Nutrition and lifestyle for preventing nausea & vomiting in pregnancy
If you are at the beginning of the pregnancy, you must already know that you can expect many changes occurring in your body during the first trimester of your pregnancy. The significant increase of the hormones levels your body produces is what causes these changes. There may be various reactions to that situation: morning sickness is the most common one, as well as fatigue, dizziness, constipation and reflux (a condition whereby food from the stomach returns to the esophagus).
Even if your morning sickness is light and bearable, and certainly when it is severe and difficult, you may find the following instructions for adequate nutrition and healthy and balanced life style helpful. However, pay attention! The following recommendations are not appropriate if you suffer from any kind of food sensitivity or suffer from any medical condition.
- Try eating small portions every1-2 hours. This will help you keep a balanced level of blood sugar.
- Try not to eat or drink large liquid volumes at once.
- Avoid getting to situations in which you are too hungry or too thirsty, as this may result in a bad feeling.
- Take 20-30 minutes intervals between eating and drinking. Drinking while eating might cause a sense of fullness that will burden you.
- Do not skip meals.
- Try integrating into your diet foods that are rich in carbohydrates, low fat foods and low fat dairy products, because they are easier to digest.
- Try to add a source of protein to every meal and snack (see below “recommended foods for alleviating nausea”).
- Try eating soft, dry or salty food (see below “recommended foods for alleviating nausea”).
- As much as possible, avoid spicy, fried and / or very fatty food.
- In order to improve nutrition, if you do not manage to eat properly, you can add nutritional supplements in the form of liquid, pudding or energy bars.
- Try drinking a lot, approximately 2 liters a day (8 glasses).
- Drink cold beverages, ice chips, popsicles or slushies. This will help prevent dehydration and the metallic taste in your mouth.
- To help you increase the amount of fluids intake, you can add electrolytes (minerals contained in the body’s tissues and blood flow in the form of solvent salts).
- Avoid consuming alcohol.
- Many women develop an oversensitivity to odors during pregnancy. In order to avoid strong odors, try eating food at room temperature or cold food and avoid hot foods. Ventilate the house, go out for walks in the open air, smell a lemon or an orange; at times, during pregnancy, you will find it hard to tolerate scents and smells you usually love.
- Try sweets, chewing gum or candy to moderate the sensation of the metallic taste in your mouth.
- It is recommended to consult a doctor about the multi-vitamins you take, because the iron in those supplements can induce nausea, vomiting, and an uncomfortable sensation in the stomach and / or constipation. If your iron levels are good, try replacing your regular supplements with supplements intended for children or with multi-vitamins that contain low levels of iron and add folic acid.
- If your iron level is normal, try to switch to a children’s vitamin or a multivitamin with lower iron and add folic acid. If you have low iron levels, try splitting the multivitamin intake. Iron is very important for you and your unborn baby after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
- Sensations such as heartburn, reflux (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) and / or indigestion are very common during pregnancy and might even worsen the existing condition of morning sickness, from which you suffer. Refer to your attending physician for a suitable treatment.
- Constipation during pregnancy is common. It might get even worse in situations of fluids deficiency and lack of nutritional fibers in your food. Try adding nutritional fibers to your food (by eating cereal, granola, fruit and dried fruit). If this does not help, refer to your doctor regarding options for treating constipation.
- Bloating, gas and / or lactose intolerance may develop during pregnancy. To reduce these sensations, choose lactose free foods and talk to your doctor about the bloating, gas and lactose intolerance.
- Lie down as needed and devote a lot time for resting.
- Change positions slowly. Stand up slowly, especially when getting out of bed.
- Try not to brush your teeth immediately after eating.
- Try to get rid of excess saliva, and do frequent mouth rinses. Nausea and vomiting only get worse if you swallow the excess saliva.
To sum up, eat all you can and love that is well digested in your body. It is recommended to implement these nutrition recommendations as much as you can.
Recommended foods for reliving nausea
- Salty: Salty crackers, chips, pretzels, popcorn, nacho chips, macaroni; cheese.
- Sweet/sour: Pickles, lemonade, cranberry juice, apple juice, green apples.
- Vegetarian and greens: Baked potato, brown rice, mushroom soup, peanut butter, bread, avocado, celery sticks, melon, grapes, cucumbers, nuts.
- Refined: mashed potatoes, rice, white toast, and eggs.
- Soft food: pancakes, bread, noodles, oatmeal.
- Sweet: Candy, chewing gum, cake, sugary cereals, jam, canned fruit.
- Fruity: sherbet, dried fruit, any fresh fruit, fruity popsicles.
- Liquid: Slushies, smoothies, milkshake, juice, carbonated water, ginger ale, shaved ice.
- Dry food: crackers, cookies, cereal, biscotti, toasted bagel.
Suggestions for protein rich food
- Nuts and fibers: Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia, pistachio, cashew, soy, pumpkin, sunflower.
- Nut Butters: peanut butter, almond butter, cashew, soy, and hazelnut.
- Milk and Milk products: milk, yogurt, soft cheese, frozen yogurt, cottage cheese, soy, rice milk, almonds milk, goat milk.
- Legumes: Edamame (soy), peas, beans, lentils.
- Grain products: cereals, breads, crackers or pastas with higher protein content.
- Other: Protein powders, shakes, bars, beef or turkey, hard-boiled eggs, egg white omelet.
- Try resting as much as possible during the day as well; nausea increases when you are tired. Many women feel they need longer sleeping time during the first trimester of the pregnancy.
- Sometimes, you may need to take a time out from your work, chores and children.
- Get help from family and friends.
- Go out to open spaces, breath some fresh air and avoid warm closed spaces, that increase nausea.
- Try acupuncture to the wrist.
- Acupuncture can be beneficial to some women. Talk with your attending physician first and ask for a recommendation for a qualified therapist.
- Try ginger root, an alternative treatment for relaxing the stomach. Discus it with your doctor.
- In the event that your multivitamin makes your condition worse, try taking it with food or before going to sleep. There are products that contain lower levels of iron.
- If taking multivitamins does not work for you, take folic acid according to your doctor’s recommendations.