Oh, the pregnancy side effects. We’ve heard the horror stories from friends and family; morning sickness the entire pregnancy, peeing every 5 minutes, chronic fatigue, the list goes on. The verdict? Pregnancy is hard, man! When my husband and I first decided to start trying, to say I was terrified of the first trimester (and pregnancy in general) would be an understatement. I had heard over and over that “you tend to gestate like your mother.”

Well, pregnancy was my mother’s nightmare the way she describes it. Between the extreme weight gain, intense morning sickness through ALL of her trimesters, and pure exhaustion it was no wonder that I was afraid of being pregnant. However, I quickly realized that there is SO much more information these days on how to combat these symptoms and let’s just say I came prepared.

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness; who is she? The thing I was the most afraid of and convinced I would be struggling with my entire pregnancy never made its grand entrance. There are a few reasons I believed this happened.

Number one, I’m blessed.

I’m kidding (kind of), but I think it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is different and just because someone in your family experienced a severe pregnancy symptom does NOT mean you will, too. I’ve also heard from other moms that each pregnancy can bring about different symptoms, so maybe I just got lucky this time around.

Number two, plenty of sleep.

I found out I was expecting July 1st and as a teacher on summer break this was a dream; I wasn’t working, there was no pressure to get up early and no expectation to be anywhere at any particular time. Quality sleep was the key to combating the nausea. This obviously is not an option for everyone, but my biggest recommendation – take those breaks whenever you can! Even if it’s just a few moments to lean back in your office chair, close your eyes, and take some soothing breaths, I think you’d be amazed at what relaxation and centering yourself can do for your body.

Number three, don’t skip meals (but don’t really have them either).

I know that sounds confusing, but little meals every 2-3 hours was my savior. This is something I looked into and began practicing before I got pregnant. Before pregnancy, I had coffee for breakfast, ate a sandwich around 12pm, a big dinner around 7pm, and went on my merry way. However, the biggest thing when combatting that morning sickness is to always stay satisfied, but don’t over-indulge. I always needed something in my stomach, but if I ate too much I knew it wouldn’t stay down. 


Meet my best friend, fatigue. She has been by my side throughout my entire pregnancy. I didn’t get the second-trimester energy boost that other moms brag about. Instead, I was really tired in the first trimester, pretty tired in the second, and currently am pretty useless a majority of the day in my third. What have I done to combat this? Unfortunately, nothing takes the fatigue away, however there are some things that help.

Unapologetic sleep was my first one; wherever and whenever I could get it. As a first time mom, I’m lucky that it’s just me and my husband with no other kids to look out for. However, this is the time, kids or not, for your partner to really step up and take on some extra tasks to allow you a power nap or two.

Exercise, especially in the first and second trimester, were key to staying awake. I never wanted to make the trip to the gym (hello, I’m tired!), but I forced myself too and I never regretted it. After consulting with my OBGYN on safe exercises as I progressed through each trimester, I got my body moving and it was the little push I needed to make it through my day. These days, there’s not much left to do at the gym, but my birthing ball exercises are just the thing I need for a little energy boost. 

Body Aches & Pains

My worst symptom of all, the thing I was not in any way prepared for (even though it was obvious and inevitable) the back, hip, and pelvic pain. It’s there to say “hi” during the day (waddle, baby, waddle) and it’s there to wake me up every hour at night. I’m prepping for those sleepless newborn nights, right? My pain started early in the second trimester in the form of lower back and pelvic pain; I could literally feel that I wasn’t properly aligned. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many prenatal chiropractors covered by my insurance in my area, but I would definitely recommend speaking to your OB if you have that option and are struggling.

What didn’t work

So, what did I do instead? Endless trial and error in the form of pregnancy pillows. First on the list was that huge, obnoxious full-body pillow that loops in a U-shape and it helped, for a while. However, I never really found my groove with that pillow; we just weren’t meant to be and so I had to say goodbye as my husband kicked it down the stairs and begged it to never come back.

Next up, I tried a knock-off version of the Boppy side-sleeper pillow that supports you bump on one side and your back on the other. Again, this helped for a while and was definitely easier to maneuver than the big body pillow. Where I found difficulty here is that, while I felt better supported, my hips were still killing me which resulted in me waking up every hour to switch sides, accompanied by an uncontrollable moan, severe back pain, and approximately 20 minutes of restlessness before I fell back asleep then started the process over an hour later.

The Solution

Finally, I found my savior on a fluke during a stay at my parents house. One night, as I combated severe gas pain (yet another pregnancy joy), I found myself unable to lie down and knew I was in for another sleepless night. Exhausted and not feeling well, but needing to sit up, I decided to try and prop myself up on the oversized chair in my parents room. I fell asleep in about an hour and woke up the next morning feeling refreshed – no more gas pain, but also hardly any back pain AND a full night’s sleep. I immediately told my husband this was my saving grace and we needed to figure something out for the remainder of this pregnancy.

Introducing the TV/ reading backrest pillow (pictured below). Waking up every hour with hip pain is no longer. I sleep in at least 3-4 hour increments (because the urge to pee all the time is still very real), I no longer need to hold onto something for support as I walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and while I still feel the aches and pains of pregnancy, it is no where near what it was before. And the best part? I am nice and propped up as if I was sitting at work, so baby is perfectly safe. 

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