The first trimester of pregnancy is full of excitement, but also full of uncertainty, vulnerability and well… nausea.
If you’re pregnant, or have been pregnant, perhaps you were one of the lucky ones without any pregnancy symptoms. But the reality is that more than half of pregnant people do experience mild to strong symptoms such as the dreaded nausea or morning sickness (which doesn’t really happen only in the mornings, but it’s more of an all-day kind of thing…).
Most people don't start telling the world about their pregnancy until they’ve passed the 3-month or 13-week mark, as after this time the chances of having a miscarriage decrease by 99%.
With that said, the first trimester can also be rather lonely. But since I am now beyond my 3rd month (currently 23rd week), I can finally tell you all about how it went for me. Mainly to remind you that if you are going through this or go through this at any point in the future, you do not have to go through it alone.
Week 4 to 8: Lots of question marks
My husband and I planned this pregnancy. We thought it would be good to start trying but did not expect that it would happen so fast. As women get older, the chances of getting pregnant are notably reduced. Women over 30 who are healthy only have a 20% chance of getting pregnant each month. That means that for every 100 fertile 30-year-old women trying to get pregnant in 1 cycle, 20 will be successful and the other 80 will have to try again. Well, it was to my and my partner’s surprise to see that BFP (big fat positive) test after our first try! (I will write a post soon on how I track my cycles and what I believed help us concieve so fast). We were beyond happy to have conquered the first “hurdle” but knew that the chances of our baby surviving the first 12 weeks aren’t a given. About 1 in 3 women will have had a miscarriage during their fertile life, especially between week 4 and 6 of pregnancy.
So, there I was, happy but feeling uncertain, not really able to process yet that I was becoming a mom, even though I really wanted to. However, I chose to tell my closest friends and family members. I wanted to have a support system in case I miscarried. Some choose to keep it just between them and their partner – I wanted to have all of my support system by my side.
I also had to look for a midwife at week 5 (here in Germany midwives are scarce, so you have to start your search very early), which I thought was insane since there was no way to know whether the baby would make it!
On week 8 I had my first appointment at the doctor to confirm my pregnancy. They did an ultrasound and there it was, my little bean😊.
My biggest fears were that there would be no heartbeat or that I would have an ectopic pregnancy. So I felt a huge rush of relief when I saw that teeny tiny little heart moving on the screen.
It was also around that time that the nausea started. Oh boy! It was no fun, I tell you. I had no appetite but couldn't NOT eat because otherwise the nausea would get worse, so I was munching on fruit and nuts all day. I felt tired, out of breath (good-bye workouts!) and on top of that very busy at work. But somehow, like every woman, I pulled through and survived it. I must admit that without doing home office I would have not been able to be as productive as I was at work. Being able to take rests at lunch time and be able to hang out in my pjs if I felt like it was exactly what I needed to cope.
Week 8 to 12: Tests and more tests
The next few weeks focused on getting the first trimester screening, where they detect any chromosomal abnormalities or any problems with baby’s development. I had it on week 10 of my pregnancy and did A LOT of research on what was the best type of test to do. Nowadays there is a non-invasive form of testing that gives you up 99% reliability on the results (called harmony-test). They take blood from you and a couple of weeks later you get the results.
The doctor also did a very detailed ultrasound where my baby’s heart and organs were checked, as well as the nuchal translucency, so we could already see what were the chances that the baby could have a chromosomal abnormality (for instance, Down's syndrome also known as trisomy 21).
This appointment has been my favourite so far because I got to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time <3. There are no words that can explain what it feels like to hear that little human’s heart inside of you along with the relief of seeing live that your baby is developing healthily. I felt truly happy, lucky and grateful to learn that everything is great with baby.
It also made the pregnancy very real for the first time and allowed me and my partner to truly relax and really enjoy the changes I was going through.
Week 13: The nausea disappeared!
Like magic, after week 13 the nausea disappeared, I felt energized and more like myself again. I was able to start doing more intense physical activities and officially started the "golden trimester", when everything is perfect (almost).
I feel like a lot of us romanticize pregnancy when in reality is a HUGE transition that comes with all kinds of feelings and changes in our body that are not all unicorns and rainbows. Yet, the truth is that as much as you read and research and prepare yourself, you will only know what it really is like until you experience it.
With that said, let me close this post with the follwing take-aways:
You’re not alone: Talk about your concerns with your partner, close friends and/or family. The first weeks of pregnancy are confusing and full of uncertainty, your loved ones will do the best they can to support you. I am so glad I was able to vent with some friends about my feelings during such an emotional and vulnerable time.
Research with caution: Read, read, read, but take it all with a grain of salt. Especially if you read forum threads. There were so many unhappy stories that I read that I ended up feeling guilty for having a healthy pregnancy(!). The best information you can get is from your doctor or midwife or from peer reviewed scientific research.
Listen to your gut: Even after getting advice and information from whatever reliable source, at the end of the day you already know deep inside what is best for you and baby. Follow your intuition when making important decisions.
Practice yoga and meditation: You have no idea how practicing yoga and meditation helped me cope with the changes I was going through. Even if it was only 5 minutes of movement and breathing, it helped. You can get access to a free prenatal yoga class taught by yours truly here.
I hope you have a lovely pregnancy (as much as it is naturally possible). Stay tuned for trimester número 2. Coming soon!