At the time of writing this, in late October, I’ve just wrapped up the first trimester of my pregnancy. It’s crazy how fast time flies – as I mentioned in my post 5 Interesting Facts About Pregnancy That Shocked Me, your pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last period, so the timing is somewhat inflated. This means that you may be as far along as 6 weeks (or more!) before finding out you’re pregnant! And at that point, you’re almost halfway through your first trimester.
We found out we were pregnant at around 4 weeks which is really early, and means that I’ve known about the pregnancy for almost as long as it’s been “real”. Over the past few months I’ve had some ups and downs, learned a ton about pregnancy, and have found some of the best practices for me in managing my symptoms.
Given that, I thought it would be smart to pull together my best first time pregnancy advice specifically for the first trimester. I’ll plan on doing this for each part of my pregnancy, as it unfolds, and hope it helps other first time moms-to-be!
#1. Give yourself permission to be excited.
One of the things I struggled with at the beginning was managing my emotions. Could I truly feel excited, grateful, and hopeful? Or would that jinx everything? I was cognizant of the risks involved in early pregnancy and the concern that the pregnancy wouldn’t remain viable.
I was also acutely aware of the number of women on message boards and in my pregnancy app who shared stories of miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and other types of losses.
Getting pregnant quickly felt too good to be true, and at times, I didn’t let myself be fully excited. I wanted to manage my expectations and stay grounded.
While I would definitely advise managing your expectations at the start, don’t let it take away the joy of some of the milestones like seeing your baby on an ultrasound for the first time. Telling your partner and your family are also exciting times. Those moments are so precious, and should be enjoyed!
I also asked myself, if the pregnancy wasn’t viable, wouldn’t I want to be excited and happy for as long as it lasted? The answer was yes.
Ultimately, I would encourage you to be cautiously optimistic, but allow yourself to truly appreciate the beautiful moments.
#2. Don’t feel pressured to tell people you’re pregnant before you’re ready.
While we were comfortable telling our parents pretty early on, we told other family and friends in stages which was a great approach.
We started with immediate family, then grandparents. It was a small enough group that I didn’t feel too much pressure or overwhelm.
A question arose, however, right before Canadian Thanksgiving: should we tell our extended family? I would be 11 weeks which was decently far along, but still in the first trimester.
My doctor suggested waiting until the 12 week ultrasound if I wanted to have more of a comfort level around the pregnancy, and that was wise advice. We were able to watch the baby move, see the heart rate, and even get the results of the genetic testing before announcing to more family at 13 weeks.
While this meant not being able to tell everyone in person, it meant we were far more confident in the pregnancy when we told people, which was a great decision.
Over the following weeks, we told additional friends, family, and colleagues, and after that I announced it on social media. This meant that by the time it was fully “public”, I was well into my second trimester.
My advice is to not rush into telling people before you’re ready. It’s not a race, and you know yourself best. If telling people will cause anxiety and stress and if you won’t be able to truly enjoy telling them your news, wait.
#3. If you’re not feeling well, take it easy on yourself.
As I mention in my post about how to manage morning sickness, as many as 90% of pregnant women experience some degree of morning sickness. And even if you don’t, you may experience fatigue or other symptoms like food aversions, frequent urination, heartburn, and a bunch of others. This can affect your sleep, digestion, and overall feeling of wellness.
If you have any symptoms and aren’t feeling well, cut yourself some slack! You’re growing a human, and it’s natural that your body is going through numerous changes that can impact the way you feel.
Go to bed earlier, sleep in when you can, take a day off if you need to, and give yourself permission to get a bit behind on housework or personal projects if needed. Ask your partner for help with things around the house, and put your health first. It may feel unnatural, but your body needs the rest.
#4. If you have nausea or food aversions, focus on just getting food down.
When you find out you’re pregnant, you may jump into full-on health mode! It’s natural to want to eat as healthy as possible to give your baby the nutrition he or she needs.
But once you add nausea, vomiting, and food aversions to the mix, eating healthy can be a challenge. If you can’t stomach most foods, you may find yourself on a diet of dry toast and plain pasta. And if you have food aversions, lots of food may just be completely unappealing.
A doctor told me that during those times to focus less on the nutrition, and more on eating food you can eat and keep down. If that’s mac n cheese – fine. It’s better to eat something plain and not terribly nutritious than to try to eat healthy and not end up being able to keep it down.
You’ll have plenty of time to eat healthy during the rest of your pregnancy!
And if you’re looking for more tips on managing morning sickness, check out my post How to Ease Morning Sickness: 7 Simple Ways.
#5. Know that just because you don’t feel pregnant, you still are.
Until I was about 6 weeks along, I had no pregnancy symptoms! And I didn’t start showing any sort of bump until 13 weeks or so, though even then it was barely noticeable. Without symptoms or a bump, it can be hard to feel pregnant, and I know many women worry about this: Is there something wrong with the pregnancy if I don’t have symptoms?
I’d recommend being patient with yourself. If you don’t have morning sickness – GREAT! Use that time to get ahead on projects and work so that you can take it easy if symptoms do creep up.
And if you don’t yet have a bump – that’s fine too! I’ve heard it takes longer to start showing with your first pregnancy. Use this time to wear your regular wardrobe. You also don’t have to worry as much about people figuring it out by looking at you.
Lastly, I wanted to say that if you’re struggling – I hear you. The first trimester can be challenging: you probably don’t feel well, you’re not showing, and you may not have told may people yet. You may not have had many (or any!) prenatal appointments or ultrasounds so it doesn’t really feel real. It can feel like all the bad symptoms are there, without any of the exciting, positive stuff.
Be patient! In some ways, I started feeling better at the end of the first trimester and once we could tell people, it started to feel much more real. This season will fly by, so try your best to enjoy every minute of it.
If you’re pregnant, leave a comment below with your due date! I’d love to hear any tips you have on the first trimester.