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 which varies from mild nausea to severe nausea and vomiting several times a day, 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 less than 24, carrying a female foetus or more than one foetus, but some are avoidable.
Iron supplements can increase the symptoms of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy and unfortunately a large majority of prenatal supplements contain iron. This is because iron supplementation is essential later on in pregnancy due to the increase in blood volume, however, 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 and this is known to aggravate the symptoms of morning sickness. The recommended daily intake of iodine in pregnancy is 220 micrograms, but if this amount is taken 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 take 150 micrograms of iodine daily.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is associated with helicobacter pylori, a spiral-shaped bacterium in the digestive tract that infects over 30% of the population. Hopefully this has been detected and treated prior to conception, but if you do suffer from severe morning sickness in this pregnancy then it’s a good idea to ask your GP for a urea breath test when you have stopped breastfeeding. This test is not able to be performed 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 the cheap form, pyridoxine hydrochloride rather than the activated form, pyridoxal-5-phosphate (the type that naturally occurs in food) although it is pyridoxine hydrochloride that was used in the studies and it 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 and aside from eating frequently, preferably every 2 hours, there are several nutrients you can supplement with which help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels including 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 although it may not be safe to take in supplement form every day for the entire first trimester due to its blood thinning activity. The longest study to date was for only 3 weeks.
Chewing on crystallised ginger or drinking ginger tea during the day may help to ease symptoms and chamomile or peppermint tea may also be helpful. During my last pregnancy I found that eating a cube of crystallised ginger helped my nausea to disappear within 5 minutes although I did need to do this quite a few times during the day.
Try carrying some Quick Eze in your handbag as neutralising the stomach acids can help to relieve nausea and Quick Eze is simply calcium and magnesium in a chewable tablet which helps alkalise the stomach.
Try snacking on almonds and other nuts to stabilise blood sugar and eat foods high in chromium such as apples, raisins, nuts and cheese. It’s also a good idea to eat something high in protein just before bedtime to help prevent blood sugar from dipping too low overnight. Nuts or yoghurt are especially helpful and if you are constipated, try having 2 kiwifruit at night as well to help to gently stimulate your bowels.
Keep some crackers or ginger biscuits next to your bed to eat before getting up in the morning.
NaturoBest Prenatal Trimester One is a high quality prenatal multivitamin and mineral supplement specially formulated without iron and contains 75mg of vitamin B6 to help reduce the symptoms of morning sickness. It also contains activated B vitamins including the active form of folate, 5-MTHF (as Quatrefolic®) and the natural form of vitamin B12 found in food, hydroxocobalamin.
Some women may struggle to swallow a capsule when they have morning sickness, which is why Nikki designed a berry-flavoured chewable version of 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 has recently launched her new supplement range NaturoBest – www.naturobest.com
Disclaimer – This advice does not replace medical advice. Always consult a health professional.