Pregnancy Morning Sickness & Nutrition

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness (a queasy, nauseating feeling) can come anytime during the day. There are many things that trigger morning sickness, and many things you can do to help prevent or alleviate the nausea and vomiting or morning sickness.

Few women experience severe symptoms of morning sickness (also knows as hyperemesis). Most symptoms of morning sickness go away after a few weeks. If symptoms persist for longer than a few weeks, are severe (where you can’t keep anything down for longer than 1 hour), and debilitating, call your obstetrician or visit an emergency room immediately. You can become quickly dehydrated and may require an IV to replace fluids lost during vomiting.

Triggers that may cause morning sickness:

  • Smells/odors (such as food, pet, body odor, fragrances, deodorants, garbage, fuel, paint)
  • Fatigue (especially if you were up all night with morning sickness)
  • Areas or rooms with stale, damp air
  • Foods (greasy, spicy, foreign)
  • Empty stomach (accumulated acid in stomach)
  • Noises (sudden noise, loud music, traffic, sirens, construction sites)
  • Abrupt, sudden movements (motion sickness)
  • Bright, glaring lights
  • Hot/cold weather, humidity

Morning sickness remedies:

  • Eat small, frequent meals high in protein and fiber (takes longer to digest).
  • Get plenty of rest (take naps during the day or when you feel most nauseated).
  • Keep a bag of snacks (unsalted pretzels, nuts, granola bars, dried fruit, breadsticks, crackers) with you at all times to keep your stomach comfortable.
  • Chew Tums or other safe antacids when nauseated or after vomiting.
  • Drink lots of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages throughout the day (water is preferable).
  • Keep a small snack and beverage by your bedside to consume before you get out of bed.
  • Take your time getting out of bed in the morning; slowly change positions when lying down.
  • Keep moist, unscented towelettes nearby to refresh your face after nausea and vomiting.
  • Exercise (brisk walk, swimming, bicycle riding yoga, stretching).
  • Get fresh air by either going outside or opening windows.
  • Identify triggers and avoid them as much as possible.

Nutrition in Pregnancy

The old pregnancy adage, “you are eating for two” can really carry too much weight when women mistakenly see this as a green light to overeat. The truth is, eating for two means eating better, not necessarily more or at least not much more. It takes a total of 55,000 extra calories to make a baby. That may sound like a lot but the average pregnant woman only needs to add about 300 additional calories per day beyond her normal calorie intake (for most women this is between 1800 and 2000 calories total per day).

Good nutrition is very important, and can be easy to accomplish during your pregnancy. You and your baby are nutritionally inseparable. How you take care of yourself, including how well you eat during pregnancy, directly affects both how you feel, and your baby. Pregnancy is a good time to fine tune an already good diet and improve a poor diet by eating nutritious, well balanced meals.

Some basic nutrition guidelines are:

  • Make every bite count. Before taking a bite of food ask yourself, “Is this nourishing me and my baby?” If the answer is yes, go ahead and enjoy yourself. But if the answer is no, think twice and make a better food selection for you and your baby.
  • All calories are not created equal in the nutrition world. The nutritive value found in a 150 calorie doughnut made with white sugar and refined white flour will never compare with the nutrition found packed into a whole grain muffin sweetened with natural sugars and fruit.
  • Never skip meals. Your baby needs regular nourishment at regular intervals. Even if you are not hungry, your baby is. If morning sickness or heartburn makes you feel miserable after eating, try eating five or six small meals spaced a few hours apart throughout the day rather than the traditional three large meals. See tips for dealing with morning sickness.
  • Water Up. You need to drink 8-10 glasses of water per day.
  • Limit caffeine to less than three cups per day. Caffeine is fine in moderation, but it has a diuretic effect (drawing fluids and calcium from the body, making you urinate more frequently). It may also interfere with your sleep.
  • Take a daily prenatal vitamin containing iron. Most women are anemic during pregnancy. When you take your vitamins or iron supplements, take them with a vitamin C rich juice, such as orange juice. Don't take them with soda or milk because they can interfere with the absorption of iron.

For questions about pregnancy morning sickness and nutrition, please contact your health care provider.