Discovering that you’re pregnant is an exciting time. Congrats mama! You might already have a million questions running through your head, and you could be feeling a range of emotions, too.
Plus, it can be common for us to experience a stack of symptoms during our first trimester from fatigue to nausea and everything in between. Especially if you’re a first-time mama, these changes might be stressful, confusing or overwhelming.
So, we’ve gone straight to the experts. Edwina Sharrock is a Registered Midwife and Emergency Nurse with over 14 years’ experience in birth and early parenting. Along with being a mum of two, Edwina is the Founder and CEO of Birth Beat, an online birth and baby education platform with stacks of courses to help mamas through their pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood journey.
In the blog, Edwina shares what mamas might experience during their first trimester plus five practical tips to help you navigate and manage this time with confidence.
What you might experience during your first trimester
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience during pregnancy (and beyond) will be totally different. But it can be helpful to understand what some common emotions and symptoms are in case you encounter them during your journey.
The first big milestone you might encounter is trying to figure out your due date. While your first trimester starts from the first day of your last period (right through to week 12 of your pregnancy, it can be tricky to calculate your expected due date.
Plus, you’ll usually find out your due date as well as have your first proper check-in on your baby’s position and heartbeat during your 6 week ultrasound.
As far as symptoms go, some of the common things you might experience during your first trimester include:
- “Morning” sickness (or “all day” sickness as Edwina likes to call it)
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Restlessness at night and the need to frequently visit the bathroom
- Food cravings and aversions
- Swelling and bloating
- Back pains
Edwina is quick to remind mamas that you’re likely to experience a big shift in your hormones during your first trimester (which is why you could experience a stack of uncomfortable symptoms). But, even the more unpleasant symptoms (such as nausea) are actually signs of a strong, healthy pregnancy.
Edwina’s five tips for navigating your first trimester
Tip 1. Share your pregnancy when you feel comfortable
Many mamas decide to keep their pregnancy quiet until week 12 or 13, as the chance of miscarriage is the highest during these first few weeks.
But Edwina explains that women shouldn’t feel like they need to suffer in silence if they want to share their pregnancy earlier. There is so much support you can receive from your loved ones during these first few weeks, which is why Edwina encourages women to consider speaking up earlier if that feels right for them.
“There are no rules and you certainly shouldn’t be putting expectations on yourself to keep this enormous secret for months,” reveals Edwina. Perhaps consider telling just a few close friends or family members, and do what’s right for you to feel supported during these early weeks.
Tip 2. Manage ‘morning sickness’ with small, regular snacks
Edwina shares that “morning” sickness can actually happen at any time of day, with some experts saying it can occur for up to 85% of pregnant women.
Whether it happens first thing in the morning, late at night or anywhere in between Edwina shares a few tips to help mamas navigate it, including:
- Eating ginger lollies or drinking ginger tea
- Sucking on ice cubes
- Keeping snacks (such as crackers or muesli bars) by your bedside table to keep you going through the night
- Eating plain porridge or Greek yogurt
Try your best to find plain foods that you can stomach, and remember that any food is better than no food during this time.
Tip 3. Focus on booking your important appointments
It can feel like there is a never-ending to-do list when you discover you’re pregnant. But Edwina recommends new mamas focus on booking in your key appointments (here’s a handy blog from Edwina to help you work these dates out) and start thinking about who you want to be your care provider throughout your pregnancy.
There are plenty of different care models, from private midwives to public system midwifery programs. So, now can be a good time to start shopping around to find a care provider that you feel confidence and secure with.
Plus, now can also be a good time to start booking in your antenatal classes to help you build confidence during pregnancy.
Tip 4. Take a nap or rest whenever you need it
If you’re feeling fatigued right now, that’s totally normal. Many women can feel tired during their first trimester (growing a tiny human is a lot of work!)
Edwina’s advice is to take a rest and a nap whenever you need it. Whether that means a 10 minute power nap during your lunch break or reducing your social commitments, do whatever feels right for you.
Tip 5. Relax and take the pressure off
Last, but not least, Edwina’s top tip for mamas-to-be is this: just relax. Our bodies are so capable of creating new life. So, allow yourself to indulge in those cravings from time-to-time, move your body in whatever way feels good and relax.
Remember, pregnancy can be such a joyful experience, especially if we’re educating ourselves about what to expect along the way. Ask for support when you need it and take as many breaks as you need. You’re doing great, mama.
If in doubt, please always consult your healthcare professional.