By Valerie Yoder
A few months ago, I learned I am pregnant with my second child. My partner and I thought, “Hooray! New baby!” — and then the nausea set in. I had pretty severe nausea during my first pregnancy but was able to get through it by sleeping in, taking naps, and avoiding potential triggers like strong odors, cooking food, etc. With a toddler on the loose, I knew this time would be different. Caring for my son means my days of sleeping in are long gone. Not only that, but I have to cook and change dirty diapers. If you’ve been through this, you know how gut-wrenching the smell of eggs or a soiled diaper at 7:30 a.m. can be!
Pregnancy is supposed to be exciting, a time to nourish your body and daydream about the precious baby growing inside you. Nausea/vomiting makes doing much of anything except curling up in a fetal position on the couch and watching your favorite movie on repeat especially difficult. Here are some suggestions that might help (They helped me!):
1. Eat protein snacks — Although scientists aren’t completely sure what causes pregnancy nausea, they do know that spikes in blood sugar can make it worse. Have snacks that will keep your blood sugar stable such as string cheese, yogurt, whole grain toast with nutritional yeast, oatmeal, kefir, hard boiled eggs, or crackers with nut butter and bee pollen readily available.
2. Eat a snack before getting out of bed in the morning — I found that getting out of bed with an empty stomach often triggered my nausea. If someone can’t bring you a morning snack in bed, keep beside your bed a snack that you can nibble on first thing in the morning. For the first couple of months, I kept a box of crackers and a jar of peanut butter on my nightstand.
3. Eat small, frequent meals — This helps by keeping your stomach from getting too empty, and also helps to regulate blood sugar. For times when nothing seems to stay down, well-known herbalist Rosemary Gladstar recommends making a broth by using equal parts barley and whole oats. After straining out the grains, add slippery elm powder and miso to taste. This nourishing broth can reduce inflammation and irritations associated with digestive problems.
4. Try umeboshi plums! — If you can find these Japanese pickled “salt” plums at your local grocery or health food store, pick up a jar and eat one with every meal or as needed. Asian cultures have used umeboshi plums to combat nausea and exhaustion for centuries. Many women, myself included, have successfully used these to curb pregnancy nausea. The sour and salty taste may be off-putting at first if you’re new to these gems, but if you can get through the initial taste sensation, you will thank yourself for trying them.
5. Sip ginger/herbal teas — Not only is ginger known for its ability to calm nausea, but sipping herbal tea will keep you hydrated throughout the day. I also found that sucking on ginger candy drops helped me to curb oncoming vomiting episodes. Other herbal teas can be helpful as well. I tried these tea recipes from Rosemary Gladstar’s book Herbal Healing For Women with great success:
Peach Leaf Tea
1 part peach leaf
2 parts peppermint leaf
¼ part ginger root (fresh and grated)
To make, use four to six tablespoons of the mixture per quart of water. Add herbs to cold water and put on low heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Cover and infuse for twenty minutes. Strain and drink.
1-2 teaspoons Bancha tea
¼ teaspoon umeboshi plum paste (or 1-2 umboshi plums)
1 teaspoon tamari
pinch of fresh ginger
To make, simmer for one minute, let cool, and sip slowly.
6. Breathe deeply and take comfort in knowing that for most women, nausea lasts only through the first trimester. You will make it through, and on the other side of this seemingly impossible feat will be the purest and truest of rewards — your beautiful baby!