As someone who has dared to claim pre and postnatal fitness as my livelihood, I would love nothing more than to tell you what a remarkable job I have just done of consistently working out and eating clean the last 9 weeks. I’d love to share my impressive FitBit stats and photos of my steamed broccoli bowls. Except for, um, the truth.
This is my fourth pregnancy and the fourth time I’ve felt debilitating nausea from 5 weeks to 14 weeks. It’s been a crippling 9 week hangover. I’ve never been water boarded, but I have to imagine it’s right up there with first trimester nausea. I hope at least a few of you reading this can relate. We are an unlucky bunch.
I’m now 14 weeks, and the nausea is beginning to subside just enough for me to focus on my very first small step towards normalcy; something that has felt like an insurmountable task for weeks now: writing this post. Here goes:
How I’m coping with the ‘morning’ part of morning sickness:
First thing in the morning, I begin the day by slowly, slowly sipping sparkling water next to my bed while assessing the severity of the nausea. Next, if not racing to the loo, I risk taking a bite of banana or salty almonds from my nightstand stash. Staying well fed and hydrated is key to preventing sickness. However, and I’ve learned this the hard way, pace is equally important. I then have to take a moment to remind myself why I ever consented to this whole ordeal. Oh right! Miracle from heaven. The fourth time around has its benefits. I now know, from experience, that all of this icky suffering will become a distant memory the very instant I lay eyes on our tiny, wrinkly new family member. First time moms- what everyone says is true: there is no happier feeling in the world. A fact which makes your Worst Trimester🤢 just that much easier to endure.
Next. I plug headphones into my phone, and turn on the Nevasic app. Nevasic is a medical audio program which relieves nausea (and other types too- college freshman, take note). This app may sound too good to be true, but it is very much legit. Nevasic or “Morningwell”, was developed by a team of NHS doctors solely focused on relieving the unbearable symptoms of nausea for those of us undergoing chemo, harsh pregnancies, motion sickness, etc. I close my eyes and try to relax for the 27 minutes it takes to complete. The music targets your inner ear which to my understanding is the trigger to balancing nausea symptoms in the body. Nevasic is only $10 on the App Store, and worth EVERY PENNY. I discovered it in a state of desperation during my last pregnancy. It worked so well I actually shared this news with Buggy Bootcamp members on my first blog (Keep Calm and Carry Lollipops). The founder of Nevasic stumbled upon the post and emailed me to thank me for sharing my positive experience with Nevasic. I don’t see the product extensively marketed so I like to do my part in sharing this alternative method of nausea relief with other mothers in my predicament. If you’re even mildly nauseous during pregnancy, get the app. It’s a lifesaver. Nevasic.com/reviews
Feeling relief, I slowly get out of bed, get dressed, and sneak in a 2 minute grooming session in bathroom before one of my little people arrives in need of something.
Carry said little people downstairs, distribute smoothies. Thank GOD for cold, refreshing smoothies during worst trimester ickiness. Mine contains some variation of the following, which feeds my family of 5 1/2. The key is to include some sort of sugar- stabilizing protein. I make them the night before in case of major morning tummy trouble (one must keep something delicious within reach at all times when churning out a human life):
5 cups unsweetened coconut milk (or almond milk)
2 cups (about half a bag) fresh spinach (or frozen)
2 stalks celery (or carrots, or cucumber, or all the above)
2 frozen bananas
1 cup frozen strawberries (or other berries, mango, peaches, omit if using cacao powder below)
1 scoop Vega vanilla protein powder (or chia seeds, flax seed, or other unsweetened, plant based powder, cacao powder)
This is when, if my gag reflex will allow, I take my vitamins and supplements:
food based prenatal vitamin (the brand I love is Rainbow Light)
Vitamin D (helps with just about every ailment under the sun, no pun intended)
Prenatal DHA (you and your baby both need it)
Ginger root tablet (helps with prego nausea)
Vitamin B6 (helps with prego nausea)
Probiotic from Whole Foods (365 brand, keep gut health in check)
Spirulina tablets (amazing source of plant based protein, B vitamins, trace minerals, the real deal)
Floradix liquid iron supplements with B Vitamins can also make a world of difference for those suffering from iron deficiency during pregnancy.
Chat with your doctor about what nutritional gaps you may aim to fill with supplements during pregnancy. While I can share with you what supplements I take, it is beyond my scope of practice to recommend anything specifically to anyone. Supplements get a bad rap, and of course should never be used in place of healthy, nutrient dense, all natural food, but they can make a world of difference when a little peanut is absorbing all the nutrients it needs from you, likely leaving you depleted and deficient in some way, shape or form. Common micronutrients that tend to become depleted during pregnancy are B vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium, fatty acids, magnesium, selenium, calcium, and vitamin C. Staying nutritionally balanced can go a long way in deterring nausea symptoms.
Onward. Scramble to get everyone dressed, fed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, bathroom visits. Warm up car, load with backpacks, winter coats and hats. Scoop kids up from couch and into car. School drop-off commences. 30 minutes later, exhaustion and nausea are already beginning to creep back. I suck on a prego pop (sour, fortified with Vitamin B6) until my relief pitcher arrives. For your own planning purposes, I bought 5 small containers of prego pops which just about lasted me through the 9 weeks. Ginger chews never did it for me but I do hear it helps others.
I am beyond lucky to have my sweet mom come and help me out three days a week. Without her, surviving worst trimesters would be out of reach for me. For anyone out there with kids, feeling overwhelmed, remember this: a babysitter is a lot less expensive than getting a divorce or long term therapy. Get help! It’s temporary and if you’re even thinking about it, you likely need it. We women try to be a heroes while exhausted and nauseous and it is just absurd. Your condition is temporary. In my experience, everyone benefits when there are enough extra hands around.
So on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Mom arrives, and as much as I want to tell you I am out the door for a 60 minute interval workout, or whipping up a cauliflower crust pizza, the honest truth is that I am scarcely able to muster a quick ‘thanks’ before crawling upstairs with bag of dry trail mix in hand, sea bands securely in place on my wrists (for the record these never come off except while in the shower) and sink back under the covers with my headphones and Nevasic on.
I generally doze off for about 20 minutes during this time, which in the beginning felt pretty shameful/ luxurious, and weeks later felt like a basic necessity.
After waking up, I do feel marginally better. I take 20- 40 minutes to get some light stretching and activity in. A moderate workout truly never fails to make me feel better than if I had continued to lie down. This nap/ activity power hour energises me after an inevitably broken night of sleep, the general lethargy that comes with the tiring Worst Trimester, and having 3 small children to contend with.
How I’m working out:
Although there are very few exercise-related contraindications to be aware of in your First Trimester, it is important to tone it down a bit if you’re not feeling super hot.
Resistance band training: I ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ my resistance band. It makes me feel strong, toned, empowered, and energised. I use it all throughout my pregnancy and as soon as I feel ready to have a go post-birth. It is one of the safest, most versatile, affordable pieces of workout equipment you can own. Click here to see how I incorporate my band into my First Trimester workouts: postparty.net/videos
I LOVE yoga during this time. You don’t need to go fishing out a prenatal yoga video just yet. Carry on as usual with your down dogs, planks, up dogs, triangle poses, and back bends. Nothing is off the table until 14 weeks, so listen to your body and just do what feels good! Often times I’ll scoop up Tess and do this Cardioga workout with her. It’s just enough to get the endorphins flowing and blood pumping. She’s no longer staying put on the mat but she’s happy playing with her blocks and trains and dolls while I get my sweat on: postparty.net/videos
With all my earlier pregnancies, I ran, took spin, did Tabata, barre, and even maintained sprints as part of my routine. If you’re feeling that- go for it! What I have chosen to do the fourth time around has been different. Low impact cardio and resistance band training works for Pregnant Me now. With the frenzied pace of life of caring for 3 kids, I crave an easy jog, swim, or walk to get my cardio in. I’ll get back to the fun high impact training after baby arrives, but for now, this easier pace works for me and my ever- unstable tummy.
Getting through the rest of the day can become a little tricky. As nausea symptoms ebb and flow, cooking meals can bring out the worst in those of us expecting.
Here is what I’m keeping down:
Whenever possible, I try to cook in batches ahead of time, when feeling OK. Stock up on Tupperware and keep as many healthy, palatable options at your fingertips as possible.
Fruit, fruit, to boot! Fruit is the refreshing antidote to First Trimester queasiness. For me- the more sour the fruit, the better. At the moment I’m loving grapefruit, kiwi, mango and grapes. Fruit is loaded with fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. It is sweet and juicy and helps your skin and nails glow. Fruit sugars (fructose) is best digested and utilised by the body in the morning or on an empty stomach, which tends to be when most people crave it anyway. Put your dukes up, Dr. Atkins: fruit is straight up AWESOME and should be eaten daily. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Vegetables: I am a big believer in the power of raw veggies, and keep a stash in the fridge at all times for dipping in hummus and adding to salads and smoothies. I love having pre-cut chopped veggies on hand for an omelet or tofu scramble at lunch. I am not yet able to stomach a big salad but for those of you lucky enough to keep a salad down, go you. Ice cold smoothies seem to be the best place for me to hide my veggies at the moment. I’m getting all my greens in without tempting my gag reflex.
Anything salty: sometimes there’s nothing more settling than salty crackers, pretzels or popcorn. If it settles your stomach, have a stash ready and just enjoy in moderation. I love edamame and salty almonds, which are both packed with protein and have a stabilising effect on nausea.
Protein plays a big role in keeping your blood sugar stabilised, and thus, keeping your nausea symptoms at bay. Think lean meats, fish (2-3x per week is the current guideline), tofu, beans, quinoa, ‘clean’ plant-based protein powders, eggs, and never discount the protein content of veggies (broccoli even contains more protein, calorie for calorie, than steak!). Choose wisely, prepare wisely, and change things up on a weekly basis.
Chia seed pudding was my Go-To for the last 9 weeks. Chia seeds are nutritional powerhouses. Mixed with almond milk and drizzle of maple syrup, it becomes a refreshing snack. I top mine with coconut flakes, raw goji berries, and raw cacao nibs. Occasionally I swap with blueberries, crushed cashews, and cinnamon. All full of those underrated micronutrients your body could become depleted of during your pregnancy.
Be snobby about your carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes, squash, chickpeas, black beans, quinoa, oatmeal, farro, brown rice, Ezekiel (sprouted) breads are all excellent choices. Your body and growing baby need complex carbs- it’s just that simple. The key to carb control is to eliminate refined, zero- nutrient foods like bagels, sugary cereals, bulky rolls, white rice, pastries.
Other survival tips:
Get outside and breathe in the fresh air! If it doesn’t help your nausea, it will at least improve your mood.
Make sure to get to bed early. Getting enough sleep makes a huge difference in feeling well enough to function the next day. Whatever is on Netflix can wait. You know you’ll be up to pee in 4 hours anyway!
Never ever let your stomach get too empty. Keep fresh fruit, sliced veggies, hummus, salty trail mix and almonds with you at all times. Snack between meals and keep your blood sugar stable with edamame, hard boiled eggs, goji berries, protein shakes, homemade trail mix, cashew butter and celery.
Sleep and relax whenever and wherever possible. Your body’s energy stores are being used primarily to grow the human life inside you.
Download and regularly use Nevasic for immediate, drug-free nausea relief.
Stay hydrated by taking small sips of sparkling or freezing cold lemon water throughout the day, and at night.
Take supplements recommended by your doctor.
Wear acupressure bands on wrists (Sea Bands) sold at any Boots, CVS, Duane Reade, etc.)
Seek help if help is available (hire a sitter or ask your mom! Ask a friend if all else fails, and of course remember to return the favour when she is in your shoes).
Work a little activity into your day, even if you don’t feel like it. Postparty’s Energy Boosting First Trimester video is one of the most popular workouts on the site right now. Lots of fit expecting mamas out there!
Remember, this isn’t going to last forever. You’ll have a sweet little newborn in your arms in the blink of an eye, and this drama will all fade into your distant memory!
Sending love and stomach settling thoughts your way!