You’re 11 weeks pregnant (and on your way to getting as big as the mumma in the photo!). You feel physically terrible with nausea, vomiting and fatigue. You have only been eating hot chips and drinking lemonade for weeks now. And whenever you have tried to take a pregnancy multivitamin first thing in the morning, you feel like vomiting – or you vomit. You’re worried that your baby won’t be getting enough nutrients. What should you do?
Make sure you get enough of a B vitamin called folate/folic acid, because this is important to prevent neural tube defects in your baby. You need 600ug/day of it when you’re pregnant. In Australia, you can increase your chances of doing this by eating processed wheat flour products that have folic acid added to the flour (a process that is called folic acid fortification). (Please note that organic varieties do not have to contain added folic acid, so avoid them). “Brilliant”, you think, just before you ask someone to hurry to your local bakery to buy you a plain bagel. An ‘average’ bagel weighing about 90g would provide you with about 108ug of folic acid. You can see that this isn’t nearly reaching your target of 600ug/day. So, do try your best to keep your pregnancy multivitamin down by having it with food, and having half in the morning and half at night. Or try to eat more wheat flour products, or get folate from other dietary sources, such as: leafy green veggies, fruit, legumes, nuts, yeast extract and some cereals. Could you stomach a bit of a smoothie made with spinach, orange juice and a dab of peanut butter? What about a small bowl of breakfast cereal that has had some folic acid added to it?
Make sure you get enough of the mineral called iodine, because this is important for your baby’s brain and thyroid development. You need 220ug/day when you’re pregnant. Luckily, wheat flour in Australia is also fortified with iodine via iodised salt. Eating that bagel will provide you with about 41ug of iodine (unless it’s organic, or has ‘no added salt’). Again, not enough for you, young lady! Again, try to have your pregnancy multivitamin (or a specific iodine supplement); or eat more bread products or other dietary sources of iodine, such as iodised salt, dairy, eggs and seafood. Scrambled eggs on toast, with a touch of iodised salt, anyone?
Watch that you’re getting enough, and also not too much, of other important nutrients: enough iron and vitamin B12 (especially if you are a vegetarian or a vegan), vitamin D (you can get some of what you need from the sun!), calcium (especially if you avoid dairy) and omega-3 fatty acids; and not too much vitamin A, vitamin B6 or iron.
Try to drink enough water, and eat fibre if you can stomach it, to avoid constipation.
Try to relax!? Hopefully your unpleasant – or downright horrendous?? – symptoms will lessen or go away soon, and you can go back to eating a balanced diet and taking your multivitamins without feeling sick. And stress doesn’t help anyone. Although, it’s quite understandable to feel unhappy and anxious when your poor body is struggling 🙁
Take-home message: It’s ok to only eat hot chips and drink lemonade for a while if that’s all that you can stomach, as long as you can also stomach your pregnancy multi-vitamins, and as long as your bum doesn’t break from constipation! Of course, it’d be ideal if you could eat a balanced diet, but I get that you may not be able to keep a chickpea salad down (bleeeurgh?).
See another article here about what you can do for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
Material provided on The Real Bok Choy’s website and blog is intended to be of a general nature only. It should not be relied upon for personalised health information, i.e. every person and situation is different; and any changes to a person’s diet should be made after individualised advice is obtained from appropriately qualified health professionals. For example, tailored dietary/nutrition guidance should be sought from an Accredited Practising Dietitan or a Registered Nutritionist.