Taking Care of Yourself While Pregnant

 photo IMG_1067_zps57f8fd16.jpgI'm sitting here, more than halfway through my second trimester of my fourth pregnancy, and, quite frankly, I feel terrible. I feel nauseous and gross, as if I haven't left my first trimester.
But for all my frustrations with my body when pregnant, that I get to experience 9 months of throwing up and nausea, I am happy that I do not have hyperemesis gravidarum like my sister does, and that I am not losing weight nor in need of hospitalization from dehydration and malnutrition from the constant puking that people with HG get.
But I am assuming that there is something genetic related to HG, which is why I get more nausea and for longer than average.
However, since adjusting my diet (I went off gluten and dairy when I was 10 weeks along in my last pregnancy) I've found that I am able to function much better than I did in previous pregnancies. I may have nausea and feel icky, but it isn't generally so debilitating that I can't function (as happened with my first three pregnancies).

This pregnancy I am nursing my nearly 2 year old, in addition to nourishing the baby inside and myself, and because of that, it is extra important that I nourish my body well. Since going off of gluten and dairy, I noticed that while I may have nausea a lot, it doesn't tend to be triggered by specific foods or smells- it's just an all around nausea that doesn't stop me from being able to eat well.

My first pregnancy, I couldn't eat any chicken, fish, eggs, or beef for the first trimester, nor could I eat zucchini. There were many other foods that I couldn't handle. My second pregnancy was similar to my first, only that I could eat beef. My third pregnancy, all I could handle my first trimester were white flour products, like breads, crackers, and pasta, potatoes, cheeses, dairy, and green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans).
This pregnancy? It was amazing! I couldn't eat fish or smell it cooking, other than raw fish in sashimi and tuna fish and sardines (go figure),  but I had no problem with white meat chicken, and I could eat dark meat chicken so long as I didn't have to smell it cooking, and I could eat beef. I had no problem eating any gluten free grains (though I did try to avoid some of the stronger smelling ones, like kasha) or vegetables. I did have certain cravings, and I found that when I gave in to them and bought what my body was telling me, I usually felt less nauseous afterward. (The main weird food that I found made me feel nauseous, surprisingly enough, was almonds- because those are generally what people suggest women eat when they're nauseous, as they're supposed to stop nausea.)
It was really great that I could eat the nourishing foods that my body needed this pregnancy, especially in light of the fact that I'm currently eating for 3! I really think the reason that my body was able to handle the nourishing foods it needed, that I couldn't handle other pregnancies, was because it is healthier altogether because of the improvement in my diet, but I can't prove it.
That said, there were times that I was just so nauseous that I couldn't stomach most foods... and I found plain rice cakes and plain mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes to be easy on the stomach and appealing. On 3 or 4 occasions, I bought a bottle of coca cola and drinking that stopped me from puking. (I bought those while I was feeling nauseous while grocery shopping, and it spared me the humiliation of barfing in the grocery store...)

I was talking to my friend KerryAnn from Intentionally domestic, telling her about how I was feeling, and she recommended that I tried the "bean cure". Supposedly, it is excess bile that makes us nausea, and the soluble fiber found in legumes binds with the bile, so that it leaves the body instead of getting reabsorbed. Eating lots of legumes is supposed to help both stop and prevent future nausea.
I tried it- it might have helped a little bit, but I'm not sure. I do know that rice and lentils was usually very settling to my stomach when I was nauseous... But either way, this information was very new to me, which is why I wanted to share it with you.

Kombucha tea has helped me with morning sickness in the past. I'm not exactly sure why, I just know that when I drank kombucha regularly, it prevented me from feeling nauseous. And once I was nauseous, if I'd drink kombucha, it would quell it.
The problem was that I started getting splitting headaches whenever I'd drink kombucha. I wasn't sure why, but it got so bad that I needed to stop.

So then I decided to make homemade ginger beer- and that helped for a little bit... until I started getting terrible headaches from the ginger beer as well, and had to stop that also.

Every day, it seems, more and more things were giving me terrible headaches- even breads made with gluten free flours, etc... and I had no idea why my body was starting to react badly to so many different types of foods and drinks.
My local health food store employs a naturopath to help customers free of charge. When shopping there, I explained my issues (apparently sensitivities to fermented foods, gluten free grains, etc...) that only recently cropped up, and she said that it sounded like a lack of balance (hormonally maybe?) and she said it is likely a magnesium deficiency causing it. She took a look at my blood work and confirmed that I had low magnesium and should be supplementing with it.
I decided to do transdermal magnesium therapy- where you rub magnesium oil onto your skin, where it gets absorbed into your body better than it does from the gastrointestinal tract.
Once I started supplementing with magnesium- miracle of miracles- my headaches were gone. Not lessened, but completely completely gone. And with that, I was able to start drinking kombucha again, etc...

Another side effect of taking magnesium- I'd read that magnesium deficiency than cause you to be nauseous, and that supplementing helps prevent nausea. On days that I do transdermal magnesium therapy, the following day I am not nauseous, or barely so. I highly recommend magnesium for anyone who has morning sickness.

Additionally, in addition to magnesium, I ordered a whole bunch of supplements from iherb that are supposed to help a lot in pregnancy (this info based on what I read on the Weston Price website). I suspect I have MTHFR gene mutation, meaning I can't properly convert folic acid into folate (which could be the cause of my kids' tongue and lip ties), and it also affects the absorption of other vitamins, such as B6 and B12, so I ordered some B6 in P5P form, and B12 in methylcobalamine form, and methyl folate instead of folic acid, all of which are the bioavailable forms.
From what I read, vitamins K2 and D and A area also very important to have while pregnant, so I am taking those as well.

So, this pregnancy hasn't been super frugal. I've been spending more on things like nourishing foods and supplements, etc... not to mention eating things I crave. However, when it comes to your health, I do believe it is worth spending somewhat extra. A baby's life is greatly affected by the nutrition he gets in the womb, and having health issues does end up costing more money in the long run than prevention via good nutrition. (For example, I strongly attribute Lee's bad teeth with the terrible diet I had while pregnant with him- his teeth came in weak already...)

How do you take care of yourself while pregnant? What supplements do you take, if any? Are you able to eat regularly and healthily, or do you have nausea that prevents you from taking care of your body as you should while pregnant? What helps your nausea? What makes you more nauseous? How long does your nausea generally last?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Very interesting. I've had two rough pregnancies, and I try to figure out what can make future ones easier. For me I think the most important thing is attitude. I any case, with both pregnancies I took Zofran - a heavy duty anti-nausea medicine. For the first pregnancy I took it till the end, for the second one I only needed it until the middle. It made the difference between having a life ruled by nausea and "normal" levels of nausea. I remember one weekend when I ran out...the whole Friday I kept on puking and puking, I felt myself getting dehydrated, but I just couldn't hold anything I drank down...Ironically, we went away, and I managed not to throw up in the car, and that broke the cycle a bit. But the whole weekend revolved around me trying to manage my nausea. It's rough. Hang in there.

  2. A Reader from BeitarNovember 8, 2013 at 5:50 AM

    Woops - that previous comment was from me.
    I was signed in automatically as my husband.
    He has never been pregnant yet, although I have asked him to please have the next one : )

  3. I am 15 weeks pregnant and still having some nausea, but it's gotten a little better in the past two weeks: mostly in the morning instead of all day, and I no longer have a bitter taste in my mouth all the time except while eating. Here are my tips for managing pregnancy nausea. It's interesting that almonds are supposed to have special anti-nausea properties; I never heard that, but I've been eating almonds first thing every morning and often for snacks, and they do seem to be a really good food for me at this stage.

    I agree that careful food choices and appropriate supplements are crucial in pregnancy even if they increase expenses! One of the things that's helping me eat better this time than I did in my first pregnancy in 2004 is that organic milk, eggs, and yogurt have become affordable and readily available in our area--back then, they were triple the price and required several miles' drive--so now I can eat plenty of these nutritious, high-protein foods without worrying about toxins. They're still more expensive than non-organic, but the prices have come down into a range I'm willing to pay.

  4. Did I miss the announcement that you were expecting again (or maybe this is it ;)! ). Either way, congrats! This is my first pregnancy (24 weeks) and I've taken care of myself with really good prenatals, pricey but worth it, that have folate vs folic, are whole food, organic, etc. I've added in calcium for my teeth and magnesium to help the calcium absorb, plus to help with constipation. I'm eating healthily, and following a light version of the brewer's diet since I'm at risk of pre-eclampsia. It works out since I crave protein like crazy anyway! I've found the brewer's diet to really help me make good choices. It's so much food that I rarely get the chance to sneak in a treat!

  5. How did I not know you were pregnant?? When did you announce it? Congrats..

  6. I am 14 weeks pregnant. This is my 5th pregnancy, but 7th child (we adopted two). I feel your pain. Morning sickness is horrible, and I found that it got worse with each successive pregnancy. With pregnancy #3 and #4, I would throw up 7 or 8 times a day. But 1/2 a Unisom pill calmed my stomach enough for me to be able to eat and drink a day's worth of food before bed. Fortunately my morning sickness is usually gone or nearly so by week 15-16.

    This time around, I have found so much relief from Zofran. I have only thrown up a few times since starting on it. I don't normally jump to medications for things, but I was pretty desperate. I'm an at home mom to 6 kids, ages 11, 9, 7, 5, 4, and 2. That doesn't leave much time for laying on the couch feeling nauseous and sorry for myself.

    I tried all the home remedies I could find like steeped ginger "tea", sucking on mints, etc.

    The bean thing is interesting. But since our family doesn't eat much meat and gets already eats lots of beans and lentils, I am not sure that has helped me.

    Congratulations and good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

  7. What a pleasure reading through this informative post. I appreciate you sharing your story with all of us. It's not the easiest thing to find valuable information online, so I'm happy I came across your site since you definitely gave some interesting pointers! Thanks!

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