woman becomes a psycho during pregnancy. Especially during the first three months. Crying at an advert for cat food one minute then screaming at your partner because he left all the opened post and empty envelopes on the damn kitchen side again…what? No not talking from experience.
Hormones are evil and nasty and can make you feel like everything in your life is falling to pieces. There’s nothing that can actually be done to prevent or lessen this, but don’t make any big decisions. And don’t be too proud to apologise after.
There’s a whole myriad of other symptoms that don’t get much press but cause just as many problems.
- Exhaustion – you expect this in the last couple of months, when you’re massive and have a full sized baby kicking you in the bladder every night, but it’s so much worse in the first trimester.
- Lack of sex drive – this is the last time for a long time you’re going to be this skinny, but the thought of getting naked and sexy is about as appealing as a sprout sandwich. This is torture for your other half too, because your tits look great but are agony, so are totally off limits.
- Headaches – total, mind-numbing, blinding headaches that pierce the front of my forehead were a common experience for me (still are) and it would totally stop me in my tracks every time. Lots of water, paracetamol, and a cry help.
I’ve probably missed loads, because pregnancy really is a minefield of one crap thing after another. If you’re lucky it calms down a bit after 12 weeks, if you’re unlucky it doesn’t. Or you just get a whole new list of problems (ask me why I can’t walk, I dare you). But this is what we’re designed to do, even if our bodies seemingly don’t seem to know how to do it well, and we can all make it through. And once we have, just 28 little weeks left…
Oh, and the fact you can’t neck a bottle of red after a day of dealing with all of this? Sadistic.