You may be wondering if there are some essentials that you need during the first trimester. Here is my list of first trimester must-haves.
by Nina Spears
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First off, congratulations! Pregnancy is such an exciting time, and I am thrilled for you and your family and how it’s about to get a little bigger. You may be wondering if there are some essentials you need during the first trimester. I’ve been asked this question many times by my doula clients, so I’ve created a list of precisely those things — the must-haves for each trimester of pregnancy! Let’s start with the first-trimester must-haves.
The first trimester of pregnancy is full of so many unknowns. Is what I’m feeling normal? Am I resting enough? Does everyone feel this awful/good? How much weight should I be gaining? Why am I so tired? Etc etc. While everyone has a different experience, there are a few essentials many women depend on at the beginning of their pregnancy that I think are relevant to almost any pregnancy. So, here are my first-trimester must-haves I recommend to every mama!
Taking a good prenatal vitamin during pregnancy (ideally, even before pregnancy) is a must-have for you and your growing baby.12 In the first trimester, morning sickness can ram its ugly head.21 When nothing sounds appetizing or if you’re having difficulty keeping your food down due to nausea, a prenatal vitamin can help ensure you’re getting the extra nutrients you both need.
There are also great benefits to taking a DHA supplement while pregnant. Research shows that mothers with high DHA levels during pregnancy have longer pregnancies and experience fewer preterm births (<34 weeks).1 Because of this, these babies tend to have higher birth weight and experience earlier visual gains and cognitive development.1,5,6,7,8,9,10,11
There are many different prenatal vitamins and prenatal DHA supplements on the market. I recommend researching, talking to your doctor/midwife, and choosing the right one for you. Check out this article if you’re unsure what to look for in a good prenatal vitamin because all vitamins are not created equal. Below, I’ve shared one of my favorite prenatal vitamins and prenatal DHA supplements.
So much is happening inside your body now that you are growing a tiny human. It’s fascinating to learn how your body is changing and how your baby is growing! There are wonderful pregnancy apps available to download that will help you keep track of your progress. These pregnancy apps show your baby’s size each week, common pregnancy symptoms you may be experiencing, a countdown to your baby’s due date, and more. It’s a fun way to track your progress and learn new things about your baby. Some apps even have a short video each week explaining the developmental changes of your baby, which is fantastic!
If you’re interested in chatting with other women on the same journey, several pregnancy apps have message boards of pregnant women sharing their journeys. You can communicate with other expecting moms due your same month! I do want to warn you, though, to be careful reading community boards. Some can share scary stories, so proceed with caution on any forum.
If you’re experiencing morning sickness, some foods can help ease the symptoms. It may sound silly, but saltine crackers can be very helpful. Foods high in starch, like saltines, can absorb gastric acid, which helps calm your stomach.22 Because nausea is often worse on an empty stomach, crackers can help fill your empty tummy and satisfy your hunger. They are bland without a strong taste or smell and have been a must-have for many pregnant women experiencing morning sickness for decades.
I recommend keeping a sleeve of crackers next to your bed so you don’t have to get out of bed to deal with your morning sickness. If you’re experiencing frequent nausea, I also suggest having some crackers everywhere you go. Keep them beside your bed, in your purse, and hidden throughout your house.
Many women experience crazy bloating and digestive issues during their first trimester of pregnancy.23 To help soothe your stomach, I recommend drinking peppermint tea (caffeine-free), as it’s safe to drink one to two cups per day during pregnancy.13 If you are experiencing nausea, peppermint can help. Carrying peppermint candies in your purse or even smelling peppermint essential oil (read the best essential oils for your first trimester of pregnancy) can be a relief when you have a wave of sickness. Peppermint has helped many women get through their day when they are struggling with nausea, which is why it’s definitely on our list of first-trimester must-haves.
Ginger has been used since ancient times to help with gastrointestinal discomfort. Studies have shown ginger to be an effective and safe treatment for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.14 I’ve worked with hundreds of pregnant women, and so many of them have told me how sour candies and these ginger candies have helped them get through the first trimester and their nausea. Thus, these candies have made it on our first-trimester must-haves list! Throw a couple of these in your purse, keep some at your desk while you work, and even have a few on your nightstand. They’re nice to have close by when you need them!
This is the most crucial first-trimester must-have for every pregnant woman — a good OB-GYN or midwife. Even if you have been with your doctor since you were a teenager, it’s essential to ask your doctor questions to ensure they are the right person to help you deliver your baby. What are their C-section rates? Episiotomy rates? How do they feel about delayed cord clamping and skin-to-skin? Ask them every question that’s important to you, and see how they respond.
Your care provider is a huge component of the type of birth experience you will have. You want someone who will support you with your birthing preferences and take the time to listen to you and answer all your questions. If you’re unsure about your doctor or midwife or see red flags, it’s never too late to switch and find the right person for you.
Staying hydrated during pregnancy is EVERYTHING! While pregnant, you need to drink more water than the average person because your water consumption tremendously helps you and your growing baby. It’s recommended to drink between 8 to 12 cups (64 to 96 ounces) of water daily during pregnancy.15 A few reasons are that the water you drink helps deliver nutrients to you and your baby, grows your placenta and the amniotic sac, helps with your doubled blood volume during pregnancy, and creates the amniotic fluid surrounding your baby.16
Because hydration is so important, especially during pregnancy, I recommend getting a cute water bottle to motivate you to drink. I suggest finding one with a straw to make it easier to sip on throughout your day. If you get tired of plain water, squeeze some lemon juice or add fruit for flavor. It’s a must to drink your water!
Speaking of staying hydrated, while water consumption is significant, ensuring you get the right electrolyte balance is equally important. Electrolytes are minerals like magnesium, sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, and phosphate that have been dissolved in water. They help with various chemical reactions, including digestion, hydration, maintaining fluid balance, keeping your blood pH balanced, muscle function, and more.18
Also, amniotic fluid is about 98% water and electrolytes. This is another reason proper hydration and electrolytes are essential for your maternal health and baby’s development.19 Because of all this, the drinks below are must-haves to ensure mamas are getting the electrolytes that they and their babies need during the first trimester of pregnancy and beyond. Side note: While Gatorade is considered safe to drink during pregnancy, I wouldn’t make it my first choice since it is high in added sugar and contains food dyes.
Pregnancy can be a wild journey. For some women, it’s a beautiful and enjoyable process. For others, it’s a challenging and uncomfortable time. Because pregnancy can be different from one woman to another, and even from one pregnancy to another for the same woman, it can be cathartic and therapeutic to process your experience by documenting it in a pregnancy journal.
A pregnancy journal is a fun and beautiful way to record your thoughts, feelings, experiences, and health during your journey. If you think about it, you’ll only be pregnant for so long and so many times in your life (even though it feels like forever). It is remarkable to look back on your pregnancy experience with each baby in your pregnancy journals. You can even compare them to your other pregnancies if you decide to have more children later.
Not only is it a great memento, but my doula clients have also found pregnancy journals helpful. They can easily see and be reminded of what symptoms they experienced during the first trimester of their previous pregnancies. It reminded them of what they could expect with their current pregnancy and what they did to help them feel better. It’s also something you can give to your child one day. How cool would it be for them to read through when they are older or having babies?!
When pregnant for the first time (or even the fifth time!), you probably wonder if every little change, twinge, and pull is normal. And that’s normal! When you’re unsure of what to expect, it’s good to find resources that bring you comfort and reassurance. Becoming more educated about pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood is a great first step in calming your fears. It can bring much peace during your pregnancy because you’ll be more knowledgeable about what is normal, what isn’t, and what may come. This is why reading good pregnancy and birth books and visiting evidence-based sites are on our first-trimester must-haves list.
Some resources I recommend getting during your first trimester are Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, Nurture, Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn, and Baby Chick (the website you’re currently reading)!
Another not-so-fun symptom that is common in the first trimester of pregnancy is heartburn. Heartburn, or indigestion, is caused by hormonal changes in your body and the baby pressing against your stomach. Your pregnancy hormones cause the valve at the entrance to your stomach to relax and not close completely. This allows the acid from your stomach to move into your esophagus, causing heartburn.20
There are ways you can help ease indigestion and heartburn during pregnancy. You can change your diet and lifestyle, like cutting down on caffeine and foods that are rich, spicy, or fatty. There are also some teas and medicines that are safe to take in pregnancy. Having some Tums and drinking some tea to help with constant heartburn can help make your first trimester more bearable.20
I’ve heard many pregnant women say they have never been gassier or felt more bloated in their life than when they were pregnant. When you’re only seven weeks pregnant but feel like you look five months pregnant, it can be very uncomfortable. This is when I recommend getting a belt extender to wear your pre-pregnancy pants a bit longer. You might also want to wear stretchy pants or leggings before you bite the bullet and purchase maternity pants. Here are some products that are great to wear for all stages of pregnancy and even postpartum! You can also check out our favorite maternity leggings.
As I mentioned, if your stomach is too empty, it can sometimes make you feel nauseous. Many foods probably won’t sound appetizing during the first trimester, but a KIND granola bar is usually a safe option. I like that they’re low in sugar and have a ton of nuts and healthy ingredients. Nutrient-dense snacks are what you want to keep close by. This is especially true in the first trimester when you’re hungry, but nothing sounds satisfying, or you’re experiencing some food aversions. Keep a few of these bars stashed in your purse, in your car, and at work. For more, read our 22 pregnancy snacks to keep in your purse and delicious first trimester recipes.
Having a positive mindset is everything in life. I know many newly expecting women are afraid that they might miscarry or that something will be wrong. It’s good to surround yourself with positivity in those times. I know how scary the first trimester can be. Because you can’t feel your baby move yet, you worry. That’s what mothers do — we worry about our children. This is why I recommend having pregnancy affirmation cards to read each day. They can remind you of what your body is doing, how it is capable, and how strong and beautiful you are. This can be so powerful and uplifting! The ones we’ve shared below are beautiful cards to bring positivity your way.
The lists below aren’t necessarily essentials or must-haves for the first trimester, though some women would beg to differ. However, they can be beneficial to have. Here are the items and activities several of my clients and our community of moms have shared that have been helpful for them during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Besides the items we mentioned above, the following can help provide nausea relief:
Here are some additional things you may find helpful in the first trimester:
You may find these ideas helpful when navigating your first trimester:
That’s our complete list of must-haves for the first trimester! What couldn’t you live without during your first trimester of pregnancy? Let us know! And, as you continue to progress, check out our second-trimester must-haves and third-trimester must-haves.
At Baby Chick, we consult and analyze information from reliable authorities in their respective fields to support our research and writing. These include peer-reviewed journals, government and advocacy organizations, academic sources, and more. Our goal is to inform and educate readers and provide them with up-to-date, factual information. For more details about our content standards, please review our editorial policy.
13. Ahmed, M., Hwang, J. H., Choi, S., & Han, D. (2017). Safety classification of herbal medicines used among pregnant women in Asian countries: A systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 17. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-017-1995-6
14. Lete, I., & Allué, J. (2016). The Effectiveness of Ginger in the Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy and Chemotherapy. Integrative Medicine Insights, 11, 11-17. https://doi.org/10.4137/IMI.S36273
Nina is The Baby Chick® & Editor-in-Chief of Baby Chick®. She received her baby planning certification in early 2011 and began attending births that same year. Since then, Nina has… Read more
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You may be wondering if there are some essentials that you need during the first trimester. Here is my list of first trimester must-haves.