Monday, May 25, 2015

First Trimester Pregnancy Woes

When my doctor instructed me to stay out of the kitchen at the end of my visit I couldn't believe what I was hearing!  Those words might have been the best advice I've received during my first trimester of pregnancy. 
The words almost seemed wrong, forbidden but you know what it was as simple as that.. take a break, take a vacation from regular life and learn to do things in a different way, I kept telling myself that and soon realized that it was the only way to get through it all.
 I didn't feel well and I just didn't feel like myself at all. Doing the normal things I would do was near impossible and that really stressed me out, but being the persistent person I am I rebelled ... going back and trying to do normal things, routines as simple as checking local food blogs, scrolling through instagram and watching the weekend lineup of cooking shows made me absolutely SICK until I realized that I need to just STOP.

This is not an advice post by any means, just simple things I've tried that helped ME get through it, and if they help you too then that's very good but everyone needs to listen to their body and figure out what they need to get through it. And for those women who don't go through any illness during their pregnancies, you have no idea how lucky you are!!! :)  hehe.

Kefir, I've been drinking lots and lots of it from the first couple of weeks and it seemed to be the only thing I could keep down. I thought it was only me until I heard that other women were doing this too. My doctors recommended drinking milk but being mildly lactose intolerant it wasn't something I ever did, so I had to think outside the box and either it was store bought kefir or I mixed my own Ayran/Laban drink a couple of times a week. Ayran is a mix of water and yogurt with a dash of salt, it's a delicious refreshing drink common in the middle east and balkan countries. 

My second suggestion was eating cold food, and surprisingly my doctor recommended the same thing, somehow it reduces the nausea. These little fruit sorbets in my freezer were a lifesaver, there's coconut in a half coconut shell, orange in a hollowed out peel, lemon and pineapple. The citrus ones were great for earlier in the morning and oh so soothing.

I've always been a warm food kind of person, and only drank hot teas but now I found myself switching to more cold food and drink choices, and it was a life saver.

Talk to your mother is another good tip, you never know if you might have similar symptoms! She could offer some valuable tips and suggestions. My mother had me as the first born, then three more girls following and she told me each pregnancy was slightly different. She mentioned while pregnant with my second sister she could only eat lebna (a middle eastern salted and strained yogurt dip) every single day. We've covered Lebna making here at AdventuressHeart and it's a common food on my breakfast table.
  In those weeks of my pregnancy everything sounded yucky to me so somehow the sound of lebna was nice and I began stocking up on yogurt at the grocery store and straining it on a weekly basis. It was and still is my go to breakfast every morning.

Learn some basic pressure points for nausea, you're going to need them. My mother and grandfather were always into learning about alternative medicine so I grew up with a couple of them in mind, however I didn't know about the wrist ones.
Somebody out there invented these morning and motion sickness wrist bands that you wear, one on each wrist and they claim to help relief nausea. It was absolutely vital for me to wear these during car and train rides.
These are called PSI bands, and you could do a google search as to where they can be purchased locally or online.

One of my earliest signs of pregnancy was drooling, it started off with what the doctor described and jotted down in her notes as "mouth: moist" and continued into a full blown drool, making it extremely uncomfortable to talk (I found myself spitting at people) and often the collection of saliva in my mouth just made me more nauseous having to swallow it all, which made me feel like throwing up. All I can say is have lots of tissues on hand, and maybe even a spitting bowl as one of my sisters suggested to me.  At some point I experienced the mild metallic taste in the mouth that many pregnant women describe, it was more of a cabbage taste than metallic, just horrible. I'm not sure if chewing gum or candy helped me though because it just made more saliva which I didn't need.

Reading through pregnancy forums I noticed many teas were on the no-no list, I never occurred to me before that I should be looking up foods and herbs before consuming them.  Things as simple as parsley and sumac, even chamomile tea which I assumed would be soothing and relaxing as I was rather sleepy through the early trimester and slept like a cat.

The risk of miscarriage is much higher in the early stages so to be safe it's better to avoid as much as you can and then eat certain things in moderation later on.  As an alternative to warm tea I had a lemony honey water which I drank in a big mason jar, it was soothing and yummy.  At the beginning I heard ginger was also a no-no as it was increases blood flow in the body so I cut it out completely but because it's also the number one ailment for nausea I gradually added it in in the form of a slice of fresh ginger into this lemon honey tea or a quarter of a ginger candy to suck on when the nausea was unbearable.

My faves are Chimes or GinGins make really potent candies or chews, you can find them at your local organic or natural store. I would either cut them into smaller doses or chew a small bit off instead of eating an entire candy at once.

If you're a fan of peppermint, which I'm absolutely not then peppermint candies might also work, I found myself sniffing those chocolate covered peppermint candy, and it helped! Eventually I took teeny bites if I needed to but the oil was strong enough to sniff.

It would be a good idea to find some essential oils, I know they are out there as my sister looked it up but we just didn't have enough time to order it online.

My life changed once put on Diclectin! The same meds were recommended to me when I went into the emerg from dehydration due to not keeping any foods down. Those pills are probably keeping me sane, even today!

There is no way to sugar coat it as these pills are not cheap but thank God for insurance! Also they may make you drowsy, I was sleepy in the first week but eventually adapted where by I read some women don't and can't drive or function during the day which could be dangerous.

I weaned myself off the morning pill so I would only take one at noon and two at bedtime (I'm assuming for morning sickness the next morning) Funny thing is I don't have morning sickness but instead I get sick towards the evening, around 4 I start feeling queasy and by bedtime I almost can't take it anymore. I prop myself up with pillows and force myself to fall asleep as fast as possible.

One of the worst things about pregnancy to me is still the bile issue, not everyone has it but for me it's bad and I can't simply wake up in the morning and eat or else it's a guarantee that I'll throw up that breakfast since it'll either curdle with the bile in my stomach or somehow not go through and digest so I MUST wake up and throw up all the bile in my stomach (it varies from a tsp to 3-4 tbsp on some days) and once all this stuff is out I'm ready to eat breakfast.

In the early days I wasn't throwing it up and my husband had the idea to bind the bile with some ground psyllium husks powder mixed into a glass of milk, some days it worked and some it didn't and I would throw up the psyllium mix so now I just get rid of it and I'm good for the rest of the day!

A tip I learned from a nurse in the hospital for staying hydrated and drinking was to get a shot glass and fill it with water, and drink only a shot glass at a time throughout the day, no more otherwise the stomach fills up and doesn't empty, slow digestion is probably up there with the worse symptoms of pregnancy, I found myself not mixing certain foods otherwise they'd curdle in my tummy because even hours after eating a bowl of mac & cheese for example, then drinking a bit of orange or mango juice it all came back up.

The nurse promised me that for most women it-does-get-better, to hand in there and at around 12-16 weeks things just turn around out of the blue, like a switch, and she was right, unless it was the diclectin... hmmm... I'll never know for sure.

My suggestion is keeping the foods you eat at the beginning very simple, I was having a child and ate like a child, seriously, but it does work... I even craved simple childhood meals or anything German that my grandma used to make. I didn't want any of my regular faves like Arabic, Middle Eastern, or Indian food anywhere near me.  I also could not digest legumes, or lentils, so it was simple carbs that got me through the early stages.

On the topic of digestion I also made one small discovery that made all the difference. Growing up with a father and grandfather who were very strict on posture, I learned from a young age to stand up tall, shoulders back sucking the tummy in, it was just natural to me but after throwing up everything I ate during my early pregnancy days and at the worst point my sister sent me a video on exercises to do after eating, it mentioned letting the tummy relax completely, letting it all fall out and never sucking it in at all, and just taking big breaths. At that moment I had realized subconsciously I was still sucking in my stomach and not allowing my pregnancy tummy to just do it's thing and fall into place! Believe me, after discovering that fact it made a big difference just letting things be.

Small meals, every two hours: Eventually I couldn't figure out if I was nauseous or nauseous from being hungry, it was this huge dilemma in my mind and I started eating small meals every couple of hours, this was a breakthrough!  A small meal/snack could be a bowl of stewed fruit or a piece of toast with jam, it doesn't have to be complicated.

As I started feeling better and had to go out shopping or for a doctor's appointment I made sure to take a couple of small things with me. Now I always have food and something to drink in my purse!

Oh and finally... when you're pregnant your supplements should taste either good or use pills that you can just swallow because I stocked up on everything I needed from the health store and my source for iron was through black strap molasses, at first it sounded like a dream taking a couple of big tablespoons of molasses but by the time the sickness hit just the thought of a spoon full had me running for the sink ... seriously!  Even today I can't think about it.
And if the smell of your fridge makes you want to throw up then stay out of it too. I couldn't bear opening the fridge so I had my husband get things out for me until he cleaned it out and threw away a couple of things which ended up being the source of the smells.


downtownmom said...

Wow! This brings back some memories. My baby is now 21 so it's been a while for me and I was really blessed in that I only had nausea in the evening and it wasn't for a long enough period for me to complain about. I loved being pregnant and the fact that I had an excuse to eat ice cream every day for nine months! Great info for all the mamas-to-be out there, sometimes just knowing that someone else is also going through the same thing really helps.

Amatullah said...

Hi Downtownmom! Thank you for your comment, and yes it helps to know we're not alone, i think that may be why my doctor asked me right off the bat if i had any pregnant friends. hehe. Hope you're enjoying the gorgeous weather and thanks for stopping by :)