Our Green Moms Weekly topic this week is our first about pregnancy.
“What are some of the highs and lows during your first trimester of pregnancy and how have you dealt with them?”
This is an easy one for me because I don’t have to go by memory to write this! Interestingly, all of these first trimester complaints seem to have a protective effect. I’ll explain more later.
Nausea and Vomiting
I don’t call it “morning sickness”, because for me it was always bad at night and I had it all day long, as do many women. Nor do I call it “first trimester sickness” because for some women like myself, it lasts for several months or the length of the pregnancy. I mention it first because it’s probably the most common pregnancy woe, and perhaps the most debilitating when it’s bad. I’m actually working on a very long, comprehensive post right now about how I’m dealing with it this go around, look for that tomorrow! For now I’ll just tease you and say that eating beans helps nausea. And I’ve tried everything there is to try, from meds to natural remedies, and nothing has helped as much as eating beans. More later!
Sensitivity to Smells
This is one of the first early pregnancy symptoms I experience. Things that I normally wouldn’t notice now have me running outside or hanging my head out the window for fresh air. I believe this is an important mechanism to help protect a pregnant woman from things that could hurt her unborn child. For instance, natural smells like citrus and essential oils don’t bother me in the least. But any synthetic fragrance in cosmetic products or odors of rot or waste (diapers, trash, dirty kitchen smells) have me dry heaving and fleeing the scene.
I deal with it by trying to avoid bad odors as much as possible. We move the coffee pot downstairs so my husband can brew it without triggering my nausea. I make sure to go to bed with a clean kitchen so there is no rotting food or dirty dishes lying around in the morning. I throw away food that’s “iffy” even though it’s probably perfectly fine to eat. Hubby or one of the kids changes Ruby’s diaper, and I keep the toilet extra clean so I can’t smell it.
Cooking odors are especially difficult. I’ve been asking other people to cook breakfast when I’m feeling bad. I stop using garlic and onions in my cooking. I use the slow cooker more, and I since bacon makes me sickest of all, we just don’t cook it at all when I’m pregnant.
All of this probably protects a pregnant woman from things that could possibly harm her baby such as toxins in food and the air around her. I find myself running outside a lot to take deep breaths too, which is also a good habit for anyone!
And I have another trick: peppermint oil. I dab a drop of it right under my nose when I’m forced to deal with a stinky odor. It has the effect of numbing or blocking my sense of smell temporarily. (Have you noticed how the forensic people put camphor under their nose when they’re doing work with dead bodies? Same thing.) You can also put a drop of your favorite essential oil on a cotton ball and keep it with you in a container in your purse so you can whiff it when you need to.
Sleepiness and Fatigue
First trimester sleepiness is crazy, isn’t it? I can take naps an hour after I wake up from a nap. I go to bed at 8 PM these days. Making a new human is hard work, especially in the first trimester when you’re building a placenta and creating all that extra blood. Doing your best to rest whenever possible is important. But don’t neglect exercise either. I’ve been feeling good enough to take my daily walk, and it really helps me have more energy. Drink water. If it’s hard for you because it tastes bad (blech, I have to force water down when I’m pregnant because it tastes so bad), try adding a lemon, lime or orange wedge.
Food Aversions and Cravings
The other day I found myself eating sauerkraut and a milkshake. Pretty stereotypical! Seriously though, catering to the newly pregnant belly can be almost a full time job. I find that I get low blood sugar a lot in my pregnancy, as evidenced by increased nausea, strong hunger pangs, and dizziness. It’s important to snack and eat several small meals a day. Be sure to get enough protein to avoid preeclampsia (Dr. Tom Brewer has written a lot of the increased protein needs of pregnant women.).
If it’s hard to get your protein, try smoothies. The consistency and coldness and icy crunch seems to be very satisfying to the pregnant palate. You can sneak in protein powder or peanut butter or cottage cheese or kefir or whatever else that has protein that you can stomach.
Of course, take your vitamins to help you avoid deficiencies that may lead to crazy cravings. If they make you sick, try kid’s gummy vitamins. And just go with it, within reason. I believe that the food aversions and cravings, again, may protect a fetus in some way. If something you eat and normally love is suddenly revolting, and you’re craving things you rarely eat, perhaps your body is trying to prevent imbalances by forcing you to vary your diet more. When I’m pregnant, I can’t stand many things that I love normally but I crave things like steak and crunchy raw veggies. I probably need those foods. Steak is a great source of protein and B vitamins, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with crunchy raw veggies!
Bitter/Metallic Taste in Mouth
Does anyone else have this in early pregnancy? It takes me until I’m about 5 months pregnant before things taste normal again, and I still don’t have normal taste buds until I deliver the baby. It’s quite frustrating for food to taste bad in your mouth, especially when you’re so hungry and have to eat more often!
I deal with it by brushing my teeth and scraping my tongue more often, sipping on water with lemon a lot, and chewing all natural gum (with no artificial sweeteners. I buy Glee gum, made from natural chicle). The nasty taste is so bad that during my pregnancy I develop halitophobia (the fear that I have bad breath even when I don’t).
Heartburn must be related to hormones, because I always get it early in the pregnancy. Obviously my uterus isn’t big enough to be cramping my stomach. Dealing with heartburn is pretty easy. Eat small meals frequently. Nibble on dried papaya and pineapple. The enzymes present in those two fruits helps immediately. Avoid caffeine (which you’re probably doing anyway). Sipping mint tea helps some people too. Try a little lemon in your water.
What are some of your favorite first trimester natural remedies?