So, you’ve just learned that you’re expecting. Congratulations! At this stage, you’re likely experiencing a cascade of conflicting emotions and counting down the days until your little one enters the world. Navigating your first trimester will be filled with highs and lows, including morning sickness that threatens to keep you out of the office and in the loo doubled over in pain. And while most women (as many as 85%, in fact) will experience nausea during their pregnancy, there are steps you can take and foods you can eat to ease morning sickness, keeping you feeling fresh in the workplace, home, yoga studio, café – wherever you choose to spend your day.
What is morning sickness?
While the exact cause of morning sickness is unknown, experts believe it may be related to changes in hormone levels during pregnancy. You’ll be in good company, too – the vast majority of women will experience some symptoms of morning sickness, ranging from very mild nausea to severe nausea and vomiting (a relatively uncommon condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum). Although morning sickness does tend to strike just after waking, not all women experience their symptoms in the mornings, and nausea can occur at any time of day. Luckily for pregnant women, morning sickness tends to subside after the first trimester (12 weeks) and there are plenty of baby-friendly, plant-based, nausea-busting snacks you can munch in the meantime.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of morning sickness, it’s always best to notify your doctor or midwife to determine the best course of action for you and your baby. You may also wish to try these medicinal snacks – they’re made with ingredients that have stood the test of time as they’ve helped women with morning sickness for centuries, why not give them a go!
Recent studies have confirmed what eastern cultures have always known – ginger may be one of the most effective tools in your battle against morning sickness, thanks to phytochemicals known as gingerols. For maximum nausea relief, try sipping some fresh ginger tea, taking a ginger shot (ginger blended with fresh-squeezed apple juice), or adding a bit to your morning smoothie.
For those of us who skip breakfast each morning, we may wish to rethink our morning routine during early pregnancy. An empty stomach can exacerbate feelings of nausea, so it’s best to eat a light breakfast as soon as you wake up. Apples are often considered the perfect choice, as they’re full of fibre, they’re gentle on the stomach lining and they’re packed with nutrients to keep you and baby healthy. Try sprinkling some cinnamon over apples, drinking fresh-squeezed juice or biting straight into your favourite apple (our favourite is Pink Lady at &SISTERS HQ).
When we suffered from sore tummies as children, many of our mums offered us something laced with peppermint, and recent research suggests our mums may have been onto something all those years ago. Experts explain peppermint eases nausea symptoms by relaxing an overactive gastrointestinal system while also giving a ‘fresh’ taste in the mouth. The oil in peppermint is particularly beneficial, so try making an herbal infusion using fresh peppermint leaves for a stomach-soothing elixir.
Along with ginger, lemon is another favourite amongst pregnant women struggling to combat morning sickness. Citrus fruits, particularly lemon, are rich in a compound known as citric acid, which aids digestion and calms stomach upsets. Try sipping on some American-style lemonade, indulging in organic lemon sorbet or even sucking on a good old-fashioned lemon wedge for instant nausea relief.
If you’re a mum-to-be dealing with first trimester vomiting, you might want to consider munching on a potassium-rich banana. Not only does potassium help prevent nausea from making an appearance in the first place, it’s also a good idea to replenish potassium stores after you’ve vomited, as being sick causes electrolytes such as sodium, calcium and potassium to diminish. At &SISTERS HQ, we love eating bananas straight from the peel, but you can also add banana to smoothies, splaying slices over muesli or adding banana puree to your home baking.
Many of us associate chamomile with a peaceful night’s sleep, but chamomile has also been a popular digestive tonic since the Victorian era. Chamomile flowers are natural powerhouses, with research to suggest they’re helpful in relieving everything from insomnia to nausea and anxiety. If you’re a coffee lover missing your morning caffeine hit, reach instead for a gentle, soothing cup of chamomile tea – it’ll leave you feeling chilled out, nausea-free and ready to face the day.
If you’ve tasted all the ginger, lemon and other nausea-relieving plants that you can stomach and you’re still having tummy trouble, speak with your doctor about trying pregnancy yoga, pregnancy massage or acupuncture, all of which are known to reduce symptoms of morning sickness.