Finally sitting down to write my second and third trimester recaps at 4 months post partum! I want to save all of this for me to remember in the future and also to answer the questions I received. Thank you so much for sending in your questions and for being so encouraging in our parenthood journey. We have loved sharing this adventure with you!
Second and Third Trimester Recap
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How are you feeling?
Overall I felt pretty terrible. Around the 20 week mark, I stopped vomiting daily but would still vomit occasionally. I had constant nausea the entire pregnancy. Some days less, some days more, but it was always there. I couldn’t imagine a time that I wouldn’t feel nauseous again!
It was really hard for me to think about food whether that was deciding what to eat or being the kitchen to make something. This was really upsetting to me because I love food and pride myself on coming up with fun meal ideas for us. I love looking at what we have in the fridge and figuring out something to make out of it without consulting a recipe. I was worried I would never be able to do that again. Bassam had to take on the bulk of our food shopping and preparation. I’m so grateful to him for stepping it up in that department.
Dealing with the constant nausea was so draining. It was much better than vomiting 15 times a day like I did during first trimester, which helped make it feel more manageable. But it was still so hard. Every time people asked me how I felt, I was so tired of saying I wasn’t feeling well. I also felt really horrible to sound like I was complaining because I was SO grateful to be pregnant. It was such duality to have extreme gratitude for the experience while simultaneously not really enjoying it.
[Suggested Reading: First Trimester and TTC Recap]
I was extremely hard on myself during this time. I wanted to be able to function at the level that I always do and was really not kind to myself about needing to slow down. Letting go of control and slowing down was a huge learning lesson for me during this time period.
I have a lot of empathy for those that deal with chronic illnesses. It’s so hard to go about your day when you’re feeling sick all the time. To survive first trimester I had to try to disconnect from my body, because if I connected to my body or even took deep breathes, I would throw up. All this disconnection from my body took a toll on me and I saw how it impacted my positivity. I normally see beauty all around me and by disconnecting from my body it was hard to notice beauty in the small things.
Halfway through second trimester I decided I need to just accept the nausea and surrender to it. I can’t fight it so hard. If I throw up, I throw up (I had been trying to fight it because I was getting very upset over it). Surrendering to feeling whatever I’m feeling, even if it’s a horrible feeling, helped me to connect back to myself and my surroundings. I was able to see the joy and beauty in all that’s around me, while feeling sick at the same time.
What are you eating?
In preparation for pregnancy, Bassam and I completely overhauled our diet and were focused on eating a highly nutrient dense diet. I learned a lot about the nutrients a baby needs in utero through books and courses. You can check out my favorite resources here. That being said, all that went out the window with the way I was feeling.
[Suggested reading: Preparing for pregnancy as a couple]
[Suggested reading: The best holistic pregnancy books]
It was incredibly hard for me to eat the nutritious types of foods I wanted to eat. I only wanted to eat bland carbs and sweets. I had to come up with ways to sneak nutrients into my diet. I told Bassam it feels like we are learning how to feed a toddler already.
I ate whatever I wanted and gave into all cravings, but tried my best to also eat the foods I knew my body needed. Here are a few examples of how I made that happen.
Eggs: Eggs are one of the biggest powerhouse foods for pregnancy. They have almost everything the baby needs. I was also super grossed out by them! To introduce them into my diet, we started with French toast. Once I was able to tolerate that, we did finely chopped hard boiled eggs in salads. Once I was able to do that, we made frittatas packed with veggies and lots of potatoes. On the days my nausea was less, we cut back on the amount of potatoes in there.
Salmon: Another pregnancy powerhouse food. The two preparation styles I was able to stomach were 1. fish tacos (Bassam would hide it within extra lemony guacamole) and 2. topped with a lemon, caper, parsley sauce and eaten with mashed potatoes.
Some days I could sneak in nutritious things, some days all I ate were crackers. I tried to do my best when I could and listen to my body when I couldn’t. Pregnancy for me was a constant practice in surrender.
What are you craving?
I had so much fun with my cravings! It was so interesting to me when I craved foods that I don’t normally like! For example, I’m not an ice cream person and first trimester that’s ALL I wanted. In third trimester, I craved peanut butter and celery. Random and like I said, not a food I normally like!
Sour candy and grilled cheese sandwiches were also big cravings for me, but I generally like both of those things.
I ate whatever I craved, but tried to choose healthier versions whenever possible. It was important to me to reduce the amount of processed foods and artificial ingredients baby was exposed to. I would find ice cream made of whole foods, candy without artificial flavors, and good quality sourdough bread.
I did not expect how incredibly strong cravings would feel! If I craved a food, I just HAD to have it!
What are you doing for exercise?
I got pretty fit right before pregnancy and hoped to maintain it throughout pregnancy. Ha that was wishful thinking.
I purchased a Black Friday deal for a year long membership to “Move Your Bump”, an amazing pregnancy workout app. Due to the nausea, I very rarely was able to complete those workouts. If you’re able to workout during pregnancy, I highly recommend the app. It’s so good and incredibly comprehensive with workouts specific to each trimester. It also comes with weekly meal plans.
I tried to go for long walks, which is one of my favorite things ever, but a little over halfway through pregnancy I developed what seemed to be SPD like symptoms. Intense groin and pelvic pain. Some days it was so bad I could only walk 1/2 a mile and on good days I could walk about 3 miles. I had to significantly slow down my normal walking pace. Reducing my mileage and my speed was really hard for me, but as I said, the entire pregnancy was a lesson in surrender.
All that being said, I knew I needed to stay active for my mental and physical health, so I had to find new ways to workout. I took an occasional reformer Pilates classes when my nausea could handle it. I did prenatal yoga at home using the app Inner Dimension TV’s “Initiating the Mother” series (highly recommend it!). I also swam a lot during third trimester. Being in the water was the only time my body felt comfortable.
How much weight did you gain?
My goal was to gain 30 pounds. I gained 45 pounds. I was really hard on myself about this and felt horrible about it. I knew a lot of the weight gain was because of the very high carb diet I was eating and needing to snack right before bed to ease my nausea.
While my OB was not concerned at all with my weight gain, my ultrasound doctor made me feel so horribly about it. I would leave her office crying after appointments.
What are your favorite pregnancy products?
8 Sheep Magnesium Cream – This stuff was a lifesaver for my restless legs! Bassam and I would trade nightly massages using it. He would rub it deeply into my calves and feet. This helped my restless leg a ton and helped reduce swelling. I would rub it on Bassam’s lower back where he has a lot of pain and it helped him a lot too. We went through so many jars of it! I miss our nightly routine!
Pregnancy Pillow – I resisted getting one for so long, but finally gave in. I’m a back sleeper and was having a hard time side sleeping during pregnancy. I tried and returned a few until I found THIS one that I liked. I ended up loving it so much I kept using it for almost 3 months post partum.
Mind Body Green Magnesium – I’ve always struggled with sleep and had pretty bad pregnancy insomnia. This supplement helped me a lot. I noticed on the nights I took it I was able to fall asleep and stay asleep easier. I still take it every night.
Seamless Bras – My breasts were so achy and big that it was hard to wear my normal bras. I got a two pack of Splendid seamless bras from Costco. They no longer sell them, but I found a similar one from the same brand here. These felt so comfy!
Compression Socks – I didn’t wear these compression socks super consistently but they did help any leg swelling when I wore them. Bonus they come in lots of cute colors and prints unlike other compression socks.
Belly Balm – THIS stuff worked amazing! I was getting stretch marks on my inner thighs because I forgot to moisturize there and they went away after I started. No stretch marks anywhere I was diligent about moisturizing. I stopped moisturizing my breasts post baby and then got stretch marks there. Keep moisturizing post baby! Since the one I loved is pricy, I alternated with THIS more budget friendly option.
How are you prepping for birth?
Oh we did so much. I’ll try to list it all, but I’m sure I’ll forget a few things.
I listened to SO many podcasts and read SO many books. I felt so knowledgeable going into birth. Bassam and I read this book together and did all the exercises.
We took a birthing course together. It was so hard to find one due to Covid, but we ended up finding a doula who offered us a private course. We learned so much through it.
We met with our doula to devise our birth plan and practice comfort measures that we could use during birth. We developed a comfort menu, I created a birth vision board, a birth mantra (just this moment, just this wave), and picked two words that encompassed the experience I wanted to have (present and empowered). I also worked on my fear of hospitals. We talked about all of this in more detail in our birth story post.
I saw a prenatal chiropractor regularly. This was SO helpful in keeping me feeling as good as possible and keeping my body in alignment. Zayn was in great position throughout pregnancy and I think it was in some part due to the regular chiro sessions.
Starting third trimester, I did my best to sit on an exercise ball whenever possible and tried as much as possible not to sink into the couch. I also did the daily exercises from Spinning Babies a few times a week.
When we got closer to the due date: I got regular acupuncture sessions to prepare my body for labor, took evening primrose oil, and bounced on a ball whenever I could.
I know this list is a lot. There are so many things you can do to prepare for birth, it can feel overwhelming. I read some great advice to pick just a few things that resonate with you and prioritize that. Better to do something regularly than try to do everything. For me that was regular chiro sessions, some sort of movement most days, and sitting on an exercise ball.
I went into birth feeling confident and ready thanks to all the prep I did. I hope to be able to do some version of this the next time, although I know it will be harder because I’ll have a toddler.
Did you do anything to commemorate this time?
My family held a small baby shower for us, which was so incredibly sweet!
We went to Montecito, California for a babymoon. It was so nice to have that time to relax together. We always envisioned going to Bora Bora or France for our babymoon but it just didn’t feel safe given the pandemic.
We took announcement photos and maternity photos with our wedding photographer who has now documented us across so many life stages. We also took underwater photos with a dear friend.
I completely dropped the ball on taking weekly progress photos, we only took one on week 9. Hopefully the three shoots we did makes up for it, haha.
We kept a baby journal (which we actually still need to update).
I wanted to make sure I got a lot of solo time in. I would go to Santa Monica almost weekly and have a solo date. I’d see my chiropractor, go for a walk if I was feeling up for it, and have a picnic.
I also wanted to make sure we got lots of quality time together, but this was harder. Bassam was very busy with work as he was trying to get ahead to have a lighter workload after Zayn was born.
I wanted to take a photo holding a photo of my mom pregnant with me, but we didn’t end up getting around to it.
How are you preparing for baby?
Bassam and I took a newborn sleep course to learn how to set a good sleep foundation. While no baby goes according to a course and we ultimately did whatever felt right for us and our baby, the course was extremely helpful. We picked up some great tips that were useful to implement.
We set up the baby’s nursery and organized all of his clothes according to month. This has been really helpful and allowed us to quickly access the things we needed.
I set up diaper stations throughout the house. We only ended up using the one in our room and his room.
I set up the diaper bag. This was SUPER helpful come the first doctor’s appt just 2 days in.
I created a postpartum meal plan and set up a support system for who would help us with it. We also got on the same page about our comfort level with visitors, etc during the post partum period (Will share a post on this)
I set up a post partum recovery station for myself in the bathroom. (Will share a post on this)
We meant to take a lactation, CPR, and marriage course but didn’t have time. I don’t think the lactation course would’ve helped (getting a lactation consultant after birth is a MUST though) and CPR we will do closer to him starting solids.
I do wish we took the marriage course, as well as a counseling session after. Here’s the one I was looking at. With hindsight, I would prioritize the marriage course over the sleep course and do the sleep course later. We had to review the sleep course after he was born anyway, because we didn’t have enough context when we did it the first time.
What types of tests did you do and what did you decline?
I didn’t really decline anything, but I think I got asked this question a bunch because I shared myself testing my blood sugar. Here were the things I considered.
Gestational Diabetes Test –
I chose to decline the gestational diabetes test and asked to test my blood sugar instead. I tested fasting and after meals for about 2 weeks and recorded the results to share with my OB. I decided to do this because I was uncomfortable with the ingredients in the glucose drink. There are other alternatives but I didn’t feel the need to spike my blood sugar when I could just test myself.
I also felt I would get more information from testing my numbers. For example, I didn’t quality for gestational diabetes but knowing my fasting numbers were on the higher side was good to know.
My initial plan was to skip the third trimester ultrasound. You can read more about that thought process here. That being said, I didn’t expect to experience such overwhelming anxiety about the baby the entire pregnancy and found the ultrasounds to be very beneficial to my mental health. I decided not to skip the 3 main ones and also did a few mini ones at my OB’s office towards the end. I did decline 3d ultrasounds as I wasn’t comfortable with those and didn’t see the benefit.
Was it hard not to drink wine? How about not have sushi?
I’m the kind of person where if I can’t have something, that’s all I want. I went into pregnancy telling myself nothing would be off limits. Thanks to that mindset, I actually didn’t really crave sushi or wine as much as I thought I would.
This book and talking to my OB helped me understand the risk level with wine and sushi (much lower than I thought). I had low mercury sushi from a reputable place a few times during the pregnancy. I had 4 oz of wine 2x during third trimester. Both were for special occasions and I took several hours to finish the pour. It felt super satisfying and I felt comfortable with the risk level.
Please do your own research and talk to your OB or midwife to determine what you’re comfortable with. This is not medical advice, just my personal experience.
I made myself special non alcoholic drinks when everyone else was drinking and that helped a lot. I would pour sparkling water into a wine glass and muddle in fruit and herbs. I would experiment with different flavors and that felt really fun. I was surprised by how many restaurants actually have fun non alcoholic cocktail menus. If they didn’t, I’d ask for sparkling water in a wine glass and a side of lime and mint to make my own cocktail.
How and why did you make nurse’s baskets? Is this a thing, I’ve never heard of it. Did you give your OB a gift too?
I thought it was a thing to create a basket of treats for the nurses at the hospital. Then I got SO many messages asking about this that I realized it might not be a thing. I thought it would be a nice thing to do, so I created a basket of treats for the delivery nurses and the post partum nurses.
I filled the baskets with snacks like chips and granola bars and added small items that might be useful like hair ties and hand sanitizer. Bassam gave it to our assigned nurse when we got there and after we moved to our recovery room.
Funny story, I did not like my initial nurses at all. After a shift change, I got assigned an amazing angel of a nurse. The first thing I said to her, in the middle of labor, was “please go get something from the thank you basket!” I was so stressed that she might not get anything from the basket. The nurse and my doula made so much fun of me after labor, haha.
As far as my OB, I didn’t give her a gift at the birth but I brought her a gift at my first post birth appointment. I filled a pretty planter (she had been looking for one) with two books I thought she might like, a card, tea, and an Amazon gift card (she’s a reader). I’m not sure if you’re supposed to give your OB a gift or not, but I figured I would err on the side of caution especially since I love her so much.We gave our doula a similar themed gift- books and an Anthropologie gift card.
Why did you decide to take an early maternity leave?
In California, maternity leave is offered a month prior to your due date. I was hesitant to take that much time off and felt nervous to leave work but my doctor recommended it because of how sick I had been.
My fasting blood sugar numbers and my blood pressure had been high right before the leave. A week into the leave, both numbers went way down. It seems the stress of working while being so sick all pregnancy was really impacting me.
I’m SO glad I took that time and feel so grateful to live in a place that offers it. It was such a great opportunity to slow down and focus on preparing for birth and baby.
Why did you decide not to induce when were late?
A due date is really just a guess date, the majority of people do not give birth by their due date. I truly believed that my body and baby would know when the timing was right. It was SO hard to wait and I was so anxious about it, but I really wanted to go into labor naturally. My OB was fine with waiting as all my numbers looked okay.
I was planning to have as intervention free of a birth as possible and I knew having an induction would increase the chances that I would need an epidural and perhaps other interventions as well. I’m so grateful my body went into labor naturally just days before I would’ve had to discuss induction with my doctor.
In the end, I think Zayn picked his perfect day and perfect timing to be born. I also think he needed the extra week because he weighed less than he was expected to.
Thank you for reading, sending in your questions, and being so supportive on our journey. We appreciate you!
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