Washington - The excitement of a newly confirmed pregnancy may leave you giddy, but tradition is to keep it secret for the first trimester.
It's never been easy to hide those symptoms (hello, nausea and body changes) in the early weeks, especially from co-workers and bosses. Here are some challenges mamas-to-be face, and ways to manage those sure signs of pregnancy, if you're sticking with the 12-week rule before sharing the news.
Tired, nauseous and tired of being nauseous
"I negotiated a licensing deal all through the first trimester of my recent pregnancy, and I'm shocked that I managed to do it without throwing up or falling asleep in a meeting. If I was not working I was in bed. I felt so sick - and not just in the morning but 24/7. I tried the usual citrus, crackers and other remedies, but I was just sick as a dog and wondering how a blueberry-sized ball of cells could drain me the way it did." - Hitha Palepu
And how about later pregnancies? Better, right? No.
The early physical symptoms vary from person to person but can be overwhelming. "Your body is working on a new equilibrium, and the elevated hormone levels play a role," says Isabel Blumberg, an OB/GYN in New York. "If women do experience nausea, that can be pretty debilitating and exhausting in and of itself."
Though common, these symptoms can interfere with work. "For the majority of women, these symptoms do pass. Always check in with your doctor if you cannot find relief," Blumberg says. She offered some reliable ways to manage the physical discomfort for the first few months:
"Be sure to get your normal eight hours of sleep. If possible, structure your day to get rest in afternoon." Blumberg also suggests consuming a small amount of caffeine (one or two servings) to make it through the rough afternoon hours (but check with your doctor first). Another suggestion from Blumberg: "Try a snack of anything that combines protein and carbohydrate. Consider fruit with almond butter, cheese and whole grain crackers or even cottage cheese with fruit as caffeine-free ways to boost your afternoon lull."
This sick feeling and/or vomiting may come in waves or longer stretches.
Lauren Messinger, a physician in the Washington area, is a big fan of carbohydrates to keep the stomach from ever getting too empty. "Keep saltines next to your bed (eat them before you ever get up in the morning), in your car, really everywhere to assure that you always have something in your stomach," she said. That can help.
Blumberg says an acupuncture bracelet can provide reliable relief. She also suggests consuming foods with ginger and citrus in them, having frequent small meals and avoiding rich or fatty foods. Another option is to modify when you take your vitamins (night or morning), Blumberg says, depending on when you are feeling nauseous.
Messinger also mentioned vitamins. "For some people, just the size and even the smell of prenatal vitamins is too much," she says. Messinger suggests switching to a chewable vitamin to manage that sick feeling through the first trimester, though she warns, "the chewable has no iron content, so getting back to the standard prenatal pill once the sickness ends should be a goal."
The incredible shrinking bra
And what of those suddenly sore and swollen breasts? The feeling of being suddenly top-heavy and achy can be a startling part of the first trimester. Pat Meers, a nursing bra fitting specialist at the Pump Station in Santa Monica, California, shared how she helps women who come in distressed and in a great deal of discomfort.
Go pro. Take the time to get the help you need from a professional who knows nursing bras and understands how the pregnant body changes. "The goal is to get comfortable but not lose your 'street look' - for many women, this means transitioning from a structured, underwire bra to a stretchy bra," Meers says. "Choose a bra with a foam liner to keep your lift and the pre-pregnancy look you are used to."
Consider wearing a sleep bra for extra support. There is a range from which to choose. "The real goal is to help a mother feel comfortable and familiar with her new body," Meers says.