My First Trimester - Food, Fitness and Feelings
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
You can also choose to watch/listen to this post - in a bit more detail on my YouTube Channel
Pregnancy is quite the journey and often times it begins before you even pee on a stick and see those 2 lines of confirmation.
So many questions run through our minds when we consider getting pregnant. For me, some of those questions included: Am I too old to get pregnant? How long will it take me to get pregnant? I’ve been on some form of birth control for as long as I can remember, can I even get pregnant?
My heart goes out to the women who have had struggles in those beginning stages - it is so common and yet there are so many feelings of guilt associated with it - like if you have troubles getting pregnant or you miscarry that somehow something is wrong with you and it must be your fault. I love the trend I’m seeing nowadays with women sharing their journeys so openly in hopes to connect with and inspire other women who may be in a similar situation - you are so deserving.
Even in writing this I feel guilty for saying that I was able to conceive quickly - what I do know is that we never know what the future holds and if and when my husband and I decide to get pregnant again I could have an entirely different experience. I am thankful and humbled by my experience thus far, there is not a day that goes by I do not feel grateful and also a bit sad for the women I know who have struggled and are struggling with their fertility.
If you choose to read along, please know that this blog post comes from my point of view only - as of course I can only truly and genuinely speak from my own personal experience that is what I plan to do. If you are in any way feeling triggered or uneasy by what you’ve read so far, I encourage you to close this screen and come back when you’re ready - or maybe not at all. My intention is as always to share, to inspire and connect but never to make anyone feel bad about their own personal experience - we are all so unique and our journey’s are just that - our own.
So let me start at the beginning of this pregnancy - I KNEW I was pregnant the moment it happened it felt like. I had been tracking my ovulation since prior to our wedding and 2 weeks after we returned home from our honeymoon in Parksville I got the sign I was OVULATING! I was so excited - as I had mentioned I had been on birth control for as long as I can remember (on and off but mostly on since 17 years old). I had my hormonal IUD removed about 5 weeks prior to my first ovulation and once I received that sign - hubby and I got to work.
I just knew in my bones that I was pregnant - nothing had changed, it was probably 2 hours after conception that I first told him I knew I was, and of course he laughed at me because I mean.. there was no way to actually know.
The next 2 weeks felt excruciatingly long - I took about 6 pregnancy tests before they were able to detect this pregnancy. I spoke to friends and family and told them I thought I was pregnant - as you can tell I’m a pretty open book and I was very excited so I didn’t keep much of it private.
Then the day came.. 2 weeks after ovulation and my first positive pregnancy test, my husband was at work and I immediately took a photo of the test and sent it to him via text with a message that just read “told you!” To say I was excited was an understatement.
We shared the news with our immediate families as well as a few close friends pretty much immediately. If I had to do it over - I may have held off a bit on sharing this news with a few.
One thing I know is that everyone we told wants nothing but the best for us, they were all excited for us but they also wanted us to be realistic about what could happen, after all I was only 4 weeks pregnant when I received this positive.
The amount of times I heard in the following 8 weeks how “most women lose their first pregnancy” or “it’s still early and something could happen so don’t let yourself get excited” put me into an occasional panic and emotional spiral. The surging hormones were NOT helping with said panic. However, overall I remained steadfast in the notion that everything was working out - I felt good (with the exception of the dizziness, almost carsick like spells I had almost daily for the first 10 weeks), I felt positive and my husband continued to remind me that I was doing everything I possibly could - taking care of myself fueling my body well and moving as often as possible.
From about week 5 - week 10 was by far the hardest part of the first trimester for me. The aforementioned dizzy spells or feelings of being constantly car sick made it difficult to keep up my regular workout routine.
My body began to change in more ways than one and looking back on pictures now I realize how fit and healthy I still looked (and was) - isn’t it funny how body image and body dysmorphia can arise in these types of situations. At the time I felt bloated (as is normal), I no longer felt comfortable working out in just a sports bra, I constantly felt like while I was surrounded by all of these fit, strong people at the gym I no longer fit into that category and each time someone looked at me for a second “too long” I determined they were thinking that I had already let myself go since our wedding.
I wanted to scream out “I’M PREGNANT, NOT FAT!” on more than one occasion.
The first trimester was rough for my mental health and my body image issues. For over the previous 2 years I had trained on a regular basis 5 days/week and now I was down to training 3-4 days on a good week. I also didn’t have the capacity I previously had to train with as much intensity. Then to add to it I started to experience some lovely food aversions to my previous go-to healthy meals.
Prior to pregnancy - one of my typical lunches would be air fried potatoes or yams, air fried broccoli or brussel sprouts and a turkey sausage also cooked in the air fryer with a side of sauerkraut. I could not even handle the sight of these foods let alone the smell of the airfryer. Each time it turned on I felt like I was going to be sick(sometimes I actually got sick as a result). Suddenly all I wanted to eat was bagels with cream cheese - which I first picked up on occasion through the tim hortons drive through and then I was eating them so regularly I had them on stock at home.. Oh and of course kraft dinner.
Luckily around week 11 my body started to feel more like my own again and I was able to train consistently 2 days on, 1 day off moving forward. Now, my training may look WAY different than other women in my situation and once again the reminder - we are ALL very different and our bodies respond differently. I attribute my ability to train so regularly again and my ability to continue most movements as I had before I was pregnant to the fact that I had trained in CrossFit consistently for 4 years leading up to this point. During my first trimester I was still able to lift fairly heavy weights (approx 80% of my max at most), I was able to continue doing kipping movements like pull ups and hanging knee raises, I continued to olympic lift and practice my other gymnastics movements like handstand push ups. The things that felt the best for me were things I always loved - burpees, box jumps, wall balls etc.
The significant changes I made in my training in the first trimester were limited to:
Not going above 80% in any of my lifts
Taking a longer period of time to warm up before each workout
Removing GHD sit ups as the hyperextension of my abdominal wall felt compromising
Reducing the intensity to about 7-8/10 RPE at MOST
There is so much research out there now that supports the fact that what you are doing leading up to pregnancy can be continued throughout your first trimester (within reason). What I mean by this is to listen to your bodies natural ques - if you are doing something that makes you feel physically ill, dizzy, cramping etc you are pushing yourself TOO far. One of the hardest lessons for me to learn during my first trimester of training and continuing throughout this pregnancy is to leave the ego aside. You are in a different body, in a different period of time, experiencing something completely new and you cannot expect yourself to adhere to your old practices or ways of doing things. Being able to adapt is KEY to training safely during pregnancy. Asking for advice and support from a professional is another way to ensure that you are staying safe and healthy for you AND your baby. I am lucky in that I have so much experience in training and coaching that I have been able to read some of the studies and talk to other professionals who have trained throughout their pregnancy and adjust accordingly.
As far as my nutrition went, although I was consuming more bagels and kraft dinner in those first 3 months than I had in the past 5 years, I did my best to balance it out with high protein foods - mostly tofu, eggs and beef as I couldn’t tolerate chicken or turkey very well and lots of vegetables (which thankfully I still really enjoyed).
It was a total mental switch for me - getting married April 10th, I had been tracking my macros to achieve a certain goal since mid-January and all of a sudden the tracking had stopped, I did my best to be mindful but I also knew that I had to eat and sometimes that meant making another box of kraft dinner or hitting the tim hortons drive through for yet another bagel.
Supporting my body and my nutrition with a prenatal supplement was HUGE for me, ensuring you are receiving enough folic acid especially before conception and through the first trimester is HUGE for babies development (specifically brain stem development). Eating lots of rich green foods (kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, romaine lettuce etc) also helps to ensure your folic acid levels are adequate.
Often during pregnancy I’ve heard people say things like “you’re eating for 2 now” or “now is the time in your life you can eat WHATEVER you want and you have a great excuse” but that’s not how I chose to look at it. I am literally growing a human from scratch inside my own body - do I want this human to be grown on refined starches and sugars and processed foods or do I want them to mainly be supported by WHOLE foods rich in vitamins and minerals, high quality protein and carbohydrate sources to support them having the best chance possible to be born healthy?
Once again, I am grateful for my knowledge and experience in the nutrition realm that has allowed me to make healthy choices to support myself and my baby.
Having someone on your side who knows what to do and what to prescribe food wise can be extremely helpful in ensuring a healthy pregnancy. Just like every other period in our lives - what we put into our bodies makes SUCH an impact on what the output is. Energy wise, digestion wise and also in creating a healthy human being.
From a mental health standpoint I knew I needed to move my body - so when I was unable to train in the classic capacity I was used to, I did my best to get out for walks with the dog, spend time outside and just really tried to allow myself space to feel all of the things.
The uncertainty of the first trimester is something that I don’t believe is spoken about enough.
Although to the outside world I looked like the exact same person (because at the biggest my little babe was the size of a LIME) to me I felt like a completely different person.
My energy was drained, my hormones were running rampant, I was nervous, scared and confused - of the potential of losing my baby, the changes happening within my body that I couldn’t control, and then you add on the blood work.
There are standard blood tests that are done during your first trimester - HIV, Hepatitis, Blood type etc and those ones I wasn’t very concerned about - but then there is the genetic screening. The tests to find out if your baby has any chromosomal abnormalities including down syndrome and a heart condition that essentially makes your pregnancy non-viable. The results for these tests don’t come back until about 17 weeks (there are options to rush them and have them done earlier especially if you are considered high risk which I wasn’t).
Although I felt pretty confident my baby was healthy you really never know until you receive those results.
The fear doesn’t end at the first trimester either - even though the likelihood of miscarriage is significantly reduced past 13 weeks, until you complete your 18-22week ultrasound you don’t have any significant confirmation that baby is developing as they should beyond wether or not they have a regular heartbeat.
As a first time mom, I of course looked into issues that may arise, I read stories of women who had to terminate their pregnancies at 5 months pregnant after they found out their baby was not viable. It is a completely terrifying state of mind to be in.
This circles back to my gratitude once again - as I will talk about further in my second trimester blog post, upon finding out the positive results of my 20 week ultrasound, I finally felt as though I could breathe a sigh of relief and begin to actually enjoy this pregnancy.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my journey up to this point - I can say with certainty the 2nd trimester is a much happier time than the first. Not that it doesn’t come with it’s own challenges, but it also comes along with some really cool benefits. Like finding out babies gender if you choose, seeing them suck their little thumb on the ultrasound for the first time, feeling baby move around inside of you and also just the freedom from those first trimester worries and physical symptoms.
Thank you so much for reading along, I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks! If you have any questions regarding this blog, training or fueling your body during pregnancy, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I am in the process of generating a prenatal training plan that will be available for purchase on my website in the next couple of months - if you’re needing individual support in the fitness or nutrition realm, I’d be honored to chat with you about what that could look like.
Until next time,
You can also choose to watch/listen to this post - in a bit more detail on my YouTube Channel