The Pregnancy Test: At what point do you tell your man?

The pregnancy test. It’s a big deal, right? It tells you whether you’re bringing a brand new human into the world or…not. Whether you’ve been trying for a while, or your missed period has come as a surprise, taking the test and knowing for sure is a pretty big moment for any woman, and indeed, any man. But is taking the test a moment that should be shared by both the mother and father-to-be, or is it more fun, more romantic even, to surprise your partner with the happy news once you already know? Rob and I have been through three pregnancies together and we handled the testing part differently each time. Here we each give our perspective on taking the test, and talk to other couples about their experiences too.

FREYA: We’d been trying for a couple of months and I had just got back from a holiday to Ibiza when I noticed my period was late. It didn’t occur to me to wait to take the test with Rob; I just remember being at work and looking at the calendar, thinking “surely not?”. I went to Boots after work and bought myself a pregnancy test, and because I couldn’t wait, I took the test in a hotel toilet. It was positive! I spent the next few hours in an excited daze; entirely clueless as to what lay in store, but happy and giddy at the thought of having a baby. I had a huge suitcase with me, and having heard somewhere that pregnant women shouldn’t lift heavy things (which, incidentally, is a belief I don’t subscribe to anymore) I didn’t want to carry it home in my newly-pregnant state, so I texted Rob and asked if he could come to help me. He jumped on the tube, and it was in the middle of the concourse at Paddington station that I told him I was pregnant.

I told Rob about my first pregnancy in the middle of the concourse at Paddington station.

ROB: I was relaxing at home one Friday evening, looking forward to seeing Freya as she had returned from her holiday in Ibiza that day. Suddenly, I got a text from her about helping her with some luggage, and I must admit I did think it a bit strange, given that Freya is normally a very hardy character, and had been happily lugging a house-sized suitcase around London for the past few months, travelling around on all her housesitting placements. I put my shoes on and rushed over to Paddington. When I arrived, she was stood in the middle of the concourse with her suitcase, commuters streaming past. I had no idea what she as talking about when she said she had something to tell me, and asked me cryptic questions about why she might need help with her heavy bag. Eventually it clicked, and she confirmed the news by producing the positive test stick. I didn’t mind at all that I hadn’t been there for the test; I was over the moon at the surprise, and the fact that she told me in such an iconic train station made the whole thing an unforgettable experience.

FREYA: Sadly that first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 6 weeks, but I got pregnant again just weeks later. Thirty days after I’d had the miscarriage, with my period still not having arrived, I said to Rob “shall I take a test?’. My biggest concern was wasting money on a pregnancy test that might turn out to be negative, just because I hadn’t had the patience to wait a few more days for my period. But because I’d been complaining of bad smells, and a glass of water had made me wretch, Rob told me to go for it, so I got a test off Amazon and took it straight away. This time, there was no dramatic reveal; I peed on the stick while Rob waited downstairs, and we both stood in the kitchen waiting for the lines. Sure enough, it was positive. I remember quite matter-of-factly saying “I’m pregnant”. Rob was pretty incredulous, as he couldn’t believe it had happened so quickly, but there it was, the positive result for us both to see. Because of everything we’d been through, it was a more reserved reaction than the first time, but to make up for it, I surprised Rob with a baby Liverpool kit when we came out of our first ultrasound scan at the hospital, along with a daddy-to-be card.

To make up for the lacklustre way we took the test 2nd time around, I surprised Rob with a baby Liverpool kit at our first ultrasound scan.

ROB: I remember us discussing with Freya the fact that the miscarriage was so recent, and umming and arring about doing a test so soon. But she was complaining about stinky smells that didn’t exist, so when she suggested taking a test I was all for it. I tried not to get my hopes up, but at the same time I had never doubted that we’d be able to have a baby, despite the first time ending in miscarriage. I was in disbelief when the two lines showed up though, as I couldn’t believe that it had happened so quickly. Both times we’d tried we’d got pregnant almost immediately. Bizarrely, the way we took the test and how I felt when I heard that it was positive was less memorable the second time around than the first, even though thankfully, this time all went well and we had our beautiful son Odhrán 9 months later. I’ve always remembered the Paddington moment as if that was when I heard that Odhrán was on the way, so somehow the two memories have become intertwined.

FREYA: My third (and current) pregnancy had a bit of a strange lead-up. Because I was breastfeeding Odhrán, my periods didn’t return until I started to wean him onto bottles when he was about ten months old. Rob was keen to have another baby, as was I, and given our ages (I was 39 and Rob was 40) we knew we couldn’t hang around too long. I started monitoring my basal body temperature again when my period returned, but I didn’t tell Rob, as I didn’t want to put pressure on the relationship by ‘trying’ for another baby, as it had made things quite mechanical and chore-like the last time around. After a few months obsessing over LH strips and hCG tests, my patience ran out and I suggested that we actually try properly, as I was concerned that if we carried ‘winging it’, it might be another year before I conceived.

So we timed sex for the fertile window, and that very cycle I got pregnant. I had been testing with cheap hCG strips from about day 23 of my cycle, and had seen a gradually darkening positive line on the strips with each passing day, so I had an idea that I might be pregnant. I still didn’t really believe it until, on day 28, I used a branded test and got the confirmation that indeed I was! I wanted to make an occasion of the reveal this time, especially as it meant that Odhrán was going to have a brother or sister, so I bought him a ‘Big Brother’ T Shirt, and made a little story book about him getting a trouble-making playmate next year. When Rob got home from work, and I told him that I’d come up with a business idea to make personalised story books for families, and that I wanted him to read the ‘prototype’, while I filmed his reaction for my ‘market research’. As he sat down to read it, he clocked straight away what I was up to, as by this point he knew me too well! But he humoured me and read through the whole book, and seemed delighted at the end when his suspicions were confirmed and he read that Odhrán was to have a younger sibling come April 2021!

Odhrán wore a “I’m going to be a Big Brother” T Shirt for the pics I included in the booklet

ROB: I had been wondering if Freya was pregnant for the couple of days before she actually told me. I had been a little apprehensive leading up to that day, as although I suspected that our ‘trying’ had probably worked, there had been a bit of stress in the weeks leading up to that. After we had Odhran, I’d made it clear I wanted another child, but I hadn’t wanted to go on about trying for a second baby for numerous reasons, not least because I didn’t want to pressurise Freya to get pregnant again so soon. When out of the blue she told me that she’d been monitoring her ovulation for the last few months and that she was worried that nothing had happened yet, I was a bit surprised that she’d was ready to start trying again. As soon as I got home from work one Saturday, she brought Odhrán over to me and handed me a booklet, which she told me was a ‘business idea’ she wanted to test out on me. I knew straight away that something was fishy! But I quickly resumed my ‘innoncence’ and played along. Odhrán was sat next to me, enthralled with the little book (he loves reading!). We got to the page where he was to have a younger brother or sister, and I just smiled, looked up and said “I knew it!”. I was really happy, but I can read Freya like a book now (excuse the pun!).

WHAT ABOUT OTHER COUPLES? We talked to some of our friends to find out whether it’s best to ‘share or surprise’:

NIKKI: “After two traumatic miscarriages, Tom and I decided to have a weekend away in Amsterdam to let our hair down and take the pressure off trying for a baby. On our first night, we went out for a really fun evening of cocktails and food, and then the next morning I remember my boobs really hurting. I said “Tom, I’m pregnant, I just know it”. So we went to a chemist together in Amsterdam and took the test in our hotel room: it was positive. Despite the miscarriages, for some reason I just knew this time was going to be different. We were both really excited, and what had been planned as a ‘dirty weekend’ turned out to be a completely different experience; a loving, happy, joyful and romantic trip, celebrating the excitement of our future family together. The second baby was much more low-key. I was packing to go away on a retreat, and as I wondered if I should bring some tampons, I suddenly realised that I hadn’t had a period for a while. I took a test straight away while Tom was still at work, and it was positive. Tom came home, and before he’d even got in the front door, and while he was still soaked from the rain, I blurted out “I’m pregnant”. Although the baby was wanted and planned for, the speed at which I conceived was so unexpected that the timing felt like a bit of an inconvenience, as I was meant to be going away the next day, so our reaction was a little subdued. We were just as happy as the first time deep down, but the ‘reveal’ was much less glamorous the second time around!” @nikkiarmytagefoy

DOMINIC & TIM: “We decided to try conceiving the ‘turkey baster’ way, motivated by the savings we would make compared to IVF! Our single friend, Sarah* had never had IVF in mind, and was originally going to order some frozen sperm online. Because we also wanted a baby, the three of us made the joint decision to do it together using a Calpol syringe and a small Tupperware tub! Via our homemade method we had a 1% chance of success, but IVF wouldn’t have been much better, at 2%. Sarah was in her mid-forties and we were all dubious about it working, but nevertheless, we calculated the most fertile time to try and gave it a go. We were hopeful, but didn’t really think that we would succeed — certainly not as quickly as we did! After only our second attempt, Sarah sent me a photo of her positive result, via WhatsApp! We were all shocked, but very pleased, and we are now co-parents of a bouncing baby boy. @dominickelly

KATIE: “With our first, we’d been trying for eight months when, irritated and somewhat deflated, we decided to give up trying and just “go with it”. My best friend called to tell me she was pregnant with her second, which only compounded my frustration. I happened to mention that I was really hungover from the Saturday night, and she replied with “…but it’s Wednesday!”. I told her how I’d had to stop and puke on the way to work that morning. She shouted her reply: “take a test FFS!”. So I did…and I was one week pregnant! I rang my husband Karl, who was shocked and delighted, arriving home shortly afterwards with flowers, chocolates and a bottle of white wine in the middle of the day, which needless to say he drank on his own, trying to comprehend the news. We were stunned to say the least, and couldn’t really believe it until we saw the scan weeks later.”

DAVID*: “My wife Orlagh* and I are partners, lovers and friends. We go through everything together, and nothing about having a baby was private to either of us. I remember, on each of the three occasions we’ve had a baby, her saying “I think I’m pregnant” —before she’d even taken a test. She would buy the pregnancy tests and we’d make an occasion out of the big reveal. For our youngest daughter, we were about to go on a planned holiday to Ibiza when my wife mentioned her period was late, so we saved the test, took it with us in our luggage, and waited until we were on the white isle to actually take it. It made it even more special to be away on holiday in our favourite place to find out the good news.”

BEATRICE*: ” I left a letter for my husband on the bed, beside a bag of trash which, even at two weeks pregnant was already setting me off as he was awful at taking it out, despite it being one of his jobs! He always came in from work and went straight to get changed, so he walked in and saw the note, which was basically along the lines of “hey Daddy, if all goes well, I will be meeting you in 9 months time. Until then, please take the trash out as it’s making mummy and me feel very queasy! Love, your baby. p.s starting now, get this bag outta here!” My positive pregnancy test was under the bag. I laughed when I saw his face; such confusion as he read the note, then the quizzical look at the end, and then when he picked up the bag and saw the test, he was over the moon! He dropped the bag, grabbed the test and did a weird happy dance over to me shouting “this is amazing!” So yeah, he loved the surprise!”

MICHAEL*: “My daughter Chloe* came after the unfortunate miscarriage of our first baby. When my wife and I suspected she might be pregnant, I went to the shops and spent a fortune on a bundle of tests, just to be 100% sure. We both sat around impatiently, waiting for the blue lines together, and we were delighted when it showed up as positive. Baby number two, though planned, happened sooner than expected. My wife took that test alone, and our reaction this time was more reserved, solely due to the fact that we found out in the midst of the pandemic, which had dampened our spirits somewhat. Overall I would say that taking the test together was amazing; the nerves and excitement were something I will never forget.”

PETER*: “Our experience was probably quite different to most, as both of our children were conceived through IVF. So the result wasn’t really a surprise as such, but there was a lot of anticipation about whether the process had worked or not. We had to test on a very specific day that was planned ahead by the doctors, so it was more a part of the overall medical process than a private thing between us as a couple. We were over the moon both times though, and have two amazing children now.”

JULIA: “Kim was there both times we took a pregnancy test. He was, in fact, the one who suggested we try testing, even though we knew it was super early. He wasn’t actually in the loo while I was peeing on the stick, but he was waiting outside anxiously. Then we waited for the result together. It was great that we did it that way, as I think Kim always really wanted to be there for the initial reveal.”

NICOLA: “With us, both times, I had picked up a cheap test while out and had done it on my own, and surprised my husband Jorden with it afterwards. We’d then do a more expensive, clearer test together because the cheaper ones weren’t overly easy to read, and we got to have the ‘confirmation’ result together. ” @nikkij_uk

JORDEN (NICOLA’S HUSBAND): “I liked the way we did it. Especially the second time as we’d been trying for a long time. I think it helped that Nicola had used the cheap, less reliable test first, and then I was there for the confirmation, which made it real”. @berryjorden

LOTTIE: “The first time I was pregnant we took the test together, and I waited for my husband Thom to tell me whether it was positive or negative. It was really exciting! I’m glad we did it that way as it was a great experience being the one to be told the news. The second time, we were a bit more laid back, and I just casually suggested taking a test as my period was late. I went off on my own, and came back in disbelief, telling Thom “what the ………! I think I’m pregnant!” We couldn’t believe it and I ended up going out and buying no less than five further tests, and testing again and again over the following two days, just to make sure. We needn’t have, because my bump is very much alive and kicking, and we have a daughter on the way in 2021!” @lottielot13

DIANA*: ” I did the test on my own and then called my husband to surprise him. I didn’t know where he was at the time, but once he’d taken the news on board, he said “babe, I’m going to have to go, I’m at work, standing on a roof!”. He was surrounded by workmates, but somehow managed to climb down safely —and keep the good news to himself!”.

MARGOT*: Many moons go (12 to be exact) I’d been with my partner for a few years and had no success in the baby-making department. Fast forward to a trip to Amsterdam, where I had figured “when in Rome” with regards to sampling the local delicacies. But before I had tried any cookies or cakes, it occurred to me that I hadn’t had my period in a while, and I thought I’d better check, rather than be a ‘stoner mum’ before I’d even got off the starting blocks! Bang, I peed on a stick and we jumped for joy. No ‘cake’ for me in the Dam! I called my auntie first, and she started crying. I thought she was upset because I was unmarried, but no, she was crying with happiness as she’d dreamt only the night before that I was having a baby! I gave birth to my son Oliver*, and we tried for the next eight years to give him a sibling to no avail, in and out of fertility clinics, with more ‘camera crews’ inside me than the BBC! The heartache of not conceiving month after month was too much, so I decided not to try any more, and our marriage ended. Years later I met the most amazing man (my current partner). I happened to call my auntie to see how she was one day, and out of the blue she said “you’re pregnant”. “Not unless you know something I don’t”, I replied. It got me thinking though, and that night I bought a test without my partner knowing, peed on the stick and gazed at it in amazement: it was positive! For a few moments I was a deer in headlights and thought “I can’t tell anyone”, as it was such a shock. But when I went back downstairs, I saw my partner sitting there looking so gorgeous, and thought “there’s no way I can’t tell him”. He was absolutely overjoyed. I’m still in disbelief and can’t believe I’ve been this lucky”.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy

Freya and Rob are The Amateur Parents.Follow Freya on Instagram @the_amateur_mama and Rob @theama

The First Trimester: A Week by Week Symptoms Guide

The first trimester can be quite a hellish time, dominated by nausea, vomiting and tiredness, but what about those lesser talked about symptoms that hit you out of the blue and come as a surprise? Well, here’s a guide to the symptoms I have been experiencing over the past three months, plus a few chucked in from my previous pregnancy. You may recognise some or all of them, and you probably have a few of your own to add to the list, but remember, even if you have no symptoms at all, this isn’t necessarily anything to worry about! Plenty of women don’t notice any changes at all when they’re pregnant and still have perfectly healthy babies, so don’t fret. If in doubt, contact your doctor or midwife team.

Symptoms at THREE WEEKS:

At three weeks, it’s extremely early, and I didn’t really have any ‘symptoms’ as such. However, because I have the patience of a two year old in a sweet shop, I had started testing on day 23 of my cycle, which was still 5 days before my period was due. This was my ‘symptom’ at 3 weeks pregnant:

An almost totally imperceptible line on an hCG strip:

Can you see it? Five days before my period was due I thought I could see a super faint line on an hCG strip. Turns out it was a positive result.

At 11 days post ovulation, I used a cheap hCG strip, and found that if I looked really, really carefully and in the right light, I could see what I thought was a really, really faint line. So faint, that it was almost entirely invisible, and makes for a pretty terrible reference photo for a blog, as on a computer screen you can hardly see it at all! I couldn’t be sure that it was a positive result because of the possible confusion with ‘evaporation lines’, but as it turned out, it was in fact a very early detection of low levels of hCG in my urine, which, in this case did mean that I was pregnant.

Symptoms at FOUR WEEKS:

Four weeks is around the time when many women who have been actively trying to conceive discover that they’re pregnant, as it’s about when your period would normally be arriving, and your hCG levels are high enough to be picked up on a pregnancy test. So, an absent period is the (pretty obvious) first symptom of pregnancy a this stage! But if you’re anything like me (impatient), you might be searching for clues as to whether you’re pregnant even before your period is due. These are the other symptoms I had started to notice at around 4 weeks, but you might spot them even earlier:

In the first few weeks of my pregnancy, I developed an obsession for this stuff: Cawston Press Rhubarb drink. And no, this isn’t a sponsored post (though it probably should be!)

∙Mild nausea that comes and goes.

∙Slight car sickness.

∙Slight tiredness, with less ‘strength’ and less energy than normal.

∙A craving (bordering on obsession) for sparkling drinks containing grapefruit or rhubarb.

∙A strange one: my finger nails seem stronger and the tips whiter than normal. My imagination?

∙A sudden sensitivity to smells that previously went undetected was actually the first sign for me when I was pregnant with my first child, Odhrán. This time around it took a few more weeks to fully take hold.

Symptoms at FIVE WEEKS:

At five weeks, many women still haven’t taken a test, as your period is still only about one week late at this stage. Therefore, you may not notice any symptoms if you’e not looking out for them. In my case, this is when my symptoms starting ramping up, and the list was added to by the day.

By five weeks I was obsessed with pink grapefruit and ate several each day.

∙My nausea is becoming more consistent now.

∙The tiredness is more noticeable, especially in the afternoon and early evening. Lots of early nights!

∙I’m getting slightly breathless when exercising compared to normal.

∙The obsession with sour or bitter sparkling drinks is growing ever stronger.

∙A craving for grapefruit begins (‘m eating at least 1 large pink grapefruit a day, cut up into chunks and eaten with a spoon).

∙My first aversion begins, to chocolate! Normally I’m addicted to it, so this has been surprising to say the least…

Symptoms at SIX WEEKS:

At 6 weeks, you still may not be feeling too bad, and will possibly still feel like you have the same energy levels as before. Be careful though, pushing yourself too hard at this stage can bite you on the bum, as you find yourself more exhausted after physical exertion than you would normally be.

While still active, I had started to feel more tired than usual by 6 weeks.

∙Nausea has gone up a gear and has become even more consistent.

∙Motion sickness is increasing, even to the point where swinging gently on a swing induces the feeling of needing to vomit.

∙Physical exercise and exertion induces more tiredness and exhaustion than normal.

∙Food seems to taste more delicious and satisfying, or more disgusting and repulsive. The middle ground seems to have faded away.

∙The urgent need to eat often and at regular intervals is developing.

∙Not strictly an ‘aversion’, but I have gone off coffee. Even the smell doesn’t appeal any more.

∙A metallic taste is developing in my mouth. Not pleasant.

Symptoms at SEVEN WEEKS:

Ok, so here’s when things really got interesting. Even if I hadn’t already taken a pregnancy test, my symptoms by 7 weeks were unmistakable; I felt terrible.

∙Extreme exhaustion is setting in; I’m feeling the need to lie down constantly, nap during the day and be in bed by 7pm.

∙Strong and unrelenting nausea has firmly taken hold, as if suffering from permanent ‘sea sickness’ —on dry land.

∙A sudden aversion to chicken has begun; can’t eat it, can’t smell it, can’t even think about it. Apologies to my father-in-law who cooked us a big chicken dinner and watched as I ate NONE of it…

∙My aversion to chocolate is confirmed; I tested this out by sampling some of my mother-in-law’s secret stash. Nope. Revolting.

∙My super-human sense of smell is now firmly in place; everything stinks, including my partner, Rob!

∙Talking of smells, my farts have got smellier! This is down to hormones changing the way your bowel works. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

∙Thrush! Yep, I’ve had it with both pregnancies. Severe itching ‘down below’ both on internally and externally. Get me the Canesten!

Symptoms at EIGHT WEEKS:

∙Nausea is constant, intense and has no break now. Why it’s called ‘Morning Sickness’ when it lasts all day and night, I’ll never know.

∙Exhaustion is now extreme, meaning daily 2 hour naps plus 12 hour night sleeps.

∙Dizziness, shakiness and weakness has started to kick in, especially first thing in the morning, as if caused by low blood sugar or low blood pressure.

∙Constant eating and snacking needed to stave off feelings of sea-sickness and dizziness.

∙Night time eating has become necessary, as nausea and light-headedness wake me up at night.

∙My hands are swelling up a bit now, and the veins on the backs of them stick out more than normal. Pretty.

∙Hormone-related bowel changes means I now have diarrhea. Thankfully not the ‘desperate-run-to-the-loo’ kind, just looser than normal. TMI?

∙I’ve also been feeling flutterings, pulling and tightening in the lower abdomen, which is most likely the womb expanding and growing to accommodate it’s new happy camper.

Symptoms at NINE WEEKS:

If your first trimester is anything like mine, by nine weeks you’ll be praying that the second trimester arrives early! For me, at 9 weeks I was just over half way through this challenging first stage. To cheer ourselves up we got an early reassurance scan and saw our little gummy bear moving on screen. You’re over the hump! You can do it! Symptoms this week were:

Our 9 week early reassurance scan helped cheer me up despite the nausea.

∙Sickness and nausea is as strong as ever.

∙I would now descried the exhaustion as ‘debilitating’. I spend the whole time lying down and getting dizzy when I stand up.

∙The familiar aversion to being touched on the legs that I experienced in my first pregnancy shows up again. Get off, Rob!

∙The frequent need to urinate means I need to wee all the time, including throughout the night, which is more than a little annoying.

∙An insatiable thirst has me downing pints of water and waking at night to drink even more. Ice cubes in the water is particularly refreshing.

∙Bogeys: Here’s a weird one! Extra snottiness and dried up bogeys occupying my nostrils are now unmistakable. Gross, but true!

∙Lower back pain has blighted my week this week, most likely caused by picking up my son (which normally wouldn’t have been a problem).

∙Last but not least, and caused by the muscles of the stomach relaxing due to my pregnancy hormones, I am finding myself needing to burp a lot more. Attractive, this 1st trimester, isn’t it?

Symptoms at TEN WEEKS:

The first trimester was spent lying down 90% of the time wearing seasonal pyjamas even though it wasn’t Christmas. Here I am with Odhrán, who was suffering from a cold when this picture was taken, so he sympathised with my plight.

∙Nausea, exhaustion and weakness continue as strong as ever.

∙Insomnia has ramped up, caused not only by the need to urinate, eat and drink but also by nightmares!

∙Nightmares and vivid dreams have become a nightly occurrence and will wake me up at 2am or 3am for several hours.

∙Food obsessions continue to pop up out of nowhere, causing me to panic-buy tonnes of the same thing (which I wouldn’t recommend; I stocked up on Thai green curry sauces in week 10 but by the end of week 11 I hated the stuff).

∙I’m guzzling whole milk by the gallon (in porridge, cereal and tea).

∙As well as food aversions, I’ve also developed pregnancy-related human-aversions. or more specifically man-aversions. Ok, Rob-aversions. Rob’s feet gross me out now; if his toes so much as touch my leg I freak out. I was also surprised to notice that certain sounds he makes (particularly low, rumbling noises that he puts on to play with Odhrán) make my skin crawl and drive me insane (imagine The Incredible Hulk in the fight scene where he’s floored by the sonic cannons; that’s me).

Symptoms at ELEVEN WEEKS:

Thai green curry became a short-lived obsession for a week or so. Ice-cold water with lime, lemon and mint provided refreshing relief.

∙My drink obsession is now iced water with mint leaves, lemon and lime juice.

∙My food obsession is pear, kiwi and lime fruit salad with a mango puree and mint leaves, as well as carrots and cucumbers dipped in hummus.

∙The chicken aversion has become ever stronger, to the point that even the thought of live chickens walking around in their pen make me feel sick. Sorry chickens, no offence.

∙I realise that I also have an aversion to eggs now too.

Symptoms at TWELVE WEEKS:

The 12 week scan revealed the little person causing all the trouble.

∙Just when I thought it was already at its peak, the nausea and “sea-sickness’ has become even strong this week.

∙Exhaustion levels are now immense; I hardly get up from the couch or the bed.

∙Burgers have been added to the aversion list. YUCK.

∙Baked potatoes and corn on the cob have beome the new obsessions, as well as salmon (smoked, poached or baked) and cream cheese. YUM.

∙Desserts have started to taste “too sweet” (how?!) and chocolate still doesn’t appeal.

∙Crusty nipples. Anyone? I noticed this in my last pregnancy too, though it seems to have started earlier this time. It was only when I gave birth that I realised that the creamy coloured specs on my nipples were bits of dried colostrum (the thick, golden yellow-coloured first milk that your breasts produce to feed your baby in the initial few days) which, unbeknown to me, was already being made by my mammary glands in preparation for the baby’s arrival.

On the plus side, we got to see bub again at our 12 week scan.


Horizontal living became the norm for me as I moved from bed to couch and back again.

∙I have become accustomed to existing in an almost-permanently horizontal position, while having only the slightest will to live. The only reason I get up at all is to look after my toddler or take him to the (very local) park, but where I can, I am sitting, or preferably lying, down.

∙Where previously, eating regularly was at least giving me some momentary relief, food is no longer helping my nausea now.

∙Carrots and cucumber are my favourite thing this week, food-wise. So cold and refreshing, ahhhhh.

∙Mint, and ginger and lemon tea is my latest drink obsession, and gives (very temporary) relief.


Desperate to alleviate the nausea, I tried some acupressure wrist bands. Not sure they worked though…

∙The nausea has ramped up to a new level, and evenings are the worst. I’ve never vomited, but this week I came very, very close, gagging and retching at the sight of some food on TV, and even innocent old toothpaste is causing some issues.

∙My new food aversion is tomato-based pasta sauce, which ordinarily I love, but which now I HATE.

∙Night eating (bread with margarine) is imperative (I take a slice to bed with me wrapped in cling film), as is a pint of water during the night.

∙Hot chillies and jalepenos continue to be a food obsession.

∙I have started trying some anti-nausea acupressure wrist bands. I’m not sure if it’s a placebo but they seemed to work on day one…

∙Despite the horrendous nausea, by the end of this week I have noticed one area of improvement: I had my first nap-free day this week! Progress? Let’s see…

Symptoms at FIFTEEN WEEKS:

O.M.G! Are things on the up? It does seem improving this week. By Tuesday I saw glimpses of my old self, meeting a friend at the park and feeling a renewed vigour to walk and do things.

By week 15 I suddenly had more energy and found myself able to walk longer distances than previous weeks.

∙No need for daytime naps this week, which means I can finally start working on some projects I’ve been meaning to get on with while my toddler naps on his own.

∙Evenings are still difficult, with the activity of the day catching up on me and causing strong nausea and exhaustion by 5pm each night.

∙Nightmares seem to be reducing too, although…

∙I still need to wee a lot at night!

∙Thrush continues to be an issue.

Symptoms at SIXTEEN WEEKS:

A mixed week this week. I was looking forward to week 16, as in my head it was the magic week when, in my pregnancy with Odhran, the woeful first trimester symptoms came to an end and I stopped feeling sick and exhausted. So I was (mistakenly) expecting that this week I would suddenly feel completely normal and bounce back to life. In reality, things seem to have gone backwards somewhat this week ,and some of the progress made last week appears to have retroceded.

By week 16, all I wanted to eat was bread and cereal.

∙Energy levels are up and down; some days I feel almost ‘normal’ and others I need to join my toddler for a daytime nap.

∙The nausea has been quite bad, and my gag reflex has stepped up a gear. I gagged on toothpaste one evening and was a tiny bit sick into the basin!

∙My huge disgust reflex and aversion to the tomato-based pasta sauces that emerged 2 weeks ago has gone up a level; I tried to make a pasta bake and couldn’t even look at it, let alone smell or taste any of it. Rob had to eat it all. He wasn’t complaining.

∙I seem to be eating nothing but bread and cereal (with whole milk).

∙The vivid dreams continue but not quite as bad as previous weeks.

∙My insomnia is fairly bad; I’m spending 2 or 3 hours awake per night.


I don’t want to speak too soon, but the first trimester appears to have finally been left in the past now, as my energy levels, nausea and general outlook on life seems have vastly improved. Last week must have been the transition. While certainly not my ‘normal self’, I’ve come on leaps and bounds from the invalid I was a few weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to a productive second trimester! I hope you are too.

Now in the 2nd trimester, I ‘treated’ myself to a giant pregnancy pillow to help me sleep more comfortably at night.

∙Coffee, which I haven’t touched since I discovered I was pregnant, has suddenly reclaimed its appeal. I am now enjoying one (weak) cup a day.

∙The nausea, although still present, has reduced greatly.

∙My taste buds are still off kilter, with things that I used to like (chicken, tomato-based pasta sauce, eggs, burgers etc) now pretty revolting.

∙Acid reflux is now kicking in; this was an unwelcome accompaniment to my last pregnancy too. Gaviscon is my new best friend.

∙Back and hip pain is causing me a bit of discomfort, and my normally comfortable mattress is now way too hard! I have got myself a HUGE pregnancy pillow and a memory foam mattress topper, which help immensely, as I am also trying to train myself to sleep on my side, ahead of the third trimester (when it’s recommended you don’t sleep on your back in order to maintain good oxygen supply to the baby).

∙No more naps! I’ve got way more energy again during the day.

So there you have it, that brings us up to date and into the second trimester! Let me know in the comments below if you’ve had similar symptoms or whether you’ve experienced others that I haven’t mentioned, I’d love to hear!

Freya is one half of The Amateur Parents, along with her partner Rob. Follow Freya on Instagram @the_amateur_mama for more parenting articles and photos.