Now that we’ve shared our pregnancy news, I’m excited to share parts of my pregnancy journey along with other pregnant client experiences. I don't share much about our pregnancy success stories, it's such a delicate and personal journey, but I do think it's important to share that I coach women during all phases of pregnancy: preconception, natal, and postnatal with 1-on-1 nutrition and wellness support. I promise I won’t solely fill your feed with all things baby since not everyone is in this season, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised that most of what I do share is going to be applicable even if you are not pregnant.
*Also, it feels necessary, to begin by saying that everything I share is with a sensitive heart to those who are struggling with infertility. Infertility is near and dear to my heart. I have several friends and even family who have walked and are currently walking this path. In no way will I ever offer you unsolicited advice, encourage you to look on the bright side, nor try to relate or reframe what you are walking through. I will, however, support you, sit in your pain with you and pray for you if you invite me in.*
Let me catch everyone up...Surprise, we are pregnant!
We found out we were pregnant in July. Most people have asked if we were trying and to answer, “YES!” To our surprise, it happened much quicker than we expected, though. It feels relevant to begin by sharing that we experienced a chemical pregnancy in June. It was only a short weekend that we thought we were pregnant. At first and in full honesty, I was a little unsure of how I felt about it. A baby is always a blessing, and I think we always thought we'd have more than two children, but somewhere along the way had easily settled into the comfort of our life. Our path to conception took almost a year with each of our children and a prescribed regimen of a few rounds of Clomid and Progesterone. More to come on this in the future.
This was the morning of confirmation that our positive pregnancy test would not be resulting in our third baby. After my prayer time, I stepped outside to see that beautiful rainbow above my babies. A rainbow is also known as a symbol of hope. I knew in that moment, we would try again.
A chemical pregnancy is an early pregnancy loss that occurs shortly after implantation. They may account for 50-75% of miscarriages. These typically take place before an ultrasound can detect a fetus (we had not made it that far) but not too early for a pregnancy test to detect levels of hCG (we tested positive on a pregnancy test and I was experiencing pregnancy symptoms).
As most of you know, there are only a few days in each menstrual cycle when you can get pregnant. An ovulation test can accurately tell you when you are most likely to conceive and increases your chance of conception if you have intercourse on your fertile days. If you're in a season of trying to conceive, I recommend using a Clearblue Ovulation Test or something similar. I've used Clearblue tests to conceive all three pregnancies.
This is my "smiley" letting me know that it was time to try for a baby in July.
And then, you know what happened next...IT WORKED! WE ARE PREGNANT!
I was still doubtful after seeing this confirmed "yes," especially with what we had experienced the month prior, so I took a pregnancy test every day for a week to make sure that the lines were getting darker. For those of you who aren't familiar with why one would test daily after a "yes", it's because the darker the lines get, the more hormone your body is releasing. hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone produced during pregnancy, typically doubles every two days during the first few weeks of pregnancy. We also confirmed our pregnancy with blood work.
And then we got to meet our little baby for the first time (on ultrasound) and hear the most beautiful sound, the heartbeat! I could finally take a breath! This is when we began to share our news with family.
And then, I contracted Coronavirus
We found out that we were pregnant on a Saturday and on the following Wednesday I was diagnosed with Coronavirus. YUCK! My main symptoms were chills, aches, and a migraine. Not terrible, but also kind of terrible experiencing pregnancy symptoms on top of being sick.
Six to seven weeks is also common for women to start experiencing first trimester symptoms like fatigue, nausea/ vomiting, food aversions/cravings, and GI changes such as diarrhea, cramping, and bloating. This can happen as early as implantation depending on how sensitive you are to hCG. For me, these symptoms start almost instantly. At this point in my health journey, I know my body so well, I knew I was pregnant before I saw the two lines on the pregnancy test.
Pregnancy can also lower your immune system, leaving you extra susceptible to getting sick. I had actually been exposed to Coronavirus multiple times over the last year and a half and had yet to contract it. It made sense that when my body was working extra hard to protect the baby, suppressing my immune system, I finally contracted it. The first trimester was ROUGH. I felt like I had been hit by a bus pretty much every single day. If you are in the thick of it, hang in there, sis!
Aside from pregnancy, your nutritional intake, exercise regimen, stress management, and sleep are also heavy hitters when it comes to building a strong immune system. This is why your diet and lifestyle are so important! If you need support getting on track, reach out! I'd love to support you.
I'm not going to get too deep here, but I will share that I only used a natural approach and a vitamin regimen to support my healing. I'd be happy to share it with you elsewhere, but the main thing I want to express here is to ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF and your baby. I did not feel very supported by physicians in my choice on the regimen I chose, but I knew what was best for my body and what I felt was best for my baby and that is what I chose to do. It's okay if your choice is different than mine, but let it be YOUR choice.
This is what pregnancy and Covid looked like for me. I lay in the sun in this spot every single day for 30-45 minutes for 14 days. Sun exposure is the most natural source of Vitamin D.
I also practiced grounding, daily. Grounding, also called "earthing", is a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth. The positive effects on your body can include reducing inflammation, pain, and stress, improving blood flow, energy, and sleep, and shifting the autonomic nervous system from sympathetic toward parasympathetic activation, which increases heart rate variability, speeds up wound healing and reduces blood viscosity. We recommend 30-40 minutes per day walking barefoot in the grass to start the healing process.
I was not able to keep up with my normal workout routine so I opted to walk a few miles each day. Movement is going to support your healing and help prevent further complications. You won't feel like doing it, but do it anyway!
And SLEEP! I slept A LOT. Like 10 hours per night with a 3-hour nap during the day, but when I was awake, I moved around often and didn't just lay on the couch or in bed. Again, this will support you in getting well faster. You can listen to a podcast on the importance of sleep here. Okay, back to pregnancy.
Approaching Food Aversions...
I will get into more detail on meal specifics in the future, but aversions are pretty common in your first trimester. Most importantly, acknowledge that eating when you are nauseous, or possibly without taste and smell, and having aversions to all things meat and green are challenging. No matter how bad you want to force yourself to eat the things you know are good for you, if your body is saying "no," listen to it and make modifications. I encourage you to be considerate that altering your intake based on your pregnancy may look different than someone else's. Don't compare your journey to theirs. Like health, there is no one-size-fits-all to pregnancy. I encourage you to approach each day simply committed to show up for your health and do the best you can with what’s in front of you. What's in front of you may be circumstantial, physical, mental, spiritual, or a combination of things. You get to choose to have enough grace for yourself with what each new day brings. This stands firm for non-pregnant women, as well.
It’s okay to feel equally excited and blessed while also struggling with the hard parts that pregnancy can bring. This pregnancy has been my toughest physically, but I've never felt stronger mentally or spiritually. You don’t have to choose one or the other. You can be both excited, and embrace the sucky parts. This does not make you any less grateful for the blessing. More on the importance of mental health and navigating tough seasons in the future.
How should I alter my caloric intake while pregnant?
I don’t track, count, or weigh my meals personally, but I do pay attention to my portions and intake using other methods that we coach our Fleurish Health clients on. The guideline below was so helpful during my first two pregnancies and is what I typically recommend to my clients to start with. Again, this isn't cookie-cutter, and depending on underlying diagnosis, pre-pregnancy weight, and other factors, this may vary.
You probably won't need any additional calories during your first trimester. Instead, you should focus on choosing nutritious foods that keep your energy up while supporting your baby's development (whole foods that contain a lot of fruits and vegetables if you can stomach them). I can not stomach veggies in the first trimester so I prioritize fruit. Also, if you experience nausea, it can be helpful to eat small frequent meals, don’t let your stomach get too empty, make sure you include carbs, and keep emergency snacks in your purse. I keep Simple Mills crackers on me at all times in case a wave hits me and I'm away from home. There are other homemade regimens that can help that I won't cover here.
Lastly, if you need additional support from your OB for nausea, be empowered to reach out and advocate for yourself. They do make prescriptions that can help. I don't like taking prescriptions, but it's important to note they are there for a reason. If you need them, there is nothing wrong with doing what it takes to support you in your pregnancy.
Up your daily calorie intake by 300 to 350 calories per day — that's the equivalent of a whole avocado and a sweet potato. Not the all-you-can-eat sundae bar you may have been envisioning, but it’s key to be mindful of the quality of your choices while pregnant. Typically, the second trimester brings some more energy and nausea tends to be at bay, so eating things you had to avoid, at first, get more tolerable. Welcome back veggies + protein! Treat yourself now and then, but you don’t have to give in to every temptation your heart desires. Your baby is also developing taste buds starting as early as 8 weeks, although they can’t actually start to taste what you are eating until around week 16, their brain and other organs are developing and their neurons are beginning to connect the baby’s growing brain to different areas of the body, including the mouth. Research varies here, but much shows that diverse exposure to fruits and vegetables can actually shape your baby's future eating habits! Pretty cool, huh?
You'll need about an extra 500 calories per day, so basically building on what you’re doing in the second trimester but with 150 more calories (like adding a bowl of oatmeal to your regimen). The third trimester can come with more physical and emotional challenges. When it comes to meals, I encourage you to be mindful of consuming an abundance of processed and high sodium foods. Swelling is a greater possibility at this stage and eating foods that cause inflammation in your body are not going to benefit you or your baby. Again, I remind you to give yourself GRACE and do the best you can one day at a time.
How much weight should I gain while pregnant?
This varies from person to person. You can reference the chart below as a guideline from "What to Expect." We can support you in this or you can consult your physician. For my first baby, I gained roughly 25 lbs. I was smaller with less muscle mass then. I also didn't eat as healthy as I do now, nor did I exercise as much then. For my second, I gained about 18 lbs. I exercised my entire pregnancy and ate pretty consistently with my non-pregnancy intake, just larger portions. For this third pregnancy, it’s been much different. I had more muscle mass to start with, Covid-19 knocked me on my butt, and unfortunately, I have not been able to workout out like I planned to, so I haven't gained much weight yet. I keep fluctuating between 3-5 lbs, but my body is certainly changing and the baby is growing and doing well. Walking has been a saving grace for me, especially mentally, and I'm continuing to lean into what each day brings and do the best I can with what I have.
The rate at which you gain weight will vary as well. And just because you've been pregnant before, it doesn't mean each consecutive pregnancy will model your first. Most importantly, I encourage you to listen to your body. If you need additional support, seek it!
Take note that all of your weight gains are not actual fat gain. We are told this, but I think it’s important to be reminded, especially if you have struggled with body image issues, body dysmorphia, an eating disorder, and disordered eating patterns in the past or have struggled with the scale or any variations of struggling in your body. Knowledge is power and when we understand the "why" behind what's happening in a pregnant and postpartum body, it can lead to a place of acceptance and even joy.
I love this visual! Deep breath, mama! You are doing something so beautiful for your baby!
Wrapping up for now...
Someone asked me the other day if it was different being older this pregnancy. Maybe so, but it's also challenging to tell because I have two active kiddos and am in a different season. Although physically I've had more challenges, mentally I feel the best in my body I ever have. Maternal mental health is equally as important as physical health during pregnancy. You guys know I am an advocate for counseling. If you need help, seek it!
If you take anything away from this, I encourage you to take note that pregnancy nutrition and mental health, not comparing your journey to others, and giving yourself ALL OF THE GRACE matters! Being diligent in your nutrition will create an optimal environment for the baby, reduce nutrient deficiencies, decrease your chances of Gestational Diabetes (especially if you have been diagnosed with PCOS since you are already less sensitive to insulin), decreases your risk of pre-eclampsia, reduce the risk of preterm delivery, and can even help with nausea and the reduction of cravings.
One of the greatest gifts to myself is also managing my expectations. Things don’t always go as we’d hoped or planned, even when we’ve had multiple pregnancies, so continue to give yourself grace, have support around you, and remember that the second we lay eyes on baby, it will all be worth it!
Meet my Bump:
Meet our sweet BOY:
Thank you for sharing in this space with me. I'd love your feedback on this blog and for you to share your pregnancy experience with me. If you would like to schedule a consult for Health Coaching, we'd love to support you. Click here or below.