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SJS Pregnancy Diary Part 1: The First Trimester and How I Survived

SJS Pregnancy Diary Part 1: The First Trimester and How I Survived

SJS Pregnancy Diary Part 1: The First Trimester and How I Survived

Make it through the first trimester ☑️.

PHEW. The first 12 weeks of this pregnancy were a doozy. I work with pregnant women, I’m around mamas-to-be all the time, and I know pregnancy inside and out with all of the research and clinical work that I’ve done, but OH MY GOD, experiencing pregnancy first hand is something else.

I had big ideas of being a cute little pregnant lady – sippin’ on homemade green juices daily and practicing yoga every morning, but the reality is, I was far too nauseated for those green juices and way too exhausted to even roll out my yoga mat.

So, what did I actually eat, and how did I survive the exhaustion? Keep reading to find out!

First trimester symptoms that I experienced

The worst one? All day, every day nausea. It was particularly bad first thing in the morning and then would hit again around 5pm and stick around until bedtime. The nausea is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I admit to being a fairly nauseous person in general – people who know me, know that a common statement if things are off in my body is “I feel nauseous.” But this early pregnancy nausea was next level. Nothing helped. Nothing made it go away. Not food. Not naps. Not ginger chews. Or bananas. Or vitamin B6. It was just full-body nausea. Like being out at sea in a rough storm that’s unending.

As a result, my appetite was very bizarre. I wanted NOTHING that tasted remotely sweet … yet nothing that’s too “fatty or oily” meaning my favorite coconut milk, nut butters, and avocados were OUT. As soon as I’d start eating anything – even if it looked and sounded good before starting to eat it – I’d feel yucky and no longer want to eat. Most days I’d open the refrigerator and just the sight of the food inside would make me dry heave. I felt like I had no idea how to feed myself.

What happens when you add a pregnancy hormone flood to a not-super-stellar diet?

CONSTIPATION. But, not like normal constipation. Pregnancy constipation is something else. I mean I was still going to the bathroom every day but it wasn’t my normal, easy, satiating bowel movement, that’s for sure (sorry for the tmi).

And, oh gosh, the exhaustion. Like never-been-this-tired-in-my-life exhausted. ALL THE TIME. Despite sleeping for 10+ hours a night, I’d wake up feeling hungover and still exhausted. I had no desire for any other movement beyond walking. I couldn’t do a “normal” workout. Heck, I didn’t even have the energy to put a bra on over these huge, tender boobs, let alone muster up the energy to do any kind of exercise.

I also had zero patience for anyone. A N Y O N E. I was irritated, annoyed, and wanted nothing to do with another human. I was a walking, hormonal, pregnant zombie …

With ZERO sex drive. (Which did come back and in full force, once the nausea and fatigue disappeared, just as I hoped it would.)

Oh, but thank goodness I could sleep. Even when I was terribly nauseated, I could lay down at bedtime and fall into a deep, deep sleep.

Food that I ate to help me feel good

Like I mentioned before, I was nauseous all the damn time, but I knew that nourishing my body was key to not only surviving, but thriving, in the first trimester.

My intention was to eat consistently through the day, never letting myself get too hungry, and make meal times as nutrient dense as possible. That said, it was usually a combination of the following:

I’d wake up, and before my body could even register the nausea, I’d eat three soft boiled eggs. These things saved me, and gave me the energy to get through the day. Most women can’t stand eggs in the first trimester, but for me – I loved them and they were all I wanted in the morning (and sometimes afternoon/evening, etc.)

Frozen paleo waffles with (more) fried eggs, prosciutto, arugula, carrots, sauerkraut, and avocado.

CocoYo coconut milk yogurt with sprouted grain-free granola, hemp seeds, chia gel, cacao nibs, and ALL the fruit.

Fried eggs with organic corn tortillas.

And if I could stomach an avocado, it was either with plantain chips or flax crackers with sauerkraut, EVOO, and hemp seeds or lentils topped with Miyoko’s dairy-free butter, and purple cabbage.

And the one thing that constantly kept me hydrated – homemade chicken soup. Once or twice a week I would slow cook an entire chicken in water with a rainbow of veggies for several hours. It was something easy, quick, and warming to eat. I ate big bowls of this for snacks, meals, and everything in between.

If you’re someone who normally drinks fresh homemade juice and you’re pregnant, check out my two cents all about juicing and pregnancy.

Supplements that I took every day

Real talk: even as a nutritionist who knows better, the reality is, it’s unlikely that I was getting my full dietary requirements every day just through food. I’m a strong believer in the addition of supplements to a well-balanced diet, and this is especially crucial while pregnant – you have to keep both mama and baby healthy and thriving!

I took each of these supplements every day, without fail. And, luckily, because these are such high-quality supplements, they didn’t make me sick and I was totally able to stomach them!

Prenatal Pro provides optimal supplementation for pregnant women, lactating women, and women wishing to become pregnant. The earlier supplementation begins the better because women need adequate nutrient stores to meet the greater nutrient demands for a growing baby. These prenatals are some of the highest quality on the market using methylated folate, absorbable minerals, no added junk or fillers, and the correct form and dosage of all nutrients included so your body (and baby) is getting exactly what it needs.

  • Dosage: 4 capsules/day with meals

OmegAvail Hi-Po provides a potent 1500 mg of the omega 3 fatty acids EPA/DHA per serving (two softgels), and also includes lipase, a digestive aid to ensure maximum absorption. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, are required for healthy brain development. DHA concentrates in babies’ eyes and gray matter, protecting their brain from oxidative damage. Omega-3s are critical for central nervous system development, brain development, inflammation, and optimal hormone production.

  • Dosage: 2 capsules/day with meals

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that is a precursor to glutathione, the body’s most powerful antioxidant, and helps promote optimal detoxification. NAC has been heavily researched for its role in miscarriage prevention, especially for those with a history of unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss. A recent study showed that NAC and folic acid compared with folic acid alone caused a significantly increased rate of continuation of a living pregnancy up to and beyond 20 weeks. NAC is also used for boosting immune system health which, during pregnancy, is very helpful as pregnant women are more susceptible to viruses, pathogens, and other bacterial infections.

  • Dosage: 1 capsule twice daily, between meals (if possible)

Vitamin D Supreme provides a clinically useful dose of vitamin D3 and vitamin K. Vitamin D helps placental function, plays a role in fetal lung development, and also protects a newborn’s cardiovascular health, while vitamin K promotes healthy development of the face, skull, and nervous system.

  • Dosage: 1 capsule/day with meals containing a healthy fat source

Magnesium Chelate is a highly absorbable and bioavailable form of magnesium. Magnesium is one of my favorite supplements to use in pregnancy, and can be used for SO MANY THINGS. It helps with bowel regularity (no more constipation!), promotes high quality sleep, decreases leg cramps, and is one of the few safe adrenal support agents (highly useful as pregnancy can be just a tad bit stressful).

  • Dosage: 2-3 capsules at bedtime

OsteoForce is a unique broad-spectrum mineral support, offering a synergistic blend of nutrients needed to support healthy bones (for both mama and baby). It offers the minerals calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium and boron, along with vitamins C, D and K – all in highly bioavailable and absorbable forms.

  • Dosage: 2 capsules/day with meals

Ultra B12-Folate combines vitamin B12 with methylated folate. We know that both folate and Vitamin B12 are critically important for preventing spina bifida and other spinal and central nervous system birth defects in your baby. Many women have the MTHFR gene mutation which prevents them from properly absorbing and utilizing synthetic folic acid so it’s extremely important to always use the methylated form of folate (check your prenatal supplement label and any other vitamin you’re taking to be sure the words ‘folic acid’ are not listed!), and also increases the need for additional B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency in pregnancy is prevalent, and has been shown to cause lower birth weight and higher incidence of preterm birth.

  • Dosage: 1 capsule/day (with or without meals)

Ferrochel is a potent iron supplement that is extremely well tolerated by the gastrointestinal system. And, unlike most iron preparations, it will not result in constipation or gastric upset. Anemia is a common problem during pregnancy, one that can be avoided by adequate iron intake. Anemia is very common during pregnancy because blood volume increases significantly to support the development of the placenta and your baby. Your body uses iron to make extra blood for you and your baby during pregnancy. Iron also helps move oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body – and to your baby’s.

  • Dosage: 1 capsule/day (with or without meals)

Digestzymes contain a perfect blend of digestive enzymes along with betaine HCL to support optimal digestion. For a lot of pregnant mamas, digestion SUCKS during pregnancy. I love using digestive enzymes for this reason. They just help give the body a little support in digesting your foods, because pregnancy is miraculous in that it actually causes your digestion to slow wayyyyyy down so you can absorb every last crumb of the food that you’re eating so baby gets NOURISHED. The only issue here is that this usually leaves you feeling like a bloated, gassy, constipated mess. Digestive enzymes to the rescue. Promise.

  • Dosage: 2 capsules after meals (or as needed)

Collagen contains a unique blend of three patented collagen peptides supported by clinical research showing their efficacy for supporting collagen production, bone strength, joint health and integrity, skin elasticity, and more.

A lot of pregnant mamas don’t consume adequate protein (especially in the first trimester when your diet might be, ummm, lacking in a few areas to say the least). Even among those with a higher protein intake, the richest sources of collagen—animal skins, bone broth, and tendons — are not typically part of the modern Western diet.

Since collagen powder can be incorporated into smoothies, tea, soups, stews and other foods and beverages, collagen is a convenient way to ensure adequate intake of these unique amino acids. As collagen supports the integrity of the connective tissue during pregnancy providing another barrier of protection against injury based Diastasis and hernias. The better the integrity of this tissue, the healthier it will remain throughout pregnancy. AND it’s also extremely helpful on a cellular level in regenerating the tissue postpartum.

  • Dosage: 1-2 full scoops/day in tea, smoothies, soups, baked goods, etc.

Movement that I practiced

Just in case I haven’t made it clear enough yet, I WAS EXHAUSTED. Pre-pregnancy, I was a movement machine – you’d find me at my favorite hot vinyasa yoga studio 4-5 times/week, often at The Rebel Workout for my favorite HIIT classes right in my neighborhood, and I’d be out hiking, walking, and running regularly.

First trimester though? Different story. I was committed to my daily 60 minute walk with Koa. But most days, that was it. That’s all the movement I could muster. I tried to do a home yoga practice a few times, but felt so nauseated with all the up/down movement that I couldn’t even make it 15 minutes.

Oh! Wait. I did go skiing for a weekend very early on, and it felt great to breathe in the mountain air and move my body on the slopes for 4 days.

How I improved my sleep

I’ve mentioned that I was exhausted but was, thankfully, able to sleep regularly, and that’s largely in part to following my own regular sleep hygiene recommendations:

  • Sleep in a dark and quiet room, more on the cool side than the warm side (68 degrees or less).
  • Black out your room. No, REALLY black out your room. No LED lights from alarm clocks, fire alarms, TV’s etc. Black out shades are the best, but a great eye mask will work as well.
  • No electronic gadgets in the bedroom.
  • Do not watch TV or check email for at least 1 hour before bed. Dim the lights around you when the sun goes down.
  • Exercise daily and spend some time outside each day.
  • Finish eating at least 2 hours before going to bed. No alcohol after dinner.
  • Go to bed early, no later than 10:30pm. Get at least 8-9 hrs of sleep. You should wake up without an alarm, feeling refreshed.

The reality is, I’d take 3 capsules of the magnesium buffered chelate religiously every night before bed (to help with sleep and consistent bowel movements), and I’d be in bed by 8:30/9pm max (if I made it that long). AND I was sleeping until almost 7:30am or later. Despite all the sleep, I was still waking up exhausted, BUT at least I was having an INCREDIBLE sleep while I was horizontal.

What I was Googling

I HAD SO MANY QUESTIONS. Even though I’m usually the resource answering these questions, somehow when it was all happening in my own body – I wanted to learn EVEN MORE! And to understand it all like never before.

Even though I inherently “knew” the answer to most of these questions, I wanted to make sure that my symptoms were “normal”, I was doing the “right” things, and obviously I needed recommendations on what shows to binge watch ;).

  • Why am I so exhausted in early pregnancy?
  • Ideal progesterone levels in first trimester
  • Ideal HCG levels in first trimester
  • Does higher HCG levels mean a more robust pregnancy? Or as long as they’re doubling, are you safe?
  • How much topical progesterone is best to use during pregnancy, until when, and what’s the best application method?
  • How long does the nausea last?
  • Best Netflix shows to binge
  • Pros and cons of non-invasive prenatal screening tests
  • Are ultrasounds safe?
  • Is the Doppler technology safe?
  • Does Tiger King have a second season?

There ya have it – my first trimester, in a nutshell. I can honestly say that it felt like a struggle at times, and I wasn’t sure the nausea would ever quit, but I survived (maybe even thrived?!), and it’s made me a stronger person, and a WAY better clinician.

I know more, I understand more, I have more compassion, and as they always say – until you walk the path yourself, you can’t fully know the path. I am happily floating through my second trimester with so much more energy and stamina, and I can’t wait to share my next pregnancy diary with you!

I’d love to support YOU!

Are you trying to get pregnant?

Balance your hormones?

Feel good in your body?

Or maybe your first trimester symptoms have been kicking your butt?

I’ve love to support you, with whatever you’re going through. I am always available to have a one on one chat.

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