Oh God, the first trimester. There are so many things to worry about and so many different symptoms you can have. I knew morning sickness was a first-trimester symptom but I had no idea how awful it was. I literally thought you might feel a bit sick and then throw up and then get on with your day.
But first, let’s be honest – pregnancy symptoms vary from women to women and from pregnancy to pregnancy. Some people sail through without feeling much different while other women spend the whole time in bed or by the toilet (or even in hospital if they struggle to stay hydrated due to extreme sickness or Hyperemesis Gravidarum). Most women come somewhere in between.
Obviously, the following ways I dealt with morning sickness will not work for everyone – I tried so many different things. I must have Googled things like ‘how to get rid of morning sickness’ or ‘how to stop feeling sick’ or ‘how long does morning sickness last’ hundreds of times. I was pretty desperate.
Hopefully, this post will give you some ideas that you can explore to help you.
How I experienced morning sickness.
My baby was planned, so when I felt every so slightly sick a couple of times, I did think ‘am I pregnant?’ but it seemed to fade quickly. Then on Friday the 13th March 2020, I was due to leave for work and I felt really sick. I couldn’t drink my coffee – it went away a bit and I got in my car and drove down the M62 to where I needed to be that morning. When I got there, I was offered a coffee and I declined. Which is unusual for me in this location because I REALLY like the coffee there. I felt a bit like – the way you feel when you drink too much caffeine and you feel sick.
I drove home after and had to jump straight on a teams call. I was a bit late for it but I had in my mind that I wanted to take a test. After the call, I took one of those cheap strip tests and there was a faint line. I took another, faint line. I then spoke to my partner and took a clear blue test which came back positive. I was 4 weeks 1 day pregnant.
The following two days, I felt a bit sick in the morning but it went away. Then I had a week of feeling fine sickness wise but I was very bloated, crampy and constipated. I was sure I was going to get my period. I remember one evening I started to feel really sick and had to go and lay down for 2 hours. Then it passed.
By the time I was 6 weeks pregnant, I was feeling sick all of the time. Day and night. It felt how you feel when you have a sickness bug about right before you throw up – that wave of nausea you get where your stomach is churning. But it was constantly coming in waves.
Then the smell aversions hit – everything smelt. The kitchen, the hallway, how my partner smelt after he got out of the shower. Food was particularly bad as was washing powder in the utility room.
I wasn’t actually sick that much, but I felt it. It was overwhelming and all I could do was lay in bed during the day and lay on the sofa at night. Any movement made it worse. I couldn’t even look at my phone a lot of the time and just spent days trying to stay still and staring at the wall.
I did have other symptoms such as headaches, cramps, digestion issues but these were really minor compared to nausea and smell aversions!
What helped me.
The thing that helped the most was to eat regularly. If I went a long time without eating, as soon as I got a bit hungry I felt SO sick. This was even true for night time. To the point where I was scared to go to bed at a normal time and would stay up until 1 am or 2 am so I could eat before sleeping.
It was important for me to have food close by at all times just in case. I generally had crackers, fruit and crisps close to me.
Finding what to eat was a big problem. I found that if I ate something a lot, it would then remind of feeling sick. There were times I was so hungry and needed to eat something but couldn’t because it all made me feel worse. It was stressful finding things I could eat and have them to hand!
Grapefruit and orange were a lifesaver early on but I became sick of them after around 3 weeks. Noodles, toast with butter, baked potatoes and cheese, pasta – I was eating these things loads but then I just couldn’t stomach them after a while.
Things that I found I could eat all the time were toast with cream cheese (the butter was too oily!), pizza, cheese and ham toasties, crumpets with cream cheese, crisps, apples, cereal and bananas.
I would have something to eat before I went to bed to keep my stomach full. The most popular choice was coco pops or 3 Weetabix with honey. Then I made sure I had something by the bed in case I was hungry during the night or for first thing in the morning. Usually crackers or bananas.
Small, regular meals seemed to work the best for me – with snacks.
My average diet was something like:
- Banana before getting up, a mint to disguise the smells as I went downstairs.
- Toast and cream cheese.
- Cheese and ham toastie.
- Pizza and garlic bread.
- Weetabix before bed.
There were definitely days where all I ate was toast and crisps. My poor partner just ended up eating alone and bringing me trash food to eat. But you eat what makes you feel better.
I really wanted to eat healthily but the thought of vegetables, rice, pasta and potatoes made me feel sick.
At around 13 or 14 weeks, I was able to expand my food choices a bit. I was able to eat salad! So basically every meal we had in the evening involved a salad. Which is great as I needed the veg. Cooked veg was no-go until much later. But we would have things like:
- Pizza and salad
- Burgers and salad
- Chicken and salad
- Anything with salad!
It still wasn’t as healthy as I would eat pre-pregnancy, but again – do what you can.
Eventually, I was able to add more things in.
I also ate a lot of hard-boiled sweets – mints and pear drops mostly. They did seem to help.
Ginger is a common ‘morning sickness’ cure – I tried ginger biscuits, tea and ginger beer for a bit but it just made me feel worse and now don’t think I can ever eat ginger again without feeling sick. Be ready for the number of people telling you to eat ginger though! I did get a bit fed up!
Ughhh, the smell thing.
Also known as smell aversions.
Suddenly, things that you didn’t notice even smell before now suddenly make you sick to your stomach and gip.
It’s like you have this super sense of smell. It’s terrible.
The first thing I noticed was when my partner was eating peanut butter on toast. The peanut butter was disgusting. The smell of his coffee was also turning my stomach.
The hallway had this awful smell – I think most days I didn’t really speak much other than to say ‘CLOSE THE DOOR’. I was only safe inside the bedroom and living room. Hallway and the kitchen stank.
I hardly went in the kitchen and when I did, I would hold my breath and run in and out. I didn’t cook any meals or wash up for weeks.
I found sucking a mint would help me – which is why I had them by my bed as it was even worse in the morning. It hid the smell a bit so I could tolerate the kitchen to make toast and get drinks.
When I started to feel a bit better and was spending more time in the kitchen, I always had a sweet in my mouth. I also would have to pour Zoflora down the sink as there was a smell coming from there too (that nobody else could smell, of course).
When I started feeling well enough to start working out again, the smells were still a problem for me – when I came back in the house through the utility room (which was a smell trigger – washing powder – gross!) and the kitchen I would gip.
I still have it in the third trimester but it isn’t as bad – I can still smell the smells though and I cannot wait for it to go away completely!
Drinks were a big issue for me. I’ve spent a lot of time thirsty but unable to drink anything.
Having liquid in my stomach made the sickness worse and also things tasted AWFUL.
Water tasted like wet dog – and smelt! Tea and coffee were off the menu.
Like with food, I cycled through drinks like crazy. Every time my partner went to the supermarket I had loads of drinks on the list.
Early on I was drinking lots of dilute Vimto and Ribena. I tried orange but that made me feel sick. Orange fruit and barely was good for a bit though! I had fresh orange, fresh mango and fresh pineapple juice which was amazing at first but soon got too intense. I would water it down with sparkling water.
Then I went on a big carbonated drink craze. It started when I ordered a bottle of Coke with a Dominos order and it was amazing! I started having a can a day of Coke or Dr Pepper. I was also drinking a lot of lemonade mixed with sparkling water – then I got sick of that and went with iron bru mixed with water.
It was a pain in the arse because I had that craving for a drink – like to down a pint of something refreshing but I couldn’t’ find the right thing so spent a lot of time just sipping something that wasn’t very satisfying.
Ice lollies and ice pops were a lifesaver – something cold to get a bit of liquid into me slowly was great for days I struggled to drink too much. The swish of things in your belly can really make things worse so having something I had to consume slower was very helpful.
This is something that has stayed with me through to the third trimester. I can sip water now but I don’t enjoy it much! I can also drink hot drinks too.
After about 9 solid days of I just being in bed feeling sick, I decided that this wasn’t getting any better so I called the Dr for some sickness medication. I was surprised they gave it to me but I just said I’ve been in bed for days and can’t move and she sent me a prescription to my local pharmacy!
I was to take 3 tablets a day, so I took one around 8 am, one around 4 pm and another one around 10 pm to cover me all around the day and night. At first, they did help keep the nausea at bay, I had a couple of days where I was able to get out of bed and play the piano. But sadly it soon got bad again. I’m unsure if I would have felt worse if I didn’t take them, so I kept taking them as the ones given to me had no risk during pregnancy.
I was also taking pregnancy vitamins that had folic acid and other vitamins. A few times I forgot to take them and noticed that I felt better the day after forgetting. I did a bit of research and asked a few friends and realised it was quite common or these vitamins to trigger morning sickness, especially the iron in them! So I stopped taking them and ordered some pure folic acid tablets instead.
Being bedbound with morning sickness is boring, long and depressing. I feel crap all of the time and every minute seemed to drag by. The only thing that really broke up my day was having a bath.
Just to point out, it’s bad to take boiling hot baths during pregnancy – if your skin is red it’s too hot!
Anyway, invested in one of those bath trays that fit across your bath and most days I would spend about an hour and a half in the bath with snacks and drinks watching pregnancy vlogs on YouTube I felt like it really broke up the day and although I wasn’t really doing anything, it was just a bit of a change from laying in bed! Plus I struggled to shower and standing up for so long so it was nice. I often took ice lollies and things in with me also.
I spent a lot of nights awake to the early hours in the morning binge-watching some Netflix shows. I seemed to perk up a bit around 7 pm so would go downstairs, my partner would go to bed around 10 pm and I would stay up until whenever!
Treat yourself to something.
Allow yourself to spend money on something to make you feel better! That could be a nice new set of PJs, a dressing gown or some bath bombs. Just something to help your day be a bit better because although a lot of people will make comments like ‘it’s just for the first trimester’ – THAT IS SUCH A LONG TIME. Especially when you feel so terrible.
I treated myself to some skincare from Liz Earle that I could use after a bath to make me feel a bit refreshed.
Also, some comfy maternity clothes, like maternity leggings and t-shirts can be good to make you feel like you’re getting dressed without being uncomfortable!
Be nice to yourself mentally.
Before I got pregnant, I didn’t really think much about what I would feel like afterwards. I knew the risk of miscarriage was higher in the first trimester and you generally felt rubbish, but it wasn’t until I started reading pregnancy communities that I really realised.
When you get pregnant, your whole world changes. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much I would instantly feel so protective of what was growing inside of me. It’s overwhelming how much you would do to keep this little tiny blob of cells safe. I am not an overly maternal person and I wasn’t really bothered but kids until my 30’s, so I wasn’t expecting to feel like this. But as soon as you get a positive test, your life is different. What you do is different, how you feel is different and what you can eat and drink is different – everything is different.
I found it really difficult being on online communities because the number of miscarriages I was seeing. It made me terrified I would lose my own baby. Every time I went to the toilet I would be afraid there would be blood. Every cramp and twinge sent my mind to the darkest places. I did have two episodes of bleeding, one at 6 weeks and one at 8 weeks and it was more devastating than I could ever have imagined. Women in these communities will share photos of discharge and blood – it’s shocking at first but by the third trimester when people are sharing photos of their mucus plug it becomes strangely normal!
In the end, I decided to take a break from the online communities because they were making my paranoia much worse.
Another thing to be mindful of is the guilt you may feel for being pregnant, especially if people nearby are struggling to conceive or have lost babies. If you are having a tough pregnancy, you can often be made to feel like you shouldn’t complain or moan because at least you’re pregnant, other people would die to be in your shoes!
Everyone’s experience is different and you have a right to feel crap and have a moan when you feel rough – just because you are not enjoying being pregnant doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby or don’t want to be pregnant. Many women are silenced and made to feel like they should just get on with it because that’s pregnancy!
The symptoms you feel may be normal, but it doesn’t mean you have to pretend to like them! Don’t be afraid to talk to your close friends about the way you are feeling. There is no shame in struggling and needing to complain about spending all day in bed and not being able to sleep!
If do you know someone who has lost a baby or is struggling to conceive, don’t just shut them out because you assume they don’t want to hear about your good news. It’s hard to know what to say to someone in that situation but the last thing they need is everyone avoiding them. Depending on how close you are to them you can just simply ask them if they need to space away from you/struggle to hear about your baby – give them the option to change their mind at any time if they have a change of heart. Baby loss and infertility issues should be spoken about more – but only on the terms of the person with the issues. How you approach it will very much depend on how close you are to the person, just don’t stop talking to them because you assume that’s what they want!
I hope this has given you some ideas on how to cope during that awful first trimester! Just remember, even though it seems like such a long time – it WILL end and it WILL be worth it!