One thing I’ve learned in just the first 4 1/2 months of pregnancy, is that it comes with lots of ups and downs! From the lows of exhaustion, nausea, depression/anxiety, and fluid retention to the highs of energy boosts, excitement, nesting, unconditional love & gratefulness, finding out the gender, and feeling him move for the first time, it is a 9 month roller coaster ride! One thing that has helped me through the hard times as been proper nutrition and activity. It’s not always easy to stay on track when I’m feeling low, but whenever I manage to eat well and stay active (within my new limitations), I’ve been able to at least manage some of my symptoms.
As I mentioned in my last post, the main thing that helps with exhaustion is eating smaller, more frequent meals that include both carbs and protein. The carbs provide boosts of energy, while the protein helps your body use that energy longer to fight exhaustion. This combination also helps fight nausea because it keeps your blood sugar steady- the carbs bring your blood sugar up, while the added protein helps keep it from spiking and crashing. Another added benefit of carbs (and one reason we tend to be drawn to them) is that they are mood-lifters. Many pregnant women go through at least a couple weeks of overall feelings of sadness, depression, and/or anxiety. This is the most difficult symptom to manage nutritionally (and I feel the most difficult symptom overall) because it is mostly tied to our hormones and the big changes that lie ahead, but getting the right amounts and types of carbs and proteins throughout the day can help take the edge off while you cope.
Of course, in the beginning, finding proteins that I actually wanted to eat seemed near impossible! I was able to rely on things like greek yogurt (get my fave here and kefir, nuts and peanut butter, beans, and hard-boiled eggs when meat and fish were off my radar. These foods combined with fruits and whole grain breads and pastas helped stave off the nausea and at least somewhat give me energy. As mentioned in my last post, my favorite breakfasts have included whole grain waffles or bread and eggs, or whole grain cereal with kefir and frozen fruit. I have also relied on snacks like an apple and peanut butter and raw veggies and cheese.
Another symptom that I have fought to manage is fluid retention. The main thing that is recommended, and that truly helps, is staying hydrated. While growing a teeny human, we need extra water but that’s not always easy to do when water makes you feel nauseous! One thing that helps is infusing my water. I chose lemon and ginger, and can quickly and easily make a pitcher of it every day or other day. This really helped fight nausea when I needed it, and it helps keep me hydrated.
All there are foods that can also help with fluid retention! Potassium is the main electrolyte that helps fluid move more freely within your body’s cells. High-potassium foods combined with water and high-water veggies are extremely helpful in reducing swelling. After searching for ideas for smoothies, I was able to piece together my own fluid-retention pregnancy-superfood smoothie recipe! It has been so delicious, and has made me feel so great throughout the past several weeks! It includes high potassium foods like mango, high water veggies like cucumber, and other pregnancy superfoods like spinach and flax seed for the folic acid and fatty acids we know to be so beneficial for our growing babies! Note the flax seed also serves as the protein for this yummy snack, even with a small amount of protein, because it is also a fat, and it gives your energy and blood sugar more staying power!
Since not being able to sleep past 6:30am lately, I usually feel a lull or crash mid-morning, but this smoothie really helps perk me up and re-focus me in addition to the benefits it has on my hydration.
- 8oz Coconut Water (100% pure, not from concentrate. Try Harmless Coconut Water!)
- 1/3 of a large cucumber (skin on for fiber!)
- 1/2c frozen mango
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 1 slice fresh ginger (great for nausea and digestion)
- 1 slice fresh turmeric (great for inflammation, which is helpful with all the soreness that comes with pregnancy since we can’t take ibuprofin)
- 1c fresh baby spinach or kale (I like to keep mine in the freezer)
Combine all ingredients into a good blender (I love my Ninja system) and blend until smooth!
Have a great week! Leave comments for questions 🙂