Infertility and Miscarriage, Pregnancy

What I wish I would have known about the first trimester…

December 18, 2014

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I spent a lot of time reading (okay, obsessing and worrying) about what was normal vs. not normal during the first trimester. After two miscarriages I was extremely worried that my symptoms weren’t normal or our baby wasn’t healthy. Understandable, yes, but healthy? Absolutely not!

Since a lot of my symptoms weren’t textbook “normal” I thought perhaps some other moms-to-be could use a little reminder that what the books and websites say don’t necessarily hold true all the time. They’re simply generalizations. You can have a less than textbook pregnancy and still be carrying a very healthy baby.

Here are a few of my pieces of advice based on my experience:

What the Books and Websites Say
Morning sickness is good! It’s a sign that you’re baby is healthy and you’re hormone levels are rising appropriately.

What I Say
This was one of the greatest fears and sources of worry for me with all 3 of my pregnancies. I hated every time someone told me that morning sickness was a sign my baby was doing well, especially when I didn’t feel sick! I remember laying on the couch 11 weeks pregnant with this baby, praying to God that he would give me morning sickness so I could feel reassured that our baby was healthy.

The truth? Morning sickness didn’t hit me until around 12 weeks and eased up around 18 weeks, and even then it wasn’t very bad. I threw up only a handful of times, and looking back I should have been thankful for how good I felt through the first trimester. I wish people would quit saying that morning sickness is a good sign, because every pregnancy is so different!

What the Books and Websites Say
Cramping, lower back aches and other pains can be a sign of miscarriage in the first trimester! Be afraid!

What I Say
While that’s certainly true, that extremely bad cramps can be a sign of miscarriage early on, I think that you need to be in tune with your body and not jump to conclusions. Prior to getting pregnant I struggled frequently with cramps and stomach discomfort, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to me that those same discomforts would follow me in pregnancy. Also, with my two miscarriages I never experienced severe cramps or any unusual symptoms, so it’s really hard to make broad generalizations.

What the Books and Websites Say
Bleeding/spotting during the first trimester may mean you’re going to miscarry.

What I Say
Yes, that’s certainly true, that bleeding can be a sign of miscarriage, but I wish I had known how incredibly common it is to spot during early pregnancy. It probably would have given me a bit more perspective and calmed me a bit. I have had a couple good girlfriends spot during the first trimester and they went on to deliver healthy, happy babies. I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep an eye on these type of things, but my hope is that women don’t freak out like I did!

What the Books and Websites Say
You should only gain about 5 pounds during the first trimester.

What I Say
This was something I was totally unprepared for! I gained more weight in my first trimester (around 11 pounds) than I did in my second trimester (only about 6 pounds) and wasn’t textbook at all in this regard. I worried that since I gained so much in the first trimester it would mean I was going to be off-the-charts my entire pregnancy, but your body truly does know what it is doing. Trust your body and trust that as long as you aren’t going crazy with the junk food and ice cream, your body is doing exactly what it needs to do to nourish baby.

Mommas, do you have anything else to add to this list?


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  • Reply Krista Earl December 18, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I am so glad you shared this – it is hard to know what is normal in pregnancy in general and I know everyone I have talked to have had contrasting symptoms and experiences. I know this will be a huge help to people!

  • Reply Liddlem December 18, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    This was just what I needed to see today. I’m 8 1/2 weeks and it’s been rocky. I have a subchorionic hematoma that caused me to bleed at 6 weeks, which was terrifying. Then the weight I am gaining! I’m up about 5 pounds, and the bloat is comical. I can’t exercise because of the SCH, so I’m just watching the scale go up, and up, and up, and…

    So it’s good to know I’m not alone. I had plans to exercise and eat perfectly paleo during pregnancy. I am pretty much living on carbs and boiled eggs, and my exercise is walking to my car to nap at lunch. I guess God knew I had to work on my illusions of control.

  • Reply Kelly Linn Feller December 18, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I had some of these same worries when I was pregnant. My doctor totally freaked us out because my stomach was measuring smaller than it should. After a lot of worry and an ultrasound we found out our baby was right on track. She was born weighing in at 8 lbs 6 oz so it was a lot of stress for nothing. You just have to trust your instincts because nothing will be exactly textbook. You look so cute by the way!
    XO Kelly

  • Reply Kat Stephens December 18, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    I have four healthy children and I never even had one day of morning sickness.

    Hugs, Kat

  • Reply Christine December 19, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Oh my gosh yes to all of this! I’m 18 weeks pregnant with my first and I worried so much during my first trimester, especially in the first 8 weeks before we had told anybody (and that’s how long they made me wait to come do my first ultrasound). I didn’t ever throw up, I barely felt nauseous, and spotted multiple times for the first 12 weeks. Even though you logically know, it’s hard to remember that every woman is different and every pregnancy will be different, so what’s “true” for some (or even the majority) might not apply to you at all. Pregnancy, and the first trimester especially, is such an emotional roller coaster, so it’s nice to have sane voices like yours to read on the internet! Thank you.

  • Reply jillian December 19, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    i totally agree about the morning sickness (or lack thereof!) i’m almost to my 3rd trimester and i am very very thankful i never got sick. i did take another pregnancy test at week 11 to make sure i was actually pregnant šŸ™‚ also i think every body is different and you’ll gain as much as the baby needs you to! xo jillian – cornflake dreams

  • Reply Laura @ Real Home Living December 20, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    This is so interesting! The more I hear about pregnancy the more I see that it’s so varied from woman to woman… our bodies are all so different from one another and it only makes sense that we would react to pregnancy in totally different ways. I’m not pregnant yet, but thank you for sharing so I can be prepared for the future! šŸ™‚

  • Reply Karin December 20, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Thanks so much for this! I’ve been following your blog for a few months now, after I had my miscarriage in August. Now we’re pregnant again – 8 weeks today – and while I have high hopes (everything has been going well so far, fingers crossed), I’m still not that nauseous – so it makes me nervous. It’s so helpful to read your posts – they’re very assuring. Thanks again!

  • Reply Rea December 21, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    I never had a touch of morning sickness with either one of my pregnancies. A few food aversions (I could truly NOT bring myself to eat a sandwich during my 2nd pregnancy…weird, I know!) and a few cravings, that was it. I always felt a bit abnormal because it seemed that morning sickness was supposed to be such a huge part of pregnancy.
    The flip side of that is that books talk so much about the 2nd trimester energy burst, and I suppose it comes because women start feeling better and more like themselves. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, and I could have napped any time, any where. I kept waiting for that promised energy burst and it just never happened.

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