The first trimester of pregnancy can be ROUGH. (Like, so rough we had to pull together our fave GIFs to honor that “special” time.)
But, as I’m currently learning, the first trimester is even harder when you already have a little one (or two) to care for.
I mean, I have an almost 4-year-old daughter who’s pretty manageable most days — and I have been wiped. So, pregnant moms of multiple kids, especially those who are toddlers and younger? I salute you, bad-ass mamas.
Now that I’m officially in the second trimester and finally starting to feel a little better (hooray!), here are some of the tips and tricks that worked for me for getting through the first trimester with another kid in tow. Hopefully they’ll help you, too!
How to Get Through the First Trimester When You Already Have Kids
1. Let stuff slide. You know how when you bring home a new baby and suddenly dirty dishes, a pile of laundry and dust bunnies just aren’t a priority? Treat this time like that. Make as many things as easy as you possibly can for yourself and be as compassionate as you can be on yourself. Like, this is not the time to try an elaborate new recipe or Marie Kondo your entire house. This is the time to celebrate any kind of meal you put on the table — even if that means it’s getting up the energy to order pizza — and just watching Marie Kondo on Netflix.
2. Get support. This can mean delegating more things to your partner or your older kids (if you have them). Or, it can mean reaching out to your support system for exactly what you need help with. It can also mean going ahead and accepting a neighbor’s or friend’s offer for a playdate while you rest. You’re already a super mom for growing a new human; no reason to do more than that if you’re not feeling it.
3. Go to bed when they go to bed. This only applies to kids who go to bed before 8 p.m., but getting sleep is SO important! As soon as the littles go down, hit the hay yourself as soon as possible (again refer to no. 1 and 2 if you feel like you can’t until XYZ is done). And, if your kids are old enough to put themselves to bed, set an early bedtime for you and stick to it as much as you can.
4. Say no to events that might drain you. It’s super hard to stop keeping up with all the things you’re used to keeping up with. I get that. For me, even showering and getting ready for the day felt exhausting — not to mention getting my daughter up and ready for preschool, too. So, really, really take your energy and lack thereof into consideration when saying yes to basically any event where you’ll have to be presentable, standing, and/ social. Either that event has to be a YES that makes your mama soul sing or it’s gotta be so important that you absolutely can’t miss it. Anything that’s not one of those? Say no and don’t feel bad about it (if they know about the pregnancy they’ll understand; and if they don’t know about it yet, they will later and they’ll get it in hindsight!).
5. Consider naps to be magical (and non-negotiable). Naps may feel like a luxury, but during pregnancy, they’re really not. In fact, research shows that regular naps may be associated with healthier babies. So, nap as much as you can. And about those things you’ve said “yes” to in no. 4? Definitely try to take naps on those days!
6. Talk to your little one(s) about not feeling good. It’s amazing how empathetic and nurturing kids can be sometimes. This depends on the age and the child, but I found that talking to my daughter about how I was feeling (“Mama is really tired today” or “Mama has a tummy ache and needs to rest”) worked really well, and it helped her to better understand and accept why I wasn’t getting down on the floor or running around and playing with her as much as usual. In fact, we got to the point where I could set a timer for 30 minutes or even an hour, and she’d agree to play quietly or watch a video while I napped on the couch next to her — and it worked.
7. Eat what you can, when you can. My cravings and food aversions were pretty much totally out of my control for all of the first trimester and a little into the second — and it was very different food than I was used to normally eating and craving (hello, bags of potato chips and ice cream). Instead of beating yourself up for eating in a whole new way, roll with it. Once the cravings subside, you can go back to all your healthy eats. And, seriously, if you can keep down your prenatal each day with morning sickness, that is worth high-fiving yourself over. (I also found doing a daily smoothie with Protiva in it to help me get in protein and other good stuff was helpful — more on Protiva in a future post!)
8. Take whatever you need to take. If you’re so sick and tired that you can hardly care for yourself, let alone your kids, definitely ask your doctor about what you can take to help with morning sickness. Although I was hoping I wouldn’t have to, I ended up taking Bonjesta and it helped me get some relief from my all-day nausea.
9. Know that it won’t last forever. This one might be the hardest, because when you’re exhausted and sick week after week, it can feel like your new normal. But! It won’t be like that forever. Promise. Try to remind yourself of that.
How did you get through the first trimester when you already had kids and couldn’t rest as much? Share! –Jenn