Having morning sickness, heartburn or constipation? These are common symptoms that mothers face during pregnancy. The severity of these pregnancy symptoms can very from woman to woman, but sometimes they can feel like they won’t going away no matter what you do. Ms. Sarah Sinaram, senior dietitian at Raffles Internal Medicine Centre, provides us with some tips on how to deal with these annoying pregnancy symptoms.
Morning sickness occurs in 50 to 90% of pregnancies and usually ends by the 14th week of pregnancy. For some, it may last beyond the first trimester. It can affect you at any time of the day, not just in the morning. It can be challenging to follow a balanced diet when you feel unwell. Here are some tips that may help:
- Try to eat something plain as soon as you wake up in the morning e.g. a slice of toast or a few plain biscuits.
- Avoid spicy and fatty foods.
- Avoid foods with strong smells or flavours.
- Wearing loose and comfortable clothing.
- Drink lots of fluids between meals to avoid dehydration.
- Eat small meals often. Skipping meals can make nausea worse.
- Eat and drink slowly and chew your foods well.
- Have a small snack before bedtime e.g. a piece of fruit with low fat yoghurt.
Other useful tips:
- Avoid caffeine containing drinks (tea, coffee, Coke).
- Ginger has been shown to help with morning sickness. Try crystallised ginger or ginger ale.
- Vitamin B6 may also help, speak to your doctor about the correct dose you should take.
- In severe cases your doctor may need to prescribe some medication to control the nausea and vomiting.
You may lose a small amount of weight either due to poor food intake or from vomiting. This weight will usually return so there is no cause for alarm. Do speak to your doctor or dietitian if you are having trouble eating a balanced diet or gaining weight.
This is usually experienced during the last trimester. As your baby grows bigger, it pushes up against your stomach. As a result, the acid content in the stomach is forced up into the oesophagus.
What you can do to relieve heartburn:
- Avoid spicy, fried food and coffee.
- Have smaller and more frequent meals or snacks.
- Drink fluids between meals rather than together with the meals.
- Sit upright for one to two hours after meals.
- Avoid wearing tight fitting clothes
- Sleep propped up on a couple of pillows
Constipation is common during pregnancy and it is caused by hormonal changes and pressure from the growing baby which affects bowel movement. It is important to have enough dietary fiber; fruit, vegetables and whole grains, fluid and exercise to avoid constipation.
What you can do to relieve constipation:
- Increase your fibre intake. Eat more wholegrain cereals, fruits and vegetables.
- Increase fluid intake by taking a minimum of 10 glasses of fluids a day.
- Increase your physical activity (in accordance to your doctor’s advice).
- Take prune/apple juice or dried prunes, which can act as natural laxatives.
Ms. Sarah Sinaram is a senior dietitian at Raffles Internal Medicine Centre in Raffles Hospital, a tertiary care hospital and the flagship of the Raffles Medical Group, a leading private healthcare provider in Singapore and South East Asia.
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