Today marks the halfway mark of my pregnancy, and I can hardly believe it. I’m officially five months pregnant, and it’s been quite the whirlwind. While on some days, I can’t remember ever not being pregnant, it also feels like just yesterday that I was taking my temperature every morning and feeling frustrated cycle after cycle. For my maternity post this week, I wanted to give you a big overall update on how I’m feeling and what’s been going on for the last few months. I’ll review my first trimester, my changing body, current symptoms, cravings and aversions, my diet and exercise routine, and what actually feels good. That should just about cover it.
While I feel insanely blessed to be carrying this little one inside of me, not everything about pregnancy is pretty. It’s hard, it’s exhausting, and it’s sometimes downright miserable. In telling you the good and the bad, it’s not to complain or feel sorry for myself. It’s just to give you a super honest overview about my life in this stage. I’ve talked to a lot of friends who agree that when you’re pregnant, you feel like you have to be happy all the time, smiling and telling people you feel great when they ask. Sometimes I feel guilty about my negative emotions towards the harder parts of pregnancy, but that just adds an unnecessary level of stress, so I’ve decided to let myself feel what I feel without any guilt or pretense. So settle in, folks, for the good, the bad, and the ugly!
The first trimester
As I’ve mentioned briefly, my first trimester was no walk in the park. In fact, it was quite the opposite. You can read about it in more detail here. If you’re wondering why you might have missed that post, it’s because I posted my first trimester recap today, but am hiding it from my home page so those of you who are interested can read it, and those of you who aren’t so into the maternity posts can go ahead and skip it. Sneaky, right? An overview for those of you who don’t want the gory details: I was nauseous every day for a full month. There was a two week stretch (weeks 7-9) where I only left my house a handful of times. I lived on seltzer and saltines, and I was terrified of miscarrying the entire time. I had a few bouts of bleeding, and spent one fun evening in the emergency room, that ended in a large bill, and peace of mind. That about sums it up, but read more if you’re interested!
Everyone told me that once I hit my second trimester, I’d feel a wave of energy, and more like myself. While it has been a huge improvement, I still haven’t quite hit my stride. Some of the symptoms I have are what you might expect: I get tired all the time, I have a strong aversion to meat (more on that later), I have a superpower sense of smell, my stretching skin is super itchy, and the heartburn is out of control. But then there are the symptoms that I hadn’t expected: My hips get insanely sore while I sleep, I get vertigo when I fly on airplanes, I’m constantly short of breath, and it feels impossible to quench my thirst (think hangover thirsty).
Luckily there are a handful of good symptoms too: My hair is growing quickly and looks better than ever, my skin literally glows, and my acne is virtually non-existent anymore. Hey, I’ll take what I can get!
Luckily I’ve discovered ways to relieve some of the bad ones.
Pregnancy symptom relief
Exhaustion: There is no hack for this. I just need way more rest than usual. It can be frustrating because I’m super Type A and like to get things done quickly, and efficiently. My mind can handle it, but my body can’t anymore.
Itchy Skin: Ever since I started using Aimee’s belly butter a few weeks ago, the itching has died down. It’s made from only a few organic ingredients (Coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, arnica oil, vitamin E oil, rosehip seed oil, essential oil of grapefruit, geranium, helichrysum, and frankincense) and apparently combats stretch marks too. I haven’t had any yet, so either it’s working already or it’s too early to tell. The Honest Company makes a similar product for only $12 as well.
Heartburn: I’ll talk more about this in the diet section below, but eating cleaner, aka not just stuffing my face with whatever I crave, has made a huge difference. When I decided to give up gluten again upon Aimee’s suggestion, it went away 100%. It sounds insane, but it’s true! Another good trick for heartburn is to drink Aloe Vera juice. It tastes acidic going down, but instantly relieves the fire. Just don’t drink too much, because it can cause… loose bowels, if you will.
Sore Hips: Yoga helps, but the main problem is when I sleep. After friends and many of you suggested that I buy a Snoogle pillow, I bit the bullet and went for it. It’s big and ugly, but man does it work. After only two nights sleeping on it, I’m a new woman. I’ve had the best two sleeps of my entire pregnancy! I also use it to prop myself up while reading before bed. I can’t recommend this pillow enough.
Shortness of Breath: Because my body has to produce more oxygen than usual for the baby, simple tasks like walking up stairs or even down the hall, often make me out of breath. At first I was embarrassed, and felt totally out of shape, but realized that it has nothing to do with fitness levels, it’s just a big change that I’m getting used to. When I asked my doctor about it at the beginning of my second trimester, she said to stay as active as possible to build up a tolerance. I will go into my exercise in detail below, but despite everything I’ve been doing, I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon. I’m just learning to live with it.
My Changing body
A lot of these symptoms are due to the fact that my body is growing at a fast rate on a daily basis. My belly, in my opinion, has officially popped. If I wear certain tops, or a coat, you can’t always tell that I’m pregnant, but for the most part it’s pretty impossible to hide at this point. I love that people (ok only two people so far, but whatever) ask me how far along I am without me telling them that I’m pregnant. Another giant change (no pun intended) is the size of my boobs. I’ve had to size up in my bras twice already. I can’t even imagine what’s to come once I start breast feeding.
As someone who has suffered from body image issues for years, it has been a hard change for me to go through. When I first put on a bathing suit a few weeks ago, I had to force myself to look in the mirror. After a day of wearing it, I finally saw my changing body as a beautiful home for my baby. And while I know this logically, I don’t always feel beautiful. My clothes are starting to really not fit (just did my first round of maternity shopping), and often I just look super bloated. I think as I look more and more pregnant, and less like I ate a big burrito, this will get easier.
Cravings and Aversions
Where to start? I have so many different cravings, it’s kind of out of control. In my first trimester, they were more acute… as in if I was craving ramen, I needed ramen right then and there. Now, I can skip what I’m craving if I have to. For the most part, I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve been craving lots of raw fruits and vegetables. I have a serious need for baby tomatoes in vinegar every single day. That’s one thing I can’t seem to get enough of! I also go through a huge box of organic blueberries every day or two. It’s so bizarre! As for unhealthy cravings, ice cream is number one, hands down. Because I don’t eat dairy, I’ll try just having a bite, or will buy coconut milk ice cream (or the dairy free Pinkberry, but don’t tell anyone), and just go ham on it… with blueberries on top, of course. Another big one is chips and salsa. I have always been a tortilla chip kinda gal, but it’s gotten a little out of hand. Maybe I’m an addict?
Aversions also come in waves, but one thing that’s stayed consistent throughout my entire pregnancy is an aversion to meat. I can eat a burger or chicken if it’s breaded (I use almond flour), but besides that, I have a hard time looking at it, smelling it, and definitely eating it. I’ve also pretty much stayed away from chocolate, which is highly unusual for me. I was always a big dark chocolate eater, but these days I have zero desire to eat it.
In my first trimester, I could hardly eat anything. Saltines and ginger ale were the bulk of my diet. I felt so guilty about this, until I finally read Nina Planck’s Real Food for Mother and Baby. It is, hands down, the best book I’ve read about feeding yourself during pregnancy. In it, she writes that it’s ok if you can’t stomach anything for the first month or two, the baby will be just fine. I breathed a huge sigh of relief upon reading that. At about 12 weeks, I started to be able to eat real food again, and it felt so good. I wanted everything and anything, especially if it was a carb: Pizza, sandwiches, bagels, pasta you name it! That was also around the time that my heartburn starting getting really bad.
Gluten-free: I saw Aimee about two weeks later and she suggested that I try giving up gluten since I had such luck with it before my pregnancy. I gave it up that Friday, and by Monday my heartburn was 100% gone. No joke, you guys! When I sneak even a little, it comes back, but if I stay gluten-free, it’s pretty much a goner unless I eat something really spicy or acidic.
Besides cutting gluten for the most part, and not eating dairy because of my allergy, my current philosophy is that I don’t want to deprive myself, but I want to eat whole, clean foods whenever possible. Foods that will nourish both my body and my baby’s. That said, if I feel like eating a donut or fried chicken, I do it. Because I know how bad they can make me feel, I don’t do it every time, but if baby wants something bad enough, she gets it. With the exception of those times, I try to stick to foods high in protein and nutrients.
So what do I eat? According to Nina Planck, it’s important for mama’s to consume lots of protein and calcium in the second trimester, but that’s hard when I have such a strong aversion to meat. I make sure to add collagen peptides to my smoothies and soups, and take beef liver pills daily, to supplement the fact that I’m probably not eating enough of it. I try to eat multiple servings of leafy green vegetables a day, and always try fruit for dessert first, and then if I’m still craving something sweet, I go for the good stuff.
I’m trying to cook as much as possible, but there are definitely nights when I just can’t do it and order in. Our Seamless bill has grown, but that’s ok for now. As far as snacking goes, I definitely hit up the chips and salsa on the reg, but I keep small packets of almonds in my bag wherever I go for protein on-the-go. I find that I often need them when I least expect it.
Obviously as a first time mom, I have no idea what I’m doing, but listening to my body’s needs has worked out for me this far.
Water: Another thing I do religiously is drink half of my body weight in ounces of water each day. As my body weight increases, so does my water intake. I add lemon to about half of it for an alkalizing effect. You get abnormally thirsty when you’re pregnant, so this is easy to do, and I often go over the amount I’m supposed to drink.
Alcohol and caffeine: I am going to write another whole post about drinking while pregnant, but so far I’ve pretty much stayed away. My doctor told me it is ok to have a few glasses of wine per week, but they make me feel tired and yucky, so as much as I miss it, I’ve been mostly alcohol-free. Same with caffeine. If I’m super tired, I might have a cup of green tea, but it makes me dizzy these days, and I know it’s not great for the baby, so I’m avoiding it as well. Just FYI, my doctor said up to a cup of coffee per day is ok! I definitely don’t judge other moms for their decisions, and have no idea what the right one is when it comes to alcohol and caffeine, but I’m just doing what feels best for me and my baby.
In my first trimester I didn’t workout once. I couldn’t! I was afraid of getting to the gym and then becoming too nauseous to do anything. It simply wasn’t an option. I hiked once a week with the dog so that I wasn’t completely stagnant, but on those days, that was just about all I could do.
Now, I stick to this mantra: Move your body every single day. Whether that just means a walk or actually hitting the gym depends on the day. The schedule that I’ve been sticking to for the most part is this:
Monday: 1 hour morning hike with the dog
Tuesday: 90-minute evening prenatal yoga class
Wednesday: 20-minute afternoon at-home yoga (I usually just Youtube different online classes)
Thursday: Morning weight-training session with Madison (we’re putting together an at-home prenatal workout for you guys soon!)
Friday: 1 hour morning hike with my friend and our dogs
Weekends: Walks on the beach, hikes, and at-home yoga
The weight training gives me energy and makes me feel strong, hopefully somewhat preparing my body for childbirth. The yoga grounds me and can be surprisingly hard too. It feels nice to be in a class with other pregnant women too. They all just get it. The hikes are my favorite, though. Not only are they free, but they get me outside and connecting with nature multiple times a week. I know that sounds so cheesy, but it always makes me feel better, even if I didn’t sleep at all the night before.
What I’m feeling excited for
So what is actually going well? A lot! We’re having a baby and that’s the most exciting thing in the world (albeit terrifying if I think about it too much). A few things that are feeling especially good are:
Baby kicks: The baby started kicking two weeks ago, and every time I feel her little flutters, I get so happy. It makes everything feel a lot more real. A few days ago, Anel was able to feel the kicks from the outside too. Feeling her move, makes us feel connected to our baby girl in a brand new way.
More energy: With more sleep from my new pillow, and finally hitting the 20-week mark, I am starting to feel more like myself again. My doctor told me that some women experience some form of morning sickness until 20 weeks, so I’m hoping that I had a little of that, and things will continue to get better from here.
Nursery plans: On a more superficial level, I’m pretty pumped about creating her nursery. I’m meeting with the design team from one of my all time favorite home decor brands tomorrow to get started on the process. I’ll be announcing who we’re working with on Instagram stories tomorrow, so stay tuned!
My acupuncturist and fertility “coach” is hosting a free series on overcoming fertility challenges, and I’ll be co-hosting one of the four webinars! Sign up for the webinar.
Can’t believe it’s already the half way mark! YaY!
Aw! Adorable! All around cute!
Such an awesome post! As someone who is also having a tough time trying to conceive, (taking temp everyday during my cycle, tracking ovulation..etc) I would love to hear about what worked for you if you haven’t written a post already.
You’re such a cute preggers! Love your blog.
Hi Amber. I’m so sorry that you’re having trouble conceiving. I know what you’re going through! I wrote about my story and what worked for us here: http://bit.ly/2ko878D
I hope that helps!
Thanks so much! Can’t wait to read it.
What an exciting time! It reminds me of my pregnancy so much!
Congrats you guys! I am not a mama myself (yet) but I love hearing about your journey. Sending prayers and well wishes!
I just love hearing all about your pregnancy, keep posting! My husband and I are having a hard time conceiving and it’s reassuring to know that it can happen and to be patient! I would love recommendations on books/blogs/articles you have been reading to educate yourself. Do you have any recommendations on good books for men to read? So happy for you!
I’m so sorry to hear that you’re having a hard time conceiving. Sending you so many good vibes! Definitely read Real food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck. It has a great fertility diet that might help. Also read Aimee Raupp’s book, Yes You Can Get Pregnant. Life Changing!
You are just too cute with your bump! It’s surreal for me to see you with a bump, I can’t even imagine how you must feel!
Aww thanks! It’s pretty surreal for me too 🙂
Since you’re craving ice cream, you should check out Trader Joe’s non-dairy ice cream! It’s made with coconut milk and comes in chocolate and strawberry flavors, strawberry is hands-down the best.
Thanks so much for all the details! We are loving following along with what is going on, and these informative posts are so helpful! Thanks for taking the time to record it all!
You look adorable! Congrats on hitting the halfway mark!
Alyssa | feathers and stripes
Already half way through Julia????…I was gobsmacked! So pleased to hear things are progressing well overall. Yes, I think you are right to mention the less positive aspects of pregnancy.Too many women feel uneasy about talking about it especially when it’s #1. Hope you continue to feel better. Much love from London, Julie xx
Don’t get hung up on wouldacouldashoulda during your pregnancy. Sleep as much as you can, rest, and eat Tums if you get heartburn bad (plus calcium in Tums!).. All I wanted to eat when pregnant was milk and Pop Tarts-lol! I did give up caffeine- first thing I asked for after the baby was born was a COLD Diet Coke-lol! As far as your hips hurting- have you tried a chiropractor? Or a belly band? Both saved me. Relax- your baby is growing every minute.
You’re so right! My hips have actually been 100% pain free since getting the Snoogle, but if it flares up again will for sure try a chiropractor. Thank you!
So very excited for you! You deserve all this happiness! I love that shirt on you; you’re such an adorable mom-to-be!
Thank you so so much, Mary!
Congrats, you are an adorable pregnant lady…..love your sweater can you tell me who make it?
Aww thanks so much! The sweater is from Sail to Sable and can be found here: http://bit.ly/2m4Yj7I
I discovered your blog through a pinterest pin on miscarriage, I’ve now been following along for the past few months, I love your blog and your honesty in all of your posts. The post regarding your first trimester had me sobbing at my desk at work, I can only imagine how you must have felt and all of the thoughts swimming in your head while sitting in the ER. I’m in my late 30’s and suffered a miscarriage late last year, we’re trying again and posts like yours give me a little hope. It’s strange to be so excited for a complete stranger but that’s exactly how I felt when I read your post revealing your pregnancy. I hope all continues to go great with your baby girl and I look forward to your upcoming posts about your journey.
Thank you so much, Erica! I’m so so sorry for your loss, but I have hope for you and your family. You can’t lose that! I hope that my story helps in some small way. Sending you so much love xx
Congratulations!! I look forward to reading more 🙂
Loving the updates Julia! You look great! I did want to note, however, that aloe vera is contraindicated for use in pregnancy. It can increase uterine contractions, and also lowers blood sugar, which could be potentially harmful to mama and baby.