This is a journal of my pregnancy throughout each trimester. It's not intended to be medical advice, but rather to share with you my experiences and the decision I ultimately made to have a natural, unmedicated, at-home birth.
Serena, seven days before giving birth. Photographed by Hudson Taylor, her husband. © Evie Magazine
First Trimester (Weeks 1-12)
There is so much to look forward to in the first trimester of pregnancy! Obviously, this is when you typically find out you’re pregnant, which was a day I will never forget. Pro tip: Set up a camera before you look at the pregnancy test result so that, if you are indeed pregnant, you will have you and your partner’s candid reactions on video. Trust me. It will become one of the most beautiful things to look back on.
Visits to your OB/GYN are extremely exciting during this time because you will get your first ultrasound, listen to the baby’s heartbeat, and even have the option to find out the baby’s gender by taking the NIPT test. This test allows you to find out the gender as early as around 10 weeks pregnant! I opted to take the test, which allowed me to have a gender reveal party around 13 weeks pregnant. If you love surprises and enjoy sharing fun memories with your friends, I would highly recommend planning a gender reveal!
Symptoms & Advice:
During the first trimester, you won’t be showing at all, though you may feel a little bloated from time to time. Also, you may have to deal with bouts of nausea and headaches, like I did. Pregnancy nausea is interesting because it just sneaks up on you at the most random times. You will almost never see it coming!
Pregnancy nausea is interesting because it just sneaks up on you at the most random times.
And, if you’re like me, you won’t have any vomiting, though nausea can become almost crippling. What really helped me was taking long, deep breaths of fresh air, or sucking on frozen mango. My husband would also help by giving me head and face massages (to relax my body and ease any tension), as well as light some palo santo in the room to help cleanse the air.
Aside from the nausea, I had a lot of energy in my first trimester, so I was adamant about working out pretty regularly. If you’ve been active pre-pregnancy, my advice is to continue with your normal workouts, just as long as you don’t overdo it. Your body and mind will thank you for it later!
I had a lot of energy in my first trimester, so I was adamant about working out pretty regularly.
In terms of diet, you may not feel like eating much because of nausea, and you’ll probably find that you have aversions to a multitude of different foods and smells. For the first few weeks, the only things I could stand eating were mashed potatoes, frozen fruit, and soups. Just make sure that you are taking your prenatal vitamins to help you and your baby get nourishment, as well as stay extremely hydrated. What helped for me was filling up a big BPA free water bottle first thing in the morning, and aiming to drink 2 of those a day.
Second Trimester (Weeks 14-27)
They say the second trimester is the easiest, and they are absolutely RIGHT! These are the weeks where you’ll start putting your baby registry together, decide what kind of birth you want to have, and start to finally “show.”
© Evie Magazine
One of the highlights of this trimester happens during your 20th week—your anatomy scan! This is when you get to see a very in-depth ultrasound of your baby from head to toe as the doctors check on each and every part of the baby to ensure that everything is looking good. During this ultrasound, you can also see the baby in 4D! For me, it was one of the most exciting moments of my pregnancy, because it gave me a glimpse at what he may actually look like.
Symptoms & Advice:
You will have the most energy during this trimester, so take advantage of that by keeping active! During my pregnancy, I enjoyed light cardio, as well as using bodyweight, resistance band, and sliders exercises. As far as eating goes, you’ll probably have gained your appetite back, since the nausea of the first trimester has passed. (Hallelujah!) I liked to listen to my body and give in to my cravings every now and then. They say what you crave during your pregnancy has a direct correlation to what your body may be lacking at the time.
They say what you crave during your pregnancy has a direct correlation to what your body may be lacking at the time.
I was constantly craving steak during this trimester, so my husband prepared (fully cooked) meats for me throughout my pregnancy. This trimester is also the time to really look at your birth options and talk with your partner about what kind of birth you want. I ended up having an unmedicated water birth at home, though up until my 35th week, I was sure I wanted to give birth at the hospital.
The One Thing I Would Have Changed
If I were to have gone back to change one thing about my pregnancy, it would’ve been to look at all of my birthing options EARLIER than I had. Had I known how amazing a home birth would be, I would have planned for it instead of the hospital option, and would have been able to seek out a midwife and doula much earlier than I did.
Had I known how amazing a home birth would be, I would have planned for it instead of the hospital option.
When I decided to have a home birth during my 35th week, I was almost out of luck with finding a good birth team who would take me that late into my pregnancy. However, thank goodness it all worked out, and I was able to have an incredibly empowering, memorable birth, despite it all!
Third Trimester (Weeks 28-40)
The home stretch! The third trimester is where my belly REALLY popped! Up until around month seven, my belly looked more like bloating than it did a baby bump. Every girl’s body is different, and so is the way she shows during her pregnancy.
Every bump is beautiful!
© Evie Magazine
Some highlights during these weeks are:
Your baby shower(s)
Babymoon (if you decide to have one)
And, of course, the birth!
There is so much to look forward to during this time. A great tip I have for your baby shower is to send guests a link to your baby registry and let them know that you would highly prefer that any gifts are purchased from it (instead of them going off on their own to pick out something for you). That was one of the best things I could have done because I had EVERY SINGLE ITEM on my registry checked off from my baby shower guests. This was amazing, because not only did the baby and I have everything we needed, but I didn't have to buy a thing!
Not only did the baby and I have everything we needed, but I didn't have to buy a thing!
If you and your partner decide to have a “babymoon” (which I highly recommend), this is the time to take it. It will be the last few weeks before you bring another human being into your lives forever, so cherish the time you have with JUST you two. Even if you can’t fly to a tropical location for an actual vacay, take a day trip together or go out late at night to a fancy dinner. This will prove to be invaluable before the baby arrives. It’s the last time you won’t be tied to a schedule or “bedtime” for a while. Haha!
Symptoms & Advice:
These weeks can be best summed up into two words: SELF CARE. Although you will be busy getting ready for the baby to arrive, it's essential that you take the time to take care of yourself and your body. In terms of exercise, I took it easy during this time but made sure to at least stretch when I could. Doing “cat-cow” exercises, as well as any hip opening exercises, will prove to be invaluable during your birth time. It’s also important that you keep your pelvis tilted forward instead of backwards, in order to help the baby move into the ideal birthing position.
Doing “cat-cow” exercises, as well as any hip opening exercises, will prove to be invaluable during your birth time.
If you have a job where you work on the computer all day (like mine), then make it a habit to not slouch back in your chair or recline your body. Instead, try sitting on a birthing ball, in a child’s pose, on all fours, or stand up while working or watching TV. At your 36 weeks mark, you’ll be only one week away from being considered “full term,” so you must fuel your body with the right supplements to help you with labor and delivery.
My Prenatal Supplements
The supplements I took every day, starting at week 36 were the following: six organic dates, Floravital liquid iron (2x per day), three evening primrose oil pills (3x per day), two magnesium pills, one pregnancy tea (3x per day), and two red raspberry leaf teas (3x per day). I believe that taking all this is what helped strengthen my cervix, as well as ripen it by the time I had to give birth.
Going into Labor
When I went into labor (at 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant), I didn’t even realize I was having contractions at first, because they were very tolerable. By the time I was starting to feel them, I was considered “in active labor,” and when my midwife checked me, I was already 7cm dilated, and my cervix had completely thinned.
I didn’t even realize I was having contractions at first, because they were very tolerable.
Another piece of advice I have is to consider doing perineal massage. I implemented this only about a week or two before I gave birth, and I ended up not having any tears after birth! My recovery has also been extremely quick and smooth, which I attribute to having a relatively seamless, natural birthing experience.
All in all, I’d say pregnancy has been one of the most joyous, memorable experiences of my life thus far. It is such a magical, incredible feeling to know that you have created a human being - an extension of you that you get to love for the rest of time.