Pregnancy - first things first...
Guess what. I survived the first trimester of pregnancy, and though this was not my first first trimester, it certainly felt like it. Perhaps my first pregnancy experience was different due to obvious factors (don't dare say age), or maybe it was just mother nature's soft primer for a more challenging #2. Nevertheless, all of the common conceptions and misconceptions about the first trimester were realized, and I have lived to tell the tale.
Yes, yes, and yes. Morning sickness, afternoon sickness, and let's not forget evening sickness. If you've never been pregnant, don't fret or assume that this will happen to you. In fact with pregnancy #1, I was one of the lucky few, whizzing by without a trace of nausea. This time around, however, I fell into the more popular bracket of over 50% of women who do experience it.
1. Have smaller meals more often (i.e - 5 or 6 mini meals instead of 3 larger meals per day).
2. Try cold, sour foods such as popsicles, smoothies, cold apple sauce, or yogurt
3. Consume food at room temperature food vs. hot.
4. Avoid the smells of cooking (i.e. - reheat in microwave rather than stovetop).
5. Avoid lying down after meals. Walk, stand, or at the very least sit upright after eating.
6. Rehydrate with water or electrolyte replenishing drinks if you are experiencing vomiting. *If you experience severe nausea, constant vomiting, and weight loss, you may have a condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum which can be treated with diet and certain medications, or in severe cases may require hospitalization.
In my first trimester every day felt as if I was pulling all-nighters despite getting my usual full night's sleep. Every movement felt like a labor-intensive obstacle course, and at a certain point I managed to forget what my baseline energy level was. In reality, feeling tired during pregnancy is a common symptom that occurs due to changes in the body related to hormones and increased blood volume.
How can I boost my energy levels?
1. Rest up. Grant yourself more sleep - maybe hit the sheets an hour early, or take power naps if possible.
2. Move. Even though it might feel humanly impossible to remain physically active, you will find that moderate activities such as walking or stretching may help you feel like yourself.
3. Eat right. While nausea and fatigue may contribute to appetite suppression, try to maintain a regular, healthful intake. Avoid skipping meals, and reach for ready-to-eat nutrient-rich snacks like fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese, or nut butter.
Congratulations. As a pregnant woman you now fall into the category of "immunocompromised" individuals. Simply put, you are more susceptible to contracting viral infections, food borne illnesses, and infectious diseases. The reason for this is a change in your immune system that promotes an inflammatory state to prevent the body from rejecting the growing fetus. I experienced this firsthand via food poisoning just weeks after discovering I was pregnant.
How do I keep my immune system strong?
1. Pay attention to food safety - make sure foods such as poultry, meat, fish, and eggs have reached the proper degree of doneness, keep refrigerated foods outside of the "temperature danger zone" (40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit), avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards and utensils when handling raw and ready-to-eat foods, consume pasteurized dairy products, and wash hands thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap.
2. Get enough sleep. Your body will thank you.
3. Get a flu shot. The flu vaccine is safe during pregnancy and the first line of defense against influenza, which if contracted during pregnancy can result in severe illness harming not only the mother but potentially her growing baby.
4. Maintain a healthful diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Consume plenty of colorful fruits, vegetables, and probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt containing live and active cultures.
5. Take a prenatal vitamin regularly.