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First Trimester Nausea -- How to Cope


Pregnancy can be an extremely exciting and unnerving time in a woman's life. She knows she's pregnant often before anyone else does and begins to undergo body changes that she's never experienced before (and may not be ready to share with the world yet!). So when those changes include disruptive nausea, excessive saliva or loss of appetite--its important that pregnant women become informed and reassured by their food and beverage choices.


What causes pregnancy nausea aka "morning sickness"? Science hasn't fully teased that out yet but some research suggests its due in part to the rise in hormones--specifically speaking, human chorionic gonadotropin HCG and estrogen, but it could also be caused by low blood sugar.

Some of the most common recommendations that women are given in the doctor's office to combat this nausea is to avoid an empty stomach, to keep crackers at bedside and nearby, to sip on ginger ale or lemonade and to be reassured that come the second trimester, a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests 50% of women will report that the nausea has resolved. In the off chance that these tips don't help to resolve a woman's nausea, here are some additional tips to try:


1. Sip on selzer water or iced peppermint tea (peppermint tea can be brewed at home and then iced. Herbal teas should be avoided in pregnant women due to the lack of research to verify their safety).

2. Sip on hot brewed ginger tea. There are two compounds that naturally occur in ginger called gingerols and shagoals that help speed up stomach emptying. This is thought to aid in nausea. Most studies conducted on pregnant women who experience nausea and try ginger suggest that routine use of ginger is what relieves the condition the most. In other words, routinely brewing the beverage instead of making it a one time thing appears to be the most effective way to combat nausea.

3. Seltzer water and "bubbly water" may reduce the acidity in the stomach, and therefore decrease nausea. Avoid drinks sweetened with the artificial sweetner saccharin, which may cross the placenta into the baby and therefore is not recommended for use in pregnancy.


1. Crackers that have salt and pretzels may help to replace electrolytes when nausea and vomiting are involved.

2. Sour candies may increase saliva and thereby reduce morning sickness however, it should be noted that excessive sugar intake in pregnancy is discouraged as it may displace more vitamin rich foods.

3. Protein rich foods like nut butters, low-fat cheeses, eggs, and cooked chicken are great options for snacks and can be paired with vegetables (like hard boiled eggs and cherry tomatoes) and fruit (banana and peanut butter) to provide balance.

4. Whole fruit popsicles provide both nutrition and hydration for days when eating full snacks are more of a challenge.



The key here is what works for one pregnant woman may not work for another. Many pregnant women suffering from morning sickness state that eating smaller but more frequent meals helps them cope.

Meals should include a healthy protein (white meat chicken, fatty fish that is not on the high mercury list, sirloin, 90/10 ground beef & filet), complex carbohydrates (quinoa, brown rice, whole grain bread and crackers) as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Consulting with an obstetrician for specific guidance on meal preparation and content is important, as every woman's nutrition needs and health history is unique to her.

Weight Gain or Loss

Sometimes women lose weight during the first trimester due to their nausea and morning sickness. This is of concern if a woman loses 5% of her pre-pregnancy weight. Routine communication and follow-up with an obstetrician is paramount for women experiencing pregnancy weight loss. Losing weight after the first trimester is concerning. Women should gain weight gradually in their second and third trimester for optimal fetal growth. Talking to an obstetrician about personal weight gain "goals" is paramount because every woman's pre-pregnancy weight, health history and pregnancy is unique to her.

In need of more personalized nutrition advice for your pregnancy? Ask a NTNA dietitian today.


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