prenatal workouts

My First Trimester

Pregnancy is such an exciting time, and like I said, I did not have an easy time getting here, so I have truly felt grateful for every second that I have been pregnant. I wanted to take some time to write a little more about all the intimate details of my first trimester for those who are curious. Of course, every person and every pregnancy is SO different, so I don’t expect any of this to determine how I will feel in my next pregnancy or how you will feel in yours. Just reminiscing about and documenting those first weird/exciting/transitional 13 weeks.

Physical Body Changes

The first thing that comes to mind when most people hear the word “pregnant” is a huge belly. And while your belly definitely changes, it’s not one of the first things to change. During the first few weeks, I’d say my belly was very slightly bloated. I definitely didn’t have a bump and all my pants still fit, they were just a little more snug. I kind of had a weird feeling of being “fake pregnant” since I didn’t look pregnant but knew there was something tiny growing inside me.

I am wearing the exact same sports bra in these two pictures, so you can see the difference in fit. Image on the left was week 4 (AKA the day I found out I was pregnant), on the right was week 14 (so technically right after the first trimester)

I am wearing the exact same sports bra in these two pictures, so you can see the difference in fit. Image on the left was week 4 (AKA the day I found out I was pregnant), on the right was week 14 (so technically right after the first trimester)

One unexpected change I noticed was that my skin was way more dry. I felt like I needed to constantly put on lotion (so I did). But my body had that feeling where it is just “sucking up” lotion, that you usually have after you are sunburned or something. My eyes were also more dry. I wear contacts most days and can usually get through the entire day without feeling uncomfortable but as soon as I got pregnant, I had to remove them at about 8PM (after about 12 hours of wear) or else my eyes would feel dry and itchy. My optometrist said this is common during pregnancy.

Another change I noticed almost immediately, was my boobs (not sure if it is unprofessional to talk about that on here but, hey, we are all adults). I went from about a B to a large C in the first two weeks and after about a month, I was already a D. This sounds great, but, my boobs were super painful. Any touch or slight bouncing during exercise HURT. I had to continually buy new bras, since the ones I bought for the first few weeks, I grew out of quickly. I have remained in my second set of bras through the beginning of the second trimester (although I’m already starting to outgrow them).

Image on the left was week 4 (AKA the day I found out I was pregnant), on the right was week 14 (so technically right after the first trimester) but you can see my “bump” developing.

Image on the left was week 4 (AKA the day I found out I was pregnant), on the right was week 14 (so technically right after the first trimester) but you can see my “bump” developing.

I did start developing a small bump around week 7/8, but again, looked more like bloating. This really developed into a “bump” around week 12 at which point it “popped”. This may be because I’m so short and the baby has nowhere to go but out, so even though the baby was the size of a lime, my body didn’t have much space to hide the lime (plus it is surrounded by an enlarged uterus and placenta).. I didn’t truly need maternity clothes at this point, but my old pants and leggings were definitely starting to pinch and pull more than I wanted so I started researching maternity wear and bought it around week 13/14.

Another fun side effect of the the first trimester was that I peed ALL the time. At this stage, the uterus is sitting lower (right on the bladder) and I felt like I literally had to go every 5 minutes or at least multiple times an hour! This definitely let up for me around week 12.5/13 as the uterus raised in my body. I have heard it will get bad again in the third trimester when the uterus is pushing on the bladder the most, but that hasn’t happened yet so I am enjoying this second trimester pee break.

Although a lot of people are frustrated by the early body changes, since many people feel like they are in an awkward in between stage where they don’t look pregnant but they don’t look like their normal selves, I was so grateful for what was happening inside me, that I really didn’t mind that awkward stage.

Appetite & Nausea

I was SUPER lucky to have very minimal nausea. I am not sure what to attribute this to, so unfortunately I don’t have any tips for any of you queasy mamas to be. Some people theorize it’s because I’m having a boy, some people theorize it’s my diet, and I personally have read that vitamin B6 helps with nausea (1), and I stayed on my vitamin B complex (which has plenty of B6) through out my first trimester. When I did feel nausea, it was usually when I was hungry or tired. So eating was a pretty good solution for me. Exercising or even going for a walk also helped. I never threw up, my nausea was more like a “hungover” feeling in my throat". I would say my peak “nausea” was from weeks 5-8, and after this it started to diminish (it was still there through about week 11). But, like I said, it was pretty minimal compared to what I have heard from friends and clients. I guess it could have just been luck.

Speaking of eating, I was STARVING from the moment I knew I was pregnant, which was the earliest time you can take a pregnancy test, so I was 4 weeks pregnant at this point. I basically felt like I did a really intense workout every day (since I am always hungrier on those days) but I was actually taking it a lot easier with exercise and took quite a few days off but was still super hungry every day despite my activity level. I definitely ignored the calorie guidelines of not needing ANY extra calories during the first trimester (2) plus you guys all know how I feel about calorie guidelines (eye roll). If your body is growing a baby, and you are HUNGRY then I think your body needs extra food to grow that baby. And since I was not nauseous like many women are, I was still eating very balanced meals of properly sourced protein, healthy fats, and tons of veggies, so I wasn’t starving because I was filling up on empty carbs, my body truly needed more fuel. I basically had 4 meal sized portions a day with at least 2 snacks. My extreme hunger began to let up around week 12 and I felt like my appetite went back to what it usually is.

Now that I’m in my second trimester, and the guidelines say I need around 350 extra calories, I actually feel like eating my regular amount. Moral of the story is listen to your body, those guidelines are based on averages and are, in my opinion, outdated and oversimplified. If you are eating real, good foods, I think your body knows better than some number, granted, it’s doing all the human-growing work!

Food Aversions & Cravings

A lot of pregnant women who followed my instagram asked me if I was really eating all those veggies in my first trimester, and the answer is yes. I completely understand, not everyone is able to do that, but this was my experience. I still loaded my plate up with PFFP (protein, fat, fiber, phytonutrients) which you can read more about in my balanced breakfast blog post. I felt even more motivated to get as many nutrients as possible in my body since I knew these nutrients would be helping to build my baby. I have done multiple pregnancy nutrition certifications and read numerous books on the topic, so perhaps in this case, ignorance is bliss and I subconsciously did not want to put “non-nutritive” food in my baby. The other possible reasons I was able to maintain my normal eating habits were 1) because I did not have crippling nausea that made vegetables and meat seem repulsive and 2) because healthy food is my comfort food, I grew up eating that way since I was a kid so that’s truly my craving food.

The only real food aversion I had was to shrimp. One night I decided I wanted cauliflower pizza and picked shrimp as the topping (I was trying to mix up the protein sources we ate and also get in lots of omega 3 fatty acids for my baby’s brain development) (8). However, as soon as we cooked up the shrimp and put it on the pizza, I took one bite and could not eat any more. I picked off all the shrimp and haven’t eaten it since. Something about the smell combined with the taste was truly repulsive to me (this was a food I used to LOVE).

This was Claudette the frenchie helping us with our pregnancy announcement to our friends and family.

This was Claudette the frenchie helping us with our pregnancy announcement to our friends and family.

I also haven’t had any crazy cravings, or strong desires for foods that I would never desire when not pregnant. But there have been some foods that I have had a stronger affinity for than usual. First of all, I usually am an exclusively sweet for breakfast person. I don’t start my day with a bowl of sugar but I love a berry smoothie or paleo baked good with some yogurt. However, during my “peak nausea” weeks (5-8) I was really craving savory for breakfast more than sweet. I had more eggs, grainfree pizza, even salmon and veggies, but I still had some sweet for breakfast days too.

Another food I really wanted was dairy. My body doesn’t usually digest dairy well, but I had read the hcg hormone can help certain women tolerate dairy better during pregnancy (3) so I decided to try reintroducing it since my body was wanting it (and I do think the body knows best). Sure enough, I did not experience the usual digestive symptoms I experienced when eating dairy, so I decided to add it back in. I focused on full fat dairy (since this is less processed and helps your body absorb the vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin found in diary) (4) and fermented dairy, since this improves digestion (5). When it came to cheeses, I picked either cheeses made in the USA specifically labeled grass-fed, hormone-free and antibiotic-free (I don’t want GMOS, antibiotics or hormones going into my tiny baby!) or imported cheeses from Europe or New Zealand (since grass-feeding cattle is standard practice there). I have still been wanting and enjoying dairy through my second trimester so far.

Fatigue

There were a few days when I was extremely tired, before I found out I was pregnant. According to my calculations, this was when the embryo was implanting. I felt like I ran a marathon even though I literally didn’t move these 2 days and I napped a lot. It’s crazy to think of all the hard work the body is going through even though it’s “invisible”. My fatigue continued through the first trimester but it was not terrible like in those few days.

This picture was taken at 12.5 weeks, when the fatigue had already started to let up.

This picture was taken at 12.5 weeks, when the fatigue had already started to let up.

For the entire first trimester, I found I could not rise in the morning at my usual time (6/6:30AM) and really needed to sleep until anywhere between 7 and 8AM on most days. Since I have the luxury of setting my own scheduled, I just did not make any early client appointments and was able to let my body sleep as much as it needed to. This meant an average of 9-10 hours every single night. This sounds like a lot, but that was how I dealt with the typical “first trimester fatigue”. A lot of people complain of not being able to get through the days without a nap during the first trimester, and I definitely would have felt the same if I was only sleeping 7 or 8 hours, but this extra sleep made it so that I felt pretty much “normal” during the hours I was awake. There were a few days during weeks 8-10 when I still had to lie down on the couch for a few minutes because I felt extremely tired in the afternoons, but for the most part I managed it with my extra sleep.

Now that I’m in my second trimester, I already feel this diminishing a bit and am hoping to be able to wake up a little bit earlier soon.

Workouts & health scares

If it were up to me, I would have worked out a lot more during my first trimester. Workouts are a great stress/anxiety reliever (I was super anxious about miscarrying the entire first trimester, since it is so common) and also working out can make pregnant mom and baby healthier (6). During the first week that I knew I was pregnant, I was working out pretty regularly just keeping it lower impact and slightly lighter weight (this was probably not necessary, like I said, I was just nervous about miscarriage). However, one day when I was walking on the treadmill at the gym and went to the bathroom, I saw tons of blood. This was very alarming since almost everything you read about miscarriage says “you’re probably fine unless you see tons of blood” (yikes). I frantically called my doctor who said I should lay down the rest of the day and come in the next day for an ultrasound (I was 5 weeks at this point). The heavy bleeding continued for about 8 hours then stopped completely but I was a nervous wreck.

My husband came to the ultrasound the next day with me and luckily, the doctor was able to see the “gestational sac” right away. This meant I didn’t miscarry and there was still a little embryo growing in there (yay)! My doctor also saw a subchorionic blood clot (7), which, was what she suspected had caused the bleeding. She said these bleeds were fairly common and don’t always mean doomsday but I did need to take it really easy so another bleed din’t happen, she also said these blood clots can often go away on their own. I scheduled another ultrasound in exactly one week, and like I was instructed, I barely moved between those two ultrasounds, I walked around a tiny bit and cooked etc. but nothing you would call “exercise”.

Gym selfie at 9 weeks pregnant.

Gym selfie at 9 weeks pregnant.

At the 6 week ultrasound we got to hear the baby’s heartbeat, which was AMAZING! And also checked on my subchorionic clot, which was still there but hadn’t grown and was still small. Since I hadn’t had any more bleeding, my doctor said it was fine to resume light exercise, nothing too strenuous and no heavy weights. I took this to mean walking, yoga and barre and a few workouts I made up on my own using lighter than usual weights. It truly felt so good to move and really helped with my anxiety (which had greatly increased since the bleed). At the 8-week ultrasound my doctor saw that the clot had been reabsorbed and I was cleared to go back to exercising (which I did immediately). Of course, I put my baby’s health first when I was told not to exercise, but as I said, it was hard on me mentally since it was a very anxious time for me.

Once I was able to resume normal workouts, I did through out my entire first trimester. I definitely modified things and kept things lower impact, but generally working out actually energized me rather than make me more fatigued. My body definitely got way more sore more easily, since instead of sending resources to muscle recovery, it sent resources to the baby. I definitely took a full rest day each week and also 1 or 2 lighter intensity days (walking and stretching or yoga). Overall, I’m just doing what feels good to me and that may change as the pregnancy progresses.

Dreams & Emotions

I was 14.5 weeks in this picture, not too far out of the first trimester.

I was 14.5 weeks in this picture, not too far out of the first trimester.

Hormones are running high during pregnancy and so are emotions. For the most part, I have not been extra moody or emotional but I have definitely had my moments (you can ask my husband). However, the second I got pregnant I started having the CRAZIEST and most vivid dreams. I have heard this from other pregnant women (including my mom, who experienced the same thing) as well. Every night I remember my dreams, which I usually don’t when I’m not pregnant, and I honestly don’t even know how my brain comes up with them. Everything from seeing a pack of wild tigers outside my parents house in Boston to being stranded at sea in a kayak to a lot of other stuff in between.

Like I said, I did not have an easy time getting pregnant so the emotions I felt the most were gratitude, disbelief and giddy excitement. This was cut with intermittent spurts of anxiety, largely caused by the bleeding scare and just an overall fear of miscarriage, a “this is too good to be true” feeling. However, after about week 10, I started to lean into it and accept that my body was carrying a baby and I needed to enjoy the process rather than worry about it. I still get a little bit nervous before each doctor’s appointment but slowly but surely my anxiety is turning into pure joy. Feel free to reach out with any questions you have and I’m sure there will be lots to come on this topic!

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4649576/

  2. https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/prenatal-wellness/healthy-weight-during-pregnancy

  3. Nichols, L. (2018). Real food for pregnancy: The science and wisdom of optimal prenatal nutrition. {United States?: Lily Nichols.

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234920/

  5. https://www.bewell.com/blog/all-dairy-is-not-created-equal/

  6. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/exercise-during-pregnancy/

  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323307.php

  8. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/omega-3-fish-oil/