Diet + Nutrition
Even the healthiest pregnant women are bombarded with advice about what they should or should not be eating. Women with HG often find that the food and drinks that don’t trigger a vomiting episode are few and far between. Even more stressful still, the foods that stay down are often not from the ‘healthy’ category. Many women find that eating vegetables and some fruits causes immediate vomiting, making it incredibly difficult to follow a healthy diet. For some reason, women with HG often find sweet and salty foods - sweet drinks like lemonade or coke, or salty chips - are more likely to stay down than a healthier option. These choices can often lead to disapproving comments from friends, family and health care practitioners. People may even incorrectly assume you are purposely disregarding healthy eating guidelines. While it’s important to follow current guidelines regarding unsafe foods - pate, liver, soft cheeses and undercooked eggs - there’s no need to feel guilty about sticking to your ‘safe’ foods and eating and drinking whatever you can keep down.
We are working with a dietician to prepare further resources for women struggling with what to eat and drink. Please check back again soon for more information.
Knowing when you can eat
Keeping a daily diary of your symptoms may help you keep track of when your nausea temporarily subsides. Knowing when to expect this will allow you to plan times you might try to eat. The more severe your HG, the shorter these nausea-free intervals are, so it’s important to try to anticipate them. Sometimes you may feel hungry, but this can quickly trigger nausea or even vomiting. Either way, it’s important to try and make the most of them.
Many women with HG find that nibbling small amounts of food can keep the nausea at bay. Once you feel full, stop eating or you risk triggering a vomiting episode. Eat whatever you feel drawn to and try not to worry if it’s not the healthiest option.
Triggers + cravings
There will be certain foods that turn your stomach instantly - do whatever you can to avoid these foods. If you live in a household with other people, explain to them that your trigger foods need to be kept out of the house for the duration of your pregnancy. It’s a small step your loved ones can take to help ease your suffering. You may even find it helpful to ask a friend or family member to reorganise your house to remove any offending foods.
Women with HG often report having profound cravings, much like any other pregnant woman. Feel free to treat yourself to whatever you are craving - as long as it’s safe for pregnancy! You should feel good about eating whatever it is you can hold in your stomach - eating a bag of chips or a drinking a soft drink is still far better for you than going without.
Remember to keep your fluid intake up to prevent dehydration. Becoming dehydrated is a serious problem for women with HG - and it will likely result in a visit to ED. Being dehydrated will worsen the symptoms of HG so it’s best avoided at all costs. Use your nausea-free intervals to maximum effect by alternating solids and fluids, if you find that you can’t eat and drink at the same time.
Stay away from alcohol, and any drinks high in caffeine - but feel free to grab any other drink that you like. Many women find lemonade, fruit drinks or frozen Coke are easier to tolerate than straight tap water. It’s important to try and get a little bit of water into you - if tap water comes straight back up again try fizzy water or chew on ice cubes.
Electrolyte drinks and ice blocks are also very handy - if you can tolerate them. They will boost your hydration levels and replenish important minerals and nutrients lost during vomiting.