Although pregnancy is a very exciting time, it can also come with many physical changes which aren’t always the most enjoyable. Thought you would be “glowing” but have your head in the toilet instead? We hear you.
Yes it would be great to be eating a saint like diet full of nutritious foods but majority of pregnant women will tell you its near impossible and impractical. So here is some advice from an Accredited Dietitian to help you through the best you can.
Top Tips for First Trimester eating when you nauseas or sick:
Eat early: Rises in hormones during pregnancy can cause gut discomfort. An empty stomach can = a churning stomach and increased nausea. Send your partner straight to the kitchen for something simple and salty when you wake. For example, Vegemite/Promite and margarine on plain toast or english muffins.
Eat bland, small, regular meals every 2-3 hours: Too much flavour is something you will likely want to avoid with both your taste and smell heightened during this trimester.
During pregnancy a rise in progesterone also results in the slowing down of your digestive transit time. This is the body’s way of trying to absorb as many nutrients as it can to help your baby develop. Progesterone also helps to relax your uterus’s muscles so they can expand and make room for your baby. This can however result in bloating, reflux, nausea, vomiting and constipation.
Consume protein when you feel your best: For many, animal based proteins especially red meat are harder to digest when pregnant. These sources of food are still vital to supply iron and protein for foetal development however, so it’s important they aren’t neglected.
If you feel at lunch your symptoms are best, include these foods then, if its dinner try this. After all, morning sickness isn’t always morning sickness and can hit at any time of the day!
Many women also comment that mince meats are easier on the gut than steak or lamb.
Limit fibrous and fatty foods: Foods high in fibre and fats are of course incredibly important for optimal health including digestion. However, in combination or in too large quantities will only exacerbate symptoms. Reducing, limiting or substituting these foods on days when you are particularly unwell can be helpful.
Gassy foods are also one to limit and include eggs/cabbage/lentils and legumes/brussel sprouts/onions and broccoli.
Get your fluid in: Whilst your body is working hard to build all your baby’s organs it is also very protective of this process. Always loved water? Watch out, it could be you are even turned off water as well as some foods. Crazy right?
Drinking a variety of different fluids can help with hydration which also impacts your digestion and is very important for the foetus. For many, cold/icy water is a lot more appealing with small sips rather than huge glasses all in one. Other options are tea, hot cocoa with a dash of milk, juice or flat ginger ale. Fizzy drinks will often make things worse, especially gas.
Change up what you eat: Try different varieties of bland foods and have them available in the house i.e grainy crackers, rice crackers, rice cakes. As you’ll likely go through phases of what you like and be quite picky.
Take a multivitamin – but the right one at the right time: When your nutrition intake is compromised a pregnancy multivitamin can help you top up your micronutrient intake. Folate in particular is important in early pregnancy as folic acid is needed to help the development of your baby’s nervous system and neural tube.
A liquid capsule high in Omega-3 fatty acids will likely have you burping fish oil which is pretty grosse so you might find hard tablets work better. Consuming this after a meal is best to reduce stomach discomfort and avoid nausea from high Zinc concentrations.
Note: Many of these tablets are high in iron which is great but they can also at times cause constipation.
It’s important to acknowledge that every woman’s journey and symptoms are different in the first Trimester. That’s why connecting with a health professional like an Accredited Dietitian can be super helpful. If you are too sick to go in in person we can by all means provide a consultation via phone or video chat.
If you are worried about how rough your first trimester was, your weight gain (or lack of) we can also support these goals for a healthy pregnancy.
Luckily, after about 12- 14 weeks things should (they don’t always!) start to improve. Remember, its worth it 🙂