Jessica Florio's ultrasound

How I Dealt with the Physical and Emotional Changes of Early Pregnancy

I’ve always found it ironic that the month when many pregnant people need the most empathy and understanding, is also the month when they are most likely trying to hide their pregnancy from the world.

That's what I was faced with in my second month. The beginning of my first trimester was right in the middle of the holiday season. It was hard to balance my symptoms and with a smile on during what is normally one of my favorite times of the year. At every event, there were spreads of my favorite foods (which unfortunately made me feel nauseous) and alcoholic cocktails that I couldn't drink. I quickly learned the art of “sipping” a glass of wine, which involved sneaking it to my husband so he could take a big gulp, and then returning to "sip" on said glass of wine.

The whole time, all I could think about was that I would rather be stuffing myself with french fries and sleeping. To top it all off, no one around me knew that I was pregnant, so couldn’t easily talk about all the emotions raging through my brain. 

Pregnancy hormones are in full swing by the second month, leading to physical and emotional changes, like nausea, vomiting, sore breasts, and more. My symptoms included fatigue, nausea, super sore breasts, and identity struggles.

Trying to manage all of these changes while still keeping your little secret can feel like a job in itself. Here's how I dealt with my biggest symptoms—and made it through (mostly) unscathed!

Morning Sickness

By the time I reached month two, the excitement of finding out I was pregnant had worn off and was taken over by a general sense of fatigue and queasiness all day—a.k.a. morning sickness. Morning sickness is the term used to describe nausea and vomiting experienced during pregnancy. Despite its name, it does not only occur in the early hours; it can hit any time of day. Many of my favorite foods suddenly looked and smelled disgusting. I always felt full and bloated yet ravenously hungry. Two of my staple food groups, protein and vegetables, were suddenly a no-go. 

It was frustrating to feel like I couldn’t do much to make my body feel better. I tried everything and finally landed on an occasionally helpful solution: Eating all the carbs, lemons, and ginger that I could.

I ended up gaining over 10 pounds within a month, which took me by surprise. Average first-trimester weight gain usually falls between 1.1 and 4.4 pounds.

In hindsight, though, my weight gain makes sense. I would often eat an entire bag of salty pretzels in one go in order to keep from heaving. While I felt anxious about it at first, I reminded myself that as long as I stayed healthy, this was just part of what my body needed to do, and my baby would love me for it. It was an important lesson in doing whatever it takes to get through the day—something I took with me into parenthood.

Fatigue

In the first month, I felt a little tired. But by the second, it became full-on exhaustion. I used to love walking the streets of my home, New York City. During these days, I took the subway to just go five blocks. I had zero energy to exercise, and I often napped on the couch in the afternoon.

I had a light work schedule, which meant I had a lot of downtime. Because of this, it was difficult to find the balance between pushing through my fatigue, or just giving in to it and taking a midday nap. I knew that building bones and ligaments was hard work (and that I should find time to rest), but I also recognized that sometimes things just had to get done.

To strike that balance, I mastered the 30-minute power nap, squeezing them in whenever I had a spare block of time. If I wasn’t able to get the full time, even 10 minutes of deep breaths and closing my eyes gave me a burst of energy to complete a task. Then, when sleep really wasn't an option, I turned to caffeine. (While you should avoid too much caffeine during pregnancy, small amounts are definitely OK.)

Tender Breasts

While sleeping was one of my favorite activities during the first trimester, finding a comfortable position to doze off in was difficult thanks to how sore my breasts were. I'd toss and turn until I found the one spot I could rest in. (And then when I did fall asleep, I had to wake up so often to pee it put me right back at square one!) My chest felt heavy and painful to even the slightest touch or pressure. Even moving too fast in a certain way could make me wince in pain.

Sports bras became my best friend. They were tight, supportive, and comfortable, and saved me a lot of aching. I wore a sports bra pretty much all day and even wore one to bed. While it wasn’t a cure-all, the compression and support from a good sports bra offered a little bit of relief.

I also found that a sports bra is one of the best ways to keep a mini ice pack or two strapped to your chest. Cold therapy is often recommended for pain management. While the cold didn’t exactly take away the pain, it definitely lessened it and was a good distraction.

The Mental Shift

When you're pregnant, you're not only going through physical changes—you're going through mental and emotional ones, too. As a first-time mom, what changed the most during my pregnancy was my mentality.

While my body rapidly changed, I had to face the fact that for the first time in my life, my body no longer only belonged to me. Its primary job was now to take care of and grow another life. That was hard to come to terms with, especially when I was missing out on fun times, like late-night holiday and birthday parties.

I'm usually never one to pass up a night out. But sometimes the fatigue was too much to push through, and the festivities went on without me. During this time one of my friends had a large birthday dinner followed by a girls' night out. I remember trying hard not to nod off at the dinner table. I could barely focus on the conversation with those around me. When I passed on the second half of the night, all were confused as to why I was going home, and I felt guilty for possibly letting the birthday girl down. I felt very much unlike myself.

The best way for me to cope with the mixed feelings of missing my pre-pregnancy life and my body's changing role was to focus on all of the new things I could enjoy. I threw myself into nesting and nursery design, making up fun mocktails, devouring pregnancy books, and talking to my belly. As I immersed myself in this new world, I realized that it was ok to let go of my old self. There’s so much good stuff on the other side, and I was so excited to explore it! 

While the physical and emotional changes can certainly throw you for a loop, try to remember that there is something you're working towards—your new baby. No one experiences early pregnancy the same, and that's OK. If it’s smooth sailing right now, continue to enjoy the ride. If you are struggling a bit as I did, find small moments of joy to focus on, then remember that it won’t last forever. In the end, it’s all so worth it!

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Morning Sickness: Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy. Updated May 2020.

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  5. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Moderate Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy. August 2010.

  6. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Cryotherapy Cold Therapy for Pain Management.