Even though I’m powering towards the end of my second trimester, I’d like to share some of my experiences from the first, in particular how I managed my health naturopathically.
The first inkling I had that I was pregnant, apart from the late period of course, was a generally bloated and ‘off’ feeling. I remember wondering aloud if I had gastro, or if.. maybe… I was up the duff? No gastro, as it happens. Good sleuthing me!
Once I’d confirmed I was actually pregnant, it didn’t take long for more symptoms to become apparent. For me, these were: nausea (NOT morning sickness, it lasted day and night), very sluggish digestion, fatigue and a constant need to urinate. As I was still working and studying full time over this period, I had to support my health and calm my symptoms as best I could, while powering through my commitments.
I’ve written several times before about my top tips for pregnancy nausea and was happy to find my professional advice proving useful for my own (regular) waves of ill-feeling.
I had to steer clear of anything too bitter or sour, as this stimulated my digestion and turned me green. Almost constant grazing – particularly foods rich in fats and / or complex carbohydrates – worked best for me, as it helped to keep my blood sugar stable and settle my stomach. I’m a big tea drinker anyway, and when I was feeling spewy I found herbal teas particularly beneficial, especially any containing ginger, cinnamon or rooibos.
I occasionally took carminative herbs (extracts that help settle digestion, particularly eruptive symptoms). However, herbal medicine can have a very strong flavour that, even though it never bothered me before, tended to upset my sensitive stomach!
By which I mean, of course, constipation. There was also a lot of bloating. Part of this was to do with the huge hormonal changes happening in my body – sluggish digestive function is a common side effect of these. Part of it was also to do with the larger-than-usual volume of food I was consuming in order to keep myself from feeling sick. And it didn’t help that I was doing very little exercise due to significant fatigue.
For a while I was going heavy on the bread, it was all I wanted to eat, which is quite unusual for me. However, as I gradually reduced this, in favour of other carbohydrates that were equally satisfying but richer in nutrients and fibre (e.g. brown rice, quinoa, steamed veggies, nuts, etc) I felt much less bloated and much more, well, regular.
Once again, herbal teas were the hero, not only settling my stomach but also keeping me hydrated, and helping to warm and very gently stimulate my digestion. I also put myself on a short course of probiotics to help my gut adjust to the changes.
Seeing as I was moving my body much less than usual, I focused on regular stretching (particularly twists, which are great for digestion) and low-intensity exercise when I had the energy and time. All of these measures helped considerably.
I could not believe how tired I felt, up until around week 10/11. How bone weary I was some days. Quite a few times I came home and cried, absolutely bawled, for no reason other than fatigue… I just wanted to sleeeeeep. Luckily I have a very nice husband who tried to get home earlier than me so that I could just roll in the door and eat the dinner he’d prepared, before sending myself to bed at around, oh, 8.30 (latest). Sounds boring and it was, but also necessary. Basically, I rested as much as I possibly could (work and study permitting) and ate as well as I possibly could. It was a good plan.
I also developed mild anaemia in the first couple of months, which didn’t help with energy. So, iron supplementation (alongside my prenatal multi) was an important addition.
Needing to pee
Well, it happens when your kidneys are taking an early pregnancy pounding. You’ve just got to urinate. Often. Very often. There’s not much to do about it apart from stay hydrated (herbal teas to the rescue again!) and accept that this is part of the ‘magic’ of pregnancy.
All of my experiences were pretty standard for first trimester and it was actually really nice to experience them. You know, I’ve been fascinated with conception, pregnancy and birth for the longest time. I’ve also discussed at length, written and read extensively about pregnancy and pregnancy health as part of my job. So, it’s been amazing to experience these first hand. An inside-view, if you will, that has already added another dimension to my practice. Bonus!
Finally, this is how far I’d *popped* by week 12… not much compared to my belly now, but I certainly felt much larger at the time!
Also pregnant? Similar symptoms? Or perhaps different / better / worse? What have you found works best for you?
I recently wrote two books that I think many people, particularly women who are pregnant or planning to conceive, will find an excellent resource.
The first, Preparing for Parenthood, provides information and advice on how to create the best possible foundations for conception and pregnancy. The second, Natural Pregnancy Care, will take you through some of the best ways to support your health naturally, throughout pregnancy.
These will be available for download in the next couple of weeks and I’m really looking forward to sharing them with everyone. Watch this space!