Even the best pregnancies are never completely easy, physically or emotionally. Even if you're one of those lucky folks who glows and leaves a trail of freshly blooming wild flowers in her Earth Goddess wake, there are still challenges to be had. If you're lucky, though, you'll have some good people in your corner. In fact, there are people who can make or break your first trimester, so surrounding yourself with a solid support system is critical.
Your first trimester is going to set the tone for your entire pregnancy (and, in many cases, parenthood) and having a community of support around you can make even a difficult situation manageable, or even mildly pleasant. Conversely, if a few key players suck it can sap the joy out of a happy moment distressingly fast.
As in many things, I was extremely privileged. When I got pregnant the time was right and I was surrounded by a lot of truly quality human beings who wanted to help. There's no question that neither of my pregnancies would have been what they were without them, or if I'd been surrounded by dreadful garbage people who weren't on my side.
So who are these pregnancy power players? Why are they so important for the well-being of a newly pregnant lady? Let's meet some of them:
If you are pregnant and want to be, yay! Parenting is an incredibly journey and I've loved (almost) every minute of it. But any discussion of pregnancy, particularly when you're discussing the first trimester, is incomplete without discussing choice which, perhaps above all else, makes or breaks one's first trimester.
A reported two-thirds of all abortions occur at 8 weeks or earlier, and we are unfortunately living in a time that is seeing women's access to vital services, including abortion, become more and more inaccessible. Sadly, whether or not a woman will have full-access to a complete range of reproductive choices often comes down to zip code: if you live in a state that hasn't had to endure attacks on reproductive choice by lawmakers (Oregon or California, for example), great. If you're in Iowa, which just banned abortions after six gestational weeks (I didn't even know I was pregnant that early, the first time around), you then have to win the wallet lottery and hope you have the financial means to travel to another state.
Motherhood should always be a free and unencumbered choice. Many of the people who can make or break your first trimester are also in a position to make or break your motherhood as well. Some people, remarkable people, manage to get through without some very important sources of support, but it's not something anyone should be forced to endure.
Do they think this is a good time to have a child? Are they going to be supportive? Are they going to raise your child with you? Together? Have you mostly dealt with your individual and collective baggage in a way that will facilitate you being steady and emotionally fulfilled enough to co-parent?
There are innumerable kinds of relationships to bring a baby into, but they should have one thing in common: stability.
Having a parent to guide you through your pregnancy is invaluable. (If your mother gave birth to you, she will be particularly useful since your pregnancy may well look an awful lot like hers.) Conversely, a toxic parent can make your first trimester really and truly miserable (since these are the folks who tend to make things entirely about them and they don't like sharing the spotlight with either you or your fetus) and it could take them minimum a trimester to get used to the idea.
Knowing you will have a supportive boss at a company with a good parental leave policy up front can make the first trimester so much more bearable. There's enough to worry about (and suffer through) during the first 12 weeks. Worrying about your job or whether you'll get to bond with your newborn should not compound that.
Bless my magical co-worker, E, who covered for me so many times when I'd run to the bathroom to throw up or needed to take an early lunch break to get a beet salad. Being able to be open about my pregnancy with someone at work from day one was awesome. I can't imagine that time without her, much less with a co-worker I'd have had to watch my back around!
Are we noticing that "support" theme? Your friends are important to you, and their attitude will set some important tones not just for your pregnancy but for your friendships moving forward. If your friends can recognize this as an exciting development in your life and support and encourage you, all while continuing to see you as your own person (and not just a vessel growing a fetus) that can make for an enjoyable pregnancy. If your friends are judging you or (somehow) making your pregnancy about them... ugh.
Look, I've never been especially close to my neighbors, but I recognize that a lot of people can have meaningful relationships with the people who live around them. Having someone who is there to help you carry your groceries or watch your kid while you go to a doctor's appointment, or pop over every now and then to help you do things around the house when you're too sick (or prohibited from doing) is part of that invaluable support system.
Your Care Provider
Choosing a care provider is one of the most important choices you'll make in the next few months, and the first few months are crucial in building that relationship. Do you feel like this person is listening to you? Cares about your well-being, physically and emotionally? Respects you? Are your personalities compatible? Do you like their model of care? This can make or break your entire pregnancy (and, remember, if it's broken your first trimester, it's definitely not too late to switch)!
Your Local Hospital
A lot of times, even if you really like your care provider, your local hospital may have rules and regulations that inhibit your provider's ability to treat you with a full range of options. It's worth looking into before you give birth, so that you can coast through your first trimester without any of those worries hanging over your head.
Your Older Child (If Applicable)
My first and second pregnancies were different in so different for a lot of reasons, but a big one was the fact that I was raising a toddler during my second pregnancy. Trust me when I say that being responsible for another child, while you're growing one inside your body, makes a huge difference. My little guy was high energy and extremely demanding. I didn't get to rest nearly as often as I'd have liked.
I love you kid but, ummm... thanks a lot.