Common symptoms of early pregnancyTrimester 1 is pretty infamous for its wide range of unexpected pregnancy symptoms.
From the expected nausea (with or without vomiting) to all round exhaustion, mild stomach cramps, increased need to urinate, food cravings and aversions, and tender, swollen breasts- almost nothing is off limits here, and almost anything could be pregnancy related. Of course, the most sure-fire way of confirming an early pregnancy is through testing hCG levels found via a blood test.
Nourishing diet to support nausea
Approximately 60% of pregnant women will experience nausea and vomiting in Trimester 1. Yikes. Most will find this eases up by week 13, but 9% of women will find they continue to experience this until after 20 weeks. Some women will experience nausea and vomiting so severe in pregnancy, they’ll be diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarium which can be dangerous to both the physical and mental health of the woman experiencing it.
Health professionals recommend a few ways to nourish the body through this.
Recognise your triggers.
Low blood sugar levels, being too hungry or being too full are all triggers for nausea. Some tips and tricks for combating this?
Start the day with a small salty snack before sitting up in bed in the morning to combat any nausea first thing in the morning.
Eat smaller, more frequent snacks rather than big meals as this prevents blood sugar dropping.
Try for a small amount of protein at breakfast, like a sip of a protein smoothie or a bite of eggs, as protein helps maintain blood sugar balance, potentially alleviating nausea throughout the day.
Find the foods that will help keep in the calories
Although it might be counter-intuitive to the wholefood diet promoted generally recommended for pregnancy, Carbohydrates might be your saviour in trimester one. Carbs tend to be the easiest foods to digest, and allowing your body a chance to digest before you have a chance to throw up means you’re more likely to keep the calories consumed. When it feels impossible to keep anything down- fruit, sweet potatoes, smoothies or rice might do the trick. Try adding a small portion of protein or fat-containing food like greek yoghurt, eggs, nuts, cheese or avocado with your carbs to help stabilise blood sugar and avoid further triggers of nausea.
Consume simple foods
Nutrient dense bone broth is a particularly great option if you’re struggling to keep food down, or finding you’re disinterested in most foods. Broths are incredibly rich in vitamins and minerals, and provide a great response to those salty food cravings. Even a few small sips can be quite beneficial.
Vitamins can support nausea
Ginger for nausea
“Ginger is a great natural first-line treatment many women can easily incorporate into their diet,” says Fertility Nutritionist Kelly Benton. Did you know taking 1g of ginger daily for at least four days has been associated with a 5 x likelihood of
improvement in nausea and vomiting during pregnancy?
Vitamin B6 can help with morning sickness
“Vitamin B6 is a well-researched vitamin that can help ease mild to moderate pregnancy-related nausea,” says Kelly. These symptoms appear to improve significantly when taking at least 10mg daily, and you should notice an improvement within three days of taking supplementation. But not all B6 supplements are equal. “I recommend seeking the advice of a Nutritionist or Naturopath to ensure you choose the best quality and active form of B6-Pyridoxal-5-phosphate. A practitioner can also consider any additional B6 that may already be in your prenatal multi.”
Benefits of a quality prenatal vitamin?
Check the ingredients of your prenatal, as this could be the culprit of your nausea or making your symptoms worse. “Some off-the-shelf prenatal vitamins contain poorer quality forms of certain nutrients, which are not absorbed as well by the body, leading to unpleasant side effects. A very common one is iron, with Ferrous
Fumarate and Ferrous Sulfate being the two I see most that cause stomach upset and constipation,” says Kelly.
Is it safe to exercise in trimester one?
According to the health experts, exercise in pregnancy is safe for healthy women with normal pregnancies. Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery. It’s still recommended to discuss your exercise plans with your health care provider in early prenatal visits to ensure no underlying health conditions may be aggravated by exercise. It’s also recommended to inform your trainer of your pregnancy, so any adjustments to your exercise regime can be made before participating in the workout.
At least 30 minutes a day of exercise is recommended, as this can help alleviate back pain, constipation, growing pains associated with your changing body, and calm and focus the mind. Peaches Pilates recommends “The general rule is to enjoy 70-80% of your usual fitness routine - staying active is key to easing pregnancy symptoms, preparing for labour and surviving those long nights ahead with a little one! Always consult your doctor and physio before pregnancy and post natal fitness.”
Experts recommend the following exercises for women in early pregnancy:
Brisk walking gives a total body workout and is easy on the joints and muscles.
Swimming and water workouts
Water workouts use many of the body’s muscles. The water supports your weight so you avoid injury and muscle strain.
To reduce stress, improve flexibility, and encourage stretching and focused breathing.
Pilates is not only highly modifiable but also a targeted approach to exercise, which means it’s one of the best methods for maintaining your fitness while pregnant – the right class can reduce the chances of physical complications, improve injuries and assist with general well-being and mobility.
Managing lethargy and exhaustion
Early pregnancy brings with it an exhaustion never felt before. Your body is working hard to generate new cells, create healthy new blood, and develop maternal tissue all while supporting the growing foetus and placenta. It’s a lot.
Sleep is essential to help maintain energy levels, but sometimes even sleep isn’t enough to take the edge off the exhaustion. Vitamins and minerals can support the production of energy. In particular, look for a vitamin high in B vitamins and full of magnesium as these will support your energy needs by aiding in the production of energy.
When the early days can feel like forever, it’s important to lean on your support to help prop you up and get you through. Finding the right support in Trimester One is always recommended, as this team will become the foundation of your pregnancy and parenthood village. For more on navigating early pregnancy, try this read on choosing a care model for your pregnancy, or this blog on pregnancy nutrition and prenatal diets.
[For more on what to look for in a prenatal vitamin, see Fertility Naturopath Lucy Fitzbiggon's chat with moode here, and her chat with moode Founder Jess and Women's Health here ].