9 tips to tackle nausea during your first trimester according to a registered dietitian
Nausea during the first trimester is extremely common, but that doesn’t make it less uncomfortable and un-welcomed. What’s worse, many women feel pressure to eat “perfectly” throughout their pregnancy, and may become anxious when they cannot stomach anything but saltines and potato chips.
So, what should a nauseous mama-to-be do? First of all, a few days of less-than-perfect eating will not sabotage your pregnancy. Hopefully, you were eating well before you had this symptom and have ample nutrition stores built up. You still want to try and follow the guidelines provided by your doctor or dietitian the best you can, but these tips below may also help you stay healthy, safe, and a little more comfortable through the first-trimester yuckies.
1. Stay hydrated. People who experience nausea may not feel the urge to drink as often as they should. Even if you are not eating as much as you were a few weeks ago, your liquid intake should not decline. Can’t stomach plain water? Try some infused water, iced spearmint tea, or even some maple water! (use code friendsofnutritionnow for 15% off of maple water).
2. Keep taking your prenatal vitamins, or find an alternative supplement until you feel better. Some women feel that their prenatal vitamins make them feel worse, and may completely stop taking them during their first trimester. Your vitamins are providing your body with nutrients that are critical to your baby’s growth and development, so continuing to take your vitamins is key. Try taking them at night and chase them with a small serving of carbohydrate and protein (like a peanut butter cracker) to help with tolerance.
One solution I have found is to temporarily consider switching to a gummy prenatal (under the guidance of a dietitian) or the Ritual prenatal vitamins. The Ritual prenatals can be taken on an empty stomach and have a slight lemon scent. They are easy to tolerate, and provide MOST of the essential nutrients mama needs. Ask your doc before you switch, and you can always go back to your pre-nausea prenatal once you are feeling better. check them out here. Some gummy vitamins are a decent alternative to the traditional pills too. Be mindful that many are not complete so check with your doc or dietitian before you make a temporary switch.
Note: The Ritual prenatal vitamins do not provide supplemental selenium. I generally recommend a woman eat one Brazil nut approx. 2- 3 times a week if she chooses these prenatal vitamins to provide her body with this nutrient. If she is able to tolerate a choline supplement, that would be a good idea to consider as well. These also do not provide Vitamin B6, so it is good to be mindful of this. As always, follow the advice of your health care provider for personalized advice, as these are general recommendations.
3. Keep foods and candies made with real ginger (not ginger flavor). In one study, women who ate 1 gram of fresh ginger root per day for four days had a significant decrease in nausea and vomiting and had no risk for the mother or her future baby (1).
Another study showed similar results, but the ginger was provided in 250 mg doses four times a day (2).
4. Suck on sour candy. Sour candy may help manage nausea symptoms. Choose candies made with safe ingredients and avoid ingredients like aspartame when pregnant. My personal favorite is Pur Mints in their mojito lime mint flavor (not an affiliated link).
5. Try out quince syrup. OK, I will admit that I have never tried a quince in my life. But, if you are a fan, you may want to bump up your intake of this fruit when you are feeling queasy. Results of one study suggests that 1 Tbsp. of quince syrup may help reduce nausea in pregnant women (3).
6. Ask your doc about Vitamin B6. Many women swear by prescription medication that contain high doses of Vitamin B6 to manage nausea symptoms. Some doctors combine this drug with Unisom for even more effect. Both of these options should be discussed with your doctor and should not taken without her green-light.
7. Carry around some citrus. You know the older lady in your office who wears way too much perfume? Or the extra garlic your in-laws insist on using in their sauce when they invite you over for dinner? Carrying around ¼ of a sliced lemon in a small bag in your purse will come to the rescue when you need to block a strong odor. Take a whiff when a triggering smell graces your presence!
8. Embrace the carbs! Sometimes, all that you can stomach is a plain bagel, and that is a-ok! You will make up for it as you start to feel better. In the meantime, carry around foods that you know will help you feel better. Crackers, pretzels, and popcorn are often popular choices.
9. Try a blend of bitters and REAL ginger ale. Many ginger ales on the market are made with artificial flavorings. When clients sip on some room-temp REAL ginger ale (made with real ginger…check ingredient list) with some digestive bitters, it helps relieve their symptoms. I tend to recommend these to add to the ginger ale for my pregnant clients and have seen great results.
Play around with other food groups. Just because you can’t stomach salmon right now doesn’t mean that you have to give up all proteins. A light schmear of peanut butter on your cracker or a thin piece of cheese on a piece of toast may go down just fine. The millennial classic avocado toast is also a great option to try out during this time of your pregnancy.
A word about herbs.
Herbal remedies are often seen as a safe, 'drug-free' treatments for morning sickness. However, the contradictory information and lack of original research related to their safety implies that these should be used with caution. There is no consensus in the literature about whether or not many herbs are safe for use in pregnancy. Because of this, I tend to stay away from herbal remedies during this timeframe (5).
Nausea is a common part of pregnancy, but that does not mean that you need to suffer through it. Hopefully, these tips will help you navigate through the pregnancy “ick”, and you will see sunnier skies (and happier tummies) very soon. Xx
Please note that these tips are for informational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Nutrition Now assumes no liability for the recommendations listed below. Please consult with your doctor before implementing any changes into your diet.