Well, I say ‘forgotten’. What I actually mean is ‘put to the back of my mind’. Mums are very good at this, otherwise very few would go on to have more babies!
The Normal Stuff
By ‘normal’, I mean the things that you expect; the things you hear about from others, from television, in films:
Period like pain: Many women (myself included) can feel the implantation of the egg in the womb. Others feel a general ache, but with the absence of menstrual bleeding. This can be one of the first indicators of pregnancy, usually a few weeks after conception. A little bleeding at the point of implantion is usual but any abnormal, heavy bleeding needs to be checked out by a GP (this applies at any point in your pregnancy).
Body temperature fluctuations: With this second pregnancy, I spent the first 8-10 feeling absolutely freezing. Yes, it was over Christmas, but even with layers of clothes, heating on, sheepskin slippers AND socks, I just couldn’t get warm and shivered constantly. Just writing this is making me feel cold again! Other women feel like they can’t cool down.
Nausea: I was fortunate with P. I felt sick for roughly five hours at school one day and that was it. Compared to other mamas, I got off lightly this time too. Though I felt sick for a few weeks and couldn’t stomach food over Christmas (*sob*), I wasn’t actually sick. Many friends have experienced extreme morning sickness and one suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, a la Kate Middleton. Utterly debilitating and, in some cases, resulting in hospitalisation for dehydration. Anything containing ginger is recommended here, and eating small amounts throughout the day, rather than big meals.
Tiredness: Or should I say EXHAUSTION. First trimester tiredness is akin to the most tired you’ve ever been + jetlag + the worst kind of hangover. First time round, I felt like this for about 6 weeks and work was heavy going. This time, the addition of a toddler compounded it. Rest whenever you can (we appreciate that this is easier said than done) and now is a good time to start accepting offers of help from those who know about your pregnancy.
Insomnia: We all know Mother Nature can be a right cow but this is her at her cruellest, in my humble opinion! You’re utterly exhausted, possibly also puking frequently and, you’ve guessed it! You’re waking at all sorts of odd hours and struggling to get back to sleep. I relied on camomile tea before bed (not too close to bed time though – see my next point!) and no caffeine in the late afternoon/evening (yep, that includes chocolate in my case.)
Frequent peeing: Woohoo! Just to REALLY prepare you for the latter stage of pregnancy, this starts nice and early. Even though you’re carrying anything from a poppy seed to a plum in this trimester, somehow your bladder behaves like the watermelon of weeks 36-40 is already in situ. Also a reminder to crack on with those pelvic floor exercises. Trust us, just do them. Every day.
Mood swings: These don’t affect all women but it is normal to feel very ‘up and down’. In addition to the hormones coursing around your body, you also have the emotions that go alongside finding out you’re pregnant, dealing with the changes to your body and waiting to find out if everything is ok. It’s a turbulent time.
Constipation: Of COURSE poo is going to come up in a pregnancy post. The increased amount of progesterone in your body relaxes certain muscles. One of these is the small intestine, meaning that food passes though it more slowly then usual. Iron supplements can also cause it, along with a lack of water and/or fibre in your diet. Try to avoid over the counter laxatives as these are often full of nasties and can irritate the gut (and therefore your womb). Drink plenty of fluids, avoid caffeine, eat plenty of healthy fats, proteins, fibre and fruit and vegetables, and get plenty of exercise – even gentle activities like walking, swimming or prenatal yoga will help.
Breast and nipple sensitivity: They know you’re pregnant instantly and will start changing even at this early stage, ready to produce colostrum and then milk when baby arrives. If you are still feeding an older baby/toddler, some nursing aversion can also be expected. You may also find that your child goes on nursing strike as your milk will taste different to usual!
Weight gain: Second time round, I’m almost certain my tummy popped out to around the 4 month mark within days of conception. Hello, maternity jeans, how I’ve missed thee.
Obviously, putting on weight is normal and that ‘normal’ is different for every mama! Some carry all their weight out front, as though their bump is ‘stuck on’, others gain weight all over. Focus on what’s normal for you and try not to compare. Eat healthily, take vitamins, exercise. If there’s anything wrong, your midwife will tell you. Otherwise, your genetics, your metabolism and your body shape will dictate your weight gain.
Weird Also Normal Stuff
These are the things you hear less about. I’m aiming to save you hours of searching Dr Google for advice and to reassure that these things really are normal too 🙂
Your hair: One of the first people to know you’re pregnant could well be your hairdresser! There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, due to hormonal changes, dye or highlights may not take to the roots of your hair, or the colour may not take as well as normal. Many doctors recommend avoiding colour in the first trimester anyway, due to the chemicals in them. However, if you’re unaware you’re pregnant, this may be when you find out! Secondly, you will grown more hair then normal. So you’ll have your current hair, plus a load of extra hair sprouting. Currently, I’m sporting a long bob, plus an extra layer of 2″ hair. As I recently discovered, if you’re holidaying in a hot country take some hairspray! I spent a week looking like I’d stuck my finger in a socket. This growth can also appear on other parts of your body but this is also completely normal. Lastly, your hair won’t fall out as much. This includes eyebrows and lashes! So you’ll be pleased to hear that, in the second and third trimesters, your hair is likely to look thick and glossy. It’s a shame it all falls out again after giving birth!
Nosebleeds and bleeding gums: I noticed my gums bleeding when pregnant with P. It’s due to, you guessed it! HORMONAL CHANGES. Gums become more vulnerable to plaque, leading to inflammation and soreness. It’s a good idea to get your maternity exemption sorted early on in pregnancy so you can go for a checkup at the dentist.
Weird dreams: Alongside my early pregnancy night wakings, I also had some very odd dreams. Thankfully, they’ve stopped now the second trimester has arrived!
Aversion to certain colours, smells or tastes: All your senses are heightened in pregnancy. You may find that you can no longer use your favourite perfume or that you suddenly hate the taste of something you previously loved.
Increased snot/sneezing/congestion: Yep, it’s those pesky hormones again!
A metallic taste in your mouth: Bloody hormones.
Itching/rashes: Screw you, hormones!
Darkened patches of skin: Seriously, stop now!
I’ll leave it there. Do share your tales of first trimester weirdness with us though. When did you realise you were expecting? Or were you someone who experienced no symptoms and didn’t realise you were pregnant for a long time? Finally, did any of you find out you were pregnant from your hairdresser?
Jo, The Mother Side xx