Before Motherhood: First Trimester of Pregnancy Health Tips

Image source: Pixabay
Image source: Pixabay

The most exciting milestone for couples is learning that they are expecting! It begins an exciting nine-month journey that awaits the arrival of a life changing precious newborn.

Pregnancy is a beautiful time. Through the mercy of Allah (swt), the growing of a baby inside the womb is life’s greatest miracles. “ …Then we made this drop into a clot, then We made the clot into a lump, then We made the lump into bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We caused it to grow into another creation. Thus Most Blessed is Allah, the Best of all those that create.” (23:14) The embryonic development of a fetus to baby is remarkable – at six weeks, the heart starts to beat, at three months the limbs fully form, at five months the baby’s kicks and movement can be felt and up till the 9th month the baby’s brain and body continue to grow.

The pregnancy experience can be varied for each mother-to-be and even differ from one pregnancy to the next! Some start and end the nine month journey without a single unpleasant bout of morning sickness while others experience a range of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, sleeplessness, constipation, and back pain to name a few.

Hormonal changes are the most common cause of nausea in pregnancy and fatigue, especially in the first trimester or 12 weeks of pregnancy. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin or hCG is a hormone that is produced at higher levels during early pregnancy and it is theorized to be a contributing cause of nausea and vomiting. Many who have experienced nausea would agree “morning sickness” doesn’t always last during the morning hours. Nausea and vomiting can lead to developing food aversions, decreased appetite, dehydration and weight loss. As a result many pregnant moms may feel overwhelmed and pressured that they aren’t providing enough nutrients to the growing fetus.

As a first time pregnant mother, and Naturopathic Doctor, I’d like to reassure other pregnant mothers that this is a common feeling of pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Here are a few tips that can ease and overcome some first trimester symptoms of morning sickness, nausea, vomiting and fatigue:

  1. Eat small but frequent meals throughout the day. Nausea can be worsened with an empty stomach. Starting the morning off with a few whole wheat salt crackers can also be helpful and keep the stomach at ease.
  2. Consume a protein rich breakfast and protein rich snacks: Many pregnant women may find that having a breakfast rich in protein can help settle uneasy morning nausea and be satiating. Having trouble thinking of protein rich breakfast? Consider from the following: Boiled eggs, steel cut oatmeal, Greek yogurt and granola and cooked salmon frittata with avocados. Protein rich snacks include trail mix, nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds, pistachios), nut butters, hummus, berry protein shakes/smoothies and Greek yogurt and whole grain granola.
  3. Maintain hydration – especially during nausea and vomiting to prevent dehydration. Aim to consume 2 liters of water but if you are experiencing bouts of vomiting then you require even more! Consider adding lemon, cucumber and fresh mint to your water to add flavour. For many women cucumber and mint can be anti-nauseating. Coconut water is also an excellent choice to quench thirst, provide electrolytes and nutrients!
  4. Ginger it up: Ginger confers many anti-nausea and anti-vomiting benefits and studies have found to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting. Keeping low sugar ginger candies may be good to keep on hand throughout the day. Add ginger to your food and consider drinking ginger tea. There are also ginger supplements that can be helpful so talk to you Naturopathic Doctor to assess if they are right for you and what dose you need.
  5. Acupressure and Acupuncture can be helpful in mitigating symptoms of morning sickness. (Add picture of Acupressure point). An Acupuncturist or Naturopathic Doctor can come up with an acupuncture treatment plan specific to your current symptoms. Acupressure bracelets or applying pressure to points throughout the day can also be helpful.
  6. Supplements:
  • Prenatal Supplements: Be sure that you are taking good quality prenatal supplements during the pregnancy. Especially with nausea and vomiting you may be experiencing decreased appetite and food aversions so it is important to get supplemental essential nutrients to ensure the growing fetus is receiving adequate nutrients. A wholesome prenatal containing variety of vitamins and minerals is recommended. Some important vitamins and minerals in pregnancy include folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, chromium, and omega 3s. Confused about which prenatal supplements are the best for you? If you have increased risk of miscarriage or neural tube defects, then you may require a higher dose of some nutrients. If you have pre-existing low iron (anemia) then you may require higher iron needs. It is best to talk to your Naturopathic Doctor or health practitioner to determine which one may be the best for you and your baby’s needs.
  • Vitamin B6: Studies have shown that vitamin B6 supplementation can be helpful in easing nausea in pregnancy. Prenatal supplements also contain vitamin B6 but additional doses can be helpful. Talk to your health care provider to determine what the right dose is for you.

7. Take naps and rest: During the first trimester, fatigue is a significant symptom that can impact daily life routine. Let your body guide you in telling you when it needs rest and rest up! Taking afternoon naps may help ease fatigue later on the day and also can help keep your stomach at ease. If you are able to make changes to your work schedule, perhaps consider starting work a little later and sleep in – your body will appreciate the extra sleep, especially during the first trimester.

The first trimester can be an exciting yet challenging time if you aren’t feeling well. Hopefully some of these tips can help ease morning sickness of nausea and vomiting! Stay tuned for other health tips that help support a smooth transition to the second trimester :)

Ayesha Qureshi is a licensed and practicing Naturopathic Doctor. She has a general family practice in Mississauga and Brampton and focuses largely on women’s health and pain management. She is an avid advocate of preventative health, empowering her patients to restore balance and achieve health and wellness naturally. Ayesha has a passion of writing health blogs and articles which can be found on her website  www.drayeshaqureshi.com and Facebook page www.facebook.com/DrAyesha.ND/. Ayesha will be a first time mother and is excitedly waiting for her tiny pea in the pod to sprout April 2017.

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