Pregnant Without Land Legs: The First Trimester

If you missed my last post, I’m pregnant with my first baby!  My husband and I are so grateful and excited for our little girl!

I was dying to know and read anything I could about what pregnancy would be like with mal de debarquement syndrome (MdDS) and/or vestibular migraine (VM), so I’m sharing with you all the things I wanted to know.  

Am I in Remission? Not Yet. 

I had a feeling that I was pregnant before even taking a test because I didn’t wake up with my usual monthly spike in MdDS symptoms.  I was so excited at the possibility that pregnancy would finally “stop the rock,” but so far I’m still without land legs. I have hope for more stillness as the weeks go on, though!  I’ve heard wonderful tales of women who had a baby and never had symptoms again!  

Baseline Before Baby

My symptoms were the lowest they had ever been when I found out I was pregnant, both the rocking/bobbing/swaying of MdDS and the vertigo, head pain, and auras of vestibular migraine.  I was on a pregnancy-safe treatment plan of daily Timolol Maleate eyedrops, Cefaly use, and supplements. Being only at home or outside most of the time, it’s rare that I’m exposed to triggers I can’t manage, aside from the weather. Overall, I was feeling pretty in-control, with symptoms usually around a 1-2 (out of 10).

My light sensitivity had disappeared for normal daily activities (although flashing lights or strobes must be avoided). I was able to use the Cefaly device at the first sign of a migraine (head pain or increase in vertigo) to stop it from escalating or make it disappear.  The Timolol Maleate drops I was using had calmed down my visual vertigo and seemed to lower my overall baseline. (For more info on my treatments, check out Two Years Without Land Legs).  Luckily, I’ve been able to continue these treatments while pregnant.

Motion Sickness and “Morning” Sickness

The hallmark of my first trimester was “morning sickness,” which lasted all day and night.  The doctor called it “nausea and vomiting,” but it felt more like “always ready to throw up” and “unable to avoid throwing up.”  I had nausea (like a seasick feeling) almost constantly my first year of MdDS/VM, but this was on a whole other level. This is pretty common with pregnancy in general, but I do think having MdDS/VM likely made it worse.

I read that women who are prone to motion sickness are more likely to experience morning sickness. Around week 7 or 8, I started getting motion sick riding in the car, followed by an increase in MdDS symptoms and nausea/vomiting after getting out of the car.  Ginger (in the form of ginger chews), eating constantly, drinking juice, and Sea Bands seemed to the help in some situations. 

Vestibular Migraine and Vomiting

On literally the worst day of the first trimester, I was throwing up constantly, unable to even keep down small sips of water. After a few hours of this, I had a pretty bad headache, so I put on my Cefaly for an hour. Oddly enough, my nausea started to improve. I was able to keep down water, and slowly start eating small bits of food. I don’t have a solid theory as to why the Cefaly would help stop vomiting, but it does make me think there is a migraine and morning sickness connection.

Dizziness and Vertigo

Throughout the first trimester I had temporary surges of dizziness and vertigo, but I think because I’ve managed it in the past, it did not bother me as much as the morning sickness.  Before I was pregnant, I had completely stopped having random spins, elevator drops, or other sudden vertigo experiences. After I found out I was pregnant, it started again intermittently.  It usually happens most at the grocery store or when it’s raining.

Rocking, Bobbing, and Swaying

The good thing is, that despite the uptick in symptoms after car rides or vomiting, my rocking/bobbing/swaying baseline remained at a 1-2. I have had some stretches during the day where my MdDS-type motion sensations are very low, hard-to-detect, or barely noticeable! It’s hard to say if I’ve reached complete stillness or not… I am not quite sure what that feels like anymore! Weather was the only trigger this trimester that really increased my symptoms for more than a short time.

Emotions and Fatigue

With hormones running wild and so many body changes happening, I definitely felt a lot moodier than normal. I was exhausted all day, every day. I’ll be honest, it felt nearly impossible stay positive when I was feeling so terrible, tired, and disgusted all the time. I felt guilty a lot of days about how little I was able to accomplish. It helped me to mentally “surrender” to what I was experiencing – to just focus on “being” (not doing) and getting through it. I felt worse on the days I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to get things done. Meditations on the Expectful app were helpful, as was using a daily gratitude journal.

It Gets Easier

Many of the symptoms I experienced are common in pregnancy even without MdDS or VM, so I really don’t want anyone to get discouraged reading this! Honestly, the first trimester was hard, and at the time it felt very long (and like it would never end). But, as I entered the second trimester, things shifted and I started to feel much better! It was a very difficult stretch, but worth it.

The way that so many pregnant women experience similar symptoms week-to-week is fascinating to me, and it reminded me of the way I felt when I realized how many people with MdDS and VM experience similar symptoms. We are all connected in our human journeys. If others before us have done it, we can too!

Wishing you wellness and stillness!


P.S. If you are at the beginning of your vestibular journey or struggling to get back to living a life you love, I would love to help you! Learn more about working with me to adapt to your condition and overcome challenges:

4 thoughts on “Pregnant Without Land Legs: The First Trimester

  1. You always offer such helpful tips… and I’m not even pregnant! I’m so happy that your baseline is down and that you’re able to share some of what has helped you with the vestibular population. May the seas continue to remain calm!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing!
    Question with your swaying, I’ve had this MdDS for about 4 months triggered by spinning vertigo, did your body actually sway side to side if sitting down or standing still? Or is it just a sensation in your mind that you’re swaying?
    I also have vestibular migraines


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