Angelique Serrano's daughter

Maximizing My Morning and Evening Routines Eased My First Trimester Symptoms

To this day, I can’t look at a banana without getting nauseous. In the early weeks of my second pregnancy, I would pass by stacks of the ripe yellow fruit, prominently displayed in the communal kitchen of my New York City office, as I walked to my desk every morning. I’d often grab one, thinking it was a quick, easy way to get food in my belly and appease my queasy stomach.

But inevitably, no sooner did I chew and swallow the first bite did that bite make its way back up again. It was one of the wonderful discoveries I made during that second month of pregnancy: My baby, and therefore I, now absolutely hated bananas. And so I avoided them for the next six months. If only every symptom of my pregnancy was so simple to manage.

It was one of the wonderful discoveries I made during that second month of pregnancy: My baby, and therefore I, now absolutely hated bananas. And so I avoided them for the next six months.

Even though I’d experienced intense morning sickness and fatigue in my first pregnancy, dealing with it again was still completely overwhelming. I had started taking Diclegis, a medication prescribed by my doctor to help manage my sickness. I’d learned with my first pregnancy how debilitating morning sickness could be, and I ended up having a good experience with the pills when I finally decided to take them. This time around I felt secure in taking them right at the start of my pregnancy.

I thought they'd been doing a decent job so far, in that they helped keep my food down. But it seemed nothing could curb my fatigue and nausea. My particular symptoms felt like a near-constant, stomach-churning, energy-sucking state that made it so hard to focus.

As the days passed, I noticed I felt peppiest in the mornings, so I would take advantage of that time to fill my stomach with hearty, nutritious foods. That’s how my two-breakfast tradition began: I would start each day at home with a cup of decaffeinated coffee (yes, okay, sometimes two) and lots of crackers.

Once at work (I was a magazine editor in New York City), I would eat whatever I was craving: egg-white omelets stuffed with cheese and tomatoes, buttery toast, and sometimes oatmeal with raisins. As the day progressed, the nausea and fatigue would grow worse. Lunch was often out of the question. So every hour or so I would get up from my desk and walk around the floor, deep-breathing and snacking on nuts and dried fruits to stave off hunger pains.

Another change I made at work to survive those first few weeks was to shift my schedule and, whenever possible, move most of my meetings to the mornings. This way, I could maximize the time when my stomach was calmer and my focus was sharpest.

Every day, as the 6:00 p.m. hour drew near, I would try to leave for the day, walking slowly to the subway, then to the train, and finally to my house. There were days it felt as though I was sleep-walking through my evening commute. At times, the fatigue would be so extreme it would make me feel almost numb.

There were days it felt as though I was sleep-walking through my evening commute.

At home, there were fewer stabilizing routines. I was parenting a chatty, charismatic 2-year-old daughter that saw me as an unending source of entertainment. Constantly telling her, “Mama’s tired, can you go play quietly?” wasn’t going to cut it.

On weekday evenings, I'd have just enough energy to do her bath time routine, or pajama-dressing routine, before I headed to bed. On the weekends, my husband and parents would take her on outings, so that I could remain horizontal for as long as possible. I did everything I could to avoid drawing attention to my condition in front of her, and therefore avoid her intuitive questioning.

After my kiddo went to sleep each night, I would commence another one of my soothing rituals: I would head straight into the shower. The shower became my safe place, my cocoon, my five minutes of solitude. I would crank up the temperature until the water was muscle-relaxing warm, and I’d let the streams pound into my lower back as I rested my forehead on the wall in front of me.

Those few minutes alleviated a day’s worth of aches and cramps, and it allowed my brain to slow down. Like the flurries inside a snow globe, my thoughts would swirl and then settle as water steamed the glass and my mood became more peaceful.

Those few minutes alleviated a day’s worth of aches and cramps, and it allowed my brain to slow down. Like the flurries inside a snow globe, my thoughts would swirl and then settle as water steamed the glass and my mood became more peaceful.

To help me sleep through the night and avoid bouts of acid reflux (another charming symptom), I made excellent use of the new adjustable bed my husband and I had recently purchased. I elevated the front of the mattress to move me into a more upright position, so the heartburn wouldn’t be as bad. I also elevated the bottom of the mattress to raise my legs and take pressure off of my aching lower back. It felt so good. The adjusted position gave me a much more restful night. Well, that is, until my baby started waking me up with nightly full-body acrobatics.

It was making these changes to my routine-maximizing my mornings, eating two meals at breakfast time, having a soothing shower at night, and going to bed early-that helped me cope through those first trimester symptoms. I couldn't continue with my late-night work schedule the way it had been before I saw those two pink lines; I had to make some adjustments to move forward in good health. And that's exactly what I did.

When you're pregnant, making shifts in your routine (or creating whole new ones!) is a necessity, whether it's your first baby or third. No matter your circumstances, you should feel empowered to make the best choices for you and your growing baby. Taking care of yourself is one of the keys to a successful pregnancy, so go ahead make those adjustments. It's one of the most important things I did for myself—and my bump!