In case you missed it, I announced that I was pregnant on my Instagram last month. This is probably the most monumental thing to happen to me in my life so far, and I want to document my journey on my blog. My blog has been with me for the best part of a decade now, and over the years I’ve often shared personal anecdotes and I enjoy looking back on those from time to time. Plus, for those of you who have followed me from the early days, it feels like a natural progression for my blog as I now move into my early thirties. That’s not to say, that finding out I was pregnant wasn’t overwhelming, scary, exciting, surprising etc etc etc. But now that I’ve had time to get my head around it, I feel now is the right time for me to put pen to paper, so to speak.
This is our first child, so everything about my pregnancy so far has been new. And with that comes a mix of emotions. There’s not a day that goes by that I haven’t thought about my pregnancy and I find myself questioning far more than I would otherwise do. – Is this twinge or ache or pain normal? Should I be feeling this exhausted? Why am I getting headaches more often? Why am I not being sick? Is anything even happening in there? – That last one might sound funny, but during your first trimester, you won’t have your first scan until around 12 weeks. Because I wasn’t experiencing the normal symptoms (mainly sickness, although I was shattered constantly) and of course couldn’t feel anything at this point, I started to constantly question whether everything was okay.
It’s a scary and overwhelming time. I find myself racked with anxiety and nerves sometimes, because I’m overthinking every situation. But that’s not to say that it’s not also the most exciting and exhilarating time of my life! Once we’d had our 12 week scan, we finally felt like we could truly celebrate, and it was beautiful.
Not only do I want to document my journey for my own memories, but I also want to share the many highs and lows that I’ve experienced so far, in the hope that it might help at least one of you, as you move through your own pregnancy journey (and especially navigating your first trimester).
You’ve found out you’re pregnant (congratulations!), but now what?
This might sound like a silly question, but once we’d confirmed our pregnancy with a home pregnancy testing kit I wasn’t sure what the next step was. Do you have your pregnancy checked by a doctor? I quickly found that the answer to that was no. At first I called my doctor’s surgery and a receptionist told me you could drop off a urine sample and they would check it. But on arrival, a different receptionist quickly told me that that was no longer the case, because at home testing kits are 99% accurate. So instead, she booked me in an initial appointment with my doctor. This took a little while as he was on holiday. By the time I saw him I was already 9 weeks gone, and I hadn’t registered at a hospital or spoken to a midwife. (Who knew you could do this yourself?!). So during this appointment he contacted our local hospital to register for me, and fortunately the community midwives work between both the hospital and my surgery. Within two days I received confirmation that I was registered at the hospital and my first appointment with my midwife had been arranged. Following this, my midwife promptly called me to have a quick chat, introduce herself, explain what the first appointment is for etc.
My first appointment took place at 10 weeks, which is apparently a little late. (Again, who knew?). Having no idea what to do, I had no idea that you should ideally have your first appointment and blood tests between 8-10 weeks. Either way, I was able to have the blood tests and it took about an hour to go through a pretty lengthy question and answer form. I went on my own to this appointment and it felt a little overwhelming. I remember getting very teary during the appointment and not knowing why – my midwife was absolutely wonderful. But it’s just all so overwhelming. I can’t really put it into words.
Now looking back, my advice would be –
- As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, trust the home pregnancy test and call your doctor to book an appointment.
- Ask the receptionist if it’s worth registering at a hospital before you see your doctor. (As I could’ve done that bit myself beforehand).
- But if like me, it’s your first pregnancy and you don’t know the area all that well, you probably won’t have a clue what hospital you want to register with. So for me it was good to have the doctor explain my options. Whichever is best for you!
The first trimester can be a daunting time for a lot of new parents. We found out we were expecting at just 5 weeks. At which point we told our parents, but we were reluctant to tell many others. In the UK you don’t have your first scan until 12 weeks, and before that you can be at high risk of miscarriage. That’s not to say we shouldn’t tell people before this point, because even if our pregnancy was to end sadly in miscarriage, we should be able to speak about it openly. (Although I imagine that would be an incredible difficult conversation to have, miscarriage should be spoken about more).
- Telling people
We told our closest friends over the coming weeks, as and when it felt right. But we waited until we told our employers and colleagues until we’d had the 12 week scan. Which was a bit of a nightmare at times, especially not being able to drink alcohol. That’s always the first giveaway, and I found myself avoiding social situations at work so that I wouldn’t have to answer those kinds of questions when I wasn’t ready. Which isn’t perhaps the best way of handling it, but as I was exhausted and not feeling my best self, going on a works night out wasn’t particularly appealing anyway.
Luckily, I hadn’t suffered with sickness during my first trimester, which meant I was able to keep it under wraps a lot easier at work. Although, my skin broke out in quite a bad way (apparently pregnancy acne is common – so whoever says your skin will be ‘glowing’, it isn’t always the case). I also started to feel bloated much more often, where my stomach would feel rock hard and uncomfortable after meals. Although this was probably unnoticeable to others, I was conscious of it for some weeks. (The joy of always wearing high waisted tight jeans!).
- Feeling unwell
I also suffered from dizzy spells and feeling extremely hot on my commute to work. At this point I had applied for my ‘baby on board’ badge from TFL, but it hadn’t arrived. And I was also reluctant to wear it so soon, when I wasn’t showing. But looking back, this is really the time that you’re desperate for a seat on the tube or bus, and no one has a clue what you’re going through! So if you too are feeling the struggle, I completely get it. It’s a really difficult time and I have no idea how others cope if they’re also being sick all the time.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve found myself feeling much more anxious about situations than I have done before. Whilst my friends and family think I’m ‘cool as a cucumber’ all the time, and I’m having the easiest pregnancy, behind closed doors I’m not that at all. I’ve really struggled with every ache, every twinge of pain, every feeling of nausea. I think because so many of our friends have either struggled to get pregnant, or have sadly suffered from multiple miscarriages, I’ve felt that something could go wrong at any moment. It played on my mind throughout my first trimester up until our 12 week scan. We were reluctant to feel overly excited or celebrate until we’d had that scan. And to be honest, even now, every midwife appointment feels monumental. Like, ‘PHEW everything’s still as it should be’.
My best advice if you’re feeling the same – do not Google anything! All results scared the hell out of me. They’re always worst case scenarios, when it reality everything you’re probably feeling is quite normal. (Of course if pains are extreme or if you experience anything of particular concern, you should consult your midwife or doctor).
Although Google might not be your best friend during the early stages, pregnancy apps can be. A friend of mine recommended Pregnancy+ and Emma’s Diary. Both have been really helpful in giving weekly updates on what is likely happening to our baby and me during pregnancy. Both include information on how big your baby is and Pregnancy+ even converts it to the size of a fruit, or a cake, or an animal! Whatever takes your fancy.
Emma’s Diary also includes many offers from great brands, including Mamas and Papas, Argos, Boots, Pregnacare and Palmer’s. They also offer gift packs for each trimester which you can pick up in Boots or Argos, and include a variety of samples from brands you’ll come to love during pregnancy and when your baby arrives.
Everyone seems to have mixed opinions on this, but so far both my doctor and midwife have only recommended that I personally take Vitamin D and Folic Acid.
Apparently folic acid is useful to take whilst you’re trying to get pregnant too, and is very important during the first trimester. However, I didn’t find out about this until I had my doctor’s appointment at 9 weeks. So a little late to the folic acid party! But touch wood everything has been okay so far.
My one tip with taking vitamin D and folic acid, is that you can buy combined tablets for these from all pharmacists. I initially chose Pregnacare, as they are pretty aggressive with their advertising, but the tablets are HUGE. I’m not normally one to have a problem with swallowing tablets, but they taste awful, and the only time I’ve been sick during my pregnancy so far has been getting one of these lodged in my throat!! So on my next trip to Boots I picked up their own brand, which were cheaper and are minuscule in size, but contain the same ingredients. So if you’re having difficulty, I can highly recommend Boots own brand.
I’m sure there’s plenty more I could say that I’ve forgotten, but I’ll continue to update as we go along.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned above, or would like to discuss your pregnancy, I’d love to hear from you! Obviously I’m in no way a trained professional, but sometimes it’s nice to talk to others going through a similar situation. I’ve bombarded a couple of my friends who have had children or are pregnant with questions!