As any experienced gestational surrogate or gestational carrier can tell you, the first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy can be rough. Two weeks after you find that the embryo transfer was successful and you’re pregnant, the excitement of being a surrogate for the first time slowly starts to wear off and the reality of the situation sets in. You are likely to experience a whirlwind of bodily changes from the moment of pregnancy. Growing a baby inside you is hard work, and the introduction to it in the first trimester can be difficult. Here are some tips to keep you comfortable during that period and later.
Go out of your zone and find your tribe
Even if you haven’t let everyone know about your pregnancy, it’s very important to have support from other surrogates who have completed their journey or even those who are also in their first trimester. If you’re planning to keep your surrogacy news private, you should consider seeking out a good support group of expectant or prior surrogates. Here at Physician’s Surrogacy, we are proud to offer a robust support group for our gestational carriers. When in the trenches, it’s good to know that you’re not alone in this and hence sisterhood has always been at the forefront of our surrogacy program. We also believe that Intended Parents should have access to as much as support as they need. With the advancements in social media, there are many groups on Facebook that have members, which include surrogates and Intended Parents. You can join any of those groups and ask any questions you may have.
Be prepared with the right snacks.
An increase in appetite is the hallmark of an early pregnancy, so don’t let your hunger catch you off guard. That’s a good way to contract “hanger”, a combination of hunger and anger. The best way to curb your hanger is to plan ahead and pack small snacks to take with you throughout your day. Fruits, nuts and dairy products will cover the essential nutrients you’ll need, and it will also keep you full longer. Always keep coconuts in reach, as they have many beneficial properties, including the ability to prevent dehydration. They are loaded with a ton of potassium and electrolytes, which is what you’ll need during your pregnancy. Also, coconut oil helps with stretch marks and boosts your baby’s immune system.
Plenty of Sleep!
One of the things you will undoubtedly notice during your first trimester is the feeling of pulling an all-nighter. The answer is sleep… If you usually pull 7 hours of sleep a night, try to aim for 9. If you get a chance to sleep in the afternoon or early evening, go ahead to take a nap. It’s going to make all the difference in the world.
Document your surrogacy.
Documenting your surrogacy journey from the very beginning can be a fun and memorable way to pass the time. Something as simple as a journal entry or even a picture every week will be a treasure that the Intended Parents will cherish for many years to come. Also, as with your experience of having your own baby, being pregnant makes you have some of the weirdest dreams, which even science will vouch for. Keeping a dream journal will sooth your night-time anxieties and vivid subconsciousness. Also, a dream journal will be a hilarious and insightful memento, nine months from now.
Coping with nausea.
There are no hard rules for pregnancy. Experiencing morning sickness during the first trimester is totally normal. Up to 85% of women experience morning sickness, vomiting, and nausea during their first trimester. There are medicines available for women who are severely affected. Doctors can prescribe them to help with nausea and vomiting, so surrogate moms can get on with their daily life. Try eating small meals every couple of hours and keep peppermints or gum close by. They can help in a pinch to keep down the food that you ate.
Give your body a time out.
Even if you don’t look the part yet, your body is still working hard at being pregnant. Give yourself a break and allow yourself to rest more than usual. Go easy on yourself with daily work during the day. If possible, avoid social events and sometimes when you feel like it, take a sick day. As a surrogate, you’ve already given a lot of yourself to others.
Swollen and sore breasts are part of being pregnant. They can become a real problem when you find out that you have grown out of your bras or can no longer close your button up shirts. The smartest decision during this time is to purchase a couple of comfortable bras, if you don’t want to spend a fortune on new undergarments. They will also help you sleep in a way that supports your breasts and help with the pain.
During your first trimester of being a surrogate mom, you’re likely to experience all the regular mood swings and emotional challenges of pregnancy, so find ways beforehand to relax and reduce your stress during that period of time. Give yourself a brief break from all responsibilities and lean on your surrogacy support system. Avoid complaining to the Intended Parents even if you’re struggling with difficult feelings – instead, reach out to your surrogacy agency or any other qualified counselor for emotional help whenever you need it.
Dressing for pregnancy.
During the first trimester, your body will start changing, but won’t completely change just yet. You’ll still be too small to put on bump clothes, although some loose jeans may be in order. You should take advantage of this small window to fill your wardrobe with Slouchy tops, sweaters and dresses.
Enjoy the experience.
You should take this opportunity to learn about your own body, the ways in which the baby is growing inside you and the surrogacy process. Not many women can have a pregnancy like this, so soak up the experience.
The good news is that most of the first trimester symptoms will start improving towards the end of the first 13 weeks. By the time you reach your second trimester, nausea will be totally gone. Fortunately, nature is kind to women. You’re given the second trimester to recover from the first and prepare for the last, which comes with a new set of challenges.