With this pregnancy, my morning sickness began at 6 weeks—exhaustion and nausea but no vomiting. I was a bit surprised. I mean, I’ve had morning sickness with all of my pregnancies, so I knew to expect it. What surprised me was how early the first-trimester exhaustion started. My husband and I had just barely begun talking about the fact that we were pregnant again. The baby was not even the size of a bean, but already, he or she was making huge changes within my body.
With my last three pregnancies, I’ve been on Diclectin for my morning sickness. While it helps take away most of the yucky feelings, it doesn’t help a ton with the first-trimester exhaustion. I’d be going to bed at 8 or 9 pm, leaving my husband to study (or do the grocery shopping, which he likes doing better than me anyway).
Many mornings, I slept in, one ear open to the girls playing with their dolls or ponies. Thankfully, Sunshine and Lily are old enough now to help themselves to the cereal for breakfast and they’re all good at playing by themselves.
However, I struggled with the feeling that I was doing nothing. I’m a to-do list person. For me, a good day is when I can say that I accomplished a lot. I cleaned house, did schoolwork, wrote some blog posts, took the girls to the park, made supper, called a friend, baked some cookies, etc.
During my first trimester, I struggled to get one of those things done in a day. Homeschooling was a priority, obviously, but there were days when all we did was math.
I tried to remind myself that I’m growing a baby. Today, fingernails are developing, or maybe brain cells. My body is putting all its energy into knitting together a knee. However, that’s an unseen thing. I can’t exactly check “made an eyebrow” off my to-do list. Especially when my husband comes home to a messy house, after I’ve called him to ask him to pick up supper on his way home, and asks, “What did you do today?” Um, I had a nap in a desperate attempt to stay awake past the girls so we can have some time together.
I’m jealous of my friends who fly through their pregnancies with hardly any nausea or tiredness. Yet other friends, who would desperately love to be pregnant, remind me to be grateful for this tiny life inside me, and to slow down and enjoy this time, even with all its discomfort. And my three little girls remind me that pregnancy is soon over and well worth the fun and joys that come after.
For nine short months, I’m privileged to carry another life inside me—a precious, beautiful, growing little baby whose very being rocks mine even when he or she is only a few weeks old.
My Tips for Dealing with First-trimester Exhaustion
- Give yourself grace. First-trimester exhaustion will pass, in time (hopefully about three months!). Listen to your body and slow down as you need to (and can), and focus on the miracle happening inside your womb.
- Prioritize. What really needs to get done today? What can wait for tomorrow (or next week or next trimester)?
- Ask for help. Your husband may have to pitch in a bit more, or your kids. Maybe a friend can watch the kids for a bit so you can rest. Maybe you can afford to hire a house cleaner once or twice or order in meals a bit more during these months.
- Find quiet, restful things you can do with your kids so they still feel included. Maybe you can read novels together, do a puzzle together, or colour together. Perhaps Daddy can grab some books at the library for you or Grandma can send over some new books to read.
- Nap if you can or get to bed early. Again, remember first-trimester exhaustion is usually just for a few months. I let the girls watch a movie while I tried to rest, even though I don’t like relying on the TV; now that I have more energy, we’re back to less TV. I also found our Sparkup Book Reader and games like Tiggly on my tablet also helped keep the girls busy when I had little energy.
- Take advantage of bursts of energy. Don’t overdue it, but maybe that means getting a meal together or the house tidied, or going on an outing with the family for a bit.
- Try to eat foods high in iron, and check with your healthcare provider about your iron levels. I often have low iron, especially during pregnancy, which doesn’t help my energy levels. Taking an iron supplement and eating iron-rich foods can help a bit.
- Be realistic about what you can and can’t do, and communicate that to your husband and your family. My husband likes getting out as a family to do things on the weekend, but I had to warn him that I could probably only go for an hour or so before I’d be crashing (and getting grumpy). Or I’d try to have a nap while he did something with the girls for a bit, so we could do something else later as a family.
What tips do you have for growing a baby and surviving first-trimester exhaustion?
Love this post? It’s one of 38 chapters in Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby: Tips to Help You Through All Four Trimesters, a book about pregnancy, birth, and baby’s first three months. Written with my good friend Anna Eastland (mom of 8 kids!), Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby is an honest, practical look at pregnancy and beyond. We share what’s worked for us in growing, birthing and loving thirteen babies.
Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby is coming as an ebook and paperback in spring 2020! Sign up for my email newsletter to be the first to know when it’s available.