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Pregnant women with morning sickness

 

What To Eat For Morning Sickness?

It’s estimated up to 80% of women experience nausea and vomiting early in their pregnancy, including myself when I was pregnant with my son. Many women are searching for answers on what to eat for morning sickness.

Morning sickness usually begins at 6 – 7 weeks of your pregnancy, peaks at 9 – 13 weeks and resolves in most cases by the end of the first trimester¹Some may even experience for the entire duration of their pregnancy. It can get so bad that a woman needs to be hospitalised and this condition is known as ‘Hyperemesis Gravidarum’.

Despite being commonly known as ‘Morning Sickness’, it’s not confined to the morning. It can occur at any time of the day. The main symptoms of morning sickness include vomiting, nausea and retching. You may become sensitive to visual motion, certain odours, bright lights, loud noises and tight-fitting clothes. 

What Causes Morning Sickness?

No one knows exactly what causes it yet. Why some women get sicker than others remains a mystery. To date, the most accepted theory is thought to be associated with the fluctuation of the pregnancy hormones (i.e. the HCG and oestrogen hormones)¹. Some women can be more susceptible to morning sickness, especially for

  • Women who had it before with their previous pregnancies
  • Those who have a family history of it
  • Those who suffer from migraines
  • Those who tend to get motion sickness 
  • Women who are expecting multiple births, i.e.twins or triplets
  • Those who are sensitive to oestrogen when taking birth control pills 

1. MULTIVITAMINS SUPPLEMENTATION

vitamin supplement

One study, which is based on medical experts’ advice, suggests that the increased level of iron content and the large tablet size in the pregnancy vitamins may aggravate the symptoms of morning sickness². On the other hand, another study also shows that if the pregnancy vitamins supplement is taken three months before conception, it may reduce the severity of vomiting and nausea³.

If you think that your current pregnancy vitamins worsen nausea and vomiting, the suggestion is to take a folic acid supplement alone. It’s essential to consume a folic acid supplement (400 mcg per day) three months before conception and at least until the end of the first trimester, to minimise the risk of neural tube birth defects. 

You can also choose a pregnancy multivitamin that doesn’t come with an iron. After the first trimester, when nausea and vomiting become better, you can resume taking a regular one with iron. 

Taking a multivitamin supplement can also help to support your nutrients intake, especially if you’re experiencing poor appetite early in your pregnancy.

2. VITAMIN B6 SUPPLEMENT

Vitamin B6 is essential for the formation of red blood cells and acts as a coenzyme in our body metabolism. The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDIs) for pregnancy is 1.9 mg per day (The Nutrient Reference Values, NHMRC 2006). Vitamin B6 can be found in a wide range of food sources, such as:

  • Lean meat, poultry and fish like Atlantic salmon, sardines
  • Legumes: Lima beans, lentils, red kidney beans
  • Nuts: pistachios, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews
  • Whole grain food: brown rice, wild rice and wheat germ
  • Vegetables: eggplant, silverbeet, spinach, cabbage, bok choy
  • Seeds: sunflower seeds

Women are often advised to consume a vitamin B6 supplement to relieve nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. However, there is limited evidence from clinical trials to support the use of vitamin B6 supplements.

Despite the lack of evidence, it may be helpful still to try a vitamin B6 supplement. The safe upper limit during pregnancy is up to 50 mg of vitamin B6 per day (The Nutrient Reference Values, NHMRC 2006). A high dose of vitamin B6 can potentially be harmful to the body⁴. It shouldn’t be used if you’re taking medication for epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. So, please seek doctor advice if you’ve any medical health concerns.

3. GINGER 

Ginger Tea

Several clinical trials have found the consumption of ginger supplements may help ease the symptoms of morning sickness⁴. Although the evidence is still weak and inconclusive, ginger appears to be safe to consume during pregnancy with no adverse effects⁵. 

Consider trying ginger either in the form of tea, lollies, jam, syrup or flat ginger ale. If you’re taking the ginger supplement, the recommended safe amount is 1000-1500 mg of ginger extract per day⁴. I suggest dividing this into three or four doses throughout the day and try this for at least four days.

4. OTHER DIETARY TIPS:

Anecdotal evidence⁶⁻⁹ concludes that eating small, frequent meals and separating solids and liquid food may help ease the symptoms. Other advice includes avoiding cold beverages, high-fat and diet with a strong smell. Some also suggest that high-protein meals and snacks may alleviate symptoms¹⁰. 

As there is no one size fits all approach, I recommend you to start trying a few of the above tips for at least 3 – 4 days and see what works for you.  

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Which of the above strategies have you tried before, and whether it has helped to ease your symptoms? Let me know in the comment below. I hope you’ll find this week’s episode useful.

With so much love💗,

Catherine

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