An Herbalist's First Trimester
I'm pregnant! What an exciting, overwhelming, joyful, loving time in my life. And yet... things got off to a really rocky start.
My first trimester was a shock to my system; from the wave of emotions, to the seemingly never-ending nausea, to the first time I had to stop mid-task to vomit. Yep, all of that & more.
I walked into pregnancy with the confidence of a fool, and what a humbling experience that was! My mild emotions were replaced by tears over everything, like if I should order dumplings or springs rolls from our favorite takeout spot. My previous inability to vomit (even as a child, I very rarely threw up) replaced by needing to pull over, dive into a bush while hiking or sprint to the bathroom. My stomach of steel replaced by constant nausea. My sunny disposition clouded.
The exhaustion & fatigue I expected, but not to the degree I experienced it. One day I was writing an email to someone and my head was literally nodding off trying to stay awake. Needless to say, I learned a lot about my body, rest, and how to love myself through it all.
As an herbalist, I have a pretty hefty toolkit of ways to tend to myself. However, when you are so sick all you can do is lay on the floor and moan, well, the toolkit goes out the window. Luckily my husband was able to step in and guide me towards the assistance I needed.
That's what community care is all about, helping one another and reminding each other that we are worthy of care. When you are keeping your pregnancy a secret, there's no baby bump, and you're feeling on the fringe of a breakdown, it's even harder to remember that this is real, you are valid, and everything will pass. But I promise, everything I experienced & everything you might experience is all apart of the exciting & challenging cycle of pregnancy!
Here's a few things that helped me through my tumultuous first trimester:
Ginger & Chamomile Tea: Ginger (a key herb in our Beauty Bitters) helps alleviate nausea & support digestion. A small cup of ginger tea helped calmmy stomach's stormy seas. Chamomile, often known as a sleepy-time herb, is a digestive aid that also calms nausea. I was turned off by Ginger after a few weeks of needing it daily, and switching to Chamomile helped ease the nausea while quieting my agitation.
I suggest trying them separately, brewing them strong & only drinking 6-8 oz at a time. I learned the not-so-fun way that my stomach refused more than that & trust me when I say: herbal tea only tastes good going down. Ugh.
Seabands: Lifesaver. I mean, LIFESAVER. I bought them on Amazon out of utter desperation, needing something fast. These bands are pressure point bands that sit on your wrist to alleviate nausea. They take about 10 minutes to work, but the relief was amazing. Wearing these allowed me to quiet nausea enough to get some food down or sleep through the night. I wore them for weeks on and off. I still keep them in my purse for long car rides.
Magnesium Mist: Directly on the belly and on the lower back. This took about 2-3 days for effects to kick in. Once I got my levels up a bit, I was able to mist onto my abdomen and feel a subtle wave of relief. This was especially helpful in the evenings when nausea would transform into agitation and restlessness. Magnesium helps relieve muscle tension, and it was just enough to allow me to catch up on a bit of sleep.
Vitamin B6: Taken before bed, B6 tablets seemed to help. My midwife suggested this, and I started taking them Week 9 day 5. I noticed an improvement, but I also started taking this a few days after getting back on a regular Magnesium Mist routine. I think they worked in tandem to alleviate my nausea. Talk with your midwife about what dosage is right for you.
Alfalfa, Nettle & Oat tops/ Oat Straw Tea: Fortify your body when suddenly your meals go from organic rainbows of local produce to frozen seasoned fries & saltines. I wasn't expecting to live off of frozen potatoes, but for a couple weeks it was just about all I wanted. Most of my fresh produce went bad as it completely repulsed me, and I stopped cooking altogether as I was just scraping my meal away in disgust. Drinking a fortifying tea of herbs such as Alfalfa, Nettle or Oat Straw helps- seriously. Be mindful not to drink too much at once, especially if keeping food down is an issue.
Notice I didn't mention Red Raspberry Leaf? I personally am waiting until midway through my second trimester to incorporate this tea into my daily routine. Consult with your midwife to see what's best for you.
Mushroom or Chicken Broth: The smell of bone broth was offensive to me, so Mushroom Veggie broth & Chicken broth were the winners. Broth is easy to digest, and you can sip it slowly to get nourishment after a spell of intense morning (all day) sickness. My go-to was a scoop of ghee in chicken stock with a handful of freshly chopped parsley. If I had the ability, I made a deep shiitake mushroom broth and served it with ginger slices, a bit of miso paste, parsley or green onions.
Vitamin Code Prenatal: Switching to these helped! Taking a high quality, food derived prenatal can help with nausea. I personally found that these prenatal's are the best for my body. Instead of taking a few horse sized tablets at once, you take one gel cap 3x daily. Because swallowing pills is difficult when nausea is wreaking havoc on your life, I decided to switch to these gel caps you can open and dump into smoothies or juice. I take these with a DHA supplement.
Morning Sickness Sweets: Honestly, not impressed. But, if you are at work, traveling or need something on the go, they do the job. I'm just not big on candy in general. These are Ginger flavored with B6, so they do work, but I needed 2 of them to feel any difference, and the sweetness was a turn off when my tummy was upset.
Kindness: How cliche, right? But so true. Being kind to yourself is the best thing you can do. It isn't always easy, but remember that you are growing an entire life inside of you! There is no one way to do anything, and no matter how our bodies responded to stimuli before- everything is different now. Don't forget that your emotional, spiritual & physical bodies are sensitive, overwhelmed & fatigued. You deserve kindness, especially from yourself.
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