10 Steps to Getting Over the First Trimester
Congratulations, you’re pregnant! When you get a moment to lift your head from the toilet, where you have been poised without relief and without even the naughty memory of last night’s fun to regret, you may have a moment to stare the terror of your newly diagnosed alien possession squarely in the eyes. Yes, the first trimester is awesome!
Pregnancy is a strange opportunity. It’s often the first time in our lives we are truly living in our bodies- there is just no avoiding it when so many changes occur, when so many body sensations are screaming for our attention. If this is not your chance at practicing present moment awareness – which, believe me, will come in handy as a parent – I really don’t know what is. At the same time, you can’t be pregnant without looking into the future – far, far into the future: Exciting and scary. What will motherhood look like? Who will my baby be? How will I deal with work, family and life?
If you have a partner to support you through this experience, you may be surprised to feel a baffling mix of deep intimacy (hey, you guys made this thing together and we all know that the team spirit strengthens bonds!) and total alienation. Our culture promotes the insane and false delusion that intimate partners merge and become one, so why do you feel so distanced and misunderstood? Your partner may very well be wondering the same damn thing. If we as women feel lost and alone in the wilderness of our own pregnancies, imagine how our partner feels. Especially if it`s a dude. We are all acculturated to view women as mysterious beings with frightening magical powers. Your pregnancy is merely proof of this myth.
Here are some tips for surviving this thing intact and building some skills that will serve you and your partner well for many years to come:
- I know it`s annoying that you are literally growing a person inside you, but your partner needs things from you too. Be direct, ask for what you need, please stop expecting psychic powers to emerge from him or her and give him or her permission to do the same.
- Be honest about whatever body image issues you have or think you mastered. Gaining weight and actually looking different, feeling huge and out of control are guaranteed to mess with all that you thought you got over. Talk to your health care provider about this and get help if you need it. Remember that your body is an amazing and beautiful machine that is nurturing what will eventually be your kid in there. Try to feel good about that.
- Enjoy sex! You are never gonna have that much blood flowing to your genitals again. See #2, get over it and you may actually experience the most mind blowing orgasms of your life. If your partner is weirded out about “hurting the baby,” please reassure him that I said it was ok (barring any medical complications).
- When your partner gives you sound, common sense advice and plain old love – acknowledge and appreciate it. If it bugs you, take a breath and remind both of you that you may be cranky, under-rested, distracted, worried and lack trust because the source of that advice wasn’t wearing a white coat.
- Deal with your own shit and ask him to deal with his. Nothing stirs the emotional pot like making a baby. Family issues, past trauma: It`s all coming to the surface. Get ready, be patient and don’t avoid it.
- Let yourself cry. It`s good for you. Every problem doesn`t have a solution, but making some room for release is a great help.
- Don`t expect to be treated with kid gloves at all times. And don’t turn what is a normal physiologic milestone into a crappy pity party with you as the belle of the ball. In fact, it feels weird and inauthentic and less intimate to not be treated mostly the same way as before you got yourself knocked up. That is not to say that you shouldn’t expect some extra patience and attention from your partner. Hopefully, you both were loving and supportive before this miraculous event. If this was an issue in your relationship before, you’ve got some big stuff to work on.
- Yes, drugs are great when necessary, but try some (safe and practitioner approved) home remedies first if possible. Ginger is fantastic for heartburn and nausea. Magnesium works wonders for constipation and leg cramps. Parsley or cilantro can help reduce swelling. Feet hurt? Maybe take off the stilettos and put your feet up.
- Develop your sense of humor. Remember not to take yourself so damn seriously.
- Try to remember that everything doesn’t need to be so complicated. You are far more resilient than you may recognize at your lowest moment – and besides, if you can get through this pregnancy thing, you really can get through almost anything.
Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz is involved in women’s empowerment and education, and appears frequently as an expert on women’s health on TV, online and in print.