by Jennifer Sizeland | Jen Sizeland is a British writer, journalist and producer based in Manchester in the UK. Her travel blog is called Land of Size and it focuses on ethical living and eco-friendly travel.
Morning sickness is very common and affects around 70% of women. It can last from conception all the way through the first trimester of pregnancy. For some women morning sickness can mean feeling nauseous, or it can mean vomiting or a combination of both! It can also strike at any time of day, not just in the morning.
Quick Guide on Morning Sickness
Morning sickness in the first trimester is caused by the rising levels of hormones produced to create the embryo, as well as changing blood sugar levels. While there is no treatment for regular morning sickness, it’s very important to get enough rest and stay hydrated during this time. The good news is that it usually goes away by weeks 16-20 of pregnancy. If you experience extreme morning sickness and can’t keep liquids down, then it’s important to go to your physician or doctor who will be able to help you.
A woman’s sense of smell is much stronger in the first trimester and this is a way of protecting the baby from food that could cause problems, like gone off or rotting food, for example. There are various things that experts agree that women should avoid throughout pregnancy such as blue cheese, unpasteurized milk, uncooked meat, liver, game meats, uncooked eggs, tuna (due to mercury content), uncooked shellfish, highly caffeinated drinks and alcohol. It is important to thoroughly wash food and observe sell-by dates too.
While morning sickness is not much fun, so long as you’re taking pregnancy vitamins and drinking water, then your body is still giving the baby all the nutrients that it needs even when you’re eating less than usual. It’s also normal to have a reduction in your appetite and not feel as hungry as you normally would. Morning sickness is actually a good thing as it shows that you’re producing the hormones that your baby needs to grow. Once you get to the second trimester it is much easier than the first and you’ll start to forget how sick you once were – I promise!
One thing that can help is to eat small meals more often which can sometimes help to reduce the sickness that you’re feeling. It’s also useful to avoid anything that smells too strongly or is too rich in flavour, as that can turn your stomach. Foods like creamy pasta or spicy curries can be too heavy at this time and it’s better to eat lighter meals that are slightly more bland in taste. To get you through your morning sickness, these are some of the best things to eat when you’re struggling to eat or keep your food down.
Best Things to Eat During Morning Sickness
Try freezing fruit cordial or keeping ice pops in the freezer. You can use these to suck on to get a small sugar boost to keep you going. Cold foods are less likely to make you feel sick at this time than hot foods. You can also try a fruit-flavoured sorbet. This is easier on the stomach than ice cream, which can be too rich if you’re feeling unwell.
The humble lemon can help to settle your stomach if you suck on a slice. It could help to get you through nauseous moments. It can also distract your tastebuds and the smell of it is quite soothing, as well.
Ginger beer is actually a non-alcoholic drink. I can attest that ginger beer saved me in the first trimester of my pregnancy. I used to drink it in the morning to settle my stomach before breakfast. Ginger is a great ingredient for reducing feelings of sickness so ginger biscuits and tea can help, too.
Either plain or flavoured yogurt can go down nicely during pregnancy and it can make a great light meal, when combined with granola or fruit. Frozen yoghurt tubes can be a good snack for when you’re on the go. If you’re a vegan then try coconut yoghurt or soy-based yoghurt.
A bag of chips can be an ideal snack for pregnancy. They’re not too strongly-flavoured, but they can provide a valuable source of carbohydrates when you can’t handle anything bigger.
Plain cookies can be a lifesaver! Especially when you’re out and about, as blood sugar can suddenly dip in pregnancy, leaving you feeling light-headed. Bonus tip: keep an emergency pack of cookies in your bag or car. They will keep you going if you feel ill outside of the house.
Cereal with milk or oat milk can be a great easy meal, especially to get you started in the mornings. Muesli, corn flakes or puffed rice can all be good options. Some types even contain folic acid, which is an important nutrient for the baby.
If you’re feeling very sick, then a slice of dry toast can help. It doesn’t have too much taste so it can help line your stomach without triggering sickness. If you have an aversion to butter or margarine at this time, then try it without any spread. You could also try it with a tiny bit of jelly or peanut butter.
Food that is quite liquid can be good during pregnancy and this is where soup can come in! Whether it’s homemade or out of a tin, soup is easy to swallow and it contains vegetables to increase your vitamin intake. It also takes up less room in your stomach so is less likely to induce nausea or more vomiting.
Things that you can suck on are very useful in pregnancy. They can help distract you if you get a bad taste in your mouth (another lovely first trimester symptom). They’re also very portable so take them with you on the go to keep your blood sugar levels up.
Soft and easy to eat, bananas are a no-brainer for pregnancy snacking. They also contain lots of useful vitamins and minerals.
Another good dry food to try is crackers. They don’t have too much taste, but it’s an opportunity to get a bit of carbohydrates in your stomach. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try them with a bit of cheese or spread.
A toasted bagel or even half a bagel, if you don’t have much of an appetite, can be another good way to start the day. The softness of the dough means that they’re easy to eat and they can be loaded with different toppings (or not) depending on how you feel. Peanut butter is good for protein, chocolate spread is good for a sugar boost and cream cheese can work if you want something more savoury.
If lemons are a bit too sour for you, then oranges can settle your stomach in a similar way. Plus they’re full of vitamin C which is good for you and the baby.
The main thing to remember when morning sickness gets you down is that it will end, though it can sometimes feel relentless at first. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and take it slow and steady through the first trimester. Nausea can be worse if it’s your first pregnancy as your body isn’t used to it and may be slightly easier to deal with in future pregnancies. Many women find morning sickness difficult so you’re definitely not alone. It will also be worth it when you have your beautiful child at the end of it!