The past few months have been a struggle for me, to say the least! I’m ecstatic to be pregnant…with twins—eeeek!, however, I’ve had some pretty miserable morning sickness that felt like it would never end. Fortunately, I am coming out of the fog and finally feeling like a human again!
Morning sickness, which definitely does not only occur in the morning, is the feeling of nausea, sometimes accompanied with vomiting, that women often experience early in their pregnancies. Luckily, most symptoms of morning sickness subside by the end of the first trimester, however some women do experience nausea throughout their entire pregnancies.
Nutrition support in early pregnancy is important, and in my opinion it’s not accessed as readily as it should be due to not seeing a doctor right away or not sharing about pregnancy, etc. So I’ve jotted down some of the things that have helped me manage this unpleasant time and I hope these tips can be useful for others having similar experiences.
Have a Bedside Snack— For some women nausea can feel the worst in the morning when waking up on an empty stomach. It can be helpful to keep some crackers (or something) next to your bed to pop in your mouth first thing in the morning. Sometimes I would wake up feeling nauseous in the middle of the night or very early morning and taking a bite or two of peanut butter toast helped settle my stomach enough to get back to sleep.
Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day— Symptoms of nausea can get worse if you get overly hungry or too full, so it can be helpful to have snacks or small meals more regularly throughout the day. I did my best to have a bag of snacks with me at all times. Things like nuts, dried mangoes and bananas were the snacks I was most successful with. It can feel really hard to make yourself eat when nothing looks, sounds or smells appetizing, but I noticed that on days when I was able to eat regularly, I had much less nausea and vomiting.
Eat anything!— The nutritionist in me wants to tell you to focus on nutrient dense food choices, such as meats, eggs, fruits, nuts, veggies, etc. However, the reality is that constant nausea makes that so difficult and often an unrealistic expectation to have. So given my recent experience, I say just eat whatever sounds good, or sounds tolerable rather. The key is to get enough food so you prevent weight loss during the first trimester. It may help to avoid spicy, greasy, fatty foods that could upset your stomach more. If you have to live off of bagels and frozen pizza for a few months (like I did)—it’s ok. Be kind to yourself and know that you can focus on your nutrition again when you feel better.
Sip on water all day— Like eating, it may also be harder to drink water, but it’s super important to stay hydrated. So try to sip on water or tea throughout the day. I noticed that my nausea would get much worse on days that I was struggling to drink enough water and the more water I drank the better I felt.
Ginger or Mint—Drinking ginger or mint tea can be a great option for helping settle an upset tummy. Ginger and peppermint candies can be helpful too. I happened to have leftover candy canes around in January and found that they helped take the edge off.
Rest— As much as possible try to get enough rest. This can be hard to do, and is so important. I definitely noticed my nausea feeling much worse after nights of poor sleep. I tried to sneak in naps whenever I could and I often went to bed an hour earlier than usual.
Ask for help— For me, the most difficult thing during this time was eating, and that meant that I needed lots of help. Luckily for me, my husband was willing to make some adjustments during this time to help me better feed myself. He started making me breakfast before he left for work in the morning and literally putting it in front of my face to eat. He did more grocery shopping and cooked more dinners. He also did a ton more work around the house and with our daughter so I could sleep in later in the mornings and go to bed earlier at night. If you’re struggling to eat or get enough sleep, ask your partner for help. Come up with a few specific things that would help you be more successful with food or rest and work together.
Consider Medication— For those of you that have tried all the tips in the book and still feel like shit, talk to your doctor about an anti-nausea medication. Getting yourself fed is important and there are medications safe for baby that will help you function like a normal person again. However, if your nausea and vomiting are really severe, the above suggestions may even feel insulting, you could be dealing with Hyperemesis Gravidarum which will require medical consultation. Don’t hesitate to see your doctor!
Having morning sickness can make it really difficult to take good care of yourself and your nutritional needs, and eating in early pregnancy is important! So if you’re struggling, focus on some of these tips to help manage the symptoms and reach out for nutrition support.