Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First Trimester Advice

An internet friend of mine (who also happens to be enrolled in the Purposeful Conception Course: Preparing Your Mind, Body, and Life for Pregnancy) just found out that she's pregnant! I promised I would jot down a few of my thoughts for her about being pregnant (for what they're worth!):
  1. Eat What You Can to Get Through the First Trimester: I'm so thankful my midwife (who is very strict about nutrition!) gave me this advice when I found out I was pregnant. I was ready to hit the ground running with excellent nutrition for my little poppy seed. In fact, I was able to eat healthy food for several weeks. However, once my queasiness set in, it was much harder. Don't get me wrong, I didn't give myself permission to eat complete crap all the time (except when we went on a two-week road trip and I thought I was having a miscarriage), but I was also patient with myself when I couldn't eat all the greens I wanted to or get in all the recommended doses of calcium. Some people subsist almost exclusively on crackers and ginger-ale during this period, and that's okay! There's plenty of time in the second and third trimester to feed your baby wholesome goodness.
  2. Take Your Prenatal Vitamins Religiously: There are a lot of vitamins and minerals that are essential to a fetus at the earliest stages (which is why I started taking prenatal vitamins eights months before we started trying to conceive!). I found it very, very difficult to swallow vitamins during my first trimester, which is another reason I was thankful for a one-a-day (I also appreciate the fact that it's a food-based vitamin and vegan). I know it's better to spread out vitamin consumption throughout the day, but I really had a terrible gag reflex during my first trimester (which is why I sometimes only brushed my teeth once a day).
  3. Take It Easy: I used to think that pregnancy got gradually more difficult as your uterus expanded. That's not the case! The first trimester is a very difficult one (way more difficult than the second, in my opinion). Luckily, I was on summer vacation from my teaching job, so I was able to nap whenever I needed to. Some days, I would wake up at 8:00, go for an hour-long walk, shower, and take a nap. Remember, your body is growing a baby! You need to divert a lot of your energy inward and let your body do its thing. As soon as we conceive, we need to make space in our lives for our growing baby. We need time for rest and reflection. Now that I am back at work for 10 hours a day, I still try to make time for a daily nap and walk. It means I have to say no to a lot of requests that come my way, but I want to prioritize the health of my baby and myself.
  4. Make Yourself Comfortable: I had some serious discomfort during my first trimester, including extremely sore breasts and an inability to sleep well at night. I had to find ways to make myself comfortable, like wearing a light, stretchy bra to bed at night. Get creative! Do whatever it takes to seek out comfort.
  5. Find a Care-Provider Who Makes You Comfortable: I firmly believe that one of the most important things we can do throughout pregnancy is keep our anxiety levels down. It's important to steer clear of the "Culture of Fear" that permeates much of the pregnancy process and instead gravitate toward a "Culture of Confidence." A huge piece of this is finding a good care-provider. And don't be afraid to switch if you need to!
  6. Remember You Can Control the Inputs, Not the Outputs: Miscarriage in the first trimester is way more common than many of us realize because so many people don't announce they are pregnant until they are through the first trimester. You can control how much you rest, how much water you drink, what kinds of food you ingest, and whether or not you take your vitamins, but you cannot stop a miscarriage, just as you can't control whether or not your baby has a genetic difference. Remembering that we can control many of the inputs but not the outputs is a good way to start preparing for parenting!
  7. Gravitate Toward Resources, People, and Experiences that Cultivate a "Culture of Confidence" Rather than a "Culture of Fear": There's so much fear-based pregnancy stuff out there. The more you worry, the more stress you create for yourself and the baby, which will likely impact your pregnancy and birth.

I'm sure I'll think of five more things to add to this list as soon as I press publish! But those are my two cents for now.

I would love to hear others' advice, too!

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this! I am in my 9th week right now, and it is really good to read these tips and know things will get better. Grateful that you could norm some experiences!

Kelsey said...

Hey Sara, your post made me think about something I've witnessed. It seems that people like to tell pregnant women all the birth horror stories either they or someone they know have experienced. I think they're trying to be helpful but when I see people doing this I just want to say, "Stop! Why would you tell her that!" Have you experienced this and if not, might be good to think of a response to stop them, seems like it could just cause undue stress. Not sure if others have also experienced this...
Your belly is super cute!

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much Sara!! ;-)

Carrie said...

I'd say to pick at least one person other than your partner to tell early on that you're pregnant. There is a lot that you may want to talk about and for which you need support. Sometimes keeping it all a big secret can be really stressful.

R. said...

Thanks for posting the link to this on big tent! So far, the things I have been focusing on are your numbers 6 ad 7. My version of #6 is that I keep telling myself, "Do you best, and then let go," a paraphrasing of advice from the Tao Te Ching. I know that worrying about what can go wrong is not going to stop it from happening....Which is also why I am making a effort to stay away from all the stuff I can read about what could go wrong. I like how you put it here: "Cultivate a culture of confident, rather than a culture of fear." I am going to keep telling my self that, too. And, I have in particular stopped Googling things like "pregnancy over age 35." That's just crazy-making.
Thanks again!

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