I have a super exciting post for you all today, the lovely Kirstin from Taste & See Blog is going to be sharing all about navigating morning sickness. Kirstin is a fellow Registered Associate Nutritionist, blogger and a dear friend. This is quite a relevant topic for Kirstin as she has just welcomed her gorgeous daughter, Rylee Isabelle, into the world! Kirstin had to deal with morning sickness while working in the lab on her master’s research project (oh jeez) so I think she is more than qualified to speak on this topic!! I hope that you guys enjoy this, even if you aren’t planning to be pregnant anytime soon!
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Now, let’s hear from Kirstin.
Pregnancy can be quite a wild ride. Believe me, I’ve just made my way through almost 9 months of crazy hormones, days where food hasn’t been all that appealing, and all the emotions that come with realising that you’re about to become a parent. Often the first trimester of pregnancy can be characterised by tiredness, sore breasts, and morning sickness. Today I’d like to share a bit more information about morning sickness, how to show yourself kindness as you navigate your way through the first trimester of pregnancy, and some simple strategies that may help alleviate some of the nausea associated with this common pregnancy symptom.
What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness (what a deceiving term, more like ALL DAY sickness if you ask me) is a common symptom experienced by women during early pregnancy that involves nausea, either with or without vomiting. Although the exact cause of morning sickness is unknown, it is suggested that the hormonal changes that take place during the early stages of pregnancy have a role to play, including:
● Increased oestrogen levels
● Increased human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) levels
In most cases, morning sickness only lasts until the end of the first trimester, however for some (around 1 in 10) it can extend throughout pregnancy. A small proportion of women can experience such extreme nausea and vomiting that they are diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, which may require hospitalisation to replace lose fluids and nutrients.
Listen to your body
During pregnancy our normal hunger cues can be a bit out of whack. Foods that you may normally love eating can become really unappealing, and bland, boring food is often the only thing that you can stomach. Firstly I want to say that it’s totally okay to honour what your body is telling you, even if it’s simply that it wants to have a slice of toast with peanut butter or a bowl of plain pasta with olive oil for dinner. Be curious about the foods that your body leads you to eat rather than being scared of your cravings. Remember that this period will not last forever, and that it is ok to eat beige food for a few weeks.
Although nutrition is an important part of pregnancy, it is unlikely that you will become deficient in important vitamins and minerals over a short space of time. Our bodies have maternal stores that can help support your needs during the few weeks that you may not be able to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Our bodies also become far more efficient at absorbing nutrients from our food during pregnancy, and as a bonus you will probably be taking a multivitamin to ensure that you consume sufficient quantities of each of the important micronutrients required to support a growing baby. Lastly, allow for flexibility. In some days you may crave fresh fruit, a cold chopped salad, or warm roasted vegetables, and on others you may only be able to stomach plain carbohydrate-based foods. Over time, these foods and the nutrients that they provide will balance.
Simple tips for navigating morning sickness
Ok that’s great, I hear you saying, but what can I do to help myself feel better when I’m really nauseous and feel like throwing up all the time. There are a few really easy strategies that may be useful for those who just a bit of help managing nausea and getting sufficient nourishment during the early days of pregnancy:
- Eat something small when you wake up in the morning, even if it’s just a dry biscuit, an orange, or small pot of yoghurt. It can often be really difficult to do this, particularly if you wake up feeling nauseous, but usually having something small to eat when you wake up can help dampen the nausea so that you can get started with your day.
- Plan to eat a few smaller meals and snacks more often than normal. As mentioned, during the early days of pregnancy our hunger signals can be a bit out of whack and we may not be able to recognise our normal hunger cues such as a growling tummy as easily as before. When navigating the first few weeks of pregnancy, it can be easy to get overly hungry, not recognise it, and have that hunger manifest as nausea or vomiting. Consuming smaller, more frequent meals and snacks can help prevent this from happening.
- Avoid foods with a strong smell. If possible, have others help you with cooking as food will have a stronger odour when heated.
- Avoid foods that make you feel ill. Seriously, don’t force yourself to eat green vegetables if the smell of them makes you feel like being sick. Remember that this is only for a limited period of time, so you can always go back to enjoying these foods once the morning sickness period has passed.
- Drink enough fluids to stay hydrated. Sip on water and other fluids throughout the day rather than trying to drink a large quantity in one go. In the warmer months, ice cold drinks can be really useful – think ice water, lemonade, slushies, or water with frozen fruit added.
- Consume ginger – think ginger ale, ginger tea, crystallised ginger, or a ginger supplement. There is some evidence to show that ginger can significantly decrease nausea, and is safe to consume during pregnancy. As my friend McKenzie suggests in a blogpost that she wrote on this topic: “Tea made by boiling fresh chopped or grated ginger is one way to get a good dose, and you can also drink herbal tea that has ginger in it“ .
- Get enough rest. Seriously, where possible allow yourself to get some rest and take time out during the early days of pregnancy when you’re feeling sick and worn out. This might be difficult if you work full-time, but if possible take time over the weekends to recuperate and get in a couple of afternoon naps.
- If you are suffering from severe nausea, vomiting, dehydration, and weight loss seek help from a healthcare professional.
Other Useful Resources
- Don’t Salt My Game Episode 104 // HOW INTUITIVE EATING HELPED ME FIND PEACE WITH MY BODY DURING PREGNANCY W/ KIRSTIN KADE
- Emily Fonnesbeck – Musings on Intuitive Eating During Pregnancy
- The Real Life RD – Intuitive Eating During Pregnancy