Elated is an understatement to the feeling of finding out that I was pregnant. And of course being a dietitian, I began planning my meals and snacks to optimize my nutritional intake and ensure I could be as healthy as possible for my growing baby.

Fast forward one week and this plan went completely down the drain…literally. Morning sickness had struck without warning and here I was facing the toilet bowl more frequently than my dinner plate. While it is referred to as morning sickness it was certainly not the case. I felt miserable all day and could not stand the sight and smell of numerous foods. I even found the simple task of brushing my teeth to be a battle in keeping my stomach contents down.  And not only was that gigantic pregnancy multivitamin difficult to swallow thanks to my extremely sensitive gag reflex, but it often made me feel even worse afterwards. So how would it be possible to follow a balanced diet and provide my baby with all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients to give them the healthiest start to life?

Unfortunately, there is not a magical cure for morning sickness, but here are a few strategies that I followed to help alleviate my symptoms.

 

  1. I had small frequent sips on water and other fluids.

 Why? To prevent dehydration which can be dangerous to both yours and baby’s health.

 

 

  1. I chose much smaller portion sizes and would eat a small meal or snack every two hours.

 Why? Because having an empty stomach or alternately a very full stomach can make nausea worse.

 

 

  1. I tried to include carbohydrate containing foods and protein rich foods at each meal or snack.

 Why? There is some evidence that this may improve symptoms of nausea and vomiting.

 

 

  1. I avoided high fat foods (like fried foods, full cream dairy and fatty meats).

Why? These foods take longer to digest and sit in your stomach for longer.

 

 

  1. I avoided strong cooking aromas or foods that made me feel worse.

Why? Strong smells can worsen nausea and put you off your meal and some women develop particular food aversions during pregnancy. Remember to re-introduce any excluded foods once you start to feel better.

 

 

  1. I swapped my big pregnancy multivitamin to a much smaller tablet containing just folic acid and iodine. Before changing your supplement it is recommended to discuss it with your doctor or dietitian.

Why? Because most pregnancy multivitamins contain a large dose of iron, that can be harsh on an already sensitive stomach. Also, it is much easier to swallow a smaller tablet. Folic acid and iodine are the two minimum essential nutrients to supplement during pregnancy. Folic acid reduces the chance of neural tube defects and iodine is particularly important for baby’s brain development. Once you are feeling better it is a good idea to trial your regular pregnancy multivitamin again, but it is still ok to stay with your folic acid/iodine supplement all the way through (and remember that your iodine needs go UP when you are breastfeeding!).

 

 

  1. I waited…and waited…

Why? Fortunately most women find that morning sickness symptoms tend to ease on their own by the second trimester. Hence, time may eventually provide the best relief.

 

 

This was my typical days intake:

On waking up and before hopping out of bed:

  • 1-2 Sao crackers

Breakfast:

  • 1-2 pieces of toast with a very light scraping of margarine and vegemite
  • ½ glass of reduced fat milk

Morning Tea:

  • Piece of fruit
  • Salt and vinegar rice crackers or snack size tiny teddy pack

Lunch:

  • Pureed soup with cheese and a bread roll

Afternoon tea:

  • Popcorn
  • Tub of low fat yoghurt

Dinner:

  • 2/3 cup basmati rice
  • Fresh sticks of celery, carrot, cucumber and capsicum
  • Small piece of tofu or plain meat (cooked by my hubby while I was hiding from the cooking odours in the opposite end of the house)

Supper:

  • Piece of fruit
  • ½ glass of reduced fat milk

 

Do not be too concerned if you lose a small amount of weight because of nausea and vomiting, as this weight will usually return. However, if you are experiencing a severe or prolonged case of morning sickness it is important to speak to your Obstetrician or Midwife. In some severe cases you may require some medication to help control the nausea and vomiting or a drip to help you rehydrate.

 

Finally, if you are finding it difficult to regain lost weight and struggling to eat a balanced diet it may be beneficial to consult a Dietitian who can provide you with individualised advice. Please reach out to Lifestyle Maternity if you’d like some nutrition help at this time.

 

 

IMAGE CREDIT: Sergey Kotenev/ Unsplash

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Stack of 7 crackers with one leaning against the stack

AUTHOR CREDIT: Camille Davis, APD