I’m beyond excited to share that my husband and I are expecting our first baby! It’s been so hard to keep this exciting news a secret, especially when it’s all I can think about. I’ve been saving up all the details, and in this blog, I’m going to tell you all about my experience so far
MY FIRST TRIMESTER EXPERIENCE
Now comes the fun part, or so I naively thought. The first trimester has been really hard for me, because I feel sick all the time! Unfortunately, the reality of morning sickness for me extends to the afternoon and all the way through to night, and I’ve definitely lost a few kgs in my first trimester because I’ve found it really difficult to really eat anything and have also been sick multiple times.
Sometimes, all I want is a bread or a warming bowl of pasta. I know how much I love pizza, but when presented in front of me, the thought of it has made me sick to my stomach. It’s really difficult to explain, but if you’ve been pregnant before you likely know exactly what I’m talking about! Cravings are real, but more in the sense that its the only food item you can bare to even think about eating. I had a week of eating at Subway, a few crumpet dinners, even tinned spaghetti hoops. The problem is once I've managed to keep something down, I would go off it the next day or two.
I’ve broken down in tears everywhere, from the tube where nobody takes any notice of my baby on board badge, to waking in the middle of the night. I’ve gone days without going to the bathroom at all and being in so much pain, I’ve sat in the bathroom in the middle of the night and just cried, praying the sickness will end. Thankfully, I have the most wonderful husband whose support has been tremendous and I have friends who have understood my lack of social life.
Without question, this has to be the hardest three months of my life to date. With only my closest friends and family in the know, keeping up appearances at events and in clinic has been challenging, with me never feeling anything but nauseous and fatigued, regardless of any smile on my face! Travel seems to be the biggest trigger, whether it’s trains, planes and especially cars, they’re all having a serious impact in making me feel queasy.
My biggest support though has been my studying. Over the past year, I’ve become fully qualified in pre and post-natal nutrition and as a result, I ensured that both my husband and I were eating well as we tried to conceive, complemented by my supplementation of folic acid. Also, knowing that exercise is something that shouldn’t be avoided but rather encouraged in pregnancy, I’ve continued my fitness regime, albeit without any unnecessary running and jumping!
But first, I was always convinced that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. During my time in the music industry as a soprano, the pressures of looking a certain way had persuaded me to follow restrictive diets. I was given inadequate, unqualified advice and listened more and more to it, eventually i spent a long time on antidepressants maintaining a low and unhealthy weight. Fast forward to graduating with two degrees and a master practitioner, with naturally irregular periods and it took nearly nine months to regain my period after coming off the pill, my hopes to have a family were never high. Nevertheless, we were incredibly lucky that only after a month of trying, we became pregnant! The years of education and eating well served me well, not to mention I had actually changed my exercise regime completely before the wedding owed to an injury, no high intensity workouts. Remember it’s also 50/50 and my husband is very healthy and also eats well (when he’s with me hehe).
I’ve taken three doctor’s appointments so far; the first coming a week after my test read 3+ weeks, the second at five weeks, on the day before I travelled to Greece to get married, and the third at the typical twelve week stage with numerous tests for complications. Thankfully, baby boy or girl appear to be growing superbly. I will say that the early doctors appointments could have gone better, I am aware there is a ¼ chance of miscarriage in the first 3 months but how that information is delivered is important.
Now, in wanting to share more of my journey, here’s a few interesting tales of what’s kept me on my toes during my first trimester.
SENSE OF SMELL
About two-thirds of women say that their sense of smell changes in pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. In fact, it’s often thought to be one of the earliest signs that you're pregnant. I’ve found unpleasant odours are more intense than usual, like someone eating on the tube, and smells that I once loved, even my husband now, I find repulsive! The worst bit has to be the pollution and cigarette smoke, I detest it, everywhere I go on my way to work there is someone outside an office wafting their fumes my way, it’s really tough. There's a great episode on my Food For Thought podcast on how pollution is impacting our health.
There’s no science behind the change in sense of smell but the first trimester is when your baby is most vulnerable, so one theory is that our sense of smell is protecting the baby from potential threats.
During early pregnancy, up to nine out of ten women will feel sick or be sick at some point. Despite knowing google to be anything but evidence-based, it’s been reassuring to know that I’m not alone in feeling anything but blooming.
Morning sickness is the most common symptom of pregnancy. How bad the sickness is varies from woman to woman with one in three feeling sick but not actually vomiting, which is increasingly what’s happening to me towards the end of the 12 week stage. A travel band has seemingly been helpful, but it may be more psychological than anything else.
Morning sickness won’t affect your baby as long as you’re able to keep some food and fluid down. In fact, feeling sick is a positive sign that the placenta has developed well and that your pregnancy hormones are working to keep your pregnancy going.
Food aversions are pretty much the opposite of cravings. Basically, when you really can't stand the thought a specific food or food group, that's an aversion. Frustratingly, the wafting smell of my favourite foods have suddenly made me feel ill. I no longer enjoy food, its such a sad feeling and I look forward to that coming back.
It is unclear what exactly causes food aversions. However, the hormones of pregnancy and the effect they have on the body is often presumed to be the cause. My heightened or sensitive sense of smell might play a part, as foods with a strong aroma often trigger me to feel grossed out. As with smell, food aversions might even be our attempt to protect ourselves and our baby during pregnancy.
That urge to eat particular foods has been incredibly powerful. Food cravings during pregnancy are super-common, but it doesn’t make them any less surprising!
The research isn’t conclusive but one theory of cravings is that your body is simply asking for what it needs. The boost in blood volume increases suggests I need more sodium, hence, I crave something salty. I think most of these changes in the first trimester are largely because of raging hormones, which are messing with my sense of taste and smell. Hunger, restlessness and difficult emotions can really intensify my cravings too, so I always make sure to eat breakfast, exercise regularly and ask for support when I need it.
With a special interest in marshmallows all over a sudden, know that moderate indulgence is absolutely fine, and totally inevitable too, but I’m conscious to watch my intake of empty calories, especially if they replace important nutrients throughout my day but in reality, just go with what you fancy.
There have been many tears, tears of joy and tears from pain, but when something extraordinary happens in your life, it seems fitting that the road to get there isn’t an easy one! I hope you all continue to share this journey with me, in the good (our baby) the bad (the sickness) and the ugly (to be continued!)
Rhiannon Lambert is a Registered Nutritionist specialising in weight management, eating disorders and sports nutrition. Founder of leading Harley Street clinic Rhitrition, bestselling author of Re-Nourish: A Simple Way To Eat Well and Food For Thought podcast host, Rhiannon’s qualified approach to nutrition and total dedication to her clients’ needs has seen Rhiannon work with some of the world’s most influential people.
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