After announcing my pregnancy a few weeks ago and mentioning online that I have learned so much after going through the first trimester five different times, I got a number of requests for me to share some of my best tips for surviving the first trimester.
In this post, I’ll share what I’ve found that works best for me. I can’t guarantee that it will work for you. But each pregnancy has gotten better as I have learned new things and I hope that some of you find these tips helpful.
That said, before I jump into the tips, I need to preface this by saying that while I do throw up and feel nauseous almost 24/7 the first 12-14 weeks (and then somewhat nauseous some of the time for the rest of the pregnancy), I’m not someone who is hugging the toilet bowl all day long and throwing up 24 times a day. If you can’t even keep a few bites down, these tips probably won’t work for you and I’d recommend asking your doctor or midwife for medicine and/or IVs to help.
Okay, let’s talk about my best tips for surviving the first trimester:
1. Never Let Your Stomach Get Close to Empty.
I know, when you feel like you have a constant stomach bug, the last thing you feel like doing is eating, but making myself eat even when I’m positive the food is not going to stay down has actually helped me to feel so much better much of the time.
I’ve discovered that the more empty my stomach is, the sicker I feel. So when I feel the waves of nausea coming on more intensely, I take that as a hint I need to eat… and surprisingly, it often really helps!
2. Eat Protein Every Two Hours.
In addition to not letting your stomach get even remotely empty, make yourself eat protein every two hours or so, if at all possible. Again, it’s usually the last thing I want to eat, but it makes a difference for me.
Some of my favorite quick protein ideas are: scrambled eggs with cheese on top, peanut butter on crackers, apples with peanut butter, nuts, cheese, cottage cheese, refried beans, hummus with crackers or veggies (if you think you can stomach veggies).
This pregnancy, I tried to just find one thing I thought I could keep down and I’d eat a little bit of that every two hours. For one week, I mostly ate cheese and apples. Another week, I mostly ate scrambled eggs and cheese.
3. Stay Hydrated!
It’s hard to have a desire to drink when you feel so sick, but dehydration will usually make you feel worse.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I had Jesse got out and get me a big bag of Sonic ice. I would fill up my favorite tumbler with Sonic ice and water with a packet of Liquid IV in it and then sip a little bit all day long.
In other pregnancies, I’ve also done watered down orange juice or lemonade with ice or fruit tea with ice (I never can stand the thought the of straight water).
I also did fruit popsicles in the first trimester on days when I was really struggling to get liquids down.
4. Sleep, Nap, Rest, and Lay Down as Much as You Can!
It wasn’t until my fourth pregnancy that I figured out that sleep and rest made a BIG difference in my nausea. The more tired I was, the more nauseous I felt.
This time around, in the first trimester, I really prioritized trying to be in bed for 8 1/2 to 9 hours during the first trimester. (I would go to bed at night as soon as Kierstyn and Baby D went to bed — usually around 9-9:30 p.m. and then didn’t usually get up until 6:30 a.m.)
I also laid down as much as possible throughout the day. I would often only be able to be up doing things for 5-10 minutes and then I’d need to lay down for 10-15 minutes.
In addition, I cut everything from my schedule that I could and pushed as many commitments to after week 12 of my pregnancy that I could.
In other pregnancies, I’ve struggled with insomnia. I found that taking Unisom at night time was super helpful for that. (Ask your doctor or midwife before doing so.)
I feel like taking magnesium has helped, plus having a toddler and a baby and teens has meant that when I’m in bed, I fall asleep pretty quickly and usually stay asleep. If I have any trouble falling asleep, I turn on a podcast and that normally puts me to sleep.
5. Get Dressed Every Day.
It would be so much easier to just stay in bed and wear your PJs or sweats all day, but resolving to get up and get dressed every day has made such a difference for me.
My first few pregnancies, I stayed home and rarely got dressed during the first trimester. But with Kierstyn’s pregnancy and this pregnancy, I challenged myself to get up, get on the treadmill for a little while, get a shower, get dressed, fix my hair, and put on a little makeup. I have been amazed at the difference it has made! It would sometimes take me two hours to do all of this because I’d have to lie down multiple times, but I would always be glad that I did.
I’ve found that I feel so much more energetic, am more productive, and just feel more cheerful when I get dressed. Plus, I noticed it motivated me to get out of the house more during my first trimester — which was a good thing as it provided some distraction and helped the days pass more quickly!
6. Choose Your Attitude.
Honestly, this is the thing that has helped me the most this pregnancy. What we’ve walked through with Champ and Baby D the past two years has really shaped my perspective on a lot of things and taught me that God is so faithful — even on the really hard days. Plus, it’s helped me to have a new appreciation for life and for the gifts all around me.
While the first trimester is hard — it’s for a good cause! And I reminded myself often of this gift. All of it. So many people would love to be in my shoes.
I also remind myself of how many people are experiencing extreme fatigue and nausea because they are walking through serious medical issues or on chemo, etc.
With these things in mind, I just couldn’t complain, even when I felt so incredibly sick. Every day, I’d wake up and think, “What can I be grateful for today? Who can I bless with the limited energy I have?”
Focusing on my blessings and looking for ways to bless others really helped reframe my perspective.