Initially I really wasn’t sure if I was going to share the intimacies of my pregnancy on my blog. Although I have loved reading a few other blogs of pregnant mums to be, I didn’t really want to be self indulgent…would anybody really care what I ate, how I felt, what I experienced? Surely considering so many women past and present have also experienced this, what I go through will be no news flash. But when I announced my pregnancy to the world I was surprised when many people commented that they were curious as to how I was eating and my general experience. I have to admit that I derived a certain amount of joy/relief in reading one particular blog by a dietician when she catalogued almost exactly the same cravings/symptoms that I was experiencing in my first trimester! So allow me to share some of the things I have experienced so far;
Most people that know me know that I LOVE food…but not just any food. I’m fairly fanatical about my health values particularly when it comes to food and prefer to eat a mostly organic whole food diet that is mostly based around a Paleo/Primal template. That means lots of fresh organic vegetables, organic grass fed meats, poultry and wild caught seafood and healthy fats. Grains, dairy, refined foods and sugar are typically absent from my daily diet and for me this is an easy lifestyle choice.
Enter week 6 pregnancy…I found myself craving WAY more carbohydrates than I would normally eat..in fact I found myself craving things I would NEVER normally eat like peanut butter on toast, sausage rolls, pies, lemonade, pizza. Sort of sounds like the type of food you want to eat when you’re hung over right? Well that was totally appropriate as every day I felt like I had had 6 glasses of wine the night prior due to my morning/all day sickness..
I genuinely did not want to succumb to these overwhelming desires for less than healthy options but I also felt like perhaps they were my body’s way of telling me I needed certain nutrients. It is certainly true that the female body requires a higher than normal amount of carbohydrates during pregnancy to provide the rapidly developing baby with the glucose it needs for growth so maybe this was why I felt such an insatiable desire for a can of Fanta.
So I thought that I would list the things that I was eating versus what I wanted to eat (cravings). I’m happy to report that the substitutes really did get me through the tough times and stopped me from poisoning my body with all sorts of toxic foods (not to mention little bub).
Ok let’s do my craves first
Pasta – any pasta with any sauce but probably preferably spaghetti with tuna & tomato sauce and LOTS of parmesan.
Peanut butter on white bread, toasted
Lemonade or Fanta
Meat pies or sausage rolls
Soft serve ice cream
Basically everything I DO NOT eat….
Here’s what I’m eating instead
Gluten free pasta or rice with a meat sauce or tuna sauce as above
Organic or very good quality parmesan cheese
Organic peanut butter on gluten free bread
Sparkling water with Apple Cider Vinegar & stevia
Sweet potato chips from Grill’d
Burger with low carb (gf) super bun from Grill’d
Gluten Free Sausage Roll from Strange Grains
Gluten Free Porridge
70% Cacao chocolate (I normally eat 90% Cacao but found it was too bitter for me)
My grain free banana bread
In addition to the cravings, I also had some pretty interesting food aversions (hence the need to placate the cravings). My aversions seemed to be nearly everything that I would normally eat; green leafy vegetables, bone broth, cod liver oil, dark chocolate, salmon, I could probably go on but you get the idea. All the foods so near & dear to my lifestyle were off limits for weeks! On the upside I also had a complete aversion to alcohol and coffee too which made social events and coffee catch ups much easier.
I remember a very close friend of mine describing the first trimester as like “having a really bad hangover and the worst PMT” every day. This basically describes my experience during the first trimester. My moods were so unpredictable. One minute I was happy, the next moody/sulky, the next in a fit of tears over something seemingly irrelevant. I started reading about this early on as I was somewhat concerned that I was going a little crazy only to discover it is VERY VERY common.
Naturally during pregnancy there are wild hormonal fluctuations that can affect mood. Some women experience this as anger, others anxiety, others sadness. Mine felt like a beautiful cocktail of all of them! My beautiful patient loving partner unfortunately bore the brunt of these fluctuations and thankfully these will typically disappear or resolve naturally after the first trimester. My hyper-sensitivity and moodiness definitely called for some self management techniques, which I believe helped me;
– Meditation. I’m a regular meditator usually doing 15-30 minutes 6 days a week but found myself not feeling like doing it when I SO needed to. My solution was to do it first thing in the morning, lying in bed before I even got up. That made it easy and sort of feel like an extra little rest. There are so many fantastic iphone apps that act as your very own personal meditation coach, I usually recommend a set daily commitment to meditation, mornings are a good time to clear the mind. Alternatively you can attend a meditation course or group. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is another great structured resource for stress management.
– Exercise. It seems a bit of a cliche but I definitely seemed to feel better after a long walk or light jog. Exercise needs to be much less intense when pregnant so ensure your heart rate does not go over 150 bpm.
– Rest. I wasn’t amazing at this one, I’ll admit but if I had had a rough sleep the night before I could really notice the difference in my coping mechanisms the next day. Getting enough sleep can be an amazing natural anti-depressant.
– Do nice things. I found myself really wanting to be on the couch, with a few of my favoured carb loaded treats, watching one of my favourite TV shows. Being an A type personality, it was hard to not give myself a hard time for this but it really seemed to be a great way to “take my mind off it” sometimes.
– Seek support. I’m super blessed to have a strong and solid support network of amazing friends and family around me and I definitely leaned on them during some of my challenging times. Sometimes professional help can also provide the clarity and assistance needed to work through strong emotions.
Despite the constant nausea and moodiness, I feel my first trimester has been a blessed time and all of these crazy symptoms are a reminder of the amazing physical, mental and spiritual transformation that is occurring inside of my body. I am constantly reminded of what a miracle the process of conception, pregnancy and birth are and I’m grateful for the experience. I’m excited about what the second trimester holds, particularly given it is often referred to as the “honeymoon” period of pregnancy. Bring it on!