The ultimate first-trimester survival kit & early pregnancy checklist with all your first-trimester must-haves
Hi there mamma – if you’re here, you’re either very early on in your pregnancy or think that you may be pregnant, so congratulations! In this article, you’ll find a complete first-trimester to-do list (don’t worry – it’s short) along with all the first-trimester must haves. The good news is, your early pregnancy checklist is only a few items long. You’ll have a lot more to do later, but for now, you really need to rest. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the first trimester can knock you on your butt. So, take this article as your ultimate first-trimester survival kit, and read on to find out what you need (and need to do) to make it easier.
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What NOT to buy in your first trimester
Ok, this might seem weird to have the first section of this article about what not to buy in the first trimester, but hear me out. There are a lot of things you’ll be buying throughout your pregnancy, and there is a lot you can do to make the first trimester easier. But, there are also a lot of things that you can (and should) wait on.
This is NOT to make you stressed out or even more worried than you already are, but there is a chance with any pregnancy that you will miscarry. And this is most likely to happen during your first trimester, or the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.
Having a ton of baby items already purchased only makes this excruciating process harder as they’re a constant reminder of your loss. In this first phase of things to buy in your first trimester, I like to stick to the absolute essentials to make your life easier.
Skip buying furniture for the nursery, or registering for your dream car seat/stroller travel system combo. You can do a ton of baby shopping when you’re farther along in your pregnancy, and you’ll even be feeling better!
On that note, don’t buy a ton of maternity clothes in your first trimester. If your pants are already tight, go ahead and use the hair tie hack for your jeans. You’ll get at least an extra two inches by threading the hair tie through your jeans loop and then around the button. Bonus – you’ve bought yourself an extra couple of weeks without maternity pants.
Early pregnancy checklist: your first-trimester to-dos
First things first, the only “checklist” you really need to worry about during your first trimester includes eating, drinking tons of water, sleeping, and taking your prenatal vitamins. And if you’re so nauseous you can’t keep anything down, eating is even optional.
You will have a ton to do as your pregnancy progresses. Take this time to rest and relax as much as you can. Your body is working on creating all your baby’s major organs, so it’s totally expected that you’ll be exhausted.
There are a couple of things you do need to take care of, but the #1 priority in early pregnancy is to take care of yourself. Here are a few of the other things you’ll need to do:
- Find an OB: If you don’t already have an OBGYN, you’ll need to find a doctor or midwife to care for you throughout your pregnancy and to deliver the baby
- Confirm your pregnancy: Once you’ve found an OB, make an appointment to have your pregnancy confirmed. They’ll do a blood test just to confirm that you’re actually pregnant and will provide an overview of all the next steps
- SLEEP: I put this on here almost as a joke, but I’m seriously not kidding. Your body is exhausted. Take care of yourself and the baby that you’re growing with lots of extra rest. You likely won’t be able to hold your eyes open anyway.
- R&R: Rest and relaxation will be top of mind if you’re exhausted and sick, but even if you’re having an easy(ish) early pregnancy, you should still strive to get lots of extra rest. It only helps fuel your body for your baby’s growth.
First-trimester survival kit
If you’re not having an easy early pregnancy, I am so sorry for you. I know firsthand how terrible
morning all-day sickness can be and am hugely empathetic to anyone suffering through it.
Compounding the nausea is exhaustion, bloating, headaches, and mood swings. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get the super sniffer and your sense of smell will go off the charts. This isn’t so terrible if you’re not also sick, but when smells make you nauseous this can be debilitating.
Fear not, there are a few things you can do to make this part a *little* easier. Unfortunately, the only thing that’s going to really help is time, but until you’ve pushed past this, you don’t have to suffer in silence.
If you’re bloated, you can try medication like GAS-X that includes simethicone. It’s generally thought to be safe while pregnant, but definitely check on the list of approved meds with your doctor.
For headaches, try Tylenol, or peppermint or lavender oils if you don’t want to take anything over the counter. I tried to combat first-trimester headaches by laying down and closing my eyes, and with oils when possible.
Occasionally the headaches were so intense (and the oils made me so sick) I had to take Tylenol.
Additionally, taking extra naps really helped me throughout the worst parts of the first trimester. Although this probably isn’t something you’ll look back on fondly, it usually passes by the time you’re into the second trimester.
Morning sickness survival kit
Ok, I can’t lie. Morning sickness for me was like the third rung of hell. I was exhausted, had headaches, and was nauseous 24/7 for 20+ weeks for both my pregnancies.
By 5 weeks I was nauseous and/or throwing up with both girls, and continued to get sick for weeks before the nausea just took over. I was on prescription medication with both babies, until I was 25+ weeks pregnant. Although I look back on that terrible time and can’t believe I survived, there were a few things that definitely made it a little more bearable.
I’m going to list ALL.THE.THINGS. In hopes that one of them works for you. To be clear, saltines and ginger ale did nothing for me, and I still look sideways at diet ginger ale after how sick I was during my first pregnancy. Nevertheless, everyone’s body is different so what works for one woman might not work for another.
And if you’re in the throes of morning sickness, I’m sure you’ll try anything to get rid of it amiright?
Ginger Ale, ginger candies, ginger tea… basically anything with ginger since it’s been known to reduce nausea. Again, this didn’t really help me but some women swear that they wouldn’t be able to function without ginger ale while they’re pregnant. Worth a shot.
Seriously, eating small amounts frequently is probably way more important than any one THING you can eat, but saltines are a great choice. The blandness really does make them more palatable, and one or two crackers before you get up could just save your morning.
Mom tip: Eat a couple of crackers before you even move from the bed or sit up. Getting some food in to level out your blood sugar before you try to move can really help stave off morning sickness when you wake up.
Yep, these are the bands people wear for sea sickness. They go around your wrists and put pressure on a pressure point known to reduce nausea. Do they truly prevent you from vomiting? Who knows? But I will tell you I wore them religiously and looked like a professional tennis player in business casual attire for months with both babies.
Even if they just reduce the nausea a bit, they’re definitely worth it. Also – it’s a great alternative to taking medication if you can get away with it.
Prescription nausea medication
That said, I wore the sea bands and still needed medication. I’m guessing “need” can be a relative term here. I didn’t have hyperemesis gravidarum and wasn’t vomiting 10x per day. However, I was vomiting (daily or multiple times per day without meds) and the nausea was debilitating. I knew I needed to survive the first trimester and was still working so I felt like I “needed” medication.
Some moms just power through, and if you’re of that mindset, good for you. Hang in there. I knew I wanted to be rid of the worst feeling I’d ever had, and if we had modern medicine to help, I wanted in on it.
Either way, your baby will be fine. You’re not better or worse one way or another.
For some reason the citrus and bite of sucking on a lemon really helped when I was incredibly nauseous. I for sure attribute biting into a lemon as something that saved me from vomiting multiple times.
Mom tip: cut up lemon slices and carry them around with you. When you feel a wave of nausea grab one and let the lemon juice work its magic.
Throw up bags
This is for the unfortunate instances when the lemons, sea bands, pressure points, and deep breathing just don’t work. Some women are lucky and never vomit during pregnancy. Others are sick 10x a day or more.
No matter where you are, you don’t ever want to be caught vomiting into your lap, hence — vomit bags. You can just keep a few grocery store bags in your car, but a lot of the time those have gotten ripped. When you have morning sickness it’s NOT the time to find out you’ve just thrown up into a bag that has a huge hole in the bottom.
These bags are also tiny and you can just keep one in your purse for emergencies. Because, you know, you don’t always get a lot of warning.
I LOVED these during my second pregnancy and felt like they really helped. With baby #1 they did nothing for me. Again, you’ll have to try and see what works for you, but I’d definitely add these to your Target or Amazon cart before you check out next time.
If you want more tips and tricks on morning sickness, check out my full post on how to survive morning sickness even when it lasts all day.
Related: How to survive morning sickness
First-trimester shopping list
Although I know I told you at the beginning of this article that you shouldn’t be buying a ton of stuff during the first trimester of your pregnancy, there are a few things that you may want to go ahead and invest in. These items aren’t directly related to survival from all the first trimester pregnancy symptoms, but will definitely help you out early on in your pregnancy.
(If you aren’t already taking them). This one isn’t really a nice to have, it’s a must-have if you weren’t taking them before you conceived. So much of your baby’s development happens during the first trimester, so supporting your body with all the essential vitamins is important. If you weren’t taking pre-natals and found out you’re pregnant, don’t stress. Go ahead and grab some now. The important thing is that you go ahead and start your vitamins ASAP. Don’t wait until after your doctor’s appointment to confirm the pregnancy.
I’m giving you permission to invest in this in your first trimester because it will keep you out of maternity clothing a little longer. Having a belly band means you can unbutton your pants and still wear them (with the belly band to help hold them up) even if you can’t do the hair tie and jean loop trick.
The belly band will extend the life of all your pants, hopefully beyond your first trimester, but definitely through those first few bloated weeks of pregnancy.
If all else fails in the wardrobe department, grab a pair of maternity leggings. Sometimes you’re just not comfortable with your pants unbuttoned or using a belly band. In those instances, it’s nice to have at least one pair of pants that fits. Enter, maternity leggings. This is the first piece of maternity wear I’d invest in — and you can do it as early as you’d like.
Hopefully, your regular clothes will fit for awhile into your pregnancy, but I was in maternity pants by 12 weeks with my first baby.
Advice for first-trimester survival from real moms
When researching for this article, I asked REAL moms what their recommendations were for surviving the first trimester. So, here are some tips and tricks from other moms who have been through it.
“Keep snacks handy at all times! I always had cereal on my nightstand and ritz bits in my car, purse, at the office. I had terrible morning sickness and the moment I felt nauseous I knew I needed food right away so having a snack handy was my saviour!” – Nicole K.
“I ate apples to help with heartburn. It was terrible and apples really helped. I also used lots of pillows at night to help sleep and get comfortable. Insomnia kicked in during the second and third trimesters and pillows helped rock me to sleep.” – Lea F.
“Ginger biscuits helped me to get through the nausea, and lots and lots of napping.. basically I could nap anywhere, although working nine hours a day I would try to rest as much as possible.” – Xanthi P.
“I took walks everyday, stretched which helped when the round ligament pain set in towards the 2nd trimester, drank a lot of water and rested as much as I could. Was sooo tired.” – Jeanie D.
“In the first trimester, I didn’t try to beat the fatigue because I quickly realized there’s no true way to beat it. I just gave into it and rested whenever I could.” – Eden F.
You’ll survive the first trimester if you focus on the end goal
Most moms said that the second trimester was their favorite, so focus on where you’ll be in a few short weeks from now. You have so much to look forward to.
“The second trimester was my favourite, I was so sick the first trimester I remember thinking why in the world do women do this more than once … and then I entered the second trimester and it all made sense! The first kicks are heartwarming and I felt so good throughout the second trimester!” – Nicole K.
“My favorite was the 2nd trimester in all three of my pregnancies. It seemed to be a sweet spot where I could find mental and physical comfort. I was far enough along that I didn’t have much time left, but still had enough time to go that I wasn’t feeling anxiety.” – Lea F.
“My favorite was the second trimester. I really enjoyed seeing my belly grow, feeling my baby kick and move. Practiced the attitude of gratitude a lot in this trimester. Was really thankful for my body being able to grow a baby.” – Jeanie D.
“The second trimester was my favorite because it’s when my husband and I FINALLY found out the gender of our baby and when my baby bump really starting growing and I finally felt “pregnant” versus overweight. Everything involved with the second trimester was enjoyable! During my first trimester, I was always nauseous and didn’t have a lot of energy to do anything and the third trimester felt like it was never going to end. It was like time stood still and our little bundle of joy was never going to come.” – Meghan R.
“The third trimester was definitely my favourite because it was the time that the baby was really growing and could feel a lot of movement and it got closer and closer to the day I gave birth.” – Eveline
Some moms loved the third trimester best, so you still have something to look forward to!
“I think I liked the third the best because I actually looked pregnant and it was the final countdown to meeting my baby!” – Eden F.
The hormone rush, extreme tiredness, and nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (a.k.a. Morning sickness) all combine to make the first trimester the perfect storm. Especially if this is your first baby and you’re worried you’ll feel this terrible for the next 10 months.
But, one of the most important things you can do to make it better is to focus on the future. Know that it will NOT last forever, and the prize at the end makes everything worth it. As soon as you meet your baby all the aches, pains, and sickness of pregnancy are worth it.
Drop me a comment below with your first-trimester survival tips!