Whilst some women glide through their first trimester feeling strong and healthy without a trace of illness (some don’t even realize they’re pregnant – I still can’t quite fathom that), others are struck down with serious sickness and struggle to maintain a normal life for at least the start of their pregnancy and spend large amounts of time with their head down a toilet. (Note - these women are warriors, as life becomes extremely tough.)
I was somewhere in between. From weeks 8 to 16 I would vomit occasionally but far worse than that was the all – consuming nausea that overcame me for what felt like an eternity. The kind of nausea where all you want to do is curl up in bed and close your eyes, but then you remember how sick you feel so you open them, slowly get up, venture downstairs, and then realize how sick you feel again and retreat back to your bed. This pattern pretty much repeated itself for two months, every day, with some very miserable days at work in between. They call it morning sickness but that’s because you’re just more likely to feel even worse in the morning since your stomach is empty (especially when having to pass McDonalds every day on your way into work) but the nausea can strike at any time.
Along the way, and again working with Angela Heap from Planet Organic, I picked up a few tips and tricks to help nourish my body and tackle the dreaded morning sickness.
1. Eat first thing in the morning - and certainly before you leave your home for the day.
It’s amazing how much difference eating something small can make. For me, just nibbling on a piece of wholemeal toast with some raspberry spread on my way to the tube would make all the difference and would get me as far as work (where I could resume eating, once I had dodged aforementioned McDonalds. In fact, I advise you to stay away from places serving hot food which emanate strong smells - cafes, canteens and often my own kitchen were out of bounds for me in those early weeks!)
2. Keep something to nibble by your bed.
For those times that you cant even muster up the energy to eat, let alone cook yourself dinner, this is the moment to give yourself permission to lie in bed and eat. I would keep a pack of the delicious Nairns ginger oat biscuits beside my bed and I can’t say for certain that there weren't times I would wake up in the middle of the night, feeling rotten and turn to my biscuits.
3. Keep a snack on you
I found it absolutely crucial to keep a snack in my bag at all times, particularly if you have to commute in and out of work. I’m 20 weeks now and I still carry something small around with me as I just find being underground with no air and moving a particularly sick-inducing combination. To be honest, I would actually get a little anxious if I didn’t have food on me - I have Bounce Energy Balls constantly knocking around the bottom of my bag these days for just those moments. In general, remember to eat small meals and often as the worst thing is to leave yourself with an empty stomach.
4. Listen to your body
Now is not the time to try to implement any sort of diet. At this stage it’s all about just trying to make sure you have enough energy to get through the day. High- quality fats, such as olives, avocados and nuts have become my go to foods for keeping my (already huge) appetite satisfied for longer. Coconuts are incredible filling and I've been adding coconut milk to soups and curries, which has worked a treat.
5. Don’t make plans and prioritise getting sleep
Tiredness always made my nausea so much worse so make sure you are getting enough shut eye. I actively made no plans in those first few months and just rested up as much to conserve energy. Run yourself a long bath, light a Neom tranquility mini candle and just relax.
6. Hot drinks really help.
Whilst we know that caffeine is best avoided during pregnancy, there are a plethora of other delicious and nourishing hot drink options out there. My favourite hot drink comes from pukka teas – their organic Three Mint tea got me through many a tough morning, and they do a beautiful Three Ginger tea. I would make myself a brew (or better still, get the hubby to bring me one) and sip it as I got ready for the day. I also found the Pukka tea bags quite strong so was able to reuse them and just top up with more boiling water. (bonus)
7. Distract yourself
Contrary to what I thought, being around my toddler Jack was actually one of the best remedies for my morning sickness as he distracted me so wonderfully. So whether it’s another small child, a hobby, a partner, some close girlfriends you can be yourself around, or just your favourite TV programme, get yourself busy to take your mind off whatever is going on in your body.
8. Sip on water between meals
I always struggled with this but I know full well that drinking enough water helps ward off sickness. Unfortunately though I just couldn't stomach much at all without it making me feel more nauseous. Consequently, I lived off Belvoir Organic Elderflower Cordial to get some flavour in to my water to ensure I was getting enough down me.
Those early weeks can be really tough and although morning sickness can make you feel miserable, it is a good sign! It means that you are producing high levels of pregnancy hormones which serve to nourish your baby until the placenta has grown enough to take over nourishing your baby. And of course, if it's really awful, or you're throwing up constantly, consult your doctor - there are anti -sickness medicines you can take that at perfectly safe during pregnancy. On the other hand, not having morning sickenss is perfectly normal too(you lucky thing! )
I hope you've found these tips helpful, and as ever if you have any questions just let me know. Pregnancy, just like motherhood, is wonderful but brings certain challenges. You got this though. Good luck, and stay smiling.
Mamalina - Founder