I really thought that I’d have it nailed this pregnancy. There was no way with the amount of knowledge I now possess that I wouldn’t eat brilliantly for my baby, exercise moderately, combat fatigue with nutrition, mindfulness and general superpowers. You and your baby are what you eat after all. Moreover I’ve been doing a huge amount of research into gut health and links to mental health and was determined to eat like Gwyneth Paltrow in order to give myself every fighting chance to avoid post-natal depression.
And then I got pregnant. Every good intention was superseded by an insatiable appetite. I do mean insatiable. And for all the things I knew to avoid. Fried cheese was a particular favourite. Toast with lashings of butter. Hot cross buns with lashings of butter. Bagels with lashings of butter. There’s a theme here. Pints of warmed full fat milk. Chocolate digestives. Mini eggs. I was getting up in the middle of the night to eat more toast and milk. Vegetables actually made me feel more sick. Fruit wasn’t much more palatable. As for fish…. I needed to eat to stem the tide of sickness and the only things I was interested in were highly calorific nutritional wastelands.
I am beyond delighted to be 12 weeks pregnant. The scan showed a beautiful baby, all fingers and toes intact, but oh my lord I actually detest being pregnant. I find it incomprehensible that some people actually enjoy this phase of their lives. For me it’s definitely to be endured. And, I can confidently say, it’s something my family has to endure too as I don’t shine. Particularly during the first trimester. Hormones, rage, tiredness and a general feeling of missing out on fun things in life (if you need me I’ll be sleeping somewhere) do not make me a loving, giving, nurturing wife, mother or friend.
I know, I know. It sounds so wrong doesn’t it? But all the things that make me feel like ‘me’ are currently off the table. Obviously I love to exercise. It does wonders for my mind and helps me feel in control of my body. I haven’t worked out in three months. There is no excess energy to go round. I love my friends and family and like staying up late and having a giggle. Not any more. If I make it through to the end of an episode of Eastenders without falling asleep both myself and my husband are amazed. I love clothes and the feeling that a great outfit and a hairwash can bring (shallow aren’t I?!). I can barely remember where my make up lives these days. I love mucking around with the kids in the garden. The weather and the tiredness have made me more of a caretaker than an actual parent. And I LOVE work. I’ve had to really cut back and my appetite for finding out more, doing more, learning more and improving all the time is currently hibernating.
The sliver lining is, for me, that I know this passes. I’ve also done it four times now (not including miscarriages) and there are some things that I’ve learned work for me. They may work for you, they may not, but I hope so.
1. Eat often. As often as your body tells you to. I really don’t think it’s greed, and I know you don’t need the extra calories at this point (sorry ladies, even at 9 months you only need 200 extra calories a day!) but I do think your body is telling you that it needs more fuel to keep it going.
2. Try to keep your blood sugar levels stable. So, although you are eating often, try to avoid sugar. The dips made me even more sick. Good snacks include nut butter with apple or oat cakes, rye bread and half an avocado mashed with lime, salt and pepper, nuts, carrots and hummus, a few squares of 85% chocolate, yoghurt and fresh fruit, and stewed apples or pears, cooked down without sugar.
3. Fresh air really helps. I have swopped workouts for walks whenever I can squeeze them in, and it’s great. It also helps with the chronic constipation too, which can only ever be a bonus.
4. Sleep whenever and wherever you can. My husband says I’m like a cat. Every time he turns around I’ve passed out somewhere. Coming from a woman who has suffered some pretty extreme bouts of insomnia in her life I think this is entirely fair, and definitely makes my life much better. Every day when my toddler sleeps I get my head down, even if it’s only for 10 minutes, and then I feel I can face the rest of the day with (slightly) better grace. Exhaustion will only increase your sickness and anxiety levels.
5. Stay hydrated. Good hydration is essential throughout your entire pregnancy but It’s also a brilliant way to help combat nausea. Plus it should help with the constipation too. Sucking on ice cubes has helped cool me down and I’ve eaten a remarkable amount of cucumber.
6. I think Sea-Bands help. I was initially introduced to them for sailing, but I have worn them throughout my four pregnancies. They are a bit of a giveaway if you’re trying to keep things quiet, but sometimes needs must. The scientific bit claims that through the use of acupressure the bands alleviate nausea by applying pressure through a plastic stud on each writs to the ‘Nei-Kuan pressure point’. This point is said to block the pain signals from reaching the brain and helps to prevent and/or alleviate nausea. Who knows? But it works for me. Just remember to take them off in the bath or the shower otherwise the smell will certainly contribute to more sickness.
7. I’ve recently come across a really inspirational brand called ‘Strong Like Mum’. Three women doing some awesome work. They’ve released a First Trimester Survival Guide which may be of help to you. It includes nutritional advice, exercise and fitness tips and tips and tricks to help get you through. It's free, and you can find it on their website at https://www.stronglikemum.com/shop/
8. Talk. Talk to anyone. Moaning is boring I know but it can really, really, really help. And if it’s a fellow mum you’re bound to end up laughing over the outrageous indignities that pregnancies brings. And laughter is, ofcourse, the best medicine ever. Fact.