Surviving the First Trimester- Naturally

firsttrimester

I was a pathetic mess my entire first trimester.

I’m serious. It was embarrassing. I wish I could say that I was one of those women who just brought along a trash bag and towel wherever she went and barfed when necessary and just powered through life, but it just wasn’t true. The nausea and vomiting was so bad that many days I never got dressed and didn’t leave the house. I am so, so thankful that I have a job that I can do from the comfort of my home 90% of the time. I seriously don’t know how I would have managed a 9-5 office job. It was completely the grace of the Lord that I got through alive.

All that to say, many women have it much more difficult than I do. I was never hospitalized, I was able to stay off of anti-nausea medicine (though it was offered to me many times), and I was still able to work. But almost every women who experiences pregnancy has some degree of nausea and vomiting, though it’s different for everyone. And we all have different things that make our nausea better! Today, I want to share the things that helped me make it through- regardless of how pathetic I was.

-Eat a complex carb before you lift your head from the pillow. My go-to was Trader Joe’s Rosemary & Raisin Crackers- filled with flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and lots of other fun super grains for my little girl. I must’ve eaten through 20 boxes during my first trimester. When I say “before you lift your head”, I am not kidding. I would grab the box, spin over onto my belly, and eat half a box of crackers before even thinking about getting out of bed. Not the cutest thing I’ve ever done, but it would sit heavily enough in my stomach to get me downstairs, let me go to the bathroom, and fix something for breakfast without spiraling into an all-day mess of nausea.

-Eat OFTEN. As in, I ate every 1.5-2 hours MAX. Keeping something in my tummy was the only way I could avoid feeling gross. It didn’t necessarily matter what it was, as long as I got it down. It was my ‘preventative measure’.

-Figure out what herbs work for you. For me, ginger made me even more sick, so I had to avoid anything with ginger in it, including virtually every anti-nausea tea on the market. However, peppermint worked wonders for me, as did chamomile. I would keep a small box of altoids in my purse and suck on one or two whenever I started to feel gross. Breathing in a chamomile steam inhalation (or simply making chamomile tea and sipping it) was also really effective.

-Stay hydrated. Lemon is another anti nausea aid that many people find helpful- I was pretty much constantly sipping ice water with a heaping amount of lemon juice in it, and it really did make me feel better- and staying hydrated is key to keeping yourself well.

-Try alternative medicine. I see a Chinese Herbalist and received acupuncture treatments throughout my first trimester that I really feel helped keep my sickness manageable. Check with your insurance to see if they cover alternative medicine- mine covers 75%! You might be surprised. Aromatherapy, focusing on ginger, lemon, or peppermint essential oils, can also be helpful- either applied in a carrier oil or used in a diffuser, or even in bath water.

-Up your magnesium levels. Some lovely mamas online suggested using magnesium oil topically twice a day, and I think this also contributed to my survival. you can also add magnesium oil, or a ton of epsom salts, into bathwater and have yourself a nice soak. I honestly don’t know all the science behind this one, but I can say that it worked for me, and for many other mamas as well!

-Don’t force yourself to eat what isn’t appealing to you. You will barf. It will suck.

-Take your prenatals and don’t stress. Your baby is very tiny and requires very little at this stage- do your best and your prenatals will cover you. But- DO your BEST too! Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat donuts all day. Your baby is a beautiful responsibility- take the best care of him or her that you can!

-Don’t be afraid to ask of help. I remember calling my mom and asking her to come over and clean my toilet for me one morning, and while it was very humbling, it was worth it. Especially if you have other children, give yourself grace. Accept a meal from a friend, an offer to babysit, take an extra nap while your kids sleep.

-Recognize when you need medical attention. Some people truly need anti-nausea medication to get through the first trimester. Others suffer from a debilitating condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which requires a lot of monitoring, and often medication, to control. If you can’t keep anything down and you can tell that something is wrong, take care of yourself. Your body, and your baby, will thank you.

Have any of these tips worked for you? What else helped you survive your first trimester queasies?

Easy Health Tips: For Ladies Only

But seriously, if you’re a dude, just stop reading. You don’t want this.

Ok, let’s get real. Periods suck, and our coping mechanisms suck worse- popping pills with who-knows-what long term effects, medications that could affect our long term fertility, binge eating terrible (yet delicious) things, laying on the couch in agony? Is there really no other option?

Since I first got my period, I can remember lying on the floor of my bedroom trying not to move and positioning heating pads on my back and belly to try to relieve the pain. Painkillers didn’t help, so soon I just didn’t bother. I just accepted that one or two days a month would be hell and I would just have to get over it.

In the past few years, however, experimenting with diet and alternative medicine has not done away with the pain and discomfort entirely, but certainly has made it manageable. I hope maybe some of these tips will help you!

CUT OUT caffeine, sugar, alcohol, processed foods-especially the week before your period. All of these things mess wi your body and prevent it from being in a place to properly function. Eat whole foods and drink plenty of water.

STAY ACTIVE. This is the hardest for me, but it really is worth it. Even taking a short walk outside in the morning can lessen cramping for the day and help things to flow smoothly-literally. There are also many yoga poses recommended for dysmenorrhea (heavy cramping) including child’s pose, bridge, wide squat, and pigeon. Be careful, though, to avoid inversions while on your period. This is a great sequence to try at home.

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wide squat pose

AVOID HORMONES LIKE THE PLAGUE. So many women in the US struggle with hormone imbalances caused simply by eating foods and using products that contain hormone disrupting agents. This includes meats that aren’t organic, many cosmetics that are filled with chemicals, perfumes, and conventionally grown produce, among other things. This is a fascinating subject, one that Jillian Michaels tackles thoroughly in her book Master Your Metabolism. Key points-eat organic. Be careful what you put on your skin and what you clean your house with. This is all effective how your hormones work and likely making your periods worse.

GET TESTED for a serious hormone imbalance. I found out a few months ago that I gave a hormone imbalance, and I now use a little cream before I go to bed and it has made everything substantially better- shorter, lighter periods, less cramping, less PMS before my period. Be careful, however, with treatment options- synergic hormones are dangerous and can cause even more damage in the long run as your body starts to adjust to the new hormone level. Look for a bio identical hormone replacement that works with your body to boost your levels. I like Emerita Pro-Gest, and I have heard good things ago Arbonne ProLief.

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TRY A TEA. There are many readily available tea blends for treating period symptoms, I have tried most of them and always had good results. My favorite is Traditional Medicinals Female Toner. You have to drink a lot (2-4 cups per day) of these teas to really get the benefits, but it is so worth it.

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DETOX BATHS with things like Epsom salts, activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda help pull toxins from your body that could be disrupting your hormones, interfering with bodily processes, and making your periods worse. The heat and relaxation of a bath don’t hurt, either!

BE BRAVE and try some alternative equipment. Tampons have always been the easiest thing, but they could be causing unnecessary discomfort by plugging things up rather than letting them flow. Pads avoid this traffic jam effect, and there are many great companies that make reusable pads that are easy on the pocketbook. I can’t stand the diaper feeling, so I have moved to a Diva Cup with great results- check them out here.

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Do you have any tried and true tricks to share?