Tag Archives: women’s health

My First Trimester Recap: Symptoms, Supplements, and More!

Sharing my personal first trimester recap, along with my experience with getting pregnant, symptoms, and the supplements I’ve been taking!

First Trimester Recap

I have now officially started my 2nd trimester, and I’m honestly so happy about it. My first trimester was NOT easy for me and had me questioning if this whole pregnancy thing was even worth it.

However, I feel so much better now and I’m really excited to do a full first trimester recap after 12 weeks of being newly pregnant for the first time!

How We Got Pregnant/How We Found Out

As some of you may have seen in this Instagram pregnancy announcement, this was completely unplanned and was quite a surprise for both me and my husband, Charlie.

Why Our Birth Control Didn’t Work

If you’ve been following my health journey for a while now, I had quite a history of hormonal issues like hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue. One of the biggest struggles I had to overcome was losing my period for over a year after going off of birth control pills. Because of this, we were practicing birth control with the NFP method (Natural Family Planning), which means I was tracking my cycle to figure out when I was fertile or not using the Flo app on my phone.

But I’ll be completely honest – I wasn’t being too careful with my tracking. Because of my past hormonal issues, I thought that my hormonal health was not fully recovered yet and that it would be difficult for me to get pregnant at all in my lifetime. This has always been on my mind. Because of this and the fact that I’ve never been a fan of babies or kids, I’ve never actually let myself WANT kids of my own.

However, I’m so thankful that my body has healed enough to grow a human being. I think a HUGE part of my recovery is not only improving my food quality, but also changing all my skin care products to those with much safer ingredients. When I started using safer products in the house and on my skin, that was when my period started regulating again. I’m not surprised because these harmful chemicals wreak havoc on our endocrine health.

Finding Out About the Pregnancy

First Trimester Recap

I found out that I was pregnant at about 7 weeks. My period was late and I’ve been pretty dang consistent for the past 8 months. I just remember thinking, “OH CRAP” and immediately went to Target to purchase a pregnancy test.

Just because I COULD NOT believe that I was actually pregnant after taking the test, I bought 2 more tests (different brands) just to make sure, and sure enough, they all said positive.

I know many women who would be overjoyed at this news, but I panicked. I never envisioned myself as a mom, nor had a strong desire to be (like I said, I never loved babies), but slowly in the past few weeks I’m getting more and more excited. It really hit home for me during our first ultrasound when we saw our baby kick and flip around. I teared up and started getting all the fuzzy feelings!

Symptoms

O man, this pregnancy has already been such a crazy ride and it’s only the beginning! I just didn’t know what to even expect from day to day because I was experiencing so many changes and symptoms. One thing I HAVEN’T experienced so far is headaches, which I hear is common. Here are some of the biggest changes I went through:

Nausea

THE WORST. From 8-11 weeks, it was nonstop morning sickness all day. Luckily, it was never bad enough that I ever threw up but it was quite debilitating. I couldn’t cook much at all or be around food which is why I paused on blogging. I honestly laid on the couch all day eating ginger chews and watching Netflix because that was all I could do.

What Helped The Most

  • Eating every 2-3 hours. It’s the last thing you want to do but it does help for sure!
  • Massages were amazing and I would feel better after because it increases circulation in the body.
  • Seabands. These bracelets are affordable and actually seemed to work! They apply pressure on accupressure points to relieve nausea naturally.
  • Naps and rest. I’m honestly so lucky to work for myself and be able to have a flexible schedule. I took as much time as I needed to rest during this time.
  • Pink Stork Pro pregnancy probiotics. These are probiotic pills that I would take in the mornings and they actually made a big difference in my nausea.
  • Unisom with vitamin B6. I really didn’t want to take any kind of drugs during my pregnancy but this combo was AMAZING when I couldn’t function from the nausea. This combo is considered safe during pregnancy and is recommended by doctors for getting through nausea. I took 1/2 Unisom tablet with B6 before bed and it would help me get a really great night’s sleep and I would wake up feeling so much better.
First Trimester Recap

BOOBS

Oh man, as someone who’s never had boobs before, I did not mind this change. They got bigger and my nipples got darker even before my nausea started and they just kept growing. However, they were really sore, tender, and sensitive to touch and that hasn’t stopped yet.

I’m sure they’ll keep growing as my pregnancy progresses, and I’m not hating it!

Fatigue

It was hard to be in tune to how tired I was because my nausea overtook all my senses. But around 11 weeks when my nausea was going away, I definitely could feel myself being way more tired, and I had to take quick 30 minute naps during the day.

SO Much Peeing

I thought frequent urination only happened towards the 2nd half of pregnancy, but that definitely wasn’t the case! I feel like I went 20 times during the day and would wake up in the middle of the night to go. It was getting annoying at one point.

Digestive Upset

I read that many women get constipated during their first trimester but I had the opposite problem (sorry if TMI). It never got serious, but I definitely went to the bathroom more and had loose stool frequently. I think the changes in my diet was affecting my digestion, along with the surge in hormones.

Nails and Skin

I’ve always had thick, strong hair that grows quickly, so I didn’t notice much difference in that, but my nails have been crazy strong! I get my nails done about every 4 weeks and they usually chip during that time, but it’s been over 4 weeks without chipping and they are still looking good. And as a food blogger who cooks all the time, I’m NOT gentle with my nails.

My skin has been another story. I think the changes in my diet also contributed to this since I was eating more carbs and sugar than before, but it became so dry and rough, with more acne. It regulated a bit now, but at one point, I had to use the Cleansing Balm as an overnight night mask every night for my skin to feel hydrated each day.

Exercise

I tried to go to yoga a few times when I was nauseous to see if it would help, but it definitely did not. It made me feel so much worse and made me nauseous all day afterwards, so I took a break from exercising for 4 weeks. The only thing active I did was walking around the neighborhood for 30 minutes-1 hour, which actually helped a bit with my nausea.

By the 11th week, I was feeling better so I started getting back into moving my body again with yoga, cycling, and weight training classes. I’m not going to lie – the first few classes were HARD. I was out of breath within the first 10 minutes and had to take a lot of breaks and drink a ton of water. This could be because I couldn’t exercise for a month beforehand, but my hormones played a MUCH bigger part.

By the 12th week, I was able to get back into full workout mode and I was feeling good. I plan to stay active throughout my entire pregnancy as long as it’s safe and possible, because I honestly feel SO MUCH better and happier after I get a good sweat going.

First Trimester Recap

Food Aversions/Cravings

I haven’t had much cravings. It was more like, what CAN I eat without getting completely grossed out? Food aversions? Heck yes. I honestly didn’t want to eat anything besides fruits but I had to eat protein because that would make me feel better.

Because I couldn’t eat like I do normally, I actually lost 5 lbs during my first trimester. I’m 5’1″ so this is a lot for so I was a bit worried about it. However, my doctor assured me that this is quite normal and I’ll gain it back later.

Biggest Aversions:

  • Beef. I seriously didn’t want to eat any kind of beef, which is crazy because it’s one of my favorite meats.
  • Eggs in all forms, which I used to eat everyday.
  • Kimchi. I had loads of it after cooking from Korean Paleo but I could not smell it without gagging.
  • Bell peppers
  • Spicy food, which was a surprise. I LOVE spicy food!

What I Survived On:

It’s so funny because none of this is what I eat normally AT ALL.

  • SO. MUCH. WATERMELON. No, it’s not watermelon season but I made Charlie get me those pre-cut, packaged ones. Not the most sustainable choice but it’s hard to think about any of that when you are feeling crappy.
  • Almond milk and gluten free cereal. It was the only thing I could stomach at one point.
  • Chicken Pad Thai from a local restaurant. I ate this for dinner ALOT.
  • Gluten free subs from a Jersey Mike’s
  • Celery with peanut butter
  • Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers
  • Dairy free yogurt with fruits

Supplements

Because I wasn’t feeling great, I did not want to swallow many pills. However, I knew I needed certain nutrients (especially with my limited diet), so I tried to take these 3 consistently:

  • Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin – I actually started taking these months ago when I was trying to improve my hormonal health. I wasn’t trying to get pregnant, but I wanted nutrients to support my health and this fit the bill, with nutrients like vitamin A, D, B12, B6, folate, and choline. It does give me more energy and I think it helped with my fertility, even when I thought I couldn’t get pregnant! It doesn’t make me queasy, but I do take it with a meal. If you have a hard time swallowing pills. these may not be for you because they are on the larger side!
  • Enzymedica’s Digest Gold – With my digestion being off with frequent heartburns, these digestive enzymes have been extremely helpful and necessary at every meal. It’s a bit pricier than other enzymes, but it seriously works SO well. I haven’t had a heartburn ever since taking these, and I could stomach things like gluten and dairy much better if I end up consuming those things (I’m intolerant to them!).
  • Pink Stork Pro pregnancy probiotics – I mentioned these earlier, because these pills were so helpful in reducing my nausea. However, I believe that you can get higher quality and better strains of probiotics through real food sources, so I didn’t purchase more ever since finishing the bottle since my nausea was gone by then. Now that I have my appetite back, I try to eat plenty of sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and kombucha throughout the day.

Bump Update

I didn’t show much at all until my 12th week. It’s common not to show at all during the first trimester for your first pregnancy, but I saw it pop up out of nowhere when I looked at the mirror one morning! I was feeling bubbly and bloated for a while before that so I thought maybe that could be it, but the more I looked at it, it just looked different.

Here are photos of me at week 12:

First Trimester Recap
First Trimester Recap

That’s all! I hope you I answered a lot of your questions in this first trimester recap. I’ll be bringing you more updates as my pregnancy progresses, since everyday I’m experiencing something new! It’s definitely an exciting time, and I can’t wait to meet our little girl or guy soon.

My due date is early September, so I’m sure I’ll be sharing plenty more on here and on Instagram through then and beyond!

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

My Experience With Everlywell Women’s Health Test

Read my honest review of Everlywell Women’s Health Test, and how I applied the results to improve my PMS symptoms, anxiety, sleep, and other hormonal health issues!

Everlywell Women's Health Test

Hey friends! So many of you appreciated my review of Everlywell’s at-home Food Sensitivity Test, and the results from it were so helpful in me pinpointing exactly what was causing my symptoms and alleviating them with an elimination diet.

To further improve my health after some recent issues I’ve been dealing with, I thought it would be wise to take another test to see how my hormones were doing. I ended up taking the Women’s Health Test and I want to share my experience with you, in case you were curious about doing something similar.

Why I Chose Everlywell Women’s Health Test

If you’ve been following me along on the blog for a while, you know I’ve gone through several hormonal health issues in the past and it’s one of the reasons why I’m so careful about the food I eat and the products I use on my skin. I had a long period recovering from adrenal fatigue, suffering from stress-induced hypothyroidism for a few years, and not having my period for several years after I went off of hormonal birth control.

I’ve been slowly recovering for the past several years by taking extra caution to take care of my health, but there are still some issues that linger that seem to be hormone-related, like:

  • not sleeping well at night,
  • being super sensitive to stress,
  • intolerance to cold at all times,
  • painful menstrual cramps,
  • anxiety,
  • and being easily fatigued.

It was time for me to tackle these issues and see where I currently stand, and the hormones measured by Everlywell Women’s Health Test seemed to be the ones that would be the most helpful to know. With the positive experience I had with Everlywell taking the Food Sensitivity Test, I decided to try out the Women’s Health Test as well.

Test Process

Everlywell does a really great job of making their at-home tests easy to take with simple step-by-step instructions, as well as a video tutorial, to help guide you through the entire process. Once you order the test through their website, you get it in in the mail and the kit has everything you need, as well as a prepaid shipping label to send it back to their lab.

The first thing you do is to register your kit online so you can receive updates about your shipping and test results. Then, I had to collect 2 blood samples and 4 saliva samples within 18 days of my cycle. I actually couldn’t take the test for a few weeks after receiving it because you have to wait until day 3 or 4 of your menstrual cycle to take the first blood collection. Here is the schedule for the samples you take:

  • Day 3-4 of menstrual cycle: take first blood sample
  • Day 19-21 of menstrual cycle: take 2nd blood sample + 4 saliva samples (in the morning, at noon before lunch, before dinner, and before bed)

Taking the blood sample

Everlywell Women's Health Test

The blood samples were actually easier for me to take because I’m not afraid of needles and I’ve gone through the same process with the Food Sensitivity Test. They provide alcohol swabs, a few lancets, bandaids, and a blood collection card that you have to fill with your blood samples. You pierce the end f your finger with the lancet provided and fill 6 circles on the collection card, and that’s it.

Taking the saliva sample

I found it a bit more challenging to provide saliva samples, especially the first sample of the day which you have to collect in the largest tube within 30 minutes of waking up before food and water. I honestly didn’t feel like I had enough saliva to fill up the large tube first thing in the morning so it was a bit of an effort for me. The samples for the rest of the day were a bit easier because the tubes were smaller and my mouth wasn’t as dry as it had been in the morning.

Once you label the tubes, you can keep them in the freezer until you ship them out. When you have all the samples collected, you fill out a form that they provide. You input your personal information on the form and then you ship it out, along with all the samples, in the prepaid envelope that they provide. They then reach out to you once the results are ready.

The Results

I couldn’t believe it but my results were ready just 2 days after the lab received my samples!

The Everlywell Women’s Health Test measure 11 different hormones that are known to be instrumental in women’s health:

    • Cortisol

For the women’s reproductive system, as well as our overall health, to be functioning properly, all these hormones need to work together in a harmonious balance.

I got my results via email, and was able to look at them through the Everlywell online portal that you can access when you register your kit. You also have the the option to download the PDF version that you can print out to look over and/or share with your doctor. Here’s what it looked like at a glance:

Just from looking at the color code next to each hormone, I was fairly within the normal range for most the most part. I was actually thrilled to see that my cortisol was at a normal range throughout the day, because I’ve had blood sugar issues in the past which now seem to have normalized. I was also very happy about my thyroid numbers (free T3, free T4, TSH, and TPO antibodies) being well within the normal range, because I suffered from hypothyroidism for a little over a year during my worst days of adrenal fatigue

However, the red dot next to Estradiol and yellow dot next to Progesterone/Estradiol Ratio gave me pause, although I wasn’t surprised by them.

I knew that because of my past of chronic stress and how sensitive I am to stress still, that my estrogen levels would be higher than normal. Estrodiol is one of the 4 main estrogens occurring in women and it is the most predominant one. Estrogen dominance is a common health issue in the modern world because of everyday stressors, environmental toxins, and the harmful chemicals prevalent in the personal care products we use.

Here’s what showed when I clicked on each of these hormones:

everlywell women's health testeverlywell women's health test

Beyond these explanations, Everlywell gave some basic tips to regain my hormonal health like making changes to my diet, and more importantly for me, managing my stress. It’s something I struggle with the most so I wasn’t surprised to see this recommendation:

everlywell women's health test

While the rest of the hormones were within the normal range, I still looked them over to see if they were within the high or low ranges of normal just to make sure. Thankfully, my levels looked really good for the rest.

In addition to the practical recommendations, Everlywell also suggested various articles that I may want to check out about different hormonal health conditions like thyroid disorders, testosterone levels in women, PCOS, and more, which I found interesting and helpful. Even if they didn’t directly apply to me, I loved learning a bit more about various conditions and it also kept me aware of how I can keep my hormones healthy and happy.

Lifestyle Changes I Made Since the Test

After learning that I am estrogen dominant from the Everlywell Women’s Health Test, I decided to take further action to help regulate my hormones. It became clear to me that my stress level was a huge contributor to a variety of health issues I was dealing with.

Here are some actions I’ve taken to reduce stress in my life:

  • Meditation at the end of the day for 10 minutes.
  • Trying to journal everyday. Writing down my thoughts like what’s giving me anxiety and what I’m thankful for each day has been such a game changer.
  • Working smarter. Instead of trying to multitasking or doing all the things at once, I’ve been better about breaking up my tasks and doing one thing at a time. I’ve also been putting away my phone when I work so I’m not distracted by social media and notifications.
  • Giving myself weekends. It’s difficult as a business owner and as someone with a type A personality to stop working when you have free time. This one is still hard for me, but I’ve been trying to put work aside and give myself time to do nothing when I need it.
  • Cleaning up my personal care products. I started doing this a long time ago and I’m so glad that I did. Turning to safer brands like Beautycounter who make amazing products without harmful chemicals that disrupt our hormones has been the best decision.
  • Taking chaste tree supplements. Chaste tree supplements are amazing for PMS symptoms, estrogen dominance, and hormonal imbalance. I’ve been taking this one for about 2 weeks now, and I’m excited to report that my latest period cramps and pain have been significantly diminished! I plan to keep taking it for 3 months. Please consult with your doctor before taking this, especially if you are taking exogenous hormones.

Take the Test Yourself!

If you are having hormonal issues like menstrual cramps, irregular periods, low sex drive, hair loss, infertility, depression, and/or insomnia, Everlywell Women’s Health Test is an easy-to-use and comprehensive test that lets you get a snapshot of your hormonal health by testing out the levels of your various hormones. The test is easy to take with well written instructions to help you guide you through the process.

I’m honestly so glad I was able to take this test and see how my hormonal health was doing. I knew that I needed to take action because I was going through several symptoms which I mentioned earlier in this post, but I didn’t know exactly what was wrong with me and what I specifically needed to do to improve my health. The test has been such a great tool, and I plan to take it again in the future to see if and how much my numbers improve.

Ready to take the test yourself?

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE EVERLYWELL WOMEN’S HEALTH TEST!
Take 15% Off All Orders with code GRANDMA15.

This post contains affiliate links. In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

5 Safer Birth Control Options

Looking to avoid hormonal birth control? Learn about 5 safer birth control options that you may want to look into without the harmful side effects.

Before I talk about the negative effects of birth control pills and safer birth control options, I want to state that I’m not against hormonal birth control in general. However, I do think women need to be educated and informed about the side effects of going on any kind of contraceptive thoroughly before making a decision, which isn’t the case many times. Please consult with your doctor or medical professional before making any changes to your health regime or medication.

Safer Birth Control Options

As a woman in the modern world, one of the biggest decisions we make is regarding out birth control. Will you take the pill? Stick with condoms? The patch? Or maybe the implant? There are so many choices these days that it’s hard to know what the best option is, especially when there are so many stories about the negative side effects of some of these options.

Why I Avoid Hormonal Birth Control

If you want to know the details about my experience, as well as some of the negative effects of hormonal birth control, you can read my post here. To sum it up, I lost my period after going off of birth control and it took years for me to finally get my cycle back.

Also, during the time that I was taking the pill was when my digestive issues and food sensitivities started. I know there are other factors that may have contributed to this, but this is a common symptom of the pill, due to yeast overgrowth and estrogen dominance.

There are also nutrient deficiencies that may occur, reduction in your chance of pregnancy for when you do want to have a baby, increase in inflammation, and more. To learn more about some of the other negative effects and what your body may go through, check out my previous post about this topic.

Safer Birth Control Options

So what are some safer birth control options? These may not be as convenient and “easy” as taking the pill, but I think they are 100% worth the extra effort for your health now and in the future.

Condoms

Oh, the good ol’ condom. Is it annoying? Yes. Is it effective? Hell yes. They are cheap, easy to use, and most protect against STDs. I suggest using male condoms rather than female, because female condoms do not have as high of a success rate (79%, while it’s 98% for the latter).

If you are easily irritated by latex condoms or you just want to try ones with less harmful chemicals, there are better alternatives on the market that you might want to check out:

Safer Birth Control Options

  • Sustain Lubricated Latex Condoms: Sustain makes ultra thin latex condoms that are fair trade certified, paraben free, vegan, and free of nitrosomine, carcinogens found in most latex condoms. It also doesn’t smell like latex and many women who are irritated by other latex condoms find that they don’t have issues with these.
  • Lifestyles SKYN Condoms: These are latex free condoms made with polyisoprene, which provides a more natural and more sensitive look and feel than latex condoms.
  • TROJAN NaturaLamb Condoms: These condoms are made with lamb intestines, so you may need some time to get used to that idea and the scent. These are great for monogamous couples, because they do not prevent against STDs. Many couples swear by these because they are extremely thin and provide ultrasensitivity.

Diaphragm with Spermicide

Also called a cervical cap, a diaphragm is a mini cup made out of silicone placed inside the vagina to cover the cervix. There are no hormones involved and it act as a physical barrier to prevent the sperm from entering the uterus.

You do want to use it with spermicide (kills the sperm) to make it the most effective and you do have to insert it with the spermicide every time you have sex, so this may not be the most convenient option. However, if you do decide to try it out, I’ve heard great things about Caya Contoured Diaphragm.

Copper IUD

Unlike hormonal IUDs, copper IUDs do not contain any hormones and are very effective. They are also convenient because once inserted, they can stay in the uterus for up to 10 years. They do have a chance of slipping out, especially during sex, but they have a 99% success rate.

The only caution with copper IUDs is that your PMS symptoms may worsen, such as cramping and bleeding, and there’s a risk of copper overload or toxicity.

One way to reduce this chance of copper toxicity is to supplement with some zinc (I recommend this brand), because zinc and copper balance each other out in the body. Too much zinc causes copper insufficiency, and vice versa, so supplementing with zinc helps the body keep a healthy ratio of these minerals if you decide on the copper IUD for your preferred form of birth control.

Natural Family Planning (NFP)

My favorite form of birth control (or pregnancy planning), and the one that I follow, is natural family planning. It’s most appropriate for committed couples in monogamous relationships because it doesn’t protect against STDs. However, it’s the most natural and noninvasive form of birth control because it works by listening to your body’s natural cycle and rhythms.

Safer Birth Control Options

What exactly is it? It’s a way to monitor the fertile and infertile phases of your body during the cycle to time out when to get intimate with your partner. This works for both avoiding pregnancy, as well as if you are trying to conceive.

You can do this by tracking it on your own with a calendar, but there are so many awesome apps that do it for you! My favorite is the Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker, and not only does it track your period and let you know when you are fertile and not fertile, you can also track your PMS symptoms to have it tell you why you are going through those symptoms. I highly recommend it.

Low Dose Hormonal Birth Control

Finally, if you do not want to part with your pills and don’t want to bother with the inconvenience of other safer methods, you may want to explore low dose hormonal birth control options.

Safer Birth Control Options

Low dose pills are still as effective in preventing pregnancy as regular pills, with fewer risks involved when it comes to the negative long-term side effects. However, the downside of low dose pills is that you may experience spotting in between periods and breakthrough bleeding.

There are many options on the market when it comes to low dose, or even ultra-low dose birth control pills. I suggest you talk to your doctor to discuss these options and find out what may be the most appropriate for you.

Do What Works and Feels Best For You

No matter which option you go with, make sure to choose a birth control method that you are completely comfortable with. Take time to fully learn the side effects of each, the pros and cons, as well as what’s important to you in terms of safety, convenience, and ease.

It really saddens me that most women have a limited understanding of how hormonal birth control can affect their health, so it’s important to do your homework to educate yourself because we can’t always rely on our doctors to do this for us. Your health is YOUR responsibility so it’s important to take the time to learn what foreign substances are entering your body.

I hope the breakdown of these safer birth control methods help you gain a better understanding of these options and explore each one a bit more on your own. If you have any questions or if you have any more to add to this list, comment below! I am always open to talk about safer birth control and women’s health, and we shouldn’t be ashamed to discuss the normal things that our bodies go through.

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.