Head in the toilet, stomach retching, dry toast on hand… ah yes, the dreaded Morning Sickness.
Unfortunately morning sickness is one of the less glamorous realities of pregnancy affecting anywhere from 60-80% of women. For the majority of women, morning sickness will begin around 4 weeks and ease off towards the end of the first trimester (12-14 weeks), however, for the unlucky few it can continue the entire way through the pregnancy. Some women will also experience illness at any time during the day, making it even more debilitating.
We are still to determine one specific cause of morning sickness; but studies suggest it may be caused by a combination of factors such as hormonal fluctuations, altered carbohydrate metabolism, altered blood pressure (particularly low blood pressure) increased sensitivity to tastes and smells or simply the huge amount of changes occurring in your body during this period. These factors mean that morning sickness is nearly impossible to prevent, so depending on the severity of your symptoms there are certain changes you can make to your diet to help alleviate the symptoms.
Tips for managing morning sickness in early pregnancy…
Stick to high carbohydrate, salty or bland foods as these tend to settle the stomach and provide much needed energy during this time. The salt can also help to replenish electrolytes lost through prolonged vomiting. Ideal foods include dry toast or toast with spread such as Vegemite, dry crispbreads (Vitaweets / Cruskits) or crackers (rice crackers or Corn thins), boiled rice, plain pasta, baked or mashed potato.
Avoid rich foods such as spicy, fatty, or fried foods. These foods are hard to digest and can contribute to stomach upset and queasiness in a lot of people. Remember, you have to be kind to yourself in pregnancy; and that includes your gut as well!
3- Small Portions
Eat small nutrient dense meals frequently. Many people find that symptoms can flare up after having a big meal, or when their stomach gets empty so plan to eat small pieces every 1-2 hours. This helps to combat both these situations while stabilizing your blood sugar and enabling you to get all the nutrients you and your baby need. Good mini meals include Cheese and Crackers, dry toast, English muffins with baked beans, yogurt, smoothies, nuts, nut butters with vegetable sticks or crackers, avocado, lean meat, fresh or dried fruit, even boiled eggs if you can tolerate them.
4- Plan Ahead
Plan ahead so that you are never without foods you can tolerate as you never know when you may be affected. Try keeping some dry crackers and water near your bed to put something on your stomach first thing in the morning, carry a muesli bar or some nuts in your handbag, cook and freeze meals in bulk on days you feel well or have some microwave ready meals on hand. And remember, this won’t last forever, so if you can only tolerate cheese on toast for 3 meals a day – that’s fine!
Drink lots of fluid but not all at once. Consuming 1.5-2L of fluid every day is important, but more so if you are vomiting. Sipping on fluids such as water, fizzy drinks (dry ginger ale, flat lemonade) or our First Trimester Pregnancy Tea blends have been designed to help to settle the stomach while keeping you hydrated. Some women also find that separating fluids from meal times by about 30 minutes helps as it reduces the pressure on the stomach. If you can’t tolerate fluids, try sucking on ice-chips or ice-blocks or opt for hydrating foods such as soups, watermelon, cucumber and lettuce. For an even healthier option make some iceblocks using the MaterniTea Pregnancy Teas so suck on.
Other strategies for managing morning sickness and nausea include:
– Avoiding stimuli which may aggravate senses such as coffee, petrol fumes, body odour, some cooking smells, garbage and some perfumes, scented products.
– Not lying down for 30 minutes after you eat, and standing up slowly when moving from a lying or seated position.
– Using acupressure wrist bands like you would use when going on a plane or cruise ship.
– Get out and about! A change of scenery may help to settle the stomach by providing a nice distraction. And it makes life a lot more enjoyable!
If you are really struggling with illness or nausea, have a chat to your doctor about other treatments or remember that our MaterniTea dietitians are always available to talk to you about making these strategies work for you and helping you get through your pregnancy as easily and healthily as possible.
Managing Morning Sickness – Chloe Horne, APD
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