Contact Us

First Trimester Blues

First Trimester Blues


Dear Rachel,

I am in my first trimester of pregnancy, and while I wanted this so much and am so grateful to finally be pregnant, I have been feeling so lousy. I am nauseous and/or vomiting everyday. I even reached the point of dehydration because I couldn’t keep anything down for a while. I am super behind with work and all house-related tasks. I haven’t cooked for my husband or kids in weeks (cereal has been a staple). I feel like I am hardly coping with my life. My husband has been supportive and kind, but I sense that he is beginning to lose patience with me. I don’t want to feel this way; do you have any thoughts to help me through?

Nauseous in Nashville

Dear Nauseous,

The first trimester of pregnancy can be a really difficult time for a lot of women. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to grow a baby inside of you and finding the right balance between resting, eating and simply “maintaining” can be a big challenge. I am sorry you are feeling so overwhelmed. I hope a shift is on its way for you. If you haven’t already, a consult with your doctor or midwife about medical and or other alternatives to help with nausea could be very informative.

There are many theories about why women experience nausea during the early months of pregnancy. I think that having a basic understanding about the “whys” of this phenomena can sometimes help in getting through it. Some ideas about why so many women suffer throughout their first trimester include the body’s natural response to a change and elevation of hormones responsible for maintaining a healthy and viable pregnancy. Another idea defines nausea as a protective mechanism, guarding the developing fetus from possible food toxicity. Other theories link nausea to deficiencies in the body and a potent reminder to replenish what is missing.

Sometimes by reminding ourselves of the complex and intricate adjustments that our bodies undergo in order to produce a healthy baby can in offer a new perceptive about why it can be so hard. Of course that doesn’t remove the difficulty, but it does provide another framework to work from. A Chassidic Rabbi once said, “Your address is where you think.” Sometimes just by changing our mindset and breaking a negative thinking cycle can have a profound effect on the way we actually feel.

Beyond the desire to feel better, it sounds like you are in need of some practical coping techniques. First of all, it is unreasonable to expect that your level of domestic care is going to be on par with your pre-nauseous self. We all have limitations. Right now, I would grant your hydration levels priority to a clean house. Hiring help to come in a few days a week to do laundry and cleaning can provide a tremendous relief. The extra help not only allows for a cleaner home, but a more sane family… and even though it may be costly, ultimately it is an investment in mental health.

Additionally, there are many kosher (and healthy) prepared food products on the market today. Keep food for the family simple. Consider teaching older siblings how to prepare a simple meal (Easy kid-made meals can include a cold salad with tuna or feta cheese, cut veggies to dip in hummus or peanut butter, melted cheese sandwiches, pizza bagels, pasta, instant soup, yogurt with fruit or granola). This baby you are growing is not just your baby, it is the whole family’s baby, so everybody needs to chip in. This is a defining time for your family, every one needs to get in touch with their strengths in the domestic realm and contribute what they can to helping around the house.

Kids also enjoy added responsibility, especially if it means trying something new like doing a load of laundry or watering the lawn by him or herself. It’s not going to get done the way you do it, and it definitely won't be perfect, but right now the house doesn’t need to be perfect it just needs to be maintained.

In terms of your feelings about your husband’s growing impatience, it is important to understand that he likely is feeling over worked and overwhelmed, picking up slack in the areas that are typically in your domain. Communicating about how you are both feeling is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship. Sometimes it is important for a spouse to hear about your desire to feel differently – even though it may seem implicit, just verbalizing the obvious can open up a door for more sensitivity and receptiveness towards each other.

It is important that you understand that although you may not feel like it, you are working very hard. Your body is growing a new life inside of you. Everyday new organs are being developed; everyday your baby is growing bigger and stronger. It takes a lot of energy to allow the miracle of childbirth to unfold. Listen to your body’s cues. Rest when you feel tired, eat and drink what you feel you can keep down. Allow yourself to let go of the reigns a bit, all your work, housework, mothering and wife related responsibilities will wait for you. Maintaining a healthy pregnancy is a very important responsibility. Take it easy and let your body (and your baby) direct you.

And not only are you working every moment of every day, but your are doing the holiest work there is. You are in the process of helping bring a new soul into this world, a new life, and that is some very important work. This is why in Jewish philosophy a pregnant woman is considered like a Torah ark and the baby which is housed within her is compared to the Torah scroll. When things really get tough, just remember that you are the only person in the world who can carry your little baby, so you owe it both to you and to him to do that the best that you can!

I will look forward to hearing good things from you soon, blessings for good health,


“Dear Rachel” is a biweekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sarah Zadok.

Sarah Zadok is a childbirth educator, doula and freelance writer. She lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel, with her husband and four children.

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous Israel May 18, 2015

Not helpful Not everyone has people to ask for help. I live far away from my parents and my husband won't let me tell them I'm pregnant till at least 3 months have passed.
We can't afford cleaning help or prepared food, and he thinks I am exaggerating because I haven't been throwing up, just super nauseated and tired etc. and incapable of functioning normally. He thinks I'm lazy. And this isn't the first pregnancy. Reply

Lisa April 6, 2015

First Trimester Blues Nauseous in Nashville, did you see your doctor about this problem? Some women in your situation require hospital stays.

Your husband has every right to be frustrated, and you should have asked family and friends to help out.

It's not too late. Talk to your husband about what to do. Reply

Autumn Portland, OR June 9, 2014

I am on the same boat right now. Happening exactly the same as you are describing. I am in my sixth week and it feels unbearable. I am also still breastfeeding my first child and it throws me out of balance even more so. My first pregnancy was piece of cake and this one hit me hard. I literally cannot imagine how am I going to go through my first trimester...and with this experience I am very doubtful about any other part of the pregnancy. I really want to enjoy this pregnancy and not become bitter from it! I must admit that it is nice to read from somebody else that I am not going through this alone! Reply

Sarah March 3, 2014

Dear Anonymous in Missouri. I am so sorry that you are hurting. May G-d give your friend a full recovery and may He give you strength to feel good and find the blessing in this baby-to-be. I'm so grateful that the above words were helpful to you.
"Rachel" aka Sarah Reply

Anonymous Missouri March 1, 2014

Thank you for writing this. I recently lost a dear friend to cancer, another lived one has cancer, and my pregnancy is unplanned. I feel so sick and am just having a hard time in the first trimester. It feels like more than I can handle. Your words gave me hope of purpose. Reply

Anonymous November 7, 2013

Great answer. I have learnt (its not easy though) to ignore things in my house that would normally drive me mad and remind myself that this is a season, and that one day I will be back to myself and I can get everything in order.

When I cant ignore things any more, I get a cleaner to do a thorough one off clean, and the few following days I can manage by just making sure dishes are being washed and dirty laundry is being kept in its place. Reply

Melissa Nairobi, Kenya November 1, 2013

first trimester blues I almost cried reading this. This is my first, and it has been so difficult! i cry every now and then , it's overwhelming. and i felt so guilty not cooking for my husband. He's been good about it though. It's just good to know you're not alone, sometimes it feels like you are.Thank you so much Rachel, i feel a deep sense of comfort reading your reply. Reply

Carolina Brazil March 21, 2013

Thank you so much Thank you for writing this, made my day! I honestly had no hopes left of what to do with myself during this first trimester. Feels so extremely lousy and frustrating not to keep up with the chores and having no energy for anything. Thank you all who posted comments too. It makes a huge difference learning how people coped with this experience. Send you all my best wishes and blessings.
São Paulo- Brazil Reply

Anonymous San Francisco July 7, 2012

Thank you so much to all. It helps to know one is not alone. I am in my first trimester too and the encouragment is very much appreciated.
P.S. Toronto, Canada. I hope things get/got better. Underneath the remarks I am sure there is love. Reply

Sarah Brooklyn, NY March 21, 2008

Lovely response I'm also in the first trimester and have found that the blues are hitting me hard. I do have a supportive husband, but our tempers are very short lately. This is our first and we're both terrified (if excited and happy). Thank you for the kind words and reassuring answers. Reply

Anonymous toronto, canada November 17, 2007

first trimester blues I can definitely relate to the trials of first trimester pregnency. However, I do not have an "understanding" partner. I was told that he had seen cancer patients that do not act as sick as me. And granted that may be so, however, I am also the primary caregiver of a 4 year old and a 1year old as well as treating strep throat with antibiotics. ( that I am not so keen on taking). So, I have to say that although it can be depressing not feeling one's self and watching the chores pile up, a woman with a supportive husband is a lucky one and he should not be taken for granted. So, if you have a supportive man tell him how you appreciate him and all the help he has given because not all of us are so lucky! Reply

Chaya Tarzana, Ca. June 18, 2007

Very beautiful response and explanation!! Best wishes to the expectant mother. Reply

Anonymous crown heights, ny September 7, 2006

Really nice answer Rachel. I think every woman out there who feels nasty in the first few months can relate. We want to continue doing what we were doing pre-pregnancy, but we simply don't have the same energy level. I myself am in the same situation and I think I'll try your advice.
Thank you Rachel Reply