We got chance to speak with Senior Nutritionist Saidee Bailey to give us some advice on first trimester nutrition.
We posed several questions to the expert on how to beat morning sickness, and whether we can eat our way to good health not just for ourselves but for our baby growing inside of us too.
Morning sickness is a big part of the journey to becoming a mother for many women. Although the true cause of morning sickness is still unknown, what Nutritionist Saidee Bailey does know is a few tricks to help women through the first trimester.
What are the potential causes of nausea in early pregnancy?
There are quite a few reasons behind nausea in pregnancy, I’ve listed below the most common causes.
• Fluctuating balance of hormones
• Fluctuations in blood sugar levels
• Evolution – unfortunately this dictates that we are innately programmed to avoid foods with a typically higher bacterial content such as meat and fresh fruits (all the things that are good for you!).
• Anxiety related to pregnancy and birth – stress hormone cortisol causes nausea and fatigue. Cortisol is regulated by the micronutrient magnesium which is commonly malabsorbed during pregnancy due to our changing hormones.
• Deficiency in vitamin B6 and B12
Do you have any top tips for tackling potential causes of nausea?
A diet that is low in GI will help to negate fluctuating hormone levels and will prevent irregularities in blood sugar. Regular snacking is important too, to help stabilise blood sugar levels. Try snacking on foods like seeds and nuts; they’re not too bulky so they shouldn’t make you feel unwell. They are also full of healthy fats which are essential for the production of hormones, and micronutrient vital for a wide range of maternal and fetal developmental processes.
Staying hydrated is really important, often women say that even drinking water especially on an empty tummy is challenging. It is my recommendation that you drink what you can:
• Try gentle sparkling water, I recommend San Pellegrino or Voss
• Try to avoid drinking with your meals
• Try water with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon in
• Peppermint tea, ginger beer or ice tea are all beneficial
Keep a few ginger biscuits or crackers by the bed and have a nibble before you get up. This will help prevent dizziness or nausea. Getting up very slowly can also help, and by this I mean sit up then sit on the side of the bed before standing.
Try to avoid the kitchen or cooking smells… either ask your partner to take control, capitalise on stronger stomach moments or cook a few things all at once or at least pre-prepare them.
Try and make what you eat and keep down count – I know it’s difficult to opt for healthy choices if your body is guiding you towards something of a saltier variety, however, you can always make little additions to the foods you fancy to make them more nutritious. For example adding a parsnip to your mashed potato or subbing pumpkin to replace ½ the oil in brownie batter. Did you know slicing carrots instead of chopping them can help keep in up to 25% more of the nutrients.
Getting more magnesium pre-pregnancy and in the early stages may help to regulate the stress hormone cortisol and mediate any pre-natal nerves. Magnesium is found in dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, avocado (also folate filled), seeds and nuts like pumpkin, almond and sesame. Magnesium absorption is restricted during pregnancy by the presence of certain hormones and thus upping your intake prior to conception can be helpful.
Get more vitamin B6 and B12! Vitamin B12 is most commonly known as folate, vitamin B6 may also be known as pyridoxine. Everyone knows about the benefits of folate in pregnancy for the developing baby and the reasons as to why are quite clear. Folate is a donor of purine a substance that is used in the manufacture of every single cell in your and your baby’s body, during a time of growth such as pregnancy it makes sense we would need a little more of this substance. Vitamin B12 however helps to make antibodies, red blood cells, and neurotransmitters as part of both maternal and fetal development. The mechanisms behind why upping your daily intake or adding a supplements of these B complex vitamins helps to prevent nausea is still unknown but study certainly show clear benefits.
Have you any other tricks you can share with us?
Lemons, lemons and more lemons… whether you sniff them, lick them or squeeze them lemons and other citrus fruits are a great anti nausea remedy. Even the taste of lemon sweets can ease feelings of nausea and sickness.
Spicy chilli peppers (red ones) contain a compound called capsaicin that moderates perception of pain; it also stimulates a neurotransmitter known as substance P, which works on the brain much like an anti-nausea medication.
Try foods higher in fibre to kick-start your metabolism and stop your tummy feeling sedentary and empty.
Try individual supplementation instead of multivitamins particularly of folate – folate is known to be protective against morning sickness and is safe to take on its own in addition to a multivitamin that contains it.
Sources of folate:
Chicken, fish, pork, eggs, soybeans, carrots, cabbage, cantaloupe, peas, spinach, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, bananas, beans, broccoli, brown rice, oats, bran, peanuts, and walnuts
Sources of fibre:
Avocado (folate source), dried apricots, apples, baked beans, jacket potatoes, frozen peas, broccoli, lentils, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds.