Well the secret is finally out – I’m pregnant! It was so hard for me to not be able to tell everyone these past few months, I love being able to share all the things that work for me in hopes of helping others so I am so excited now that I can! I am going to try and cover as much as I can about my first trimester in this blog without boring you guys to death – if there is any other questions you have after reading through all my tips and tricks comment below!
We got pregnant pretty quick… and when I say quick I mean the first month we REALLY tried. I would like to think some of the things I did in preparation helped but of course I have no way to 100% confirm this. Here are a few things I did once we made the decision to try – hopefully, it helps you on your journey to conceiving!
- Tracked my ovulation using the FLO app: I have been off birth control since 19 (it caused me horrible depression & anxiety but that’s a story for another day) so my period had regulated itself to a pretty regular schedule. Tracking when I got my period for the past few months gave me an accurate window of when I was ovulating which is what we used to get pregnant! So if you’re trying (or trying NOT to get pregnant) I highly suggest tracking your ovulation.
- Took a prenatal: a lot of people think that you’re only supposed to take a prenatal vitamin once you get pregnant BUT in actuality, you should be taking a prenatal BEFORE for a few months to give your body enough of the important nutrients it needs to nourish the baby. THIS is the prenatal I use but I have lots of other wonderful ones listed below in the “vitamin” section.
- Ate healthy, well-balanced foods: eating a well-balanced, low sugar, preferably organic diet has been linked to increasing fertility. This goes for daddy too! A Boston-based (EARTH) study found that men who ate non-organic vegetables and fruit with high levels of pesticide residue had lower sperm counts and fewer “normal” sperm than those who ate low pesticide residue. Long story short – eat the best you can to increase your chances of conceiving.
- Used a fertility tincture: I love a good tincture and when I saw rave reviews on Organic Olivia’s “Natal Nourish” fertility tincture I thought I would give it a try! Natal nourish is a nourishing, strengthening tonic for those trying to get pregnant or are already pregnant. It supports healthy fertility, pregnancy, and delivery. It can be taken before conception and throughout pregnancy plus it aids uterine health! I will be adding this back into my routine come the end of my second trimester.
- Used an easy to read pregnancy test: My sister really pushed me to get a pregnancy test that said “pregnant” or “not pregnant” because the common ones on the market can be confusing and make you second guess your results. I was so thankful because I didn’t have to take multiple tests to know for SURE I was pregnant. Here are the ones that I LOVED.
When I found out I was pregnant I felt pretty overwhelmed – there was so much I wasn’t sure of and honestly, I was pretty scared. I had an extreme fear of miscarrying, the sheer facts alone had me terrified and every little thing that happened to my body made me question whether or not my baby was still alive and kicking in my belly. I remember crying one morning because my pregnancy symptoms seemed to halt which caused me to fear I had lost the baby. What was worse was then I felt guilty for the crying and anxiety because I thought that the stress might be hurting the baby. The first trimester had a lot of highs and lows for me. Talking to friends and family about their journeys helped a lot but honestly joining online communities and having some books for reference helped a lot. Below are my favorite books I have read so far while being pregnant.
The most important book I read:
Other Great Books I Have Utilized:
This topic honestly could use a blog post all its own. The number of toxic substances that are in our everyday products is INSANE – and unfortunately, they can be harmful to your unborn baby so there is no better time than when you are pregnant to cut the toxic crap out. I know eliminating these things out of your everyday life can be overwhelming so pick and choose your battles and just do the best you can.
Toxic Things You Should Avoid:
- Plastic – This means plastic water bottles, plastic tupperware, plastic wrap, plastic to-go containers, and more. Plastic chemicals (including BPA and phthalates) have hormone disruptors that can be harmful to your child’s reproductive system. If you can’t avoid using plastic containers make sure to at least not microwave food in plastics since the chemicals can transfer into your food upon heating.
- Aluminum – Limit your use of foil (especially when baking) limit using deodorants with aluminum, and avoid drinking out of aluminum cans. While there isn’t a lot of human studies of women intentionally exposed to aluminum during pregnancy due to ethical reasons, decades of research have shown that aluminum can accumulate in the brain and cause a range of neurological problems (such as Alzheimer’s disease in adults).
- Parabens – I did a whole blog post on my favorite non-toxic beauty products, check it out if you’re ready to make some switches! Typically found in personal care products such as makeup, skincare, shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste, and more. Parabens are known to disrupt hormone metabolism in the body, some studies have linked them to reproductive problems (which led the European Union to ban them). Not only that but exposure to parabens has been linked to higher odds of preterm birth and low birth weight and body length.
My Favorite Non-Toxic Beauty Products:
My Favorite Non-Toxic Makeup Products:
- Pesticides: You can’t avoid pesticides all together unfortunately but what you can do is try and choose organic whenever possible and wash your fruits and vegetables well. Commonly found on non-organic produce, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and more. Pesticides have been shown to interfere with hormone levels similarly to plastics. In addition, prenatal pesticide exposure can be harmful to your baby’s developing brain. “Children exposed to organophosphate pesticides, both prenatally and during childhood, may have difficulties performing tasks that involve short-term memory, and may slow increased reaction time, impaired mental development or pervasive developmental problems.”
- Non-Stick Pans and Related Chemicals (PCFs): Switch your toxic non-stick pots and pans to healthier brands such as ourplace, caraway, green pan, or stainless steel varieties. Many non-stick pans are coated with chemicals such as PFOA’s and PTFE’s (both known to a group of chemicals called PFC’s) which are highly toxic. Pregnant women with high blood levels of PCFs are at a higher risk of having a low birthweight baby. PCFs also can impact the growth of your baby’s organs and bones, women with high levels of PCFs in their blood have higher rates of preeclampsia and PCFs affect both thyroid and reproductive hormones.
- Fluoride: Choose dental products without fluoride and make sure to drink only filtered water. Fluoride is a non-essential mineral that has been added to water supplies and dental products for decades as a means to prevent cavities. In 2015 a Cochrane review of over 155 studies on water fluoridation found that there wasn’t enough evidence to show it was effective at preventing cavities. Several studies have looked into prenatal fluoride exposure from drinking water and they found children in areas with low levels of fluoride in their water had significantly higher IQs.
Here are some of my favorite non-toxic products:
I am not a medical professional, what I am sharing here is from my own experience and research. What works for me may not work for you when it comes to vitamins so make sure to ALWAYS consult your physician before adding or subtracting any vitamins into your prenatal regimen.
Prenatal Supplement: During pregnancy, your nutritional needs increase and many women find that they are not able to meet these needs with diet alone. What is even more important is choosing a prenatal that contains “activated” B vitamins, which are easier for your body to metabolize. Make sure your vitamin has the correct form of folate (not synthetic “folic acid”) because folate is extremely important in reducing neural tube defects. There are several great prentals on the market, i’ll bread down a few for you guys.
- Baby and Me 2: this prenatal is great because it is made from real food – but it is a little lower in some of the vitamins and nutrients in comparison to some of these other brands listed. It’s got lower levels of iron for those who are worried about too much iron consumption causing negative side effects like constipation.
- Thorne Basic Prenatal: this prenatal is great, it has a large dose of all the nutrients you need plus it is only 3 capsules for those who are having a hard time keeping vitamins down. It does have a larger dose of iron so I only suggest this prenatal if you’re anemic, it also is lacking in choline and vitamin K2.
- Seeking Health Chewable: if you can’t swallow pills due to your nausea this is the best chewable on the market. It does not contain iron so if you are anemic you may need to add an iron supplement.
- Seeking Health Prenatal: This prenatal goes above and beyond most other prenatal vitamins out there with its nutrients plus they are in bioavailable/bioactive forms. The downside is this vitamin requires you to take 8 capsules daily which can be a LOT, especially when you’re not feeling well. This supplement also does NOT have iron.
DHA: DHA (specifically the omega-3’s fatty acids) are essential for you to obtain either via your food or supplementation during pregnancy. DHA helps with the development of your baby’s brain and eyes, it assists in the formation of brain cells and protects the brain from inflammation and damage. Shoot for 300mg minimum a day or at least 2-3 servings of cold water, wild-caught fish such as salmon, trout, mussels, and more. Here is a great wild-caught pregnancy-safe DHA supplement I love.
Probiotics: This is a highly beneficial “good” bacteria that have a huge impact on your digestive system. Beyond that, probiotics impact your skin, vaginal health, immune system, and more. Maintaining a healthy microbiome is important for your overall health and for preventing pregnancy complications. Choose a probiotic that has at least 30 billion CFU’s of bacteria per servings and a good quality probiotic should list quantities of each strain. Here’s a great one for your pregnancy and beyond.
Vitamin D: While most prenatal vitamins contain vitamin D a lot of them don’t contain enough to prevent you from becoming deficient. Before I was pregnant I supplemented with vitamin D outside of my everyday multi-vitamin and I still only tested at 55mg/mL which is mid-range “sufficient levels”. I highly suggest testing your vitamin D levels if your doctor hasn’t already. The recommended daily amount for vitamin D is between 400-600 IU but typically this is not enough to keep your levels lifted during pregnancy, you could supplement with up to 4,000 IU per day for maintenance and even more if you’re deficient. Again always consult your medical professional before adding any vitamin or supplement into your routine, I am not a doctor and I am just sharing what has worked best for me and what I have found in my own research.
Calcium/Magnesium: Calcium is typically not necessary to supplement when pregnant since the average American usually gets enough per day from their diet PLUS calcium absorption doubles during pregnancy, BUT if you are dairy intolerant and not consuming dairy, a low dose of calcium might be something you’d want to consider adding into your routine. Now Magnesium on the other hand is a common deficiency found in Americans. Women who are low on magnesium during pregnancy tend to be more predisposed to preeclampsia and many women with gestational diabetes are found to be magnesium deficient. An additional bonus to getting enough magnesium is it can decrease morning sickness! If you are going to start a Magnesium supplement start at a low dose such as 100mg and then you can gradually increase it to 300 mg (with consent from your physician).
Spirulina or Chlorella: Spirulina and chlorella have been shown to help reduce dioxin levels in pregnant women’s breast milk. Chlorella has been shown to reduce mercury levels in the body and spirulina can protect against fluoride toxicity and lead poisoning. I would choose one supplement or the other, either 6g or less of chlorella a day or less than 1500 mg of spirulina a day (take 1/2 or less of the serving of the spirulina). Be careful because both superfoods are rich in vitamin A and too much vitamin A can be harmful to your baby.
Iron: When you’re pregnant you produce far more blood which means your iron levels also need to increase to aid in red blood cell production and support the growth of your baby and placenta. Iron is best obtained through your diet since iron supplements can cause many side effects such as constipation, nausea, and heartburn, but if you are going to supplement you can help enhance absorption by consuming your supplement alongside vitamin C-rich sources of foods such as citrus fruits or tomato sauces. Avoid calcium supplements when taking your iron because it can compete for absorption. When I do supplement with Iron this is the supplement I take.
VITAMINS I AM TAKING/OR LIKE FOR PREGNANCY:
FOODS TO EAT AND AVOID:
After reading “Real Food For Pregnancy” here is what I walked away with on the foods you should try to increase and avoid during pregnancy and why.
EAT MORE OF:
- Eggs: for lifelong memory function improvement (from choline) and a higher IQ (from DHA). Make sure you cook your eggs well to prevent foodborne contamination.
- Leafy Greens: For folate and many other beneficial nutrients. Add a healthy fat and vitamin c (like lemon juice) for better absorption. Always wash your fruits and vegetables well to avoid foodborne illness.
- Seafood (that is low in mercury): think wild-caught salmon, herring, and sardines. No more than 12oz a week (3/4 lb). This has been linked to a higher childhood IQ and better communication skills (due to the DHA).
- Bone Broth: contains glycine which is good for developing bones, connective tissues, organs, and skin. It’s most important to consume bone broth later in pregnancy when your and baby’s body is growing rapidly (bonus: the collagen in bone broth may help prevent stretch marks!)
- Liver: even though liver meat is high in vitamin A it’s more beneficial than harmful. It’s good for developing lungs, kidneys, hearts, eyes, and metabolism. A few ounces once to twice a week will suffice – sneak it into meatballs or meatloaves if you’re put off by liver meats.
- Chia Seeds: are rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and fiber. Mix them in a smoothie, make chia seed pudding, toss them on a salad or add them to a piece of toast!
- Collagen and Gelatin: a major dietary source of glycine (see above for benefits). Found in bone broth, slow-cooked meats, poultry with the skin, cracklings or pork rinds, or meat on the bone. You can also add collagen to any drink, soup, or smoothies, or make your own jello using unsweetened gelatin powder.
- Immune Boosting Foods: fermented foods, cruciferous vegetables, berries, slightly underripe bananas, nuts, chia seeds, legumes.
FOODS TO AVOID:
- Refined Carbohydrates: Refined carbs tend to be lacking in nutrients and can cause major blood sugar spikes (which could also lead to nausea). Choose more complex carbs whenever possible such as organic brown rice, quinoa, etc.
- Sugar (as much as possible): Foods containing too much sugar can up your chances of your baby growing too large, as well as it increases your chances of developing gestational diabetes. Plus studies have shown that a mom’s sugar intake can predispose her children to asthma or eczema.
- Farm-Raised / High Mercury Fish: Mercury can readily cross the placenta which means it can easily be exposed to your baby. Prenatal mercury exposure is linked to neurodevelopmental problems and lower cognitive performance during childhood.
- Artificial Sweeteners: Especially sucralose (found in Splenda) can kill the good bacteria in your gut among a slew of other not so good things.
- Vegetable Oils such as Soy, Canola, Corn, Safflower, and Cottonseed: The types of fat that you consume while pregnant are very important. Unsaturated fats like those found in veggie oils go rancid much easier (especially once they come in contact with air or stored in clear plastic containers). Rancid oils create highly toxic free radicals which can contribute to a slew of pregnancy complications. Also, studies have shown children of mothers who ate high omega-6 fats during pregnancy were more likely to be overweight.
- Trans Fats: linked to interference to nutrient transport across the placenta, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
- Soy: can inhibit mineral absorption. Most soy is highly processed which means it can be contaminated with pesticide residues.
- Caffeine (and Green Tea): This is a controversial topic that has a lot of different answers. Keep caffeine below 200mg a day and avoid green tea especially in the first trimester since it can inhibit your absorption of folate.
AVOIDING MORNING SICKNESS:
B6 Vitamin: active forms of B6 given in doses of 10-25 mg every 8 hours can help tremendously with morning sickness. To ensure you are getting an active form make sure to choose a variety that is “pyridoxal-5-phosphate” versus “pyridoxine”. Linking the one I like HERE.
Keeping Blood Sugars Stable: Don’t skip meals – letting your blood sugar drop or rise too quickly (think binging on sweets) is an easy way to increase your nausea when pregnant.
Not Laying Down After Eating: I didn’t know that laying down after eating when pregnant can increase your chances of nausea and acid reflux. Try staying seated upward for at least an hour post eating.
Sea Sickness Bands: I used these a lot in the beginning of my pregnancy to ward off morning sickness. They didn’t always work completely eliminating my morning sickness but they did help decrease my nausea.
Organic Preggie Pops: Sometimes sucking on sour candy is the only thing you can do to bring your nausea down. These preggy pops are organic which is great BUT while they are organic they still contain corn syrup and natural flavors which isn’t ideal so enjoy these in moderation.
Exercise: Exercise helped me tremendously throughout my first trimester. I found I had less nausea and more energy on the days that I worked out versus the ones I did not.
Nausea Curbing Items:
OTHER THINGS TO NOTE:
Celery Juice: I continued to drink celery juice throughout my whole first trimester. Weirdly enough it didn’t make me nauseous but into my second trimester it has flared up my bladder pain syndrome. I highly suggest celery juice for anyone (especially if you’re experiencing constipation) just make sure you are buying organic celery and washing it WELL.
Exercise: numerous studies have shown that exercising while pregnant increases your child’s brain development. In a study that compared mothers who didn’t exercise during pregnancy to those who did, the children of exercising women were born with more mature brains and showed better oral skills and academic performance later in childhood! Always consult with your medical professional before starting a new workout routine!
Changing My Skin Care Routine: While retinol is safe normally, it is NOT safe to use while pregnant due to its high vitamin A content. I found a natural retinol alternative face mask that has been doing wonders for my pregnancy breakouts – you can find it HERE.
I know this was a lot of information but I hope it is helpful to other expecting or soon-to-be expecting mamas! Be sure to leave any questions in the comment section below.