Your body is changing rapidly during early pregnancy, which can lead to some unpleasant effects. The best known of these is probably morning sickness, but you may also experience headaches and sleepiness. Sometimes, you might feel too sick to eat anything at all. It’s not exactly a fun time, huh?
However, the right balance of nutrients can help you bring morning sickness under control. Let’s look at what you nutrients you’ll want to be sure you’re getting enough during early pregnancy, and where you can find them.
Causes of morning sickness?
What we think of as “morning sickness” isn’t an illness per se, but a physiological phenomenon of early pregnancy. The main effects are on the digestive system, causing nausea, vomiting, and a constantly churning stomach.
The exact cause of morning sickness isn’t quite clear. However, it often begins around Week 5 to 6 and finishes up some time between Weeks 12 to 16. This is the same time frame during which the placenta develops, so it’s thought that the sudden change in hormone balance as the placenta grows may be a contributing factor.
Morning sickness doesn’t usually need treatment, but if your condition deteriorates to multiple vomiting spells per day, it can become a medical condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. This often needs to be treated in a hospital, so see your physician if your symptoms become too severe.
How does the body change during morning sickness?
The symptoms of early pregnancy come in all kinds of patterns, but many of them seem to revolve around the digestive system. Morning sickness in particular seems to follow hunger and eating – for instance, many expecting moms feel sick or throw up when they eat something.
One reason for this is the fact that when you’re pregnant, your sense of smell and taste become much more acute. That means that the smells and taste of food that otherwise wouldn’t bother you can be overwhelming and make you feel sick.
Hormones can also play a role here. When you’re pregnant, your hormones are firing on all cylinders. One of these pregnancy hormones, progesterone, also has the effect of slowing down your gut motility. This causes gas to build up in your gut, leaving you with a churning stomach.
Almost all pregnant women experience some of these symptoms, but what can you do about them? Here’s where getting the right nutrition will help you out! It’s possible to take nutritional supplements, but try to meet your goals through your normal diet as much as you can.
Nutrient remedies: Vitamin B6
This is the star nutrient for moms with morning sickness: Vitamin B6! It’s been shown to be effective in fighting morning sickness, and hospitals include it as part of the IV treatment regimen for hyperemesis gravidarum.
Rich sources of Vitamin B6 include brown rice, peanuts, avocado, bananas. Fortunately, a lot of these make great snack foods! When you can manage it, try snacking on peanuts or some avocado on toast. This will help you get the Vitamin B6 you need to fight morning sickness.
Nutrient remedies: Vitamin B1
Your body needs Vitamin B1, or thiamine, to maintain a healthy brain and nervous system. If you’re not quite meeting your B1 requirements, you might be feeling anxious and irritable, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of it.
Rich sources of Vitamin B1 include wholegrains, pork, beans, as well as nuts and seeds. Try roast sunflower seeds for an easy thiamine-rich snack!
Vitamin B1 is also water-soluble, so dishes like pork hock broth could be another great way to boost your intake.
Nutrient remedies: Protein
As mentioned above, the progesterone your body releases during pregnancy slows the action of your digestive system. However, protein supports healthy gut movement and keeps things moving along as they ought to be – which makes it an effective nutrient for fighting morning sickness!
Unless you’re a vegetarian, your go-to protein sources are likely dishes with meat, fish, or chicken. However, the smell of these foods are also common nausea triggers during pregnancy. If these set you off, try some tofu! It’s often rather bland and soft, so you may find it easier on your stomach.
Rule #1 of Morning Sickness: Take it easy!
We’ve covered some of the main foods that double as morning sickness remedies, but remember to take it easy when it comes to nutrition. They may help you ride out your morning sickness, but nutrition makes for a slow and steady recovery rather than an instant cure. Forcing yourself to eat when you’re feeling too sick could just make your morning sickness symptoms worse!
Stress can also aggravate morning sickness symptoms. Don’t worry if you don’t meet your nutritional goals every day during morning sickness; just try to eat what you can, when you can. Hang in there, and try to stay relaxed – morning sickness will be over and done with before you know it!