The first hints of morning sickness can be exciting. For many, it’s the first ‘real’ sign that you’re pregnant and that things are progressing as they should be. But it doesn’t take long for the novelty to wear off – if that’s you, here are a few ideas to help get you through a seemingly endless first trimester (and beyond) of morning (all day!) sickness.
1. Do what you can
You’re normally a total foodie – you’ll eat anything and everything and you plan to eat a perfectly healthy diet throughout your pregnancy. But suddenly even the thought of bolognaise or the sight of baby spinach has you dry retching and instead your plate is now filled with white – plain pasta, rice, potatoes, rice crackers, toast…
Before you start feeling guilty about the (lack of) nutrients you’re now eating, be assured that your baby is able to get all that it needs from you. Continue to take your daily pregnancy multivitamin to top up your vitamin and mineral needs and focus on eating what you can, when you can. For most women, pregnancy nausea is temporary and unlikely to cause any long-term nutritional deficiencies if you resume a healthy, balanced meal pattern once the nausea disappears (which it will…eventually!).
2. Do your best
Despite having little desire to prepare or eat nutritionally perfect meals, morning sickness is not an excuse for a 13-week binge fest on hot chips and soft drink, even if that’s all you may feel like eating day after day. Wherever you can, keep your choices as nutritious as possible. Avoiding excessive weight gain is important for a healthy pregnancy and minimises your risk of complications along the way.
3. Ignore the clock
Eat when you feel best. For many women, feeling unwell comes in waves and their worst time for nausea can often occur at a predictable time of the day. If first thing in the morning is worst for you, keep your breakfast small and simple and make the most of the rest of the day to eat as best as you can. On the other hand, if dinner is your hardest time to tackle food, try eating a more substantial meal at lunchtime and graze or nibble on something plain in the evening.
4. Let someone else do the leg work
Often the aromas of cooking can trigger intense feelings of nausea and vomiting so where possible, keep yourself out of the kitchen and away from cooking smells. If it’s not practical or realistic for someone else to cook for you at home, look for nutritious pre-made meal options that you can pick up on your way home on nights when you are feeling particularly under the weather – think simple quiches or veggie pasties from the bakery or a pre-made ravioli or gnocchi that you only need to stir a simple sauce through.
5. Chill out
Since smells can be a major problem for morning sickness, think about swapping to cool meals. You may find nibbling on raw veggies easier to manage than cooked ones or create your own frozen smoothie icy-poles to replace your usual cooked breakfast. Cold sandwiches (made with safe ingredients) make an easy lunch option – no need to eat it all at once either, cut it into triangles like your mum used to send to school and nibble over an hour (or more).
6. Break open the bubbles
No, not the champagne variety! For many women, plain water becomes very unappealing when they’re feeling nauseous. If this is the case, try sipping on lightly carbonated water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice.
7. Calming foods
Traditional calming foods such as peppermint and ginger can be a real saviour when you’re struggling with nausea. Stock up your pantry with peppermint tea, keep a stash of peppermints in your bag and nibble on homemade ginger biscuits to calm your stomach before, or between, meals.
8. No heroes!
For some women, morning sickness can be severe and debilitating. If you are suffering from relentless nausea, vomiting, experiencing weight loss or showing signs dehydration see your doctor and ask for support. There are many anti-nausea medications that your GP can prescribe that are safe to use during pregnancy and, in cases of severe dehydration, hospitalisation for rehydration can be necessary for the health of you and your baby so seek help if you are really struggling to keep any food or fluid down.