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Pregnancy diary: tales from the first trimester

Even though I’m powering towards the end of my second trimester, I’d like to share some of my experiences from the first, in particular how I managed my health naturopathically.


The first inkling I had that I was pregnant, apart from the late period of course, was a generally bloated and ‘off’ feeling. I remember wondering aloud if I had gastro, or if.. maybe… I was up the duff? No gastro, as it happens. Good sleuthing me!

Once I’d confirmed I was actually pregnant, it didn’t take long for more symptoms to become apparent. For me, these were: nausea (NOT morning sickness, it lasted day and night), very sluggish digestion, fatigue and a constant need to urinate. As I was still working and studying full time over this period, I had to support my health and calm my symptoms as best I could, while powering through my commitments.


I’ve written several times before about my top tips for pregnancy nausea and was happy to find my professional advice proving useful for my own (regular) waves of ill-feeling.

I had to steer clear of anything too bitter or sour, as this stimulated my digestion and turned me green. Almost constant grazing – particularly foods rich in fats and / or complex carbohydrates – worked best for me, as it helped to keep my blood sugar stable and settle my stomach. I’m a big tea drinker anyway, and when I was feeling spewy I found herbal teas particularly beneficial, especially any containing ginger, cinnamon or rooibos.

Cuppa tea, my saviour.

Cuppa tea, my saviour.

I occasionally took carminative herbs (extracts that help settle digestion, particularly eruptive symptoms). However, herbal medicine can have a very strong flavour that, even though it never bothered me before, tended to upset my sensitive stomach!

Sloooooow digestion

By which I mean, of course, constipation. There was also a lot of bloating. Part of this was to do with the huge hormonal changes happening in my body – sluggish digestive function is a common side effect of these. Part of it was also to do with the larger-than-usual volume of food I was consuming in order to keep myself from feeling sick. And it didn’t help that I was doing very little exercise due to significant fatigue.

For a while I was going heavy on the bread, it was all I wanted to eat, which is quite unusual for me. However, as I gradually reduced this, in favour of other carbohydrates that were equally satisfying but richer in nutrients and fibre (e.g. brown rice, quinoa, steamed veggies, nuts, etc) I felt much less bloated and much more, well, regular.

Once again, herbal teas were the hero, not only settling my stomach but also keeping me hydrated, and helping to warm and very gently stimulate my digestion. I also put myself on a short course of probiotics to help my gut adjust to the changes.

Seeing as I was moving my body much less than usual, I focused on regular stretching (particularly twists, which are great for digestion) and low-intensity exercise when I had the energy and time.  All of these measures helped considerably.


I could not believe how tired I felt, up until around week 10/11. How bone weary I was some days. Quite a few times I came home and cried, absolutely bawled, for no reason other than fatigue… I just wanted to sleeeeeep. Luckily I have a very nice husband who tried to get home earlier than me so that I could just roll in the door and eat the dinner he’d prepared, before sending myself to bed at around, oh, 8.30 (latest). Sounds boring and it was, but also necessary. Basically, I rested as much as I possibly could (work and study permitting) and ate as well as I possibly could. It was a good plan.

I also developed mild anaemia in the first couple of months, which didn’t help with energy. So, iron supplementation (alongside my prenatal multi) was an important addition.

Needing to pee

Well, it happens when your kidneys are taking an early pregnancy pounding. You’ve just got to urinate. Often. Very often. There’s not much to do about it apart from stay hydrated (herbal teas to the rescue again!) and accept that this is part of the ‘magic’ of pregnancy.


All of my experiences were pretty standard for first trimester and it was actually really nice to experience them. You know, I’ve been fascinated with conception, pregnancy and birth for the longest time. I’ve also discussed at length, written and read extensively about pregnancy and pregnancy health as part of my job. So, it’s been amazing to experience these first hand. An inside-view, if you will, that has already added another dimension to my practice. Bonus!


Finally, this is how far I’d *popped* by week 12… not much compared to my belly now, but I certainly felt much larger at the time!

first trimester bump

Retrospectively, a weensy little bump.

Also pregnant? Similar symptoms?  Or perhaps different / better / worse? What have you found works best for you? 

I recently wrote two books that I think many people, particularly women who are pregnant or planning to conceive, will find an excellent resource. The first, Preparing for Parenthood, provides information and advice on how to create the best possible foundations for conception and pregnancy. The second, Natural Pregnancy Care, will take you through some of the best ways to support your health naturally, throughout pregnancy. These will be available for download in the next couple of weeks and I’m really looking forward to sharing them with everyone. Watch this space!

Supermoon + Year of the Horse

What a week! What a Friday!

Last night was a supermoon (when the moon orbits closest to the earth, in direct line with the sun and earth) AND it was the second new moon for the month of Jan. That’s pretty auspicious. Harbinger of change, in fact… and also big emotions. TIDAL waves of feeling for some. Hey, no problem. It’s ok to be loony. Or, more accurately : luna-y.

This supermoon is in Aquarius and there are many astrologers and bloggers sharing their thoughts on what that means. I find it all very interesting and thought you might like this snippet (below) that I’ve pinched from Mystic Mamma. Regardless of how you feel about astrology, I think it’s a good message and also a powerful affirmation.

A new cycle is beginning for you. The Aquarius New Moon can empower you to move in a bold direction. You may break free from bad habits and relationships. You could awaken to your divine destiny. You are no longer distracted by fear and doubt. You are ready to be who you were born to be. You are prepared to stand in your divine power and shine your light.

This supermoon also brings with it the start of Chinese New Year, the beginning of the Year of the Wooden Horse. Apparently a Horse year is considered a fortunate one, bringing luck and happiness. A year of running wild and free, just like a horse. Sounds good to me! Over the next two weeks there will be celebrations all over town to welcome in the new lunar year. I plan on cleaning our house from top to bottom – to create a fresh start for the big year ahead AND because it really needs it – plus eating as many feast foods (hello, dumplings) as I am able.

year of the horse

hello my horsey friend

Looking forward to the Wooden Horse and celebrations welcoming the new year? Did you feel the effects of the Supermoon? Ready to begin a new cycle?

What’s happening in 2014

This year looks set to be an interesting one for me, with a number of large and exciting events on the cards for 2014. These promise significant growth, both professionally and personally. Though you’ll hear more about each as time progresses, I thought I’d share some of the excellent things I’ve got coming up… both for me and for you!

Website overhaul

After pootling along with this blog for a few years now, building and changing bits and pieces myself as I go, I’ve decided it’s time to get some professional support. Though I love the blog, for a long time now I’ve wanted to create a more comprehensive site that provides health information and clinical resources; one that’s easy to use, navigates well… and is a bit more pleasing to the eye! I’ve enlisted the help of Dani, from Neverland Studio, who is an absolute babe and wonderful to work with. At this stage it looks like the site will be up either late January or early Feb. Can’t wait! I certainly love what Dani’s worked on so far…

screenshot snapshot

sneak peek at the hot new site!

I wrote two books

Indeed I did. In the second half of last year I wrote two books, stemming both from conversations I’ve had in clinic and questions on women’s health I often receive. These lovely little tomes are just about ready to go and I’m really looking forward to sharing them with the wider community! I think many people, particularly women who are pregnant or planning to conceive, will find these an excellent resource.

The first, Preparing for Parenthood, provides information and advice on how to create the best possible foundations for conception and pregnancy. The second, Natural Pregnancy Care, will take you through some of the best ways that you can support your health naturally, throughout pregnancy.

Initially, print copies of both will be available through the clinic only. However, e-book versions will also be available for download from the updated website once it’s live. I’ll keep you posted, so watch this space!

a look inside the preconception book

a look inside the preconception book

Having a baby

As I shared last December, I’m pregnant with our first child – and very excited I am about it too! I’m now over half way and feeling great, much of which I put down to the diet and lifestyle practices I observed before conceiving and now that I’m pregnant. Not that I’m an angel, by any means, but I do take good care of my health and even more so now that I’m growing a small person. I’m also going to start sharing more of my pregnancy journey on the blog and what I’m learning from first-hand experience.

pregnant gardener

snapped watering our wild kitchen garden one hot evening after work (hence being in my togs): with a 21 week baby belly

Maternity leave

I’m due to give birth at the very end of May and will finish up my work commitments by the middle of that month, earlier if I feel I need to.

At this stage, it looks like I won’t be back in the clinic until April next year. With my existing patients, I’ll create a treatment plan that ensures you have adequate support, including referrals, over the time I am on leave. I will also be available via email and skype, for a limited number of patients, while on maternity leave and will continue blogging regularly.

I would have come back to the clinic a little earlier, however, another wonderful 2014 opportunity (see below) is behind my extended absence.

Acupuncture Masters

Is going on hold this year. Unfortunately the semesters don’t align with my pregnancy, so I have taken a one year leave of absence from the program. I’ve enjoyed the study up to now and will continue with my reading, even while deferred, so that I’m ready to jump back into the course next year. However, I’m certainly not going to miss those weekends spent in the library, let me tell you that.


My husband has been offered a visiting research position in Boston. This is no mean feat in the competitive world of academia and an excellent opportunity for his career… not to mention our wanderlust! This means that for 6 months from early August, we’ll be relocating ourselves and new baby to North America. Although we wouldn’t have planned it this way given the chance, everything seems to be falling into place and the timing has worked out really well. Funny how things happen that way.

Even though this trip is for Jon’s work, and my attention will largely be focused on our little one while we’re away, some Boston opportunities have popped up for me too. One of which includes being involved with some fantastic health programs that are run through the medical school and local community. But more on that closer to the time.


And that’s about the sum of it, for now.

While this doesn’t cover everything on the agenda for 2014, it does cover off on the major events and changes I have coming up this year. Thanks for sharing the journey with me so far and look I forward to more of the same, though a bit slicker and with a few more resources, as we continue onward!



What’s happening for you in 2014? Any big news or changes on the horizon?

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