1. Don’t push yourself to eat
You feel awful, right? If you’re not actively throwing up, you’re strongly considering it–and heck, even the smell of food sets you off. The silver lining is that this is perfectly normal. The added hormones (particularly progesterone) can make you feel positively disgusting. Conversations around the first trimester are often loaded with misinformation, including how many cravings you’ll have. But the lesser discussed evil is the food aversions. If all you can keep down are smoothies, go for it. Try adding protein powder or some Benefiber for added nutrition, but don’t stress yourself out if you just can’t handle a well-balanced meal. Take your prenatal vitamins (stomach saver: get some without iron, and try taking a children’s chewable Flintstone vitamin with iron. It’s easier on your sensitive tummy, and is more likely to stay put since you digest it beforehand.) Do try to get a few decent servings of protein, such as a handful of nuts, a spoonful of peanut butter, or some hummus on a cracker, but ultimately you have to eat whatever doesn’t make you want to vomit. If the nausea is persistent, ask your doctor for some safe medications to help ease your discomfort.
2. Don’t push yourself to stay awake
The exhaustion of pregnancy is real, and it’s never more prevalent or shocking that it is those first three months. Unlike normal sleepiness, pregnancy exhaustion often comes on without warning. One minute you’re awake, the next you are out without any control. If you’re struggling to stay awake, talk to your boss about working an alternate schedule or working from home so you can catch naps when possible. Make sure you aren’t committed to any long-distance driving, and listen to your body when it tells you to rest. You are doing so much biological heavy lifting, and you’re fetus is growing rapidly–of COURSE you’re going to be wiped out.
3. Don’t push yourself to do chores
Dishes dirty? Bathroom a mess? Laundry piling up? Get used to it, because nothing shifts your priorities like being pregnant. As you progress in your term, your energy WILL return, but in the first trimester? Forget about it. Not only are you dealing with morning sickness, shortness of breath, sore joints, and exhaustion, but the lack of energy makes it difficult just to get through a normal day. And if it’s your first pregnancy? Oh man, this is all new for you! Your body is changing by the day, and that means you have no idea what your capacity for tasks is going to be. Now is a great time to hire a house keeper or to take one of your friends up on their offers for help. With my first pregnancy, I tried to do twenty minutes of housework a day–and some days, it felt positively Herculean to get through it. Around week ten, I caved and hired a housekeeper to come once a month. My husband was doing everything he could to help, but we were both so overwhelmed that it just made sense to call in a professional. Remind yourself exactly what your body is busy doing: making a nervous system, growing a placenta, knitting a skeleton. Even if you can’t see it, you’re constantly hard at work, and guess what? The dishes can wait.
4. Don’t push yourself to be happy
Even if you’re looking forward to having your baby, it doesn’t mean you’re going to feel that alleged baby bliss right away…if ever. Not only are you filled with tons of powerful hormones, but your changing body isn’t doing the things it used to. With all of that stress, it’s normal to feel downright apathetic about the “joys” of motherhood. Give yourself a break: it’s okay to be frustrated. It’s okay to have cheesecake for dinner. It’s okay to cry for absolutely no reason. You don’t need to do the emotional labor of forcing yourself to act a certain way just because society thinks pregnancy should look and feel like a joyride. While you may be elated, you might have days where you’re positively depressed. Talk to your doctor about your mood swings and come up with a plan to take care of your mental health. Pregnancy should not be more important than your well-being, and no one expects you to suffer without support.
5. Don’t push yourself to answer questions
Pregnancy is a lot to process, and you may not have any idea how you feel for a couple months. Well meaning friends and family members may start demanding information from you–what’s the name? What color will the nursery be? Where will the baby go to college? Tell them to pump the breaks and focus on you as a human being, who is dealing with some pretty heavy stuff. Those conversations can wait until your head isn’t buried in the toilet, after all.