Pickles and ice cream. Waves of nausea. We've all heard about the various cravings and symptoms that moms-to-be experience. But every woman responds differently to the hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy. What can you expect? Here are the common symptoms during the first trimester.
Up to 85 percent of moms-to-be suffer from nausea and vomiting, and not just in the morning. While it's not clear exactly what causes it, it's believed that the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin may be to blame: The more of it in your system, the more nauseated you'll be. And that's not necessarily a bad thing -- some experts think that the queasier you are, the less likely you are to miscarry or deliver prematurely.
Ways to minimize the symptoms of morning sickness until they disappear sometime in the second trimester:
Eat mini-meals throughout the day. Eating smaller meals more frequently can ease digestion and keep your stomach filled (nausea is even worse on an empty stomach). While you may want to opt for bland foods, experts recommend eating whatever you have a hankering for, as long as it's healthy. So if you can only stomach grilled-cheese sandwiches for a few days, go for it.
Have ginger. It's a proven soother for upset stomachs, so try grating some fresh ginger into your tea or juice to get the full benefits.
Try B6. A supplement of this vitamin may help your stomach empty faster. Ask your doctor for the appropriate amount.
Food cravings and aversions
A hankering for certain foods or an intense dislike of others are often linked to morning sickness. These cravings and aversions can be unpredictable, but up to 80 percent of pregnant women report cravings and up to 85 percent say they're being repelled by certain foods. Should you give in to your desires or shun the foods you loathe? It depends. If the craving is healthy and you're not scarfing down bags of chips or pints of ice cream, then you can indulge. A good rule: Limit your treats to one 75-to-100-calorie serving per day. For food aversions, try substituting other foods for the ones you can't stomach:
- If you can't drink milk, substitute low-fat cheese, cottage cheese, or yogurt. And try sneaking milk into sauces, soups, oatmeal, or pancakes.
- If you can't swallow veggies, munch on fruits rich in beta-carotene, like mango, apricot, and cantaloupe.
- If meat turns you off, try beans. Or hide beef, chicken, or turkey in sauces, soups, or stews.
A heightened sense of smell
Many women report having a sharper sense of smell during pregnancy. One theory: It helps you stay away from foods that have a high bacteria content or natural toxins, which could harm the fetus during this crucial period of development. This bionic sense of smell usually abates as the months go on.