What you eat during pregnancy is a big deal. At least it feels that way to those of us lucky enough to experience this magic. It’s a time of incredibly mixed emotions and many questions. In my practice as a Dietitian I find that most individuals, whether growing a little person or not, are incredibly confused as to what food is actually healthy. We’re not confident in our food choices, and being pregnant throws a curve ball into the game, with questions like “how much should I be eating?”, “can I eat cheese?”, and “how come all I want is carbohydrates?”
I have comforted a number of friends though first trimester sickness, and guilt for wanting to eat all of the carbs in the world. Though my advice has changed over the years with experience and counseling clients, and now even moreso as I go through my first pregnancy, I have always keenly offered comfort. The mummy guilt starts early, in the first weeks of growing a baby, and I am happy to help ease this because I find guilt to be a particularly unproductive, usually destructive, emotion. Pregnant ladies should be focusing on more important things, like where to find a good pregnancy pillow and what the heck is swaddling a baby?
Here are a few thoughts on nourishing yourself and your baby during pregnancy. I will break it up into trimesters, for ease of reading, with today’s post being principally about the first trimester. I’ll also delve into my own eating habits, as I have received a few requests I do so. Lastly, know that though general advice applies to most people, everyone is different and if you are struggling or are unsure of your choices, please see an Accredited Practising Dietitian for advice (raising my hand over here).
A few quick tips for nausea and food cravings
I wrote some first trimester nausea tips on my dietitian website, as well as suggestions for healthy food craving alternatives, so you can check out those posts for more detail. Personally I found the following strategies most useful: keeping my blood sugar levels steady, eating small amounts often, sipping on fluids to stay hydrated, getting fresh air and distracting myself so as to not wallow in the nausea.
Holy heck I feel like s**t
During the first trimester, as all the hormones rush in, you often experience all-day hangover-style nausea where the only antidote appears to be dry crackers or fries. Beware, this feeling can take you by surprise. I was certainly shocked to experience this kind of hormonally-charged sickness, as it was like nothing I had ever felt and was in no way relieved by a cozy blanket, hot water bottle, soup and time on the couch (as was my usual sick-day protocol). You may also experience super strong food aversions (vegetables, bleh) and a weird appetite (often reduced, sometimes increased) during this time.
But you’re not just feeling sick, you’ve also just discovered you’re growing a baby and are overwhelmed with the incredible responsibility of this task. You want to do the best for your baby, while also managing to make it through the day. That’s often a major conflict. “Want chips, should eat kale…AHHH what the frick do I do?!?!?!”