I'm PREGNANT! My First Trimester Pregnancy Must Haves - Nikki Yelton RD

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I’m PREGNANT! My First Trimester Pregnancy Must Haves

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Surprise! We are pregnant and expecting a little one to arrive in September 2021! I’m recapping my personal pregnancy journey and first trimester experience with all the essentials. I’m so excited to finally share all the fun with you guys! I’ll be sharing everything from preconception resources to books and courses to my struggle with morning sickness and some pregnancy must-haves if you’re also expecting! 

I’ve been so excited to share this personal life update and my first trimester pregnancy must haves with you. I’m feeling so grateful to be writing this post and finally talking about my pregnancy publicly! It’s something I don’t take for granted because quite simply, there were many moments I doubted this would be part of my story or the plan God had for my life. 

A few months before meeting Ryan, I was in a decade-long season of singleness. I prayed that the Lord would take away the desire of my heart to be a wife because it was getting really hard to wait and I promised that if He did I would be joyful and content in being the best daughter, sister, aunt, colleague, and dietitian I could be. The awesome thing about God though is that He is never late and deeply knows the depths and desires of our heart. While I was never guaranteed a husband, He chose to Bless me beyond what I could imagine. When we fully surrender our life to God and give up our life for Him, that JOY surpasses all. Yet in His grace and love He decided it was the time to bring Ryan in my life, and I know it was because I got to that point of being full content in Him because truly He was all I needed! 

It was the same thing when it came time to being a mother. It has always been a desire of my heart to have children. When we suffered an early miscarriage a few years ago when I was 8 weeks pregnant, it devastated us. I am mentioning all this because sometimes the pregnancy announcements seem glamorous. If you are reading this and in a season of pain while you wait and long for a child I see you. In fact, I honestly wrestled with sharing this news for SO long because I remember how pregnancy announcements would make me feel. Thinking about MY announcement possibly making someone feel forgotten or left out of a dream they deeply desired made me push back over and over again. But I finally realized that God did something so beautiful through my pain and story and perhaps He wants me to share the announcement simply to encourage the woman in that season who is where I was–waiting, hoping, wishing, and praying for that moment right now! 

After my miscarriage I was a wreck. First of all, I endured a high level of sickness the entire time, only to have it not work out. Miscarriage is painful, raw, and extremely emotional. It is also very lonely. You feel alone, you feel like your body failed you, you feel like YOU did something wrong, you blame yourself, and you wrestle God with WHY. 

I went through ALL of that for months! I can’t tell you how or when it turned but I remember turning to the Lord and just worshipping Him even more. Instead of turning away, my husband and I praised Him while turning towards Him and we saw what He did as a result. He blessed us in ways we could never imagine. We realized although we wanted our sweet baby so badly, there were things He needed us to do first. 

Over the last few years He has prepared us so much for where we are today. As much as I wish that situation didn’t happen, I am actually thankful God had this timing in mind for us. He strengthened our marriage, He provided a home with more than enough space to raise children (which we didn’t have before), He blessed us financially, He gave me the blueprint to create systems and programs that would help me pursue my calling to help people with their gut health and autoimmunity more effectively, which gave me flexibility to work from home and set myself up for motherhood. He blessed me with a team so everything didn’t fall on me. And so much more! 

That situation without a doubt changed me and I really believe it shifted my mindset to a place of extreme gratitude while I am carrying this miracle today. 

PRECONCEPTION

I feel as though I have been in the preconception prep phase for over a decade since I am constantly on a lifelong journey to optimize my health. You can read more about my health journey here. A few tips I would recommend for anyone thinking about starting a family is to prepare way before you are ready. I typically recommend a 90 day protocol before conception. 

  • Start a prenatal supplement protocol at least 8 months before you even start trying.
  • Get your gut healthy with the right bacteria balance.
  • Consider a gentle, yet effective, reset and detox (as long as you don’t plan to start trying for at least 90 days). This can help to remove toxins and support your liver and methylation pathways important for a healthy pregnancy. 
  • Figure out your unique micronutrient deficiencies and address them as soon as possible. 
  • Talk to your practitioner about you and your partner taking active CoQ10 to improve egg and sperm quality.
  • Switch to as many non-toxic household products, skincare, and cosmetics as possible.
  • Avoid BPA and plastics to the best of your ability.
  • Consider starting a stress management routine you can stick to such as daily yoga or meditation.
  • Eat a healthy diet!! This is probably the best place to begin. Include a healthy balance of proteins, extra fats, and carbohydrates to fuel your cells and body. 
  • Get moving and aim for 10,000 steps per day. I believe walking is the best form of movement for women trying to get pregnant because it doesn’t put too much stress on the body in comparison to cardio and heavy weight lifting.

A great book I would highly recommend when you are in the preconception stage is called, “It Starts With An Egg” by Rebecca Frett. I read this years ago but still follow and support many of the suggestions she discusses in this book.

WERE WE TRYING AND HOW DID WE FIND OUT?

Ryan and I knew God gave us the desire to be parents and have children but we never put a timeline on it. We LOVED enjoying our marriage and time together and I’ll admit we joked a lot about how nice it was with just the two of us. We did a lot of things after we got married 3 years ago and I am so glad this was the timing God had in store for us. 

When we first got pregnant in January of 2019, we weren’t necessarily “trying”. It was just something that happened. We were of course so excited but also devastated when we found out early on that the pregnancy wasn’t viable and we would experience an early loss. As weird as it sounds and I promise I wasn’t able to say it at the time, it truly was a blessing and gift I never saw coming. Ryan and I leaned on each other and the Lord more than ever before and we chose to praise God despite the disappointment. As a result, He started moving in our lives in ways that were so unimaginable. I see now He had a better plan and needed to get some things in order for us before we brought a child into the world. 

After that time we moved into a new house (that actually had room for a baby), I transitioned my practice to 100% virtual and build programs that I knew in my heart were right for people (I was in a system that was not the best and would have led to major burnout), and we were taking on more leadership roles in ministry that required our time. We honestly weren’t thinking of a baby and although it was on our mind, we were really content and felt called to the season of life we were in. God was doing so much in our lives and we were fully committed to that for a while. 

Then Coronavirus hit. The world changed so much and I was heavily focused on supporting my clients and it also felt like a scary time to get pregnant and bring a child into the world. 

When 2021 came around, we started talking about trying once I had a few more team members on board in my business and we felt the summer would be a great time to start trying for a family. We felt so at peace with that and then…it just kind of happened in January!! This was clearly the timing God had for us and we joked about how He was probably laughing at us saying that we were taking too long and had to intervene. 

Not to get into all those details but I kind of just knew that day I would be pregnant. I felt like a fertile fairy and sure enough 2 weeks later, it was a clear double line. Just to be sure I took another Clear Blue that actually said the words on it just to be sure and that’s when I first saw the words  “Pregnant”. I freaked out for a quick second and then the tears came. I was so excited to share the news with Ry and when he came home on his lunch break I went into the office he was in to say hello and he wanted to read me something. As he was reading it, he stopped and looked up at me with a nervous look. He said “are you pregnant” out of nowhere. How he knew is beyond me but he probably read it all over my face. 

It was such a sweet time of celebration and we were so excited even though we weren’t really planning on this timing. We freaked out, laughed, cried, prayed, and couldn’t stop smiling all at the same time. I won’t forget that day and how that moment felt sharing the news with him and celebrating God’s faithfulness.

So long story short, we were not trying. But we were also not, not trying…if that makes sense. We kind of left things up to the Lord and that was the timing He had. I’m so thankful for that because His plans are so much better than our own and I couldn’t imagine it any other way! 

SHARING THE NEWS

We still had our Christmas tree up since it was January and we were behind in taking down our decorations. We love Christmas so much and thought it would be neat to put the positive test in the tree (like an ornament) and tell my parents that way. This was the first time they were visiting us in awhile so they didn’t think anything weird about it when we told them to check out our new tree we got for the family room. They both were admiring it and then my mom happened to see the test first and started shouting and freaking out. My dad didn’t catch on and thought it was a thermometer because it was hot in the house. Finally my mom shouted, “are you guys pregnant” and when we shook our heads she just fell to the floor crying. It was such a perfect moment and eventually my dad caught on too and was so excited! 

Christmas tree pregnancy announcement

We told Ryan’s family a few weeks later when we were celebrating his birthday. I got him a cake that said “Happy Birthday Daddy” and when it came time to sing, we brought that out and went along with it. My father in law put it together first, then Ryan’s brother, and eventually my mother in law caught on and everyone was crying and shouting at that point. It was another special moment we won’t forget!

birthday cake pregnancy announcement ideas

We told my sister, brother in law, and nephew over FaceTime by putting a bun in our oven and walking over to it. They caught on right away, cried, and were so excited my nephew would have a cousin soon! 

MORNING SICKNESS 

I wish I could say my first trimester was all a happy and joyful time. I was of course over the moon about being pregnant but was battling the dreaded morning sickness. Whoever decided to label it “morning sickness” was definitely lying. It is ALL DAY sickness. At least that was the case for me. 

If you’ve struggled with morning sickness in a pregnancy, you know what I am talking about when I say it is absolutely horrific. I really didn’t want to do much besides crawl in a ball in my bed and since this was during the cold winter, I wasn’t doing much of anything. Luckily I was able to continue work and business as usual and was able to push through this season. I only had a few days where I needed to rearrange client sessions but other than that, I was able to keep up my normal pace. 

I also wish I had some natural remedies to help with nausea that were successful, but unfortunately for me, nothing was helping. 

A few remedies that are known to help morning sickness include: 

  • Magnesium glycinate at night 
  • Vitamin B6 (small doses throughout the day) 
  • Homeopathy 
  • Ginger water or tea 
  • Pink Stork morning sickness sweets
  • Apple cider vinegar in warm water 
  • Peppermint essential oil 
  • SeaBands 

I loved this article by Mama Natural for morning sickness and if you are struggling, some of the remedies she talks about might be worth a try! Unfortunately time was the only thing that helped and eventually worked for me. 

MY DIET 

For those of you who have been here for some time now, you know I am a foodie. I love food, eating well, and nourishing my body. During this time, all the went out the window and I was in complete survival mode. I hated all foods. I didn’t want to look at food, smell it, or think about it. Ryan opened a can of chicken when I was 2 levels above him with my office door closed and I smelled it right away and it made me sick for hours. The food aversions were so intense and I definitely never experienced anything like that. I will never take for granted an appetite and how I wanted to eat so much but my body just wouldn’t allow it most days. I was only able to eat 5 things and they were SO random. 

My diet for the first 8 weeks consisted of: 

  • Hearts of palm in a can
  • Fresh grapefruit and grapefruit juice
  • Gluten free matzo crackers 
Fresh grapefruit for morning sickness relief

A few weeks later my dad thought grilling food might help and I actually wasn’t repulsed by that idea. So he and Ryan went out to Home Depot, picked up a grill and some wild-caught salmon because it was the only thing that sounded good to me. That same night I was around 10 weeks and had grilled salmon and a baked potato. It was like heaven and the first real food meal I had in what seemed like a lifetime. I actually cried (thanks to pregnancy hormones). 

From that day on, I would eat my crackers and fruit during the day and it was the same dinner every single night. Around 12 weeks I was able to add in asparagus and then I was really living large. Hopefully this baby will be super smart because of all the wild salmon that has plentiful omega-3 fatty acids I was naturally consuming. 

At the end of the day, I listened to my body. I did lose weight but my OB wasn’t concerned and said I would likely make up for it when I got out of the first trimester (and he was right). I think the diet part was the hardest for me mentally because I know how important it is to fuel my body the right way as a functional Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. It is my life and I practice what I preach. I had to remember that the baby doesn’t actually need much during this stage. It is taking everything from the last 90 days that I’ve stored up and luckily, I know things were on point during that time and the baby would be getting enough of the nutrients it needed. That put my mind at ease a lot! 

Another thing that I was confident in was that I was getting what my body was lacking through a powerful prenatal. I love and trust Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal which is geared specifically for those who cannot metabolize folic acid well due to an MTHFR SNP. I always suggest making sure your prenatal has folate instead of folic acid whether you know you have the gene or not to improve pregnancy outcome. 

FAITH

I can’t talk about the first trimester without also talking about how Faith played a role. Of course we were so over the moon excited but because we had a loss early on a few years back, it stole part of my joy going into this one. In a way, it kept us from celebrating too much. We were more reserved and I personally wouldn’t allow myself to get TOO excited. With each passing day, I really had to bring my anxieties and fears to the Lord and lean on Him A LOT. I did everything on my end I could to prepare my body by taking care of it well. The rest was up to Him and I had to trust that this baby is His and if He wanted this one here Earthside and to be ours, it would all work out. 

Pregnancy is such a gift and I see now just how much of a miracle and blessing it is. I won’t take it for granted and I think the loss a few years ago helped me see that more so. Sometimes the Lord will bring us through things so that it ultimately brings us closer to Him. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good for those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. That was exactly what He promised us and the first trimester was a time of leaning on Him and giving up all control (which is SO hard sometimes). 

Here are some verses I would often refer to and meditate on during this time that really helped: 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” – Psalm 27:14

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”Isaiah 41:10

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  – James 1:2-4

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”Jeremiah 29:11

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

NAVIGATING RONA

This has been no picnic. We decided to do the best we could to protect ourselves and this growing baby by limiting our exposure to people as much as possible. Luckily I run my nutrition practice from home so this was pretty simple for me. It was hard missing out on some family gatherings and weekly church services but I just kept my eyes on the fact I was doing the best I could to protect this baby and that made it all worth it. 

I did try to increase my vitamin C intake through consuming camu camu powder in my grapefruit juice to make sure I was supporting my immune system. I suggest being very cautious with herbs and even essential oils in the first trimester so I waited until I was farther along to introduce those things. Ryan on the other hand, was loading up on my immune support protocol which I believe really helped him stay so healthy during this season. He had to go out a lot more than me for things like work, grocery shopping, and leading worship on the weekends so we made sure he was fully loaded up on immune support, eating well, and staying as healthy as possible. 

CHOOSING OUR BIRTH PLAN + FIRST APPOINTMENT WITH OUR OB

I ended up choosing a local OB in my area who has been in practice for over 30 years. He is so caring and compassionate and both my husband and I are thrilled to be under his care. I specifically love that he has the lowest c-section rate in the state of NJ and doesn’t push medication (although appreciates it when necessary). He has been really open and respectful of my plans for a natural and physiological childbirth so far and I am so grateful for that! 

I was really nervous going into my first appointment since the last time I was there was really difficult and a bit traumatic. I went in confident though that the Lord was in control and I truly felt His presence the entire time. Unfortunately Ryan couldn’t come with me which was tough due to the virus protocols but I was able to FaceTime him which was helpful. 

We felt strongly about not getting a vaginal ultrasound in the first trimester so we opted out of that until the second trimester anatomy scan and waited until our next appointment (week 12) to hear the heartbeat instead. I still did all my prenatal and first trimester lab testing and everything was looking great so we felt confident in skipping the early confirmation ultrasound to limit the EMF exposure during this crucial stage of rapid growth. It worked out great because I ended up hearing the heartbeat through the doppler at my next appointment and it was the most beautiful sound in the world! To know we made it to that point was such a relief and I felt like it was finally starting to feel real. This was also around the time my all day nausea started to improve so things were really moving along and we were on a great path. I was also starting to show at this point. Proof of my little baby bump popping below!

First trimester pregnancy baby bump

SHARING THE NEWS PUBLICALLY 

We decided not to share the news until we were out of the first trimester. When we hit that milestone we were finally at a point to celebrate the fact it was really happening and we could get excited! Of course you are never in the clear and there are no guarantees but we definitely felt ready to share. We shared with our close friends and family first and liked that we didn’t share publicly yet. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to go about it, but this was really special for us and also kept the pressure off of talking about it all the time and getting lots of opinions. 

MY FIRST TRIMESTER MUST HAVES

Most of my first trimester was about survival, however I did find a few things really helpful that I would consider a must-have. 

  1. It is never too early to start stretch mark cream. I started using this Skin and Senses body butter stretch mark cream called Fearless Mama. It is completely non-toxic and I got the unscented for my first few orders since scents were bothering me. I seriously love how this feels and I actually plan to continue it throughout my whole pregnancy. 
  1. Good skincare. The pregnancy glow is real and my skincare routine definitely added to that. I’ve always been obsessed with Annmarie Skin Care and have used their products for years. I was so happy to find out they are pregnancy safe and this was the only brand I used in my first trimester. I personally love the Essentials glow set because it made my skin feel and look like it was radiant. Between that and my hormones, I can say my complexion has never been better! 
  1. Nursing bras were a must! As my hormones rapidly changed, I experienced pain and soreness in my breasts as they grew. I definitely needed to purchase more supportive bras and decided to get these nursing bras so they will be useful later too. 
  1. The most helpful book I can recommend in the first trimester is the Mama Natural Week by Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth. I absolutely love all her resources and this book is such an easy read that is full of helpful information as you navigate so many changes week by week. If you invest in one pregnancy book, let it be this one! 
  1. Finding something to take my mind off the sickness was so necessary in those early days! This one is a little random but it was truly a must have for me. I couldn’t go outside for a walk because my first trimester was in the middle of the winter and the nausea made me feel so lousy. I found that I needed something to take my mind off of the constant sickness and that’s when I found this Wordscapes crossword puzzle game. My husband and I would play it for a few hours a day and it was one of the few things that would give me some relief because I was busy focusing on guessing the words instead of thinking about how bad the nausea was 24/7. I definitely recommend finding a board game or app that might help you do the same if you are also feeling sick in the first trimester! 

You can check out these other articles with my second trimester and third trimester recap for all my must-haves and helpful resources. I’m sharing the courses I took to prepare for childbirth, books I found helpful, our maternity pictures, baby-moon, essential oil blends I made for labor, non-toxic baby registry items and the nursery, my natural birth plan (with all the details) what I packed in my hospital bag, lactation cookie recipes, and a lot more!

I would also love to hear from you if you are newly pregnant and in your first trimester, how did you find out and did you just “know” or have that feeling too?? 

P.S. Just a quick note as I share my pregnancy journey. I know sometimes pregnancy announcements can be tough to see and even triggering if you’ve experienced loss, infertility, or any other hardship relating to pregnancy. Social media can paint a picture that looks so perfect but most people only see the GLORY and rarely know about the STORY. If you are in the trenches of a tough season or in the waiting right now to become a mom, don’t lose hope. Know that you are loved even if you aren’t carrying a baby in your arms. I see you and you’re being prayed for. 

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"When it comes to balancing our body, healing the gut, reversing autoimmunity, and achieving optimal health—we are a lot like a car that won’t run right. In order to fix the problem once and for all instead of relying on jumper cables, we must get underneath the hood, run the diagnostics, and replace the battery so that it runs good as new."

-Nikki Yelton, RD

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