With up to 38% of pregnant women experiencing constipation, and up to 80% experiencing nausea, having an upset stomach during pregnancy is not uncommon. These uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms can affect what you choose to (or what you are able to) put in your mouth. It can be confusing to know what to do and make it difficult to manage your weight during pregnancy.
Read on for tips on how to manage your upset stomach during pregnancy. And as always, run any concerns and questions you have by your healthcare professional.
Symptom #1: Nausea
They call it morning sickness but it can hit at any time of day. 70-80% of women struggle with nausea and vomiting, and it can be miserable to deal with.
It may sound unappetizing but eating something as soon as you wake up can be very helpful for treating nausea. Some women even keep a box of crackers near the bed and eat a few before stepping a foot on the floor in the morning.
Many women feel less queasy by having 4-6 small bland meals daily. Avoid spicy foods and fried foods as these can contribute to nausea.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) may also help reduce nausea. Studies show that 30 to 75 mg a day can be effective in decreasing the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. If you are experiencing nausea, look for a prenatal supplement that contains at least 30 mg of vitamin B6.
If your prenatal supplement seems to be contributing to nausea, experts recommend taking your supplement with food at night.
Symptom #2: Constipation
Your body changes a little bit every day while you are pregnant, and your growing uterus crowds your digestive system, slowing things down. Plus, changes in hormone levels including rising progesterone levels and reduced motilin levels can lead to constipation.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends these foods to easily boost fiber in your diet:
- 1 large pear with skin, 7 grams
- 1 cup fresh raspberries, 8 grams
- 3 cups popcorn, 3.6 grams
- 1 ounce almonds, 3.5 grams
- ½ cup black beans, 7.5 grams
- ½ medium avocado, 5 grams
The Institute of Medicine recommends having 91 ounces of water per day with 20 percent coming from foods and 80 percent, or 72 ounces, coming from all beverages and plain water combined.
Exercise is also helpful in improving motility in your digestive tract. New Horizon’s Women’s Care recommends taking a brisk walk, bicycle ride or swim at least three times per week for 20 minutes.
If you still do not see relief from constipation, speak to your healthcare professional about alternative treatments.
Barely able to eat anything? Your prenatal supplement can help.
Sure a healthful diet is important, but it isn’t possible to get all of the nutrients you require for a healthy pregnancy from food alone. This is especially difficult when you have an upset stomach during pregnancy. A high-quality prenatal supplement can help you to get the extra nutrients that you and your baby need during pregnancy.
There are many different prenatal supplements on the market. It is important to find one that is easy for you to swallow, and that you tolerate well. Look for these key nutrients in your prenatal supplement:
Studies show that this vitamin is crucial to a healthy pregnancy. It helps develop your baby’s bone structure, plus adequate vitamin D can help you and your baby by reducing your risk for preeclampsia, a pregnancy-related high blood pressure that can lead to severe complications such as preterm birth and stroke. As well, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of low birthweight and autoimmune diseases.
Since vitamin D is present in just a few food sources, including salmon, canned tuna and fortified milk and orange juice, it’s recommended to get 2,000 – 4,000 IU in your prenatal supplement. Research has shown that taking these doses during pregnancy is safe and effective in achieving normal vitamin D blood levels and decreasing the risk of asthma and recurrent wheeze in children.
DHA, docosahexaenoic acid, is an essential fatty acid, and you need 250-300 mg daily during pregnancy. It’s crucial for the development of the baby’s brain and eyes and may reduce the risk of preterm labor.
You may be able to get the DHA you need by eating fatty fish but many pregnant women eliminate fish intake during pregnancy to avoid consuming mercury. If you decide to occasionally include fish in your diet, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch site is a great place to do some research on the type of fish you plan to eat.
Choline is found in eggs, beef, soybeans, chicken and mushrooms and potatoes. It promotes your baby’s brain development and helps prevent neural tube defects. Health experts recommend 100-300 mg in your prenatal supplement because hardly anyone gets enough of this crucial nutrient through diet alone.
Your need for iodine increases during pregnancy. Iodine is an important nutrient for the growth and development of your baby, it supports neurological and psychological development as well as thyroid function. Health experts recommend getting 150 – 220 mcg in your prenatal supplement, and it can be found in seafood and dairy products.
Iron is essential to support the growing placenta and baby and to support your red cell mass and plasma volume. During the second and third trimester, your iron needs increase to 27 mg per day. Iron can be found in fortified grains, beans, lentils and spinach but you will want to rely on a supplement to supply this increased need during pregnancy.
Because the quality of prenatal vitamins can vary, you should also look for USP or NSF certified prenatal supplements. These third-party certifications guarantee that supplements are free from contaminants and that the contents are accurate and pure.
Upset stomach during pregnancy? Try this recipe!
Even though you may have an upset stomach during pregnancy, it’s important to have something to eat in the morning. Eating something in the morning can help alleviate nausea. Then, try to have small meals throughout the day. This easy recipe can be eaten for breakfast, or even for a light lunch, dinner, or snack.
This sandwich supplies a boost of fiber (12 grams!) which can help you get enough to alleviate constipation. What’s more, eggs are a terrific source of choline. One large egg supplies roughly 147 mg choline!
While this recipe can help you toward your nutrient goals and may help with your upset stomach, remember that you will still need to take your prenatal supplement to ensure you are getting all of the required nutrients for a healthy pregnancy.
Egg Sandwich with Mashed Avocado and Tomato
Preparation Time: 11 minutes
Cooking Time: 7 minutes
- 1 egg
- 1 dash black pepper
- 2 slices whole grain bread
- ½ avocado
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 dash salt
- 1 small tomato, sliced
- Coat a skillet with cooking spray for the fried-style egg.
- Heat the egg on both sides until cooked through, sprinkle with pepper.
- In a bowl, mash the avocado with the olive oil and salt.
- Toast the bread and spread with the avocado, fill with the egg and tomato.
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