If you're currently in the first trimester of your pregnancy and struggling to keep food down, are feeling nauseous as soon as you wake and can't stand the sight of some of the most simplest foods (hello toast), you're not alone.
70-80% of expecting Mamas frequently experience nausea or vomiting or both during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Symptoms typically peak around 8-12 weeks’ gestation and start to subside as you enter 2nd trimester around 14-16 weeks.
Although common, lots of Plantful Mamas 1) worry that they're not getting enough nutrition in to grow a healthy baby and 2) wonder what they can do to reduce it without medication.
Ginger! It's one of the first tips I often share to help reduce nausea during pregnancy, and here's why.
During pregnancy your digestive system slows. This is one factor contributing to an increase in feeling nauseous. Ginger, a natural remedy has been shown to increase gut movement amongst other mechanisms including turning off specific receptors therefore reducing symptoms of nausea.
"What can I do or eat to stop feeling nauseous?"
This is a common question many expecting plant-based Mamas ask me when they first find out they are expecting. Often a moment of joy and excitement is tainted by an unwavering uncertainty that their plant-based diet may not be enough to grow a healthy baby and have a viable pregnancy.
Truth is, a plant-based diet is safe and healthy as long as it's balanced, is ticking off all the essential nutrients and varied.
This means a plant-based diet generally, but especially during pregnancy needs to be colourful, include a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, cereals, nuts and seeds; and where needed cover any nutrient gaps with a high quality supplement.
Below, I discuss statements about choosing a plant-based pregnancy from Dietitians Australia and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the benefits and how pregnancy can make everything that little bit harder.
A simply Google search may give you anecdotal evidence about women that chose to stay plant-based during pregnancy and pros and cons, medical opinion and even a list of all the things that can go wrong if you don't eat animal foods during pregnancy but often what isn't so easy to find is these two statements from the two leading global nutrition bodies
First up is a statement from Dietitians Australia stating:
"A varied, well planned vegetarian diet can provide all the nutrients needed for good health. In fact, a plant-based diet may provide health benefits such as reduced chronic disease risk and more closely match recommended dietary guidelines to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains and to limit saturated fats and sugars..."
And in America, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Vegetarian position statement says:
"An appropriately planned vegetarian including vegan diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.
These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adults and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable that diets rich in animal foods because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage."
Yes, choosing to stay plant-based in the lead up to and during pregnancy can benefit you as Mama and the health of you unborn baby.
We're talking science that shows few caesarean sections in vegan women, a lower incidence of postnatal depression (emerging research), a reduced risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes and even a potential decreased in the risk of your baby developing asthma, and eczema. BOOM!
But! Yes, there is a but. Choosing to stay plant-based during pregnancy doesn't come with risks because there are certain nutrients such as iron, iodine and vitamin B12 that are essential to growing a healthy baby. If you choose to skimp on your grains, have a lack of variety in your diet or don't take a supplement to cover these gaps you could be putting you and your unborn baby at risk of poor and delayed development.
In a nutshell and the takeaway here is a plant-based diet during pregnancy is safe and healthy as long as it's balanced, varied and contains all the essential nutrients needed to support new life. With the right support, an easy to follow framework, some creativityand guidance you can stay plant-based and growing a healthy baby.
There are more than approximately 100 compounds reported to be found in ginger, these include ginger compounds called gingerol, shogaols, zingiberene, and zingerone, as well as other less common compounds, including terpenes, vitamins, and minerals.
It's these gingerols compounds that work on the gut to turn off specific receptors called intestinal cholinergic M3 and serotonergic 5-HT3 receptors and boost gut movement, therefore reducing symptoms of nausea.
Some studies suggest 35mg per day of ginger is required to see a difference right up to 1.5g of ginger per day. Some studies even show that including ginger in your diet can have a similar effect to nausea reducing medications such vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), antihistamine, or metoclopramide.