Foods to Ease the Discomfort of Pregnancy
Eating is very important during pregnancy, of course, since the mom needs to make good choices for herself and her growing baby. But sometimes food intolerances pop up; it’s often in the beginning months of pregnancy and called morning sickness although it certainly can occur throughout the day. This can settle down after the first three months of pregnancy but for some women it will last through the entire pregnancy.
The volume of food or the amount that mom can eat might be influenced later in the pregnancy when the baby takes up more space and there is pressure on the stomach. Here are some suggestions to handle some of these eating issues during pregnancy.
To settle the stomach to avoid nausea and vomiting:
- Eat a dry starch first thing after getting up, when early-morning nausea often occurs. Something like a plain saltine cracker or crispy plain cereal may help.
- Avoid strong flavors and aromas since there can be an exaggerated sense of smell.
- Sip on ginger or lemon tea or gingerale.
If you experience early fullness and heartburn with meals:
- Eat smaller meals every two hours so the stomach is not distended.
- Eat slowly and chew the food well.
- Walk for a few minutes after eating or at least stay upright for one to two hours after a meal.
If you experience constipation from hormonal changes and/or taking an iron supplement:
- Increase all fluids, including water, to 10 cups or more daily.
- Add high fiber foods to each meal such as whole wheat and bran items (bread, cereals, pasta), fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
- Include daily activity to stimulate the intestinal tract to move.
An overall healthy diet with a variety of foods from all food groups is recommended during pregnancy. But there might be some tweaks that need to occur depending upon how mom is feeling and if there are health issues that arise.
- Some women develop gestational diabetes later in their pregnancy. This is why your doctor will keep an eye on your glucose levels. An adjustment in carbohydrate intake might be the next step if glucose is high.
- Blood pressure is routinely monitored because uncontrolled high blood pressure may lead to pre-eclampsia, a condition dangerous to both mother and baby.
- Food safety is important so no soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk, and deli meats because of the listeria risk. No raw fish or seafood because of the viral and bacterial risk, and no high-mercury fish such as shark, king mackerel, tilefish and swordfish.
Of course, be sure to follow any other pregnancy dietary advice from your health care practitioner.
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.
By: Rita P. Smith, MS, RD, CDE, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital