How To Survive the First Trimester of Pregnancy (even if you have little ones!)

First Trimester Pinnable

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Right now, I’m in the thick of first-trimester pregnancy.

The other day I was lugging myself through the grocery store, pushing a “driving shopping cart,” two little NASCAR-wannabes in the front sticking lollipops in each others’ eyeballs.

I’m breaking a sweat, trying to avoid making eye contact with the rotisserie chickens in hopes of controlling my gag reflux. And I keep thinking: There has to be an easier way to do this. There’s gotta be blogs, or books, or pamphlets at the doctor’s office…I need some help!

I never quite found the post I was looking for. So I’m writing it! Here are some tips to surviving the fatigue and nausea of first-trimester pregnancy, even if you’re running around with other little ones.

first trimester pinnable

  • Eat the right foods. Easier said than done, right? I want a cheeseburger! Blech! Why did I do that? It was very hard for me to find things that a) were good for me; b) I wanted to eat c) didn’t make me feel horrible afterwards. Here are some healthy options I ate regularly:
  • smoothies and yogurt
  • chicken salad wraps and sandwiches (make it fresh-tasting with apple chunks and sliced grapes)
  • tuna salad wraps and sandwiches (I only ate this once a week due to mercury concerns)
  • toast with peanut butter
  • fresh fruit, including some random ones I don’t normally eat: grapefruit, mango, pineapple,
  • baked potato and butter (eat the skin for added iron!)
  • granola
  • homemade popcorn
  • Mom’s Chicken Soup


  • Utilize positive smells. It’s common knowledge that pregnancy hormones heighten the sense of smell. Well, you can use this to your advantage! While many smells made me feel sick, I found quite a few that helped ease my nausea. My sister-in-law gave me a Gardenia-scented candle that I loved. Many fresh flowers helped (though I’d recommend a potted blend, so you don’t have to toss out rotten flower water later, which would defeat the purpose!). Peppermint essential oil is another good one. You may notice others. Pay attention to pleasant smells during pregnancy, and if you’re feeling nauseous, try smelling these things! It often made me feel a little better.
  • Nap. My oldest son is four and he doesn’t sleep, but he rested in his room for an hour, and I slept. I didn’t putter around doing jobs or checking the computer. I put the boys down; I slept. I think no matter what my kids’ ages, if I were pregnant, I’d always put them in their rooms for quiet time and I’d rest too!
  • Find what helps your nausea. For me, nothing made nausea go away, but some things made it feel better. Here are some of those for me:
    • Ice water with a straw and citrus slices, especially lemon (geez, I’m not picky or anything :) )
    • 100% juice, especially cranberry (again, gotta have the ice and straw :) )
    • Good-quality probiotics, taken regularly (I love the brand Raw Garden of Life for Women Probiotics)
    • Lollipops – something about keeping a pleasant taste in the mouth helped my nausea. (I used the brand Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops so I wasn’t consuming dyes.)
    • Frequent snacking. Often, even if I felt so sick, a handful of cereal would hold me off for a while.
  • Exercise. I know this sounds 100% counter-intuitive. I’m exhausted. I feel horrible. I do NOT want to exercise. Ironically, exercise really made me feel more energized, less sick, and not as ugly and fat. :) If the weather’s nice, I walked. If not, I used an exercise bike or one of these videos online:

*Note about exercise: My doctor advised me to keep my heart rate under 140, and many of these videos I needed to adapt a lot (or take breaks) to stay under this. Whatever you do, buy a heart rate monitor, or take your heart rate manually.

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  • Keep busy. This also sounds counter-intuitive. How can vacuuming, organizing your closet, or taking to a friend curb the gag reflux? It does, somehow! My theory is: you’re not thinking about how sick you are and making yourself more sick! :)
  • If you have little ones, utilize play dates with your good friends. One time we visited my sister’s house and I literally fell asleep, open-mouthed, on the couch, in the middle of the play date. I guess I needed a rest. (Thanks, Julie.) Find friends like that.
  • Get clothes that fit. This is my third pregnancy. Previously, I have flounced around in my skinny jeans during the second trimester, enjoying those “Are you actually pregnant?” comments. Ohhhhhh, not this time. I swear I took a pregnancy test and three hours later couldn’t fit in my pants. And friends, do you know how it feels to be in uncomfortable pants? It feels horrible, friends. Horrible. i didn’t realize how horrible until I finally put on maternity jeans. Ahhhhh. It was wonderful.

This is my rule. You need this rule, too:

There are seven days in a week. You need, at any given point in your pregnancy, seven outfits (pants can be reused) that you like, that fit you, that you feel nice in. (Plus one or two for church or dressy events.) If you do not have this, you need to get some. Go to a consignment store, borrow from a friend, take an afternoon at Target, heck, even Goodwill if you need to. You need seven outfits that fit you.

  • Along these lines, the next tip is: make your life easier. Think about your day, the flow of your day. What’s annoying you? Fix it. The less work and stress in your life, the better. Here were few things that were causing me additional work and frustration.
    • I organized my junk drawer.
    • I redecorated my living room. (It was really awful before.)
    • I started making my children help with household chores. (More work in the beginning, but then everyone’s much happier.)
    • I started a reward chart for good behavior, and one that takes away privileges for bad behavior.
    • I set out my outfits the night before, got up earlier and had breakfast before my kids came down, so I wasn’t starving and grumpy in the mornings.
  • Cut down on commitments. You are growing a baby. You cannot do everything. I slowed down my blog, stopped making all my delicious muffins and cookies, made simpler meals and took less trips.

ty's bottle

  •  Find your Gratitude. Blah, blah, blah, you’re thinking. But no! I’m serious! This pregnancy it’s been easier for me to conjure up the gratitude… I remember our year this year. The miscarriage, on Easter, and that other one, with the surgery… And I look down at the toddler’s little toes, growing so fast, and I feel so grateful for the chance to hold another little one.

That’s my reason. What’s yours?

What I’m trying to say is be specific. What excites or cheers you about your coming little one? Get a mental picture of that, and tuck it away. Keep it close to mind, and remember it regularly.

 What helps you during the first trimester? Which of these is the most helpful?

Note: If you’re expecting and have other children, check out my friend Paula’s book: When Baby Becomes Big Sibling. It is packed full of helpful info!

Linked to: Babies & Beyond, A Mama’s Story, Modest Mom Blog,

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  1. Use Harris Teeter express lane! I didn’t use it before Ryn was born but if smells get you, it’ll help and might curb some impulse buys! I really thought the benefits outweighed the cost ($) of it. Good luck, you’re almost done with first trimester, but I really warn you, third pregnancies are the hardest.

    • YES to Harris Teeter home-shop :) Especially during cold & flu season so you don’t have to risk exposing to all those germs too!

  2. I liked this post:) Also, I found that herbal teas were helpful. I drank them unsweetened over nice in the summer and hot in the winter – add lemon, honey, & coconut oil for a healthy punch. I liked Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Teas – pretty affordable and not too over-powering.

  3. Hi Jessica! I’m 7 weeks prego and have felt so badly the past few weeks! Your post is a tremendous help! Thank you for taking the time to write out your tips!

  4. I’m in my first trimester with baby #2 and the nausea is SO bad. I couldn’t even function most of the day yesterday. Today the Zofran is taking the edge of it off, thankfully. I’m having an extra hard time because things that I normally love are making me gag right now – even smells that I normally love!

  5. The only thing that saved me with my last pregnancy was to suck on lemon wedges.

  6. Oh, My, Goodness!!!!!! Thank you for writing this post! I needed it! I am pregnant with number 12 and you would think that I knew lots more on how to help this blasted all day sickness…..well, I don’t! There is no literature anywhere, you are right. There needs to be. Thank you so much for writing this. I feel, well, less alone in my misery! May the Lord bless the rest of your pregnancy and guide your birth! Remember that in Him your baby lives, moves, and has his being!

  7. I love this post! It’s so encouraging and uplifting and you have such a spunky and cheerful spirit :) I’m featuring your post at The Purposeful Mom for Babies and Beyond this week! Thanks for linking up :)

  8. Samantha says:

    I’m in my first trimester and this is my first baby! I really needed to read this! Thank you for the encouraging words!

  9. Jill Bryant says:

    I am so thankful for this blog! Like you said at the beginning I was having a hard time finding a post to hell someone that isn’t a first time mom (pregnancy #3 for us) and this one it beyond different then my other 2. Adding 2 kids and being full time pastors is making me feel a little crazy. Thank you so much for the advice and the perspective. I appreciate it so very much

  10. Chewing gum was my survival strategy for the grocery store. Strong citrus and/or tropical flavours were amazing. Also, diclectin (unison/vitB?6?). Second pregnancy taking diclectin and i really needed it through to about 15/16 weeks.

    Weird nausea trigger #24: direct sunlight.

  11. Thank you so much for writing this post, I started to tear up reading it. As I’m in the beginning of my 5th pregnancy and have 4 kids 8 and under. I have been so tired and sick to my stomach all day everyday. I agree there is not much advise on this topic out there. For this being a 5th, I feel like I should know a lot more then I do. But truthfully each pregnancy is different. Thank you so much and God bless you and your family!

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