So, you find out you are pregnant, some of the emotions that come to mind include excitement, joy, happiness and maybe even shock. Congratulations on your pregnancy! Pregnancy is an amazing process and you are said to have that “pregnancy glow”. It does however bring along with it various side effects that can be transitory while others more permanent. Every women’s pregnancy is unique, and symptoms can vary from person to person. For some it’s a time of great discomfort while others claiming to have no real side effects at all. The common side effects include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, constipation, heart burn or indigestion and food aversions.
Nausea and vomiting are often one of the first signs of pregnancy. Morning sickness refers to the nauseous feeling that happens in the first trimester and results from increased hormones levels in your body and is a good sign that your placenta is developing normally. It usually begins around the 6th week of pregnancy and generally stops after week 12. It affects around 50% of women and isn’t harmful unless you experience excessive vomiting and cannot manage to keep your food down. Some of the tips to manage your morning sickness include:
- Eat small frequent meals, eat slowly and chew your food completely.
- Rather drink fluids ½ an hour before or after a meal, but not with meals.
- Avoid large amounts of fluids at one time or sip throughout the day to avoid dehydration.
- Choose bland foods such as rice, cereals, bananas, bread or crackers. Try our range of FUTURELIFE® powdered products mixed with water, milk or milk alternative.
- Avoid spicy, fried, or greasy foods.
- If you are bothered by strong smells, eat foods cold or at room temperature to minimize or avoid odours that bother you. Cook with the window open or turn on the fan.
- Avoid warm places as feeling hot adds to nausea.
- Ginger, peppermint, lemons and a B6 supplement are said to help with nausea.
Fatigue is a common symptom experienced during pregnancy. It happens commonly in the first trimester, often disappears in the second then reappears in the third. However, it can also be continuous throughout or not experienced at all. It results from hormonal changes, carrying extra weight, increased urination and sleep changes. Some tips to help with your fatigue include:
- Rest – extra naps, go to bed earlier and don’t drink fluids several hours before bed so you get a good night sleep
- Balanced diet – Include all the food groups to ensure you are getting the correct nutrients needed for pregnancy as well as to keep your levels up. Choose low GI foods as they help to provide energy throughout the day. Did you know that many of our FUTURELIFE® powdered products are low GI and provide sustained energy?
- Adjust your schedule – If your current commitments or activities are too draining, you may need to temporarily adjust your schedule to be less busy or get help from your partner, friends or family members.
- Moderate exercise – daily is said to boost your energy levels.
Indigestion and heart burn
Indigestion, otherwise known as heartburn or acid reflux, is a burning feeling that starts in the stomach and feels like its rising up into your throat. Symptoms include feeling full, heavy or bloated, burping or belching, feeling or being sick or vomiting. It can be caused by hormonal changes and the weight of the growing baby pressing against your stomach. It can happen at any time during your pregnancy but is common from week 27 onwards. Tips to help manage it include:
- Eating small frequent meals, instead of three large meals as well as eating slowly.
- Avoid high fat, fried, spicy, rich or any foods that seem to give you indigestion.
- Drink warm liquids.
- Sit upright after eating.
- Avoid lying down for up to 3 hours after you have eaten. Keep the head of your bed higher than the foot of your bed, by placing bricks under the bed feet or placing pillows under your shoulders to prop you up.
- Stop smoking, avoid caffeine and alcohol.
It is common during pregnancy and described as difficulty passing stool or incomplete or infrequent passage of hard stools. It is caused by pregnancy hormones that relax your intestinal muscles, pressure of your uterus on your intestines as well as taking vitamins and mineral supplements, especially iron. To prevent as well as manage constipation:
- Eat a high fibre diet – aim to consume 25 to 30 grams of dietary fibre per from fruits, vegetables, breakfast cereals, whole grains, oats, prunes and bran. Did you know that many of our FUTURELIFE® powdered products are high in dietary fibre. Try our FUTURELIFE® Bran Flakes with Probiotic Sachets which are contain 11.7 g of fibre per 45 g serving with individually wrapped sachets of HOWARU® Premium Probiotics which are beneficial for digestive and immune health.
- Drink plenty of fluids daily – aim for at least 8 glasses of water. Try drinking warm fluids such as herbal teas especially in the morning.
- Exercise daily – Walking, swimming or other types of moderate exercise helps to stimulating your bowels.
- If you are still suffering after implementing the above, chat to your doctor about reducing your iron supplementation or over the counter medication but avoid laxatives.
Food aversions and cravings
During pregnancy, many women experience aversions and/or cravings for certain foods. It is thought to be caused by the same hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (or hCG), that triggers your positive pregnancy test and doubles every few days during your first trimester. Food aversions and cravings remain one of the many mysteries of pregnancy and generally peak during the first half of pregnancy but can last the entire 9 months and even beyond. Some women’s food aversions or cravings also go away, then come back. It’s even possible to have an aversion towards a specific food at one point during your pregnancy, then crave that same food later. The most common aversions are foods with strong smells as women have a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy. Examples include meat, milk, eggs, garlic, onions, spicy foods, tea or coffee.
Many women can also experience unquenchable cravings for certain foods or combinations of food that you would never usually eat. Some pregnant women also crave non-nutritive substances, also known as pica, which can be dangerous. No one really knows why pregnancy cravings occur, but it is thought to be caused by some nutrients that the mother may be lacking.
There are no specific guidelines, but it is instead important to listen to your body. In general, it is recommended that if you are craving a specific food, eat it in moderation unless it is harmful to do so. Examples of foods that can be dangerous include sand, washing powder, lead etc. It is okay to avoid foods that you have aversions to, but make sure you are getting all the nutrients that are important during pregnancy and ensure you are getting those nutrients in other ways. If you have food cravings, substitute for healthier options e.g. swop ice cream for frozen yoghurt, chips for popcorn or sugar rich drinks for fruit juice mixed with water etc.
There are many other symptoms that occur during pregnancy, such as breast changes, frequent urination, headaches, pregnancy haemorrhoids, tender or swollen breasts, dizziness and difficulties sleeping. If you are worried about any of the symptoms you are experiencing during your pregnancy, chat to your doctor or go visit a registered dietitian. They will be able to help you manage your symptoms and ensure you are getting all the nutrients important for pregnancy.