Oh shit, it's happening: First trimester recommendations

Sunday, September 12, 2021

I have a lot of opinions. I have even more now that I've been pregnant and have a child. And now I'm going to force them upon you, unsuspecting reader. Enjoy!

The first trimester is rough. I didn't even have it all that bad (no morning sickness, only some food aversions) and yet you're still tired, you're a bit bewildered, worried and slightly panicky. You feel like you have an encyclopedia of baby information to acquire before the ticking time bomb in your uterus goes off that disrupts your life as you know it. Now is not the time for moving mountains. Now is simply survival time. Let's start with the basics.

1) A prenatal vitamin. I've talked before about Ritual before. Still a big fan. Vegan, meets all the nutritional requirements, shows up at your doorstep so you don't have to remember to buy more at the store when you're speeding through as fast as possible and trying not to look at the vegetables for fear of puking at the very sight of them. Check them out here.

2) Midwives. Reduced rates of cesarean birth, medical interventions, and neonatal mortality. Increased focus on patient education about pregnancy as well as postpartum life and breastfeeding. Increased satisfaction of care. My primary care physician is a former Ob/Gyn (she delivered me!) turned family practitioner and recommended seeing a midwife because they closely align with her style of care -- science-led but conscious not to use medical intervention unless actually necessary.

3) Pregnancy tracking apps. Nothing feels real at the start, so it's fun/comforting to obsessively check apps every day to help visualize what's going on. I had three because it is totally necessary and normal and I definitely needed my embryo to be compared to as many different objects as possible. What to Expect, The Bump and Ovia were my chosen three. Find them all on your chosen app store.

4) Carbs and ice water. If you're anything like me, raw, crunchy foods, especially vegetables and highly herbed foods will be absolutely disgusting for awhile. Don't force it. Make yourself a smoothie with some greens in it and call it good. I highly recommend a diet of cereal and bagels, washed down with ice water and maybe a ginger chew to top it off. Go ahead and get yourself a massive water bottle now too. Highly recommend this 40oz Hydro Flask with the straw lid.

5) Binge watching pregnancy content on YouTube. I did not have the capacity to think about, plan or prepare for my own life with child, so instead I just spent a lot of time horizontal and half asleep on my couch staring at vlogs of people that were either currently pregnant or freshly postpartum. I highly recommend watching first trimester vlogs since not a lot of people talk about their experience while they're going through it so it's nice to see it actually depicted. There are tons of videos on YouTube if you search, but I recommend:

Lily Pebbles - has a first trimester vlog, no nonsense, living my dream life in London
RawBeautyKristie - never watched her beauty stuff before, but her pregnancy vlogs were long and chatty. Plus, she used to be a doula!
Hapa Family - haven't watched her pregnancy stuff before because I just discovered her, but I know she has a lot and I like her other family vlogs and Montessori videos so I bet the pregnancy stuff is good too
HeyShayla - granola, super hyper editing
Nurse Zabe - labor/delivery nurse with lots of info in case you're ready to start learning real things
I'm sure I watched so many more super random one-off vlogs that the algorithm recommended me so go ahead and fall deep into that rabbit hole and find people that you find comforting.

Once you've had some time to process this big fucking change in your life, you're not dry heaving at the sight of a salad and you're ready to start preparing yourself, it's time for phase two of my early pregnancy recommendations.

6) Books. I like to do my research, but in the end I think I'd only recommend one for sure and a second if you're just dying to read more. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is a great all-encompassing book. It's a broad overview on how birth works (part two) and a bunch of birth stories (part one). Read the second half first and then dip into the first half when you're later in pregnancy. Expecting Better is written by an economist and takes on common myths and recommendations during pregnancy to see which ones have weight. You can probably just check this out at the library rather than spend money on it. If your partner wants something to read, I've heard The Birth Partner is good, but I can't confirm nor deny. They should probably just read Ina May's book too.

7) Hypnobirthing. "What the actual fuck?," you may say. Sounds very hippie, is pretty hippie, but actually made me feel educated and empowered. I took an online course from the Positive Birth Company which was one of the cheapest I could find and it was actually great quality. Plus more British accents. It covered the science of labor (similar to the Ina May book), relaxation techniques, information about different procedures and ways to make informed decisions and an overview of the different stages of labor. I would not have pegged myself as a positive affirmation kind of girl, but by the end of it I had a list of them on my phone that I looked at daily.

8) Nutrition. I already followed Plant-Based Juniors on Instagram and so I picked up their pregnancy nutrition guide. A lot of older doctors can sometimes be weird about being vegan and pregnant (one asked me if being vegan meant you eat eggs, so clearly they don't know what's going on), but it's 100% fine. I liked this short guide to steer me in the right direction about which nutrients I should be particularly conscious of and how much of them I should be getting every day. My prenatal already covered a lot, but because I wasn't able to stomach much of anything I also grabbed this protein powder for my smoothies (although now Ritual makes one too that I'd probably try out if I were pregnant again) and these calcium gummies. I also took this probiotic at the recommendation of my midwife.

9) Exercise. While you can still bend your back (appreciate it while you can), I would highly recommend exercising even though you'll probably already feel like a furnace without even moving. You're going to want to be in shape to help support your giant belly and for picking up your baby and getting up and down off the floor all the time once you're a new mom so you might as well start now. I did a lot of Yoga With Adriene when I still could, Body Fit By Amy's BabyFit videos until week 39, Expecting and Empowered workouts with my (also pregnant) sister and lots of 30 minute walks.

10) Comfort. If you're pregnant in summer, good luck to you. I was pregnant mainly in the winter so for everyday clothes I was able to wear all my oversized sweaters I already owned and only buy a single pair of maternity jeans (thanks pandemic for never making me leave), one pair of maternity overalls just because they were cute and a maternity striped long sleeve fitted shirt. My most used maternity purchase, and from the earliest point in my pregnancy was my Girlfriend Collective maternity leggings. Grab two pairs so you can still have something to wear when one pair is in the wash.

This should hopefully get you through those first 12 weeks. I'll have some late pregnancy, registry and postpartum recommendations coming soon! Looking forward to indoctrinating you again later.

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