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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Surviving the 1st Trimester

The first trimester is always extremely difficult for me just to get through. And it hasn't gotten any easier with subsequent pregnancies. I thought last time, pregnant with my first boy, was the worst I'd ever felt. This time it was even worse. The extreme exhaustion and constant nausea hit me with a vengeance and I had to keep reminding myself to keep breathing and that I would survive this again. At least, I hoped I would! Each day I couldn't wait until (a very early) bedtime when I could escape my misery for several hours in sleep.

With that said, I know women who are so sick (some of them the whole pregnancy) that they have trouble keeping any food down and sometimes end up in the hospital with IV fluids. I am very grateful never to have been that bad off and greatly admire those who somehow survive such experiences.

Having used essential oils for years, I was hopeful I could combat some of the nausea with ginger, peppermint, or lemon this time. But I found out in a hurry that any smells, no matter how good or natural, didn't help at all. My sense of smell was just too heightened. So that remedy was out.

Every pregnancy, in my efforts to get myself feeling better, I learn a lot about what my body needs. Last pregnancy I learned that I was hyper-sensitive to MSG and that if I avoided it (in all its many forms), I would feel a whole lot better (see post here). After pregnancy I was no longer as sensitive but because I had already developed the habit of avoiding MSG, it was easy to maintain that healthy change to my family's lifestyle.

I am now officially in the second trimester (phew!) and have felt considerably better the last couple weeks, which has been the greatest relief in the world! But I'm noticing that certain things in foods still affect me and if I'm not vigilant I may pay for it for a day or two afterward. I'll get into that a bit later...

Because the first trimester this time around was so terribly yucky, I learned a lot about what is happening inside the body and what the body needs to recover from everything required to grow a baby. Many thanks to my friend, Emily, who supplied me with the needed information to start me on this journey! I offer these insights, suggestions, and tips in an effort to help others. I realize not everything will help everyone, but I feel compelled to share, hoping these ideas may improve another expectant mother's quality of life. (Note: The below remedies were in addition to my healthy, whole foods diet--although, during the first several weeks, diet becomes a matter of whatever I can tolerate, which isn't much):

1- First of all, in my frequent, small snacks I learned I needed salt! Often. I craved it many times a day, which is not normal for me (except during the first trimester of pregnancy). Interestingly, I learned that at about 5 weeks (see this site) the placenta begins to fill with amniotic fluid, which is of the same makeup as ocean water, even with the same minerals in the same amounts! Suddenly I understood why my body needed extra salt during those few weeks.

2- Besides salt, my body needed lots of water, of course, since it was producing that amniotic fluid. And this will continue to be the case throughout pregnancy, as the fluid changes and increases over time. I always stay very hydrated, but I noticed that water wasn't helping me feel better or more hydrated by itself. I still felt a lack of something. So learning that the amniotic fluid also contains electrolytes taught me that I needed to add electrolytes to my diet somehow. I was happy to learn that instead of guzzling sugary Gatorade or other sports drink I could get  a small bottle of electrolytes to add to my water, a mere drop per glassful. It doesn't have a taste or smell, but it has made a difference for me, so I continue to drink it in all my water. (You can easily find Elete online on Amazon.)

3- I found myself craving orange juice and potatoes every day for a while there, so it was no surprise when I found out that both foods contain lots of potassium. It was therefore logical to conclude that my body was deficient in Potassium, which is an electrolyte. I felt better when I drank orange juice and ate potatoes, even though otherwise I was mostly surviving on Saltine crackers. :(

4- Another thing I learned a lot more about was cell salts. These are mineral salts that can be absorbed directly into our own body's cells to help repair cell dysfunction and restore the balance of minerals in our cells. (See this article for more information on how cell salts work.) For expectant women who can't keep food or water down, cell salts can be particularly helpful. For me, they did lessen my nausea--in fact, I'm still taking them every day for a while longer. I purchased all 12 of them (Hyland's brand) online. If you would like to know the proper daily regimen for morning sickness, please leave a comment or email me. It's a little involved but very worth it.

5- Even after doing all of the above, I was feeling more stable, though not perfect, and was concerned that with all my food aversions I wasn't getting the nutrients I needed from my food. And for the first time I also wasn't taking a prenatal vitamin because they make me sick during the first trimester and I've been trying to weed out synthetic vitamins from my family's lifestyle. So I talked to my friend, Tonya, an herbalist at the School of Natural Healing. She recommended that I take a certain number of Dr. Christopher's Vitalerbs capsules as well as wheat germ oil capsules every day. (Leave me a comment or send me an email if you would like to know my prescribed regimen.) It took me a couple weeks before I was able to swallow as many of them as I was supposed to, since I had an overactive gag reflex for a while, but once I started I could tell they were helping me. I felt a little more stable, reassured that I was getting much of the greens I needed but couldn't tolerate eating yet, and--hallelujah!--they were even helping my constipation.

6- The next thing I found that helped was having an NAET treatment (see my article about NAET here). During that treatment I wasn't at all surprised to find out that my minerals were "all out of whack." My provider balanced my minerals and I felt considerably better. Since then I haven't craved salt like I did and only need orange juice a couple times a week instead of every day. I also feel like I'm doing much better getting the nutrients I need from my food and assimilating them properly, which I wasn't doing before.

7- While I was at my NAET provider's, she also did some Emotion Code work on me (see my article here). That always helps, without fail. It also reminded me that I need to be doing the Emotion Code on myself more regularly, since I can and it works.

8- A couple weeks later I went back for another NAET/Emotion Code/Energy treatment as a follow-up to my last appointment. I was doing much better by then but was still having trouble assimilating protein. I felt like anytime I ate protein other than dairy, my whole body shut down to digest it. That is a very uncomfortable, unnerving experience! Plus, it's not convenient for a mom of three young children. My provider helped with that and I've been concentrating on adding more varied proteins back into my diet, such as (fresh) eggs, chicken, turkey, red meat, nuts, and beans. (I haven't done well with the latter yet, which used to be one of the staples of my diet, but I did successfully eat and enjoy hummus last week, so we're making progress!) I really do feel much more stable when I eat the proteins my body needs.
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9- Finally, I've been noticing that I don't have a good reaction to products with processed soy, corn, or other GMO foods. We don't eat many processed foods, but for those we do eat I've been watching labels even more closely for soybean oil and ingredients made with corn--which are in almost everything. I've had to pay extra for non-GMO tortilla chips and even forego eating the delicious corn on the cob we've receive that isn't organic and therefore almost certainly GMO. Sadness... But it's worth not feeling crappy the next day.

10- The last thing that has helped recently, on days when the nausea returns, is the Sea Bands my sister sent me. I'd never used them before a few days ago and I've been impressed! They really do work to reduce nausea, and quickly. My sister-in-law wears Psi Bands during pregnancy, which are another type of acupressure band, and they really help her also. I wish I had known about them 10 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first!

So there's the saga, forever documented before I forget! I hope at least one of these ideas helps you or a woman you love who is suffering with the effects of "morning" sickness. And if it's you, hang in there! You're not alone and you will get through this. :)

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