THE BLOG
07/10/2013 09:42 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

A Diary of a Mum-To-Be: The First Trimester, Stress and a Ticket to the Baby Show

For the past three months I have spent most of my time horizontal on a sofa, feeling truly grim; nausea and lethargy, of the extreme variety, has left me completely drained and somewhat miserable.

Want to know why?

Well, thankfully, it isn't a horrible virus or nasty tummy bug.

No, it is the 'miracle' of pregnancy.

After the initial excitement of discovering that we are expecting (and it is truly incredible and we are still extremely excited), came the waves of sickness and complete tiredness that has left me barely able to get out of our flat, let alone capable of working very much.

Awesomeness aside, it has, in many ways, been quite an unpleasant experience. Before the first scan, we decided, like many others, to limit who we told. Hence why hardly anyone knows and why they're unable to offer support. Those who know that haven't been pregnant before, or have been pregnant but were lucky not to suffer such symptoms, can't really appreciate how isolating and sad the long early months can be for some mums-to-be, especially when people expect you to be swinging from the chandeliers 24/7 and 'blooming'.

The truth is, for me, the first three months have been anything but 'blooming'. I'm relieved to say this is 'normal': creating a human being is truly exhausting work.

My hormones are rampant and they are responsible for the nausea until the placenta takes over in the second trimester. I feel emotional one minute then giddy the next.

Weight gain has occurred, which is fine. I understand that it is a natural part of the process, because the body stores fat in preparation for the baby and for breastfeeding. But it's still horrible when I can't find any of my clothes to fit me and my bump is still too small for new maternity clothes.

My breasts are bigger (yay), but very sore and tender, so really not that much fun at all.

Difficultly sleeping, because of the need to pee more, and vivid, wacky dreams certainly haven't helped. I like my sleep. I need my sleep. So naps in the day are common, but this only adds to the cabin fever I get in the flat.

Then come the thoughts, hopes and fears for the new life inside me, and my new life, too; not just about the responsibility of trying to create a healthy baby (and delivering him or her safely into the world), but the breastfeeding, nappy changing and guiding of this little person, above my personal dreams, at least for a while.

When tired, sick and feeling sorry for myself, such thoughts tend to sound like: "How will I cope with being a mum when I constantly feel rubbish, am being sick twice today and am unable to flick the kettle on?"

Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband, who has managed to sensitively coast through my varying moods and irritability, and a close social circle that has bolstered my confidence and lent a sympathetic ear when I needed it.

Since becoming pregnant, I've tuned into the complex opinions of society around motherhood, and I've quickly learnt to tune out again.

Whether to stay at home, or not and return to work? It seems everyone has a view on this, and the choices appear to be: (a) be a 'super-mum' or a (b) 'just' a full-time mum. However, since our first scan, I must say I couldn't give a hoot about the opinions of others on what we, my husband and I, as a team, decide to do for our family. Personally, I see value in both options and I respect a woman's decision to do what is best for her child and her family.

Anyway, having felt somewhat reassured by a healthy 12-week scan (I can't tell you how truly amazing this moment was), we feel more confident in telling the world of our joy and, now that the grim feelings appear to be easing off (I hope) I now have the energy to think ahead, and, naturally, we want to start planning for the arrival of our baby.

Being first-time parents, we don't really have a clue. So imagine our happiness when learning about The Baby Show, coming up at London's Olympia at the end of October.

Judging by the extensive exhibitor list, we just know that many of the questions we have about the multitude of factors facing us as new parents are sure to be answered.

Of particular interest will be the Trimesters and Tribulations drop-in clinic held by The Natal Company.

Steph and Dean Beaumont (founders of The Natal Company) and their team of on-hand experts, will host The Baby Show's first ever SOS drop-in clinic, offering advice to expectant parents on the spot.

The drop-in clinic will be open on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th October, between 10.30 am and 12.30 pm. So be sure to get there early to have any niggling questions answered.

What's more, at 1 pm on the Saturday and Sunday, The Natal Company will be hosting MummyNatal sessions for all expectant mothers, providing an opportunity to de-stress with a warm foot bath.

At the same time, in Room 2, DaddyNatal will be taking place: a men-only session for expectant dads to learn how to support their partner through pregnancy and the birth of their baby. Run by award winning DaddyNatal founder, Dean Beaumont, this workshop will introduce dads to what their role is in labour and birth, and how they can make a real difference to the experience.

De-stressing is a really important part of a healthy pregnancy, as is being supported properly by loved ones.

Now, we all experience stress, and it is a normal part of everyday life (and everyday life certainly doesn't stop when becoming pregnant). However, it is really important for pregnant women to get a handle on high stress levels, because too much cortisol pumping round the body can cause harm to the unborn baby.

Therefore, to help us pregnant girls stay as stress-free as possible, Steph Beaumont of The Natal Company has created a top five tip-list we would all do well to adhere to:

1. Make time to relax

"Putting your feet up at the end of the day, having a nap, going for a massage, reading a book, having a scented bath, watching a film... all of these things might seem optional in our busy lives, but they are fantastic ways of relaxing, which is going to lower stress levels. So DON'T feel guilty about having some time to yourself to do something you enjoy. See relaxation time as a really important part of your day, which you are doing for the benefit of your unborn baby."

2. Talk

"If things are worrying you, don't keep them bottled up. Talk to your friends, you family and your partner. You might find it helpful to also meet other people who are going through similar experiences to you, so another option would be to join a local antenatal or birthing group/class. Make sure your partner knows how you are feeling and, crucially, how you want them to support you. Partners often want to help but might not know how. Check out our book The Expectant Dad's Handbook which will reassure Dad about the things he is worried about, as well as giving him an insight to what things are likely to be on your mind, and crucially HOW he can help!"

3. Breathe

"Breathing is a very practical way of dealing with stress. It's easy, can be done anywhere, and really works! All you need is 5-10 minutes and, ideally, somewhere quiet. Rest your hands on your bump, sitting comfortably and with your eyes closed. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your tummy, rising all the way to your head. Slowly count to three as you do this. Then exhale, reversing the direction of the breath, so you feel the breath travelling all the way back down, and see if you can exhale to the count of six. Lovely deep breathing like this helps the body release endorphins, the body's feel-good chemicals, combatting stress levels!"

4. Get in touch with your body

"When we are stressed, as well as any mental tension we might feel, we often hold physical tension in our bodies. Doing a mental body scan is a great way to identify where in our bodies we tend to hold tension, and learn to let it go. By physically releasing the tension and relaxing, we also make it easier for ourselves to mentally relax and relieve that stress. Find somewhere quiet and comfortable, and starting at the top of the head, work down your body, checking for any tension and letting it go. Scanning down from the top of the head, check your forehead is relaxed and that your jaw is loose. Then check that your shoulders are relaxed and not hunched, that arms are just resting, fists are uncurled, etc. Try doing this all the way down to the toes. By doing this exercise over and over, you are likely to identify a place where you notice you often tense when you feel stressed. This is useful to know, as you will then be able to practice, keeping that part of your body relaxed when faced with potential stressful situations."

5. Exercise

"Exercise is a great way of lifting the mood; easing depression and anxiety by helping the brain release chemicals, called endorphins, that make us feel good. While some forms of exercise might not be advisable in pregnancy, there are lots of good options, so you should be able to find something you enjoy. Swimming, walking, aqua-natal and yoga are all great ways of enjoying some exercise, and many people find pregnancy is a great time for trying out something new!"

Having spent three months cooped up in a one-bedroom flat, feeling sick and pitiful, I absolutely cannot wait to go to The Baby Show, and to embrace all the help, support and advice that is on offer.

The Baby Show is on at London's Olympia between Friday 25th and Sunday 27th October 2013.

To learn more about The Natal Company and the support that they offer, please check out their website thenatalcompany.co.uk

To buy tickets for The Baby Show and to find out more about all the exhibitors set to be there, please visit thebabyshow.co.uk