Need help surviving the first trimester? Learn how to cope with difficult morning sickness and fatigue early in your pregnancy.
For both my pregnancies, the first trimester felt miserable.
I couldn’t eat many of the foods I loved, including breakfast staples like oatmeal and yogurt. Feeling tired all the time was the norm, as if I had been exercising all day. I barely gained enough weight to meet first trimester goals.
Getting through a workday was a struggle, and while I didn’t throw up, I felt like I always had to.
With the fear and anxiety of things going wrong and the newness of it all, getting through those first few weeks can be a challenge.
10 tips on surviving the first trimester
Thankfully, this discomfort passes after the first trimester for most moms. We can find solace knowing that this will all pass and we’ll feel somewhat back to normal again.
But in the meantime, what can we do to ease the challenges, or at least not make them worse? Take a look at the top tips that helped me survive the first trimester — and how you can, too:
1. Ease the nausea
As you may have realized, morning sickness is more like all day sickness. And for many of us, we can’t lie in bed for weeks—we have kids to care for and work to do. And even if you were to lay in bed all day, the nausea can still get the best of you.
Instead, rely on home remedies to get you through the day. Here are a few favorites among many moms:
- Ginger tea
- Lemon drops
- Mints and gum
- Healthy snacks
- Drinking half a gallon of water throughout the day
Many moms also swear by pairing a protein with a sugar to ease nausea.
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2. Move slowly
Feeling nauseous and tired? That’s your body’s way of signaling you to relax. It wants you to take it easy, nap if you can, and slow down. Moving at your old pace will only make you dizzier and more nauseous.
So, move slowly, in every way. Stand up carefully if you’ve been sitting at your desk. Take lengthy steps when you move around the house, and avoid sudden turns or bending too quickly.
Picture yourself stepping out of a roller coaster and feeling dizzy—walk as cautiously and slowly as you would then.
3. Eat throughout the day
You likely don’t have much of an appetite, but your doctor still expects you to put on some weight. The best way? Eat small, healthy snacks throughout the day.
Eating small but frequent portions keeps your blood sugar steady, which helps avoid nausea. I tried to eat every two hours, sticking to bland snacks like crackers as well as proteins like almonds. This was especially helpful when I realized I couldn’t eat many of my favorite foods.
A few ideas for bland food you can stomach include:
- Mashed potatoes
- Ginger drops or tea
- Carrot sticks
- Broth-y soups
And if eating three large meals a day is a challenge, eat smaller servings more frequently. Your stomach won’t feel so full from having eaten a plateful of food.
4. Take breaks
Take a break when you feel tired or nauseous. It could be as simple as closing your eyes for a full minute, going to the bathroom, or stepping outside to get fresh air, which always helps with nausea.
If you’re doing an activity for a stretch of time, like working on your computer, set timers to remind yourself to get up and stretch. Change positions periodically, and move about the room from time to time.
And if you find yourself unable to sleep well at night, try to sleep an hour earlier if you can. Catching up on sleep can restore your well-being.
5. Drink water and increase fiber
Your doctor likely recommended that you take a prenatal vitamin. And like most prenatal vitamins, yours probably comes loaded with iron. Great for the extra blood you’re now producing, but not so great for your bowel movements.
If you’re battling constipation, take frequent sips of water and ask your doctor about increasing fiber to help with digestion. Staying hydrated and eating high-fiber food can help ease the constipation.
And if your doctor recommends it, exercise. Body movements will help in so many ways, including helping you cope with constipation. A quick walk around the block during the day can be all you need.
6. Wear loose clothing
You won’t need maternity clothes yet, but wearing loose clothing will help with discomfort. Nothing feels worse than tight jeans pinching your nauseous belly. Instead, wear dresses, loose or flexible pants and flowing or stretchy tops.
And wear “house clothes” like sweat pants and t-shirts as often as you can to lessen the time you’re wearing uncomfortable outfits or shoes.
7. Find distractions
When nausea and fatigue get the best of you, turn to your best distractions. Channel your attention from the discomfort of the first trimester to something more pleasant or productive.
You might turn on a favorite television show, or talk to a friend. Maybe you’ll take a slow walk, dive into work, or bake with your toddler. What we focus on expands, so try not to dwell too long on the discomforts of the first trimester when you can.
8. Get help from others
It’s exhausting being pregnant, so ask for help when you have a chance. During the first trimester, you might not be so keen on announcing your pregnancy just yet, but you can lean on a few select people for support.
For instance, your partner can take household chores or ask your mom to play with your toddler so you can “get work done.”
Or if you have the budget, consider hiring help such as house cleaning, even if only to do a one-time deep clean. Even though it may not look it, your body is hard at work creating your baby. You need all the help you can get!
9. Encourage independence in your toddler
What does your toddler like to do on his own? Encourage him to do more of that, whether it’s coloring or playing with a puzzle. The more independent he can be, the more opportunities you have to rest and relax.
Teach him how to do more tasks on his own that she currently relies on you for. This is especially useful once the baby arrives and you can’t tend to both their needs at the same time. For instance, show him how to fetch his own snack or wash his hands.
If he wants your attention, hold “conversations” from the couch. Watch him run, throw balls, and play with his toys while you sit in one place nearby. You can still engage with him without being too active yourself.
10. Don’t feel guilty
Before morning sickness, you were on top of your game, waking up early with your to-do list ready to go every morning. Nowadays, you feel so unprepared for work, your home, and even keeping track of your calendar.
Remind yourself that you won’t be able to work as hard as you did before pregnancy. While you don’t want to slack off, you should adjust your expectations and give yourself a break, even a temporary one. Relax and let a few things slide, knowing you can pick things up when you start feeling better.
Don’t feel guilty for sleeping in all weekend or for turning down people’s requests of you. Morning sickness is temporary. Adjust the expectations you may have had in the past to make room for this important time in your life.
Not only is the first trimester tricky, it’s also confusing. Why don’t all pregnant moms experience the symptoms? And why do some keep feeling them well past the first trimester? On top of that, we don’t all share the same symptoms—one mom can feel nauseous while the other feels tired all day.
At least we have remedies to help us get through them.
Take steps to alleviate the nausea, like moving slowly and eating small meals throughout the day. Take frequent breaks to rest, and load up on water and fiber to ease constipation. Wear loose clothing to stay comfortable, and find distractions to focus your mind elsewhere.
Encourage independence in your toddler, and get help from others when you can. And finally, don’t feel guilty for not doing the things you used to—this is a temporary season in your life that will soon pass.
You may not be able to erase all the symptoms of the first trimester, but with these tips, you can make them as comfortable as possible. Even if you can’t eat oatmeal and yogurt just yet.
Get more tips:
- 9 Signs You’re in the First Trimester
- Pregnancy To Do List: What to Prepare in the Third Trimester
- Practical Advice for First Time Moms
- 5 Misconceptions about Maternity Clothes: The Truth Revealed!
- 11 Crucial Pregnancy Questions to Ask Your Doctor
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