Pregnancy Essentials: First Trimester

Article By:
Juliet Spurrier, MD
Mom-in-Chief
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
August 11, 2016

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First Trimester


Your first trimester can be filled with a sour stomach and sore boobs. But it is also exciting and anxiety inducing. With your body going through a bunch of changes and your head spinning a mile a minute, this is the moment where you should take a deep breath, relax, and nap. Seriously, nap every chance you get, and when you aren't napping take some of our first trimester advice for surviving these three months in style and comfort.

Finding Out

  • Early Response Kit — Finding out you are pregnant is the catalyst that gets the ball rolling on this crazy ride. Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test is 99% accurate on the day of expected period and reads out digitally in words so there is no cryptic deciphering to be done. And, it is sensitive enough to use up to 4 days before expected period, although with less accuracy so false negatives can occur during this window.
  • Pregnancy Books — If you are like us you'll be scouring the internet and book stores for all things pregnancy so you can stay on top of baby's growth and your own health. If this is your first or even your third it can be helpful to have a few good books on hand for the myriad of questions you are likely to have as your pregnancy progresses. While there are lots of books on the market, they are not all created equal, and some of them are downright outdated! We have put together a short list of the books we have found most useful and have enjoyed reading ourselves through pregnancy and beyond: Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too!, I'm Pregnant! A Week-By-Week Guide From Conception to Birth, Expecting 411 can all give you the information you seek when pregnant or the reassurance you may need when the unexpected happens. From knowing when to call a doctor to what you can expect in each trimester, pregnancy books can really be a girl's best friend.

Coping with Nausea


Most women experience some level of nausea in their first trimester. For some it is an everyday, all day affair that has them retching into trash bins, while others get the occasional surprise sneak attack that passes without actually tossing cookies. No matter where on the spectrum you end up, it is likely that at some point you will seek some help in stopping the urge to purge. There a many, many remedies to combat pregnancy-induced nausea. The most common include the following considerations:
Pregnancy-Induced Nausea
Pregnancy-Induced Nausea
  • Take prenatal vitamins with food — You may have already noticed that your prenatal vitamins can be hard on the tummy. The best way to combat the discomfort is taking them on a full stomach. This tricks your tummy into focusing on digestion, not the vitamin.

Hydro Flask Insulated 40oz Wide Mouth
Hydro Flask Insulated 40oz Wide Mouth
  • Stay hydrated — You will need more water than you think during pregnancy both for yourself and your developing baby. So be sure to keep up your hydration by drinking water every hour. Carrying around a great reusable glass or stainless steel bottle like those mentioned above can serve as a great reminder to keep on gulping. Aim for approximately 64-80 ounces per day, or check with your doctor on your particular needs which might vary depending on your health and pregnancy. You do get some water from your diet, and the more veggies and fruits you eat the better, but its best to err on the side of caution within reason. Dehydration can lead to early contractions, low amniotic fluid, increased fatigue, and make nausea worse. Dehydration can also be a symptom of preeclampsia later in pregnancy so it is best to keep on top of your water intake and take notice if you start feeling depleted.
  • Eat first thing in the morning — Even if eating when you wake up is not your usual routine, we recommend you start partaking of at least a small snack immediately upon rising to decrease feelings of sickness. You might try keeping a few saltines by your bed and snack on a handful before getting up, or eating a small portion of a dry bagel to keep the heaves at bay. You can always eat a complete breakfast later if you think you can't manage it upon waking.
  • Consume frequent small meals and snacks — There is nothing wrong with frequent small snacks to keep your tummy settled and your calorie count where it needs to be for baby's optimum growth. Don't feel like you need to eat three big meals a day; when your stomach feels like it is going to revolt at any minute, you might be more successful at getting in the calories you need by eating a little bit at a time as opposed to eating a big meal that comes back up.
  • Avoid fried, fatty foods — Cravings can get the best of anyone, we know, we've been there, but when it comes to fried fatty foods you should do your best to avoid them. Not only are they not the most healthy choice, but they can cause significant tummy trouble and more weight gain than you really want. Avoiding them can help keep nausea down and heartburn on the back burner.

However, if the above advice still leaves you reaching for a barf baggie, the lesser-known nausea helpers below may strike a cord with you. Anything healthy is worth a try!
  • Sea Band mama! provides relief of morning sickness via accupressure.
    Sea Band mama! provides relief of morning sickness via accupressure.
    Acupressure — Is a simple, non-invasive, non-medicinal option that some women have found to be really helpful for nausea during pregnancy or for motion sickness. The Sea-Band Mama Acupressure Wristband is a nice option that is cost effective and easy to use. For under $9 on average you can get relief similar to that experienced by women in this study on the Sea-Band Mama.
  • Ginger — Zingiber officinale, otherwise known as ginger, is a great pacifier for nausea whether pregnancy related, motion-induced, or just plain old upset tummy. Luckily, there are more ginger options than ever before, so even if ginger ale isn't your cup of tea, you can still reap some rewards related to taking ginger. Here are some options for getting the ginger in: Ginger Root Tea: Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Morning Wellness Tea, or try steeping peeled, minced ginger and grapefruit zest in hot water for a spicy, citrusy treat. Crystalized: Reed's Crystallized Ginger is just diced baby ginger root with raw cane sugar. Chews: Gin Gins Original Chewy Ginger Candy with 10% ginger, these deliver a delicious ginger punch…just cane sugar, ginger, and tapioca starch. Plus, sometimes just the action of chewing can help your stomach relax. Sucking on hard candy can also be a great soother, and Tummy Drops Natural Ginger is a good option for those who like to suck. If you are a gum chewer, or find relief in the action of chewing, try Sea-Band Anti-Nausea Ginger Gum for a steady relief of symptoms. And of course, the old standby your mother told you about, flat room temperature ginger ale.
Pregnancy Induced Nausea Remedies: Ginger in many forms and Accupressure
Pregnancy Induced Nausea Remedies: Ginger in many forms and Accupressure
  • Citrus — Sniffing a slice of lemon, drinking citrus-infused water infused or lemon tea can work wonders for feelings of nausea. Its a simple trick and often works so its definitely worth a shot.
  • Teas — It seems like tea is the answer to just about anything that ails you. While it might not cure everything that comes down the pike, it definitely can help with morning sickness, or afternoon sickness, or whenever sickness. Traditional Medicinals Organic Lemon Balm Tea Ginger, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Spearmint, Chamomile, Red Raspberry Leaf are a few of the flavors we think work well. So pick a favorite and get to sipping!
  • Old Vermont Cure — This one might not be on your radar, but it certainly can't hurt if you're in desperate need. In a recipe likely handed down for generations, you might find exactly what you are looking for in this tried and true at home remedy. Combine 1 Tablespoon pure apple cider vinegar, 8 oz filtered water, 1 Tablespoon pure honey. Mix well and sip slowly.
  • Vitamin B6 — Some women have had success taking a daily Vitamin B6 supplement at a dose of 25mg 3x/day to stave off the feelings of nausea. But before you give this a try, we recommend discussing this with your doctor.

Any supplement or medication, whether a prescription or over-the-counter remedy, should be cleared by your Ob/Gyn or Family Physician before taking.


Heartburn


Heartburn is often a right of passage for pregnant women so don't be surprised if you experience a little bit of this during pregnancy even if you have never had it before. It can show up at pretty much any time and it can last for the duration. While uncomfortable and annoying, it doesn't mean anything is wrong or that your baby will have lots of hair (regardless of what the internet and your great Aunt Mavis might have you believe).
  • Antacids — A simple and effective treatment for this is Tums Peppermint UltraStrength 1000. Consisting primarily of calcium, it is a tried and true method of combating the burn. As with all other supplements and medications, double check with your doctor before consuming, but this one is generally considered safe to use during all stages of pregnancy.
  • Tea — If the Tums don't take away the burn, or you'd like to try something more soothing, then Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Heartburn Tea might be just what the baby ordered. Slowly sipping on this tea may help relieve your symptoms.

Hemorrhoids


Unfortunately, constipation and pregnancy often go hand-in-hand. The origins of this can be multifactorial with causes such as hormonal changes causing relaxation of intestinal muscles, low water and fiber intake, and fatigue leading to less exercise and movement. The situation can be further exacerbated with iron supplementation. No matter what the cause, the result is often a bout of Hemorrhoids, just another glamorous side effect of bringing life into the world.
Motherlove Rhoid Balm
Motherlove Rhoid Balm
  • Stool Softener — If you think you are on the verge of constipation, or haven't been using the loo as often as you normally do, it is best to combat the constipation before it results in hemorrhoids. Colace Capsules are generally considered safe for women during pregnancy and are often administered to help keep the plumbing moving the way it should. Check with your doctor before you take them, and whatever you do don't be shy about not pooping. Your doctor has heard it before, after all everybody poops, and they can't help you if they don't know.
  • Cream — Despite your best efforts at prevention, sometimes hemorrhoids happen anyway. While not a cure for the problem, Motherlove Rhoid Balm can offer some relief from symptoms and decrease the discomfort associated with this problem. Often a combination of the Colace and crème and get things under control and keep you feeling right.

Maternity Wardrobe


With pregnancy comes a growing figure and a growing wardrobe. You might be a shopaholic who is looking forward to adding cute outfits to your closet or you might be avoiding the thought because your budget is tight and so is your belly. Either way you will have to purchase some new items to make it through the nine months. How much you spend and how much you buy is up to you and definitely has some wiggle room if you are creative and content with a few key pieces.


For cute clothes on a budget we really like the maternity sections at Target and Old Navy. These two locations have just enough for the lady on a budget to get by for work and casual wear without breaking the bank. Other stores you might try on a budget include Motherhood Maternity, and Gap Maternity. While they might cost you a few dollars more, they often have a wider selection of options. For slightly nicer pieces to accent some budget buys or for a full wardrobe at mid-range prices we like PattyBoutik, Ingrid and Isabel, and Ripe Maternity. These stores might be just what you need for a special occasion or for a fancier office work environment. For high dollar fancy duds, look no further than Pea in the Pod and Seraphine.
  • Pant's BandIngrid and Isabel Bellaband is a handy tool the can extend the life of your pre-pregnancy pants by giving you a little extra room around the middle for growth before you have to toss them aside for actual maternity wear. The band works to keep your pants up even if you can't button or zip them by covering the exposed area and keeping things tight. The best part about this super cool invention is you can use it during pregnancy and AFTER! It can help keep your pants up as you transition out of maternity and back into your old gear.
Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband
Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband
 
  • Bra — Even though you aren't nursing yet, your boobs are going to start growing in preparation to do so. This means you'll need a larger bra that can adapt to your fluctuating size. Given that soon you'll likely be nursing a little one, it makes sense to buy a great nursing bra now to avoid double purchases. The Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra is a nice option we think is comfortable, easy to use, and flattering. Touted as the world's most comfortable bra means you might continue to wear it long after pregnancy.
  • Body Support — Believe it or not as your body changes its going to need some extra support, or at least you'll feel better with some. The BLANQI Bodystyler is a body smoothing and support product that can help maternity clothes look nicer and help you feel more confident. The Belevation Mid-Thigh PettiPant offers extra support under dresses or for the dreaded thigh chaff. These boy short underwear with belly support are made of breathable mesh for extra comfort.
  • Maternity Jeans — Finding a good pair of maternity jeans might take a bit of work, but is a worthwhile endeavor. Quality maternity jeans tend to be fabricated of lighter, stretchier and more comfortable material so they are more likely to stay put, be more comfortable, and live through it all. Our recommendation? Use a Bellaband with your normal jeans in the first trimester, then buy one quality maternity jean that will take you from second trimester to the first few months postpartum which will typically run from $100 to $250, depending on the brand. Pea in the Pod has top maternity jean brands including our personal favorite Adriano Goldschmied's jean legging, the AG Legging Secret Fit Belly Maternity Jeans ($235). If this premium price has got you sweating, consider Motherhood Super Stretch Skinny Maternity Jean ($40) for a few Benjamin's less. Another option for a good pair of maternity jeans is to peruse Ebay for a gently-used pair or seek hand-me-downs from like-sized mamas.

Motherhood Maternity BumpStart Scoop Neck Tank Top
Motherhood Maternity BumpStart Scoop Neck Tank Top
  • Sweater — It is nice to have one light coverup and one cozy, warm sweater to wear as to keep your prized bump warm when needed during pregnancy. For a nice light cardigan that pairs well over a tank top, consider the PinkBlush Maternity Cardigan. In addition, the DRIA Nursing Cover (below) is a lightweight yet versatile poncho made of breathable modal fabric. It will come in handy during pregnancy, but it will serve to cover baby and you up during nursing as well as serves handy use as an infant car seat or stroller cover for those times when baby is napping. For a warm, chunky sweater that will straddle pregnancy and nursing, the Sweet Mommy Organic Cotton Knit Dolman Nursing Sweater is a cozy pullover with a central easy zip opening.
DRIA Nursing Cover with mom keeping an eye on baby while breastfeeding.
DRIA Nursing Cover in action as a comfy poncho on mom and also as an infant car seat cover.
 
  • Skirt — A nice skirt with a full belly panel that can either be worn over baby or folded down will come in handy in both comfort and style. This Ingrid and Isabel Maternity Midi Skirt is nice because it hits mid-calf and has stretchy spandex to expand where needed, creating a nice, flattering look.

As your baby grows, your weight not only increases but your center of gravity shifts forward in unison with your expanding belly and your body's ligaments become looser. Thus, it is important to wear shoes that keep you steady on your feet. A few very simple pregnancy footwear rules will help keep you upright during pregnancy: Flat, Supportive, and Comfortable. Thinking of heels? Forget about it. This is one time where function absolutely gets a hall pass and trumps fashion. Easy to slip on. In your third trimester, lacing up running shoes will get tough. Shoes like clogs, flats, and flip-flops will become a trusted companion. Room to grow. Look forward to some foot swelling and even an increase in shoe size during pregnancy; when buying new shoes early on in pregnancy, without a doubt, leave a little room to grow and go for the larger size.

  • Slip-On Shoes — One of our favorite go-to pregnancy shoes is the Dansko Women's Professional Oiled Leather Clog (below left). This clog is beloved among medical professionals for keeping feet well-supported and comfortable despite hours upright on their feet. The polyurethane rocker-bottom sole is designed to protect the feet, legs, and back from the stress of standing or walking. If you are looking for something dressier, the best ballet flat available is a pair of buttery soft leather Tieks (below second from left) which come in all sorts of fun colors, textures, and patterns; they run $175 and upwards. However, another nice lower-priced ballet flat is the Lucky Emmie Ballet Flat at around $60. A warm weather go-to that boasts great arch support is the Birkenstock Gizeh Birko-Flor Thong (below second from right); this on-trend, durable sandal is a classic that can dress up or down. On a more casual note, a great pair of flip-flops are a must during pregnancy, particularly during the summertime. The simple yet also stylish Vionic Tide II Toe Post Sandal (below right) are made by Orthaheel and offer great support for tired feet.
Dansko Women's Professional Oiled Leather Clog
Fushia Tieks by Gavrieli
Birkenstock Gizeh Birko-Flor in Onyx
Vionic Tide II Toe Post Sandal
 
  • Pajamas — If you want to forgo an oversized t-shirt or tank for a dedicated pair of sleepwear to lounge in during pregnancy and nursing, the Majamas Genna Pajama Set made of 95% Modal and 5% Spandex and the Majamas Madison Nightie of 92% Polyester and 8% Spandex offer both comfort and stretch with just the right amount of feminine touch.
  • Bathing Suit — If you are the daring type the Seraphine Maternity Bikini is a great swimsuit for maternity time. This bikini is made from 80% Polyamide, 20% Elastane and is a halter neck style double lined with lycra so it is made to last through this pregnancy and beyond. If you'd prefer a two piece with more coverage and some versatility, a tankini is a great way to go. The Jojo Maman Bebe Maternity Striped Tankini made of 80% Polyamide, 20% Polyester has a shelf bra with adjustable straps and a bump panel that can either cover your bump or be folded down below it.

NEXT: Pregnancy Essentials: The Second Trimester

Dr. Juliet Spurrier is founder and Mom-in-Chief at BabyGearLab
Juliet Spurrier, MD
About the Author
Dr. Juliet Baciocco Spurrier is a board certified pediatrician, mother of two, and founder of BabyGearLab. Juliet earned her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Anthropology and Italian Literature from the University of California at Berkeley and her Medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington DC. She completed her pediatric residency at the Doernbecher Children's Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, OR, and subsequently practiced pediatrics in both the Pacific Northwest and Silicon Valley. Juliet serves as Mom-in-Chief at BabyGearLab, where she oversees all baby product review activity, assuring that each review delivers on our commitment to quality.

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