By Micah Madsen, Brookwood Baptist Registered Dietician
Morning sickness? For many women, the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy can last all day long. In fact, these days it’s technically known as “nausea and vomiting during pregnancy,” or NVP.
Nobody really knows the exact reason why pregnant women suffer from morning sickness. The most commonly thought reason is due to the natural increase in hormones, especially human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG.
Most women know that this is just an unavoidable side effect of a healthy pregnancy and developing baby. But it can take a nutritional toll on the mom-to-be. Since good nutrition is crucial during this stage of life, here are some tips to help combat morning sickness and stay as healthy as possible.
1. Avoid smells: Pregnancy hormones may enhance your sense of smell, which can cause nausea to get worse when you’re exposed to certain odors.
2. Consume in small amounts: Eat small frequent meals every couple of hours throughout the day. Don’t drink more than 4 ounces at a time, and only drink between meals, not during meals. Never let your stomach get too empty.
3. Sit up straight: After eating or drinking, don’t lie down for a while even if you really need a nap. Gravity will help prevent nausea and reflux.
4. Candy remedies: Keep a stash of lemon drops, peppermints or ginger candies close by, which provide nausea relief for some women.
5. Go clear: If it’s hard to keep anything down, focus on clear liquids that are not highly sugared or carbonated, such as water with lemon, tea or Gatorade. Make sure you stay hydrated!
6. Into the freezer: If keeping fluids down is a problem, try freezing milk, juice or water. The cold numbs the back of your mouth and takes away the bad taste and sensation that brings on nausea.
7. Be bland: Once clear liquids are staying down, concentrate on non-fatty starches like dry toast, crackers, baked potatoes and plain baked pretzels. Avoid butter, gravy and heavy sauces, plus fried, greasy and spicy foods. Non-acidic fruits like peaches, pears and bananas are usually well tolerated.
8. Add more variety later: Keep it simple first thing in the morning; if the nausea tends to subside later in the day, try to eat meats, cheeses and other milk products that sound good to you.
9. Supplement: Consider taking vitamins to supplement your diet. Unfortunately, the iron in prenatal vitamins may also make nausea worse. An adult chewable multivitamin with folic acid may help.
10. Pack in nutrients: Once the worst of your morning sickness has passed (after the first trimester for many), pack in as many healthy foods as possible: colorful fruits and vegetables, lean protein and foods with a lot of calcium, iron and zinc.
Even the most time-honored morning sickness remedies may not be able to cure all that ails you, so consult your physician if symptoms persist or become worse during your pregnancy.