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The First Trimester – Part Two – Sickness, Snacks and Survival!

Heidi Skudder Pregnancy

The initial paranoia and worry over my pregnancy in those early weeks were combatted by extra scans and a little help from my friends! That said, nothing can ever quite prepare you for the permanent hangover feeling that the first trimester brings! Along a similar theme to my last blog, I was surprised at just how awful I felt in the first 14 weeks. Having spoken to many clients since experiencing the first trimester, it seems that most mum’s-to-be have a similar story to tell, but tend not to verbalise this until much later on (if at all – where it is often replaced by the excitement of telling others about their pregnancy, given most wait until 12 weeks when symptoms often subside.

Morning sickness comes in many forms, and for some can be completely debilitating. I can happily say that I am lucky to have not been suffering from severe morning sickness, but what I did have seemed to stop in my tracks for a good 7 weeks or so. It began one morning when I was due to spend the day with a client… In an Uber on the way there, I suddenly felt a rush of nausea! Upon arrival at my client’s home, I could barely see I was feeling so sick. At the time, I was sure I had picked up a viral bug, however, looking back this was clearly the onset of pregnancy nausea.

Having been with my client for less than 45 minutes, I was already in an Uber and on my way home, where I was violently sick. Cancelling the rest of my appointments for the day, I set up camp on the sofa, and cuddled up to my pooch, hoping that I would be on the mend soon. Now, it’s worth noting that I am not very good at being sick; and even at 31 will often still shout “Mum!” whilst hovering over the loo. In any case, the day passed, and although I had been sick, I weirdly felt very hungry, yet no matter what I ate, I could not get rid of the feeling of nausea.
There are many things I love about living in London, but one of the best things has to be how accessible everything is. There was no way I was leaving the house any time soon, but luckily, the Sainsbury’s Chop Chop app delivers just about anything to you within an hour; so with no hesitation I placed an order for potato waffles, baked beans, digestive biscuits, ready salted crisps and ‘Fab’ ice lollies. Soon after it arrived I was happily in a carb food coma, but still the sickness feeling would not go away!

By that evening, I had spent another £5 delivery charge on Chop Chop to deliver emergency ginger biscuits and Ribena (the guy must have thought I have more money than sense!). Rowan arrived home that evening to quite a sight – our kitchen looked like a local corner shop full of convenience products! Not helpful when he was on an attempted post-honeymoon health kick! After a day of bizarre eating and nausea, I realised this was no bug, and more likely a sign of things to come…

Having been a healthy eater in the run up to our wedding and honeymoon, my first trimester primarily included a diet of Walkers Ready Salted Crisps, Potato Waffles, Fish Fingers, Baked Beans and toast! The general guidance out there seems to be to go with whatever your body asks you to eat, while combining this with vitamin supplements. Several multipacks of ‘Walkers’ Crisps later and months on, I would not be surprised if our child comes out as a crisp eating monster with facial features very similar to a potato!

From first assuming morning sickness meant it disappears by lunchtime, I learnt that it is far more likely to last all day long… ALL DAY!!! Running a full-time business, whilst feeling ready to be sick every half an hour was not the start I had imagined for pregnancy! After about a week, it became very clear that I was going to need survival tactics, as this was not going to go away on its own.

Although being self-employed can be difficult at times, I am so thankful that I did not have a daily commute, or spend each day working in an office. There was a lot of media coverage last year about potential menstruation leave for woman, which I think is a great idea, but I would 100% add ‘early pregnancy’ leave to this – why is not already a thing!? To feel so sick and zapped of energy, and still have to carry on ‘as normal’ is shockingly difficult. I really feel for anyone who has to go to work and not only not tell colleagues, but also continue to be as productive as normal, whilst feeling terrible behind the facade.

The most difficult few weeks of my first trimester were weeks 8-10, which unfortunately happened to collide with our holiday to the Maldives, or ‘honeymoon take 2’, (having contracted Dengue Fever in Sri Lanka on our first attempt!). We stayed on a luxury, all-inclusive island (sounds tough I know!), with as much delicious fresh seafood and delicious wines from all over the world – all you could ever hope for on a honeymoon. Unless of course, if you were suffering from pregnancy nausea, in which case, it became about doing my best to avoid all the various smells of the huge buffet, by asking Rowan to fetch me three slices of bread and a small bowl of salad, which is just about all I could stomach.

Not being able to eat well on an amazing honeymoon was upsetting, let alone the bursting into tears each evening, while getting ready for dinner, because I didn’t like the way I looked!!! Pregnancy seemed to be changing my confidence levels too: I felt boring, unattractive (but not yet showing!) and like a very different person to the one I would have been, getting ready for a romantic dinner on the beach with my new husband!

For me, tiredness did not kick in until around week 10 – and this is the only reason I managed to continue working through all of the nausea. The two symptoms overlapped for around two weeks, and this was probably the most difficult stage. There are so many opinions online as to when it all ends, some quoting 12 weeks, others quoting 20 weeks. As if by magic, my clouds parted as soon as I hit 14 weeks. I suddenly felt a new lease of life! No more nausea, I had bundles of energy and a new enthusiasm for life and work!

So, for anyone going through, or about to go through this first stage of pregnancy, my top tips for anyone surviving are as follows:
• -Rest often and nap when you can – housework can wait, preparing supper can wait, keep your energy for when you most need it!
• Eat whatever takes your fancy – baby will survive and not come out looking like a piece of toast, even if that’s all you eat!
• Avoid all cooking where possible – it just makes you feel worse. The number of meals I spent time cooking, that I then just couldn’t stomach was just too many! Let your partner, or Deliveroo take some of the strain.
• Explain to your partner how you are feeling and just how debilitating it can be; the more they understand, the more they can do for you!
• If you can, explain to those closest to you what is going on. It will help you feel less like a hermit, saying no to invites left right and centre.

Finally, and most importantly, remember that you will come out the other side, with energy and a next excitement for what is to come…Whether this be at 12 weeks, 18 weeks or longer – hang on in there! I would suggest you talk about how you are feeling, and let your friends and family in on it – in my opinion it makes it a whole world easier when trying to explain your lack of socialising, funny appetite and general grouchiness to those closest to you!