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Keeping Food Down during the First Trimester

Some women are unable to gain the amount of weight they need because they vomit or feel nauseated whenever they eat. And if you're not gaining weight as you're supposed to, your healthcare provider may ask you to stop exercising until you begin to gain weight normally.

Although nausea and vomiting are usually limited to the first trimester and tend to occur only in the morning, note the two following not-so-usual characteristics of so-called morning sickness:

  • Nausea and vomiting can occur at any time of the day. In fact, some women feel best in the morning and can't tolerate foods at other times of the day.
  • For some women, this period of sickness extends beyond the first trimester.

If you're experiencing sickness in the morning or any time of day, try the following tips:

  • Eat several small meals throughout the day and have a snack just before bed. If you get too hungry (for example, after going 12 hours between dinner and breakfast), your nausea will likely become unbearable.
  • Keep crackers or another nonperishable, nonspicy snack on your nightstand and eat it before you get out of bed in the morning, especially if you tend to feel nauseated as soon as you get out of bed.
  • Keep your meals small. Overeating exacerbates the nausea and can also create or worsen heartburn.
  • Focus on eating low-fat, high-carb foods and low-fat dairy products. These foods are much easier to digest than fried foods and high-fat, low-carb foods.
  • Limit or completely avoid sweet foods, which tend to increase nausea.
  • Try eating ginger, which is an ancient remedy for nausea. You can buy it whole in the produce section of your grocery store; you simply peel it, cut it into cubes, and bake or boil it. You can also find it ground in the spice aisle; sprinkle it on pudding, yogurt, or ice cream or add it to a smoothie or milkshake. If you can find ginger ale (such as Vernor's or Canada Dry) in your area, try that or try ginger tea.
  • Avoid overdoing fluids with meals. Drinking fluids with your meals can make you feel overly full.
  • Take your vitamin on a full stomach, during or just after a meal.
  • If you're unable to get much of anything down, experiment with different types of foods at different times of the day, forgetting everything you know about what healthy foods to eat and when to eat them. If you crave a certain type of food, try it — your body may be telling you what it wants. Even if the food you crave doesn't qualify as a "healthy" food, don't worry too much about the quality of your food choices until your nausea and vomiting disappear — getting some calories in you is your most important priority at this point.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing, especially during exercise.

Keep drinking water, even if you can't keep anything else down. Vomiting quickly dehydrates you, but keeping up your water intake helps keep you from becoming dangerously dehydrated. Also try keeping a cup of ice chips handy and dissolving a few in your mouth every few minutes; this is a good way to hydrate when you're feeling nauseous. The same goes for frozen juice: You just chop it up into pieces and eat it.

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