You’re pregnant, yay! Congratulations!
Here are a few tips to help the first trimester of your pregnancy go as smoothly as possible.
Any woman who has suffered from morning sickness knows that it is absolutely debilitating. It affects a woman's ability to work and has a psychological, emotional and social impact on women and their families. Up to 85% of women suffer from morning sickness. This varies from mild to severe nausea and vomiting several times a day. Severe morning sickness is otherwise known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
There are several known factors which can increase the likelihood of morning sickness. Some are unavoidable such as being aged under 24, having a girl, or carrying twins (or more!)
The good news is, some factors are avoidable.
Iron supplements can aggravate the symptoms of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Unfortunately, the majority of prenatal supplements contain iron.
This is because iron supplementation is essential later on in pregnancy due to the increase in blood volume. In the first-trimester, iron supplementation is usually unnecessary, especially if a woman has followed a preconception care plan and boosted her iron levels prior to conception.
The pregnancy hormone, hcg, stimulates a woman’s thyroid in the first trimester. This is known to aggravate the symptoms of morning sickness.
The recommended daily intake of iodine in pregnancy is 220 micrograms. However, this amount may be too high for some women in the first trimester. It is possible that her thyroid could become overstimulated and lead to an increase in nausea and/or vomiting. The World Health Organisation recommends that all pregnant women should supplement their diet with 150 micrograms of iodine daily.
Severe morning sickness
Hyperemesis gravidarum is associated with helicobacter pylori, a spiral-shaped bacterium in the digestive tract. It is common, infecting over 30% of the population.
Hopefully, helicobacter pylori would have been detected and treated prior to conception. If you do suffer from severe morning sickness it’s a good idea to ask your GP for a urea breath test when you have stopped breastfeeding. This test is contraindicated during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
There are a few factors that can help ease the symptoms of morning sickness.
75mg of vitamin B6 taken daily has been found in several randomised controlled trials to reduce the frequency and severity of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
The type of vitamin B6 often used in supplements is pyridoxine hydrochloride rather than the activated form, pyridoxal-5-phosphate (the type that naturally occurs in food). However, it was pyridoxine hydrochloride that was used in the studies and it is is possible that 75mg of pyridoxal-5-phosphate could be too much B6.
People who lack pyridoxal kinase, the enzyme that converts pyridoxine hydrochloride to pyridoxal-5’-phosphate need to take pyridoxal-5’-phosphate. Pyridoxal kinase is activated by zinc and magnesium so a lack of those minerals also inhibits conversion.
Stabilising blood sugar helps reduce symptoms of morning sickness.
Eat frequently, preferably every 2 hours. Try snacking on almonds and other nuts to stabilise blood sugar. Eat foods high in chromium such as apples, raisins, nuts and cheese.
It’s a good idea to eat something high in protein just before bedtime. This will help prevent blood sugar from dipping too low overnight. Nuts or yoghurt are especially helpful.
Keep some crackers or ginger biscuits next to your bed to eat before getting up in the morning.
There are several nutrients you can supplement with to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. These include chromium, biotin and alpha lipoic acid. Other nutrients involved in carbohydrate metabolism include vitamins B1. B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, magnesium, manganese and zinc.
Ginger is a traditional remedy for morning sickness and has been shown in several studies to be effective.
Due to its blood thinning activity, you should be cautious when taking other blood-thinning medication such as aspirin or supplements such as fish oils and CoQ10.
Chewing on crystallised ginger or drinking ginger tea during the day may help to ease symptoms. Chamomile or peppermint tea may also be helpful.
During my last pregnancy, I found that eating a cube of crystallised ginger helped my nausea disappear within 5 minutes! Although, I needed to do this quite a few times during the day.
Carry some Quick Eze in your handbag as neutralising stomach acids can help to relieve nausea.
If you are constipated, try having 2 kiwifruit at night to gently stimulate your bowels.
NaturoBest Prenatal Trimester One is a high-quality prenatal multivitamin and mineral supplement specially formulated to reduce morning sickness.
Some women may struggle to swallow a capsule when they have morning sickness. For this reason, I designed a berry-flavoured chewable version Prenatal Trimester One Chewable. Another 2-in-1 supplement designed to reduce morning sickness as well as a pregnancy multivitamin.
Nikki Warren is an experienced fertility naturopath and herbalist on the Sunshine Coast who launched her supplement range in 2016, NaturoBest – www.naturobest.com
Disclaimer - This advice does not replace medical advice. Always consult a health professional.