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Gaining only the belly weight and recommended extra weight is near impossible with intense cravings, insomnia, aversions to all things healthy, obsessions with specific flavors and exhaustion. The first trimester is the most difficult for me. I have the all-day nausea that sets in about 11 am. It then gets worse and worse, yet I am plagued with this idea that eating will make me feel better. It does for the moment I take a bite of bread and cheese, crackers and cheese, nachos, straight cheese.
Anything with cheese and salt and carby is what really seems to do the trick for 15 minutes. Then I lay down, only to get back up to go to the kitchen 45 minutes later. This cycle lasts about 15 weeks for me, and I gain way more weigh than I should in the first trimester because I’m like a carb and cheese vacuum. Needless to say, I have a pooch before there’s even a positive test.
Knowing what to eat and what to cook is also a major challenge during pregnancy, but my friend, a labor and delivery nurse created this amazing pregnancy cookbook. She partnered with a chef, and there are so many wonderful, healthy recipes all in her book! I highly recommend it!
Gaining the appropriate amount of weight really comes down to your diet and your workout routine. Your diet is going to be the major factor in how much you gain – or don’t gain. So, I’ve got some awesome tips to help you get through each trimester without gaining all the weight!
This is pure survival. I basically survive off of carbs and cheese, but I try to choose healthy carbs like flaxseed tortillas, sprouted bread, paleo breads and lower fat cream cheese, string cheese and provolone cheeses. Trader Joe’s Flaxseed chips are so amazing during the first trimester! I eat so many!
Skimping a bit on calories helps in this phase. I also make myself walk, or be active in some way in the morning. If I don’t, I notice the morning sickness setting in earlier, rather than later, and I will never make it through the day. Some days this is just wandering around the park, but I make myself move around.
While we had a gym membership, I would get on the elliptical, even though I felt terrible, I would sluggishly try to work up a sweat. By the end, I felt tons better, but it was torture getting started.
Protein shakes for soothing nutrition:
Protein shakes are a big deal for me in pregnancy and postpartum because protein helps keep your blood sugar level (which drops cause nausea too!), and it enables me to sip on something! I also get a cool, creamy texture that seems to calm my stomach. Blend it with a frozen fruit and it feels like ice cream!
I highly recommend this protein powder, and I talk about why it is AMAZING for pregnant mamas in this post. It gives you all the nutrients and protein you need to help grow baby, and has no chemicals or artificial sweeteners.
I also don’t get too frustrated because I remind myself of what usually happens once I hit the second trimester, where I feel more like myself again. In the first trimester I say just survive and try to chose healthier carb options. The ones with slower digestion and more fiber.
Drink your prenatal vitamins (less nausea!):
Also, I drink my prenatal vitamins. I found that for me, I was much less sick when I drank my vitamins verses when I took them in pill form. Something about my digestion issues I think. If you have a hard time, maybe give drinking them a try to see if that helps. I also drank them at night, so if they did make me a bit sicker, I could just go to sleep.
This protein powder also makes awesome smoothies and has Folate verses Folic Acid (synthetic), which is better for absorption and anyone with the MTHFR gene mutation. Many of the prenatal vitamins you can grab at the stores have the synthetic form called folic acid, and I highly recommend getting a prenatal with real folate.
First trimester is a slow, icky time for a lot of pregnant women. If you are prone to throwing up, then that’s a whole different ballgame of survival, and there’s not much you can do. It’s the second trimester where things change, and we can do so much more!
This is usually the time things start to pick up. I know for me, I emerge from the fog. I have so much energy, and the sick, icky headaches finally go away.
This is when you really want to start picking up on exercise and getting back to eating healthy.
Do not keep up with the habits you developed in the first trimester. It might be hard, but those habits need to go just like that morning sickness. Use this time as an opportunity to start fresh and begin your fitness routine while you aren’t too big and have energy.
Bring more fitness back in the second trimester:
Second trimester fitness is so important! This is what will get you into a habit for the third trimester and after baby, as well as help you with the extra pounds that have already showed up. I am a HUGE fan of walking during pregnancy. Walking is super good for your lymphatic system, which is important for all sorts of things, including water retention.
I ran some during my second trimester, and if you think you can jog, go for it. I would jog and walk. This is also an awesome, simple workout + healthy diet plan for pregnant mamas that is super affordable and easy to follow.
As I got bigger, it was more uncomfortable, so I stopped. My last pregnancy, I walked miles and miles to get my physical activity. I used Audible to play stories for my toddlers in the stroller. That way, they weren’t watching tv, yet entertained. They give you 30 days free to try, and you can Get Two Free Audiobooks!
Walking is a form of cardio, and cardio gives you energy, so that helps with the fatigue that comes too. As you continue to work on your fitness and your belly is growing, it is a good idea to make sure you are being careful to maintain your balance or use support as you need it. The last thing you want is to have an injury while pregnant or even as a new mom trying to manage an infant.
Find home workouts that are quick and fun:
If you are stuck at home, I recommend Beach Body on Demand. I tried it at home recently and really liked it. They have a lot of videos you can chose from. Working out at home a lot is a struggle for me. I don’t like the distractions, yet I don’t have time during nap times, so I came up with some great activities for kids while you’re working out if you need inspiration!
Beach Body on Demand or Youtubers like Blogilates are great for working on your muscle tone after walking. Do lots of squats for labor too! This program is also specifically created to have a belly-only pregnancy with nutrition and workouts.
The Best, Fun Workouts For A Belly-Only Pregnancy
The second trimester is also a time to really focus on your nutrition.
Fill your pregnant belly with pregnancy Superfoods! Literally, get full off of these foods, so there is less room for the junk. Here are some foods I devour during my second trimester: Apples, berries, peaches, oatmeal, bran cereal, kale, spinach and protein shakes, cashews and sweet potatoes. I keep a lot of these on hand and eat as much as I want but not gain much weight.
Again, protein is so important, and this powder is delicious!
You can’t even taste the spinach, and I am not someone who likes a lot of meat, especially when pregnant. I love lunch meat, and you aren’t supposed to have that, so the protein shakes are great!
Important Benefits of Protein Powder During Pregnancy
Some coffee at this time I start adding back. It’s actually iced coffee I love during pregnancy. I notice that coffee helps get me through the afternoon slumps, and it has to be cold brew. Cold brew is less acidic because its soaked in water over night, so if you have a sensitive stomach while pregnant, it tends to not irritate as much.
If you aren’t a coffee drinker, things like iced tea, homemade lemonade with real lemons and sparkling water are all great liquid sources that can give you an energy boost. When your energy drops, you are more likely to give in to cravings and naps.
Now you are starting to get bigger and over it. During this time, I like to focus on getting ready for baby and projects. Whether its shopping for new items, packing a hospital bag (here’s what I bring), or decorating the nursery, all of these things will help keep you distracted and busy. This is super important to not consuming those extra calories and avoiding excessive weight gain.
Start reading up on birth this trimester:
If you sit on the couch feeling tired, or sit at a desk all day thinking about being tired, your thoughts will then go to food and sleep to feel better. You need to think about the baby. Think about the new clothes, read books on babies and labor and delivery and stay busy. Thinking this way helps the time go by, and you out of the fridge.
I highly recommend taking this course on natural birth, or this one on birthing with an epidural during your last trimester. WISHING I had done this and taken both of them. I used an epidural for all three of my births, but two were too fast for it to work at all, and the first one only worked on one side…so I was pretty natural. I was not prepared for this!
Also, keep up on your walking. Make yourself keep going with your regular exercise, and envision how happy you are going to be when baby arrives and all the extra weight will be gone.
Braxton Hicks Contractions might show up during this time. When I was walking or on the elliptical with my third pregnancy I had them the worst. Like I thought maybe I’d walk myself into labor, but then I would stop and the mini contractions would stop. It was so annoying, but I kept pushing through.
Stick to your healthy eating habits!
Also, stick to the healthy eating habits you created during the second trimester. Don’t give up, you are almost there! By now you might be bored of healthy eating. It can get boring, so change up some of your healthy foods for new ones, or find lighter recipes for the foods you crave! Keep up the good work and a healthy pregnancy and ultimately a healthy baby will be your reward! Here are some great light recipes by Chocolate Covered Katie and more by Skinny Taste.
WATER …make sure you are still drinking enough water throughout your pregnancy and on into breastfeeding. Water is so important for keeping your energy levels up, helping you maintain an appropriate pregnancy weight gain, and keeping up your exercise routine by staying hydrated.
Getting enough sleep can also have a lot to do with whether or not you reach for those healthy snacks or not, what your blood sugar levels are doing and if you can keep you weight gain in a healthy range. I know sleep can be a big challenge as a pregnant woman, but do you best to get good rest when you can and when you feel like you need it. The good news is while exercise is a great way to keep from gaining unnecessary weight, the fresh air and movement can also help you sleep or rest better than if you didn’t do anything at all!
Change up your workouts to fit your belly
If you are bored of your workout, try something new. Go on a hike, take a swim, do more yoga or call a friend to walk with you. Find the best ways to make your workout exciting, or change it up all together, so you can sustain being active until baby time arrives. Also, start thinking about your milk supply early! You can boost your milk supply before baby even arrives.
These are all the habits I’ve developed after three pregnancies to gain only belly. It’s so much easier to lose the baby weight when you don’t have that much to lose. And, you will have the habits of working out and eating healthy already established, so it will be even that much easier to get rid of those extra pounds once baby is here! Like to read birth stories, here’s my most recent birth story.
Thank you so much for sharing this! Your words really helped me ease up on myself a little. I’ve been really struggling in my first trimester with nausea and getting motivated to do anything. I’m a first time expecting mom so this is all new to me. Thank you again for giving me hope and reassurance that it does get better ?
You can do it!! Just survive the first trimester. Its such a difficult time. I could barely function. I remember laying on the couch during my oldest’s first birthday party because I was so sick. Do whatever you can to feel semi-okay, and just know it will go away!!
Hi! Your posts are awesome! Thanks for all of the good advice, I’m on my first pregancy (end of a really hard first trimester) and this post motivates me to get back in track with food and exercise! I would love to know the brand of the amazing ripped jeans that you are wearing on your pics, they are sooo cute! Thanks in advance!
Thank you! I actually got them at the Goodwill, and since then I have cut them into ripped jeans lol! They are super similar to these ones on Amazon: here
Actually, you can eat lunch meat while pregnant. If it’s cold cuts from the butcher, heat until steaming before eating (you can cool the lunch meat immediately after heating if you want them cold for sandwiches). If it’s the lunch meat that comes from the fridge section with preservatives, it’s perfectly fine to eat straight from the fridge. Just be sure to eat the package within a week of opening.
I just found your website! Loved all the information you’ve shared:) I’m 27 weeks pregnant with my second. Another boy! I’ve struggled with the nutrition part still up to this far! Even After the first trimester I was nauseous for awhile and just couldn’t eat. I’m finally starting to be able to make better choices now, but feel like it’s just so late because I’m about to enter my last trimester. Better late than never, right?