Pregnancy – The First Trimester – The Adventure Continues
I’ve been writing and rewriting this for the last few weeks, and I’m still not so sure what to say beyond how happy and excited I am about the next stage in this adventure called life. It’s still kind of surreal to think that we will have a new member of the family next year. No matter how I’m feeling, I can’t help but feel this incredible power when I take on my day, my body is literally building another future human being right now. There is something profoundly beautiful, fascinating, exciting, and awe inspiring about that. And I can’t wait to meet them. Really. I can’t wait. But I suppose I have to, so in the meantime, I’ll just focus on taking the best care of myself I can.
That’s not to say this has been totally easy, and since I like sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of experiences, in hopes of helping someone out there, let’s get started.
The first three months have been tough, both with the self imposed embargo on revealing our good news, and also harder than expected physically. I feel like the first three months of pregnancy are so hidden – we put on a brave face, we pretend we are okay, we try to pass through the days like we all feel fine. Or at least I did.
So let’s talk about “Morning Sickness”. You might imagine a pregnant person leaning over a toilet bowl first thing in the morning. And then they’re off to do whatever they need to do that day. At least, that’s what I thought. ThanksNoThanks TV/Movies.
No, in actuality, it can manifest itself in a multitude of ways – everybody is different. Some people aren’t heavily impacted, and others have a scary condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, which can end up sticking pregnant folks into the hospital with dehydration in the first trimester and beyond (to really simplify it: it means severe and persistent vomiting.)
Thankfully, my experience was somewhere on the easier end of the scale, but the nausea was ever present. Not just in the morning, but all day. Everyday. All the time. And the exhaustion was powerful too. When you’re pregnant, your body produces more of a hormone called progesterone which can make folks tired as well, and in the first trimester you’re using energy to build up a placenta and support your growing embryo so it’s a combination that can really knock you out.
I was never a person that took naps – ever. Even when I was a kid, I didn’t like them (and much to everyone’s dismay – didn’t take them). There were times in the first three months where I would be sitting on the couch with JC… and I would fall fast asleep. Like… completely out. It was a bit easier to accept being so uncharacteristically tired when I know my body was (and is) doing some serious construction in my uterus, but it still felt so weird to be so fatigued.
Another thing you may not realize about being pregnant – your immune system is compromised, this is so your immune system doesn’t attack your fetus. So around the end of the first trimester I got sick with a cold, and it seemed to drag on, slowly, for weeks – sadly this is not unusual. Especially when you are out taking public transit as often as I do. I’m reaching what feels like the end of my cold now, and feeling a lot better (which is at least part of the reason why I could finally write this.)
Weight Gain/Weight Loss
One thing you hear about pregnancy is that it can result in a lot of weight gain, but the first trimester or so, you might actually experience weight loss – due to food aversions and nausea. This isn’t unusual, and happens quite often. I’m currently lower than my pre-pregnancy weight, but my fetus is growing quite normally. My blood work all looks good, so there is nothing to worry about at the moment. We’ll keep watching it and I expect to start gaining weight as I progress further along.
Before we started planning to have children, I knew that I wanted a midwife assisted birth. So the moment I found out I was pregnant, I started signing up for midwife clinics around the city in hopes of getting myself on a waitlist as soon as possible. I’d recommend you do this too if you are interested in having a midwife assist with delivery and prenatal care.
If you live in Toronto, like I do, your midwife care will be covered by OHIP (P.S. Pregnant people who are not currently covered by OHIP can still receive free midwifery care), but that also means that there can be a bit of a wait (there aren’t enough of them out there to meet demand.) It took about a month or so, but eventually the Midwife Alliance contacted me and said they had a spot for me.
So at the beginning of September, I met one of my midwives – and I was so nervous because I wasn’t sure what or who to expect, but we’ve met a few times already and she has been totally great and exactly what I was hoping for when choosing to have a midwife assisted birth. So hurrah! So far so good.
My next appointment will involve meeting another midwife involved in my care team (and potentially an out-of-country midwife looking to certify in Canada) so I’m excited (but nervous) to meet her (them) too.
Oh so many resources on pregnancy supplements and discussions of vegan pregnancy out there, so here are a few resources you can check out, but there are likely so many more.
As for me, I have taken Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal. Almost entirely because they were the first vegan prenatal vitamin I found at the store we were in and I had seen it listed on a few people’s vegan prenatal vitamin lists (I had been a bit suspicious about the D3 source in these, but it’s actually from yeast.) We had attempted to bring in Deva Vegan Prenatals over the border a few months ago, but they were blocked by border control (I bought too many bottles.)
I’ve also been taking Omega Algae from Nordic Naturals.
So far I have had really good iron levels just from my regular diet and a combination of good genes, but iron levels can drop as total blood volume increases in the second and third trimester. I’ll be paying attention to my levels and make sure things look good throughout pregnancy.
That said, my favourite iron supplement that I do take occasionally, and one I see often recommended is from Flora Health called Floravit (check the labels, the same company has one with honey in it.) You can find it at most health food stores in Toronto (I bought my bottles at Evergreen Market on Roncesvalles.)
Thankfully, I’m feeling much better now, and am back to my usual active self. So far my cravings have included lemonade, baked potatoes, spicy lentil soup (shout out to Udupi Palace), sauerkraut/kimchi/other fermented foods, and pizza (Apiecalypse Pizza and Pizza Nova have been satisfying those needs quite well). My sweet tooth has mostly disappeared (except for the occasional chocolate croissants we pick up from Through Being Cool Vegan Bakery.)
And that’s it for now, but I imagine I’ll have some more posts on vegan pregnancy brewing as time passes. Please also appreciate that this is a deeply personal time, and that any unkind words in the comments will be deleted as soon as I see them. Friendly words welcome (and encouraged.) Remember everyone’s experience is different, and I think those differences should be celebrated, but I think we can still learn a lot from each other.
Also please note that I am not a midwife or doctor, and everything I’ve said here reflects my experience so far. I want to reassure you that some of the things happening are normal – even if they seem unexpected, but bring your concerns up with your medical team because that’s what they are there for.
I’m really happy to read you are expecting a child and that things seem to be going pretty well.
Thank you Babette!
Congratulations! I’m very happy for you and JC. I look forward to reading more about your experiences.
Human-building is a magical wild ride!!
It’s pretty incredible already. I can’t wait to meet our little future human 🙂 Thank you
Congratulations. May you have an uncomplicated pregnancy. 🙂
Here is hoping! 🙂 Thank you!
Mazal tov, Michelle!!
Mazel tov! So stoked for you and your human-making adventure. <3