Pregnancy: Overview of my first trimester

*** Disclaimer: I am sharing what I chose to do. My choices are in no way recommendations.
Please do your own research and choose what’s right for YOU. Also, many of these choices are very personal.
I do not think that this is what every woman should do. I am merely sharing my journey to help women
see the different options available because I believe that researching and
planning your birth should be the priority rather than shopping for strollers (no offense). 😉

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Yes, I’m pregnant!

Yay, I just completed the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy.:) Baby is now the size of an egg, about 2.1 inches long and weighing in at 0.5 oz.

Baby is the length of an egg (week 12)

Baby is the length of an egg (week 12)

What an exciting adventure this is. I wish I could go back in time 3 years ago and tell my younger self not to worry about my fertility. Being diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) at that time was a very devastating news and I was afraid I would never be able to have a family. Since that moment, I did all I could  to improve my health, balance my hormones and maximize my fertility. And it worked! I’ll be forever grateful for that.

Many of you are curious to know more about what I’m doing to stay healthy and produce the healthiest baby possible… and I’m happy to share that with you if you can keep the disclaimer above in mind.

For women with PCOS out there, I know you feel betrayed by your body. I know you feel like there will always be something wrong with you. I know you have to work harder than the average woman to be healthy. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Don’t lose hope. Be grateful for your body, it’s your precious vessel to live this life and it needs your love and care. Who knows how it might thank you later? ❤

My diet:

  • REAL food. As simple as that. 🙂 Some might call it Paleo, Primal or gluten-free, but really it’s simply REAL food.
  • Ok, I know you want to know more…! My main protein options are grass-fed beef, grass-fed bison, pastured chicken, wild-caught fish and pastured eggs. I also add healthy fats to each of my meals, whether it be grass-fed ghee/butter, coconut, avocado, olive oil, grass-fed tallow or even bacon! And of course, I eat all kinds of plant matters, sticking to organic as much as possible, including veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, kale, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini…), fruits (oranges, bananas, mangoes, berries…) and tubers/starches (plantains, sweet potatoes…). I also eat corn (organic) and white rice on occasion. I don’t usually prepare these foods at home but might have them while eating out (I certainly had my fair share while in Guatemala).  I also eat good-quality cheese when I feel like it. I’m very lucky that after a couple of years of healing my body with an elimination diet (as described in my book DHwRF) by avoiding dairy, all grains, sugar, FODMAPs, starches and nightshades, my tolerance has now improved. The only REAL food I still can’t eat is nuts. I also need to stay 100% gluten-free at ALL times. Besides that, I’m fairly flexible as long as it’s REAL food.
  • I have been eating more carbs (mainly from plantains, sweet potatoes and fruits) since the beginning of my pregnancy. I just feel like I need more. I’ve been keeping track of my blood sugar levels once in a while and my body seems to be perfectly fine with it.
  • I never drink coffee. Ok, maybe 2 or 3 times a year if it’s awesome coffee (i.e. I’m visiting a coffee farm in Queensland, Australia or in Ometepe, Nicaragua or someone very nice is offering me a BulletProof coffee at school 😉 ) but I’m just weird that way (and probably in many other ways too… lol). So not drinking any coffee hasn’t been hard at all! The only caffeine I get is from dark chocolate (and I must confess that’s almost every day… unless I run out!).
  • I’m in no way counting my calories or calculating my macronutrient ratios. I stick to REAL foods and listen to my body (and the baby!). Period.

Follow me on instagram to see more of my meals!

instagram

My supplements:

  • Basic Prenatal (with activated folate, aka 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, NOT folic acid… read why it matters in this article from Chris Kresser)
  • Probiotics (I vary them) to keep my immune and digestive systems happy
  • Vitamin D & K2 (about 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day) because these nutrients are so essential (read my article about vitamin K2 here)
  • Vitamin C + bioflavonoids (2,000 mg a day) to gently support my adrenal health since I can no longer take adaptogenic herbs
  • Magnesium bis-glycinate (300-600 mg a day) because this mineral is just so damn important and difficult to obtain even from REAL food
  • Green Pastures’ fermented cod liver oil (I would like to say that I took it regularly but the smell and taste have just been very repulsive to me lately… planning on going back to it during the next trimesters)
  • I took some echinacea tincture (which has been proven to be safe during pregnancy) before and during my medical mission in Guatemala (weeks 9-10) to boost my immunity and prevent me from being sick (and I didn’t get sick at all!)
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My supplements

Exercise:

  • The truth is that it was pretty minimal in the first trimester!
  • I used to walk and do yoga on a regular basis. I’ve still been doing that in my first trimester on-and-off depending on my energy level of the week. I’m really looking forward to that 2nd trimester energy increase many women talk about to go back to exercising more regularly. It should also get easier as spring and summer finally come. 😉

Lifestyle:

  • I’m trying to keep a very positive attitude and minimize stress in my life! Since women with PCOS can have a higher risk of miscarriage, I was pretty worried about it during my first few weeks. Especially at the time when you still don’t have a lot of pregnancy symptoms and can’t really believe you’re pregnant. I spent a lot of time reading about the statistics and the signs and symptoms… My advice would be to trust your body. Most miscarriage occur because of an abnormality of the baby and it’s nature way of saving this little being from too much suffering. I would also recommend you stay away from Dr. Google. It pretends it knows a lot about what may or may not happen and then take multiple personalities representing almost every single possible opinion on the planet. Many books out there also seem to focus on what you should and shouldn’t do to try to control everything. Really, what I’m trying to say is that from the moment you become pregnant, you lose control! Yes, you lose control over your body and soon you’ll lose even more control over your life. Learn to let it go and just trust yourself and your body. Anyway, that’s what I’m trying to do. ❤
  • One of the way I forget about the stressors in my life is by documenting and journaling my pregnancy in a fun way. For myself and my little once once he or she is old enough to read. I really like this calendar and journal I found on amazon.
My Pregnancy Calendar and Journal

My Pregnancy Calendar and Journal

  • I am not ashamed to nap whenever needed. And that’s pretty much every day. Even if it’s only 2 hours after I woke up. lol 😉 And I’m lucky enough to work for myself and go to school… so yes, I missed more classes than usual and caught up on the comfort of my own couch wearing my pyjama and wrapped in a blanket (the winter is crazy cold in Toronto this year!).
  • I’m trying to minimize exposure (or at least add distance between these and my belly) to EMF (electro-magnetic field). I’ve also been using a grounding sheet (aka earting) in my bed for a couple of years for that purpose.
  • I also continue to use natural personal care products on my skin and avoid almost all sources of plastic in my life to minimize chemical exposure. For example, I use pyrex containers instead of plastic ones and only use cocoa butter, natural soaps and shampoos for my body.
  • My hubby doesn’t want me to drink tap water anymore to avoid fluoride, chlorine and other potential chemicals. The quality of the tap water isn’t that great in Toronto… so I now only natural spring water.
  • I continued to make sleep a priority, aiming for an average of 9 hours a night.
  • I used to try to meditate a few times a week but I kind of dropped that good habit due to lack of time (too much time studying and sleeping!). My goal is to start again for the next trimesters.
  • Relationship: My husband really wants both the baby and I to be as healthy as we can… but I don’t know if it’s because he’s an engineer but he seemed to want to control every single factor… During the first weeks, he was often saying things like “Shouldn’t you eat less chocolate?” or “Are you sure this isn’t too much carbs for your blood sugar levels?”. I know he meant well but this was stressing me out. And stress is worse than chocolate and healthy nutrient-dense carbs. I’m sharing this because I’m sure I’m not the only one in a similar situation. If you feel like you’re starting to have a food police around you, I feel like it’s important to have a talk about it. In my case, I explained to him that I felt like I was already doing a very long list of things that are good for the baby and me. I told him that I would prefer that he focuses on that and reassured him that I was getting all I needed for the baby and me and wouldn’t do anything to harm either one of us. He got it. Communication is key! 🙂 And his help has been invaluable. If men are reading this, we really need you during this pregnancy and you’re still very important to us even though you might think that the only thing on our mind is the baby. That’s not true at all! I am so grateful for the many meals my husband cooks for me, the many extra trips he takes to the grocery store to fill our fridge with nutrient-dense REAL food and the many times he just brought me whatever I was asking for while resting on the couch feeling so tired that I thought I couldn’t move a single limb. Merci mon amour! ❤

My symptoms:

  • I feel pretty blessed that I haven’t had horrible morning sickness. Could it be due to correcting nutrient deficiencies prior to getting pregnant? It’s a theory that some people have proposed and that I like, but I don’t know for sure. 🙂 In any case, eating nutrient-dense foods can’t do any harm.
  • Between week 6-8, I often woke up with morning sickness and just felt unwell for 2-3 hours, sometimes more, but it would usually get better with a bit of food. It happened a few times at other times of the day too. I only threw up twice but that was in Guatemala where I went on a medical mission during week 9 and 10. I am so grateful that I didn’t get food poisoning or traveler’s diarrhea (I was HYPER cautious) but the windy road between Guatemala City and Panajachel got the best of me.
  • I drank lots of ginger tea throughout my first trimester and also started wearing these acupressure seeds at a point called Pericardium 6 around week 8, which is helpful for all kind of nausea. Even if you don’t have seeds, just try pressing there and it might help.
Acupressure Point "Pericardium 6" for Morning Sickness

Acupressure Point “Pericardium 6” for Morning Sickness (click to enlarge)

  • I sometimes woke up super hungry in the middle of the night during weeks 6-10, enough that I had to eat something to go back to sleep, which is something I had NEVER done before! [p.s. I thought this phase was over but it just happened again last night…! I had a few pieces of my Tummy Gummies (sugar-free gelatin-packed snack that is good for your gut health and skin, recipe in DHwRF: the cookbook).]

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    Tummy Gummies from DHwRF: the Cookbook

  • My main symptom has been fatigue… also a few weekly headaches and nosebleeds but that has fortunately calmed down towards the end of the first trimester.
  • My breasts increased a full cup size and are very sensitive… I had to shop for new bras…. ahhh I feel so much better now with more support!
  • I also feel some occasional discomfort in my lower belly once in a while as my uterus is growing and the round ligaments supporting it are stretching, but it’s not too too bad. Just a bit worrisome at first but you get used to this (yet another) new sensation.
  • Digestion has been a bit slower than usual, but that’s to be expected with high levels of progesterone. No constipation really but just a bit of bloating and belching (let’s be real here! After all, didn’t I write a book that is practically all about poop?).
  • I’m a little bit more out of breath than usual when walking upstairs. Probably due to the increase of my blood volume.
  • More emotional? Well, I probably cried more in the last month than I did in the last couple of years. For good and bad things. Because of things going on in my life, after hearing a song or simply watching a commercial… lol 😉
  • No unusual cravings… other than chocolate but that isn’t anything new! 🙂
  • Weight gain so far: none. I actually lost 3-4 lbs, which I’m perfectly fine with. 🙂 And it’s definitely not because I’m trying to lose weight, I’m eating way more than before. My clothes still fit although I’m starting to see a tiny little bump appearing. I definitely can no longer suck my tummy in. And I can definitely palpate my growing uterus above my pelvic bone.
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We’re expecting!
(hubby still wondering how a human being can fit in there!)

My plan:

  • I have chosen to work with a midwife. It’s a good thing someone told me to call ASAP because the demand is increasing here in Ontario, Canada. I called when I was only 5 weeks and it was already full a couple of weeks later.
  • I will also have a doula to support me during labor, in addition to offering a prenatal and postnatal visit.
  • If everything goes according to plan, I wish to have a water birth in the comfort of my own home.
  • I am choosing to opt out of everything I judge to be unnecessary interventions. For that reason, I decided to opt out of  the standard nuchal translucency test and ultrasounds, unless absolutely necessary. I just hope we won’t be surprised by twins in September! lol 😉 If you want more information about ultrasounds, I encourage you to read Chapter 4 of the book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering. It’s not clearly established nor confirmed that ultrasounds are harmful, but it’s not 100% clear either that they are completely harmless. Since the outcomes of the tests would be unlikely to change my course of action, I prefer to abstain. It’s your right to get all the information you can and make your own decision. (When I flew to Guatemala through the USA, I did opt for the very thorough and intimate pat-down to avoid the full body scanner too.)
  • A few more words about the nuchal translucency test. This is a relatively new test part of the Integrated Prenatal Screening (IPS) offered at the end of the first trimester to *try* to detect trisomy 21 (Down’s Syndrome) and trisomy 18. Emphasis on the word try. The actual risk of your child having one of these conditions is less than 1/1,000 if you’re younger than 35. It involves an ultrasound and blood tests to calculate your risk. Out of 1,000 women, about 20-40 will be screened positive. These women will then be referred for an additional ultrasound and, for a more definitive test, an amniocentesis (which consists in inserting a long needle into your tummy all the way into inside your uterus to withdraw amniotic fluid). Amniocentesis itself has a risk of miscarriage between 1/200 to 1/400. Out of these 20-40 women screened positive (out of the first 1,000), only 1 will be determined as having a very high risk of having a baby with this condition but still these tests are not even 100% sure. The other 19-39 first screened positive will now become false positive (low risk despite first false alarm). And it shouldn’t be forgotten that women screened negative (low risk) still have a small percentage of risk of having a baby with one of these conditions (called false negative). Or any other kind of birth defects that is not tested for. Then what? What do you do with these results? If you’re determined to be at high risk, you’re offered the option to terminate your pregnancy. But keep in mind that none of these tests know 100% for sure that your baby will have that condition and a low risk score doesn’t guarantee that your baby won’t have any birth defects either. Considering that I’m still younger than 35 and don’t have any family history, I prefer to avoid all of the unnecessary stress associated with the IPS. I decide to trust my body and feel ready to accept my baby as it is sent to me. If a test isn’t likely to change the outcomes, why do it? That’s my personal decision and I completely understand that some people may feel differently, especially if over the age of 35 for example or if they feel that they might need to prepare in advance for the arrival of a special need baby. I just don’t like that every health professional I met tried to scare me into taking it and want more women to know what these tests truly entails and what their options are.

Is it a boy or a girl?

  • We don’t know…! and we won’t know for sure before this little miracle is ready to come out in September. It’s not that we’re against knowing the sex of the baby in advance, it’s just that we decided to not do ultrasound. If something happens and we have to get one, we’ll definitely want to know. 🙂 But until then, there’s no rush to know. Knowing the sex of the baby is such a little factor and won’t tell us much about who this little human being will become anyway. What do you think?
  • Even though we don’t know for sure, we both think that it might be a girl… but time will tell if we’re right!
  • Our midwife also thinks it’s likely to be a girl! Why? Well, since I was charting my basal body temperature (as per the method explained in Taking Charge of Your Fertility), I have a good idea of when I ovulated. And I also know when my husband and I had intercourse. Little swimmers carrying a X chromosome (female chromosome) are more resistant and more likely to survive a few days (that makes perfect sense, doesn’t it ladies?!). Since we actually had our last intercourse about 5 days before my predicted ovulation date (because although we were ready to try soon, we wanted to wait until after my medical mission to Guatemala), this pleasant surprise of Mother Nature is that much more likely to be of the feminine gender! 😉
  • Another proof that might not weigh as much is that I went to see a clairvoyant, just for fun, for the first time of my life during the Christmas Holidays. The clairvoyant told me that she was feeling a “little presence” by my side and that she would be ready to bet that I would be pregnant before Spring. Little did I know I was already 2-day pregnant at that time. She also told me that it would be a girl. Interestingly enough, my mother went to see her a month prior (and there’s no way she could know we were related since we use different family name) and was also told that her first grand-child would be a girl. Coincidence? I don’t know but there’s only a 25% chances that could be attributed to coincidence statistically speaking. Again, time will tell…!
  • Due date? September 18, 2014.
  • What about school? I’ll be completing my 2nd year of naturopathic medicine at the end of April then will have the summer off to work on other projects (building a new website and hopefully recording an online webinar about digestive health for you guys!). I will then split my 3rd year into 2 years (about 30% load for the first half and 70% for the second half).
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Excited new maman!

Are you pregnant? Or have you been pregnant in the past? If yes, please share what you do (or did) to have a healthy pregnancy and baby by commenting below. 🙂

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