In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Pregnancy Essentials: First Trimester

By Juliet Spurrier, MD ⋅ Mom-in-Chief
Thursday July 19, 2018

First Trimester


The first trimester can include a sour stomach and achy boobs. It is exciting and often anxiety-inducing. With every part of your body going through changes and your brain running a mile a minute with fears and plans, this is where you can take a moment to breathe deeply, relax, and take a nap. Trust us, you want to nap every possible moment you can, but when you aren't catching some zzz's consider some first-trimester advice that can help you survive the first three months of pregnancy in style and dare we say a little bit of comfort.

Finding Out

  • Early Response Kit — discovering you're expecting is often the moment that the roller coaster ride begins. The Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test is 99% accurate the day you expect your period and it has a digital display with real words, so there is less confusion. Plus, you can potentially use it 4 days before you expect your period! It is less accurate during this window, but this can be a bonus for those impatient sorts.
  • Pregnancy Books — If you are anything like us, you'll be searching the web and bookstores for as much information about pregnancy as you can stomach. You'll want to stay on top of baby's growth and your health and good books and accurate information can help you do that. Whether it is your first or third pregnancy, it can help to have information on hand for all the questions you will have as your pregnancy progresses. There are lots of books out there, but they are not all created equal, and some are ridiculously outdated! Believe it or not, things change and recommendations have shifted over time. We've put together a short list of the books we find most useful and enjoyed reading ourselves: 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, and Expecting 411 have all the information you'll need during pregnancy or the reassurance you'll want when the unexpected happens. From knowing when to call a doctor to what typically happens during each trimester, pregnancy books can be your new best friend.

Coping with Nausea


Many women experience nausea in their first trimester. It can vary between every day, every so often, or an all-day affair that has you retching into trash bins. No matter where you are on the spectrum, it is likely that at some point you will want help to resist the urge to purge. There a many remedies to combat pregnancy-induced nausea including the common suggestions below:

Pregnancy-Induced Nausea
Pregnancy-Induced Nausea
  • Take prenatal vitamins with food — You may have already noticed that prenatal vitamins are tough on the tummy. To combat this discomfort try taking them with food. This practice tricks your stomach into focusing on the food, 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 both for yourself and your growing baby. Keep up hydration by drinking water every hour. Carrying a reusable glass or stainless steel bottle like the Lifefactory 22 Ounce Glass Bottle with Classic Cap or the Hydro Flask 40 Ounce Insulated Stainless Wide Mouth Bottle is a great reminder to continue gulping all day. A good goal is approximately 64-80 ounces per day or ask your doctor what your particular needs may be depending on your health and pregnancy. You 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 it can make nausea worse. Dehydration can also be a symptom of preeclampsia later in pregnancy, so it's best to keep an eye on your water intake and pay attention if you start feeling depleted.
  • Eat first thing in the morning — Even if you aren't a fan of eating when you wake up, we suggest you start munching at least a small snack first thing in the morning to help limit feeling ill. You can also try keeping a few saltines by your bed and to settle your stomach before getting up or eat a some of a dry bagel to keep the vomit at bay. You can always eat a full meal later if you can't manage it first thing.
  • Consume frequent small meals and snacks — There is nothing wrong with frequent small snacks instead of big meals to keep your tummy calm and your calorie count where it needs to be for baby's optimum growth. Don't feel pressure 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 you, 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 tummy trouble and more weight gain than you 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 bag, the lesser-known nausea helpers below can potentially help. Anything healthy is worth a try!
  • Sea Band mama! provides relief of morning sickness via acupressure.
    Sea Band mama! provides relief of morning sickness via acupressure.
    Acupressure — A simple, non-invasive, non-medicinal choice some have found helpful for nausea. The Sea-Band Mama Acupressure Wristband is available over the counter, is cost-effective and easy to use. For around $9 you can get relief like the women in this study on the Sea-Band Mama.
  • Ginger — Zingiber officinale, aka ginger, is a great pacifier for any kind of nausea. Luckily, there are more ginger choices than ever before, so even if ginger ale isn't your thing, you can still reap the ginger rewards. Get your ginger in with 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 diced baby ginger root with raw cane sugar. Chews: Gin Gins Original Chewy Ginger Candy with 10% ginger deliver a delicious ginger punch with cane sugar, ginger, and tapioca starch. Sometimes the action of chewing can help your stomach relax. Sucking on hard candy can also soothe, and Tummy Drops Natural Ginger is a good choice for those who like to suck. If you are a gum chewer or find relief chewing, try Sea-Band Anti-Nausea Ginger Gum for steady symptom relief. Of course, your mother's old stand of flat, room temperature ginger ale can work too.
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, or yummy lemon tea can work wonders for nausea. It's a simple trick and often works.
  • Teas — Tea may be the answer to just about anything that ails you. While it might not cure everything, it can help with morning sickness, 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 like. So pick a favorite and get to sipping!
  • Old Vermont Cure — This may not be on your radar, but it certainly can't hurt to try it. In a recipe handed down for generations, you may find what you need in this tried and true at-home remedy. Combine 1 tablespoon pure apple cider vinegar, 8 oz filtered water, and 1 tablespoon of pure honey. Mix well and sip slowly.
  • Vitamin B6 — Some women have success taking a daily Vitamin B6 supplement at a dose of 25mg 3x/day to ward off nausea. But, before you try this one, we recommend discussing it with your doctor.

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

Heartburn


Heartburn can be a right of passage for pregnant women, so don't be surprised if you experience this during pregnancy even if you've never had it before. It can show up at 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 say).
  • Antacids — A simple and effective treatment is Tums Peppermint UltraStrength 1000. Primarily calcium, Tums is a confirmed method for combating the burn. As with other supplements and medications, double check with your doc before trying, but Tums is generally considered safe during pregnancy.
  • Tea — If Tums don't relieve the burn, or you want something more soothing, then Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Heartburn Tea could be what the baby ordered. Slowly sipping tea often helps relieve burning symptoms.

Hemorrhoids


Unfortunately, constipation and pregnancy go hand-in-hand. The origins of this can vary with causes from hormonal changes causing relaxation of intestinal muscles, low water and fiber intake, and fatigue resulting in less exercise and movement. The situation is exacerbated by iron supplementation. No matter what the cause, the result is often Hemorrhoids, just another glamorous side-effect of bringing life into the world.
Motherlove Rhoid Balm
Motherlove Rhoid Balm
  • Stool Softener — If you think you're on the verge of constipation or haven't been visiting the loo as often as usual, it is best to combat constipation before it results in hemorrhoids. Colace Capsules are generally considered safe during pregnancy and are often administered to help keep the things moving along. Check with your doctor before imbibing, and don't be shy about pooping or not pooping. Your doctor knows the drill, after all everybody poops, and they can't help 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 need to purchase at least 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 more extensive 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 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 growth 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 good 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 it's going to need some extra support, or at least you'll feel better with some. The BLANQI Bodystyler is a body smoothing support device that helps maternity clothes lay smoothly and helps 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 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 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 regular jeans in the first trimester, then buy one quality maternity jean that will take you from the 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 dollars 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. Also, 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 the baby is napping. For a warm, chunky sweater that will straddle pregnancy and nursing periods, 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 be worn over the baby bump or folded down will come in handy for comfort and style. The Ingrid and Isabel Maternity Midi Skirt is nice because it hits mid-calf and has stretchy spandex to expand where needed, creating a sleek, flattering look.

As your baby grows, your weight will increase, and your center of gravity will shift forward with your expanding belly. Plus, your body's ligaments will get 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 time is one where function 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. However, another nice lower-priced ballet flat is the Lucky Emmie Ballet Flat. 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 is a must during pregnancy, particularly during the summertime. The simple yet stylish Vionic Tide II Toe Post Sandal (below right) by Orthaheel 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 or something similar may be just what you need as your feet change shape and size during pregnancy.
  • 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 80% Polyamide, 20% Elastane, and is a halter neck style that has double lycra lining, 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 below it.

NEXT: Pregnancy Essentials: The Second Trimester

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