I’m going to start everyone off with a “duh” today: Every pregnancy is different. Okay? I’ve put that out there, and it’s my disclaimer for this post. I am acknowledging that what worked for you or me might not work for your sister or friend. However, we can take comfort in the fact that SOME things might work for many.
I now have three pregnant friends, who are all a gradation of weeks behind me in their pregnancies, so since I’m the one to run the gauntlet first, I’m the one who answers questions and gives out what advice I can. I like it. I like sharing what I’ve learned, especially if what I learned can provide even one hour of relief to the expectant.
By nature, I’m a fairly nauseous person. That is, I’m easily nauseated — cars, cabs, planes, naval gazing, American Idol — will all do it to me. I’ve been this way for awhile and so learned early on in life that Dramamine was my friend, my confident, my constant companion.
I had feared that pregnancy might be much worse for me because of this disposition. (Remembering a ten-year-old New Yorker article that talked about pregnant women who have uncontrollable nausea and vomiting to the point of hospitalization didn’t help allay my worst fears.)
Happily, I was wrong. Aside from those annoying people, who don’t ever get any morning, noon, or night sickness, I don’t think my nausea was any worse than what a lot of others experience in 1st trimester.
The most valuable thing I learned was that the nausea was a result of a blood sugar drop — explaining why it’s worse in the morning and therefore given the totally fallacious name of “Morning Sickness” — so as long as I had enough food in me at all times, I’d be okay. In order to stave off what was for me 24-hour nausea, I had to eat every two hours.
My stomach was a clock. It would even wake me up in the middle of the night to warn me of waves of impending ickiness. I started keeping food next to my bed because, as the books warned, even the mere act of walking to the kitchen was a lot of effort for a body that was working hard to build a baby from scratch.
Ignoring the resulting crumbs, crackers and almonds were my food of choice for middle-of-the-night noshing. Sometimes cookies for a valuable quick sugar kick.
Carr’s Table Water Crackers: Bland, bland, bland, but they will line your stomach.
Almonds: I still carry the Diamond resealable bags of these around with me in case of emergency. I learned early on that the rush of protein these nuts gave me was a sure-fire way to get ahead of the nausea.
Apples and Cheddar Cheese: This was pretty much my lunch for seven weeks. Apples have always been a stomach-soother for me and the cheese was that needed protein. The cheese wasn’t fancy — as you might have expected from an old cheesemonger — it was just bulk, yellow, grocery store cheddar. Comfort food.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: Ah, the ultimate in comfort food. Yes, I ate a lot of these in first trimester because I couldn’t handle anything else. What is it about grilled cheese sandwiches and why are they so comforting for so many of us? Is it all rooted in childhood? With a lot of psychoanalysis, I’m sure we could get to the bottom of it some day.
Totino’s Frozen Pizza: Again, maybe it’s going back to childhood and what we all individually define as comfort food, but Totino’s was something we always had at birthday parties when I was a kid. Totino’s Cheese Pizza was my Thanksgiving turkey this year.
Gleaning facts from friends and books and the ever-opinionated Internet, I discovered that sour flavors were great for beating off nausea. I also knew from my long relationship with motion sickness that ginger was also a good curative. Plus, it’s very important to stay hydrated throughout pregnancy, so get that liquid into yourself any way you can.
San Pellegrino Limonata: Not sweet or sugary, this “lemonade” has sparkling water to soothe the stomach riots and a nice bracing citrus edge to it. I love this stuff and drink it regularly now. With some bruised fresh mint, it makes an easy and refreshing mocktail.
Fever-Tree Ginger Ale: Yes, I love Fever-Tree so much, it even cures my nausea. (Had the newest Fever-Tree flavor, Ginger Beer, been on the market, I would have stocked that in bulk. But that’s for another review. It’s a doozy of a drink!)
Sparkling Water: The partner to my Carr’s Water Crackers in all times of tummy trouble, sparkling water is stalwart and true. During weeks 6-13, I stuck with the flavorless variety even though I normally prefer lemon (and now PAMPLEMOUSSE!) because the less flavor the better for me.
These are a few things that I either carried with me in case of a nausea emergency or gulleted to give me a stomach boost when I knew my preferred food might not be immediately gettable.
Ginger Chews: Jen wrote about these a few weeks ago. Before pregnancy, I was exclusively buying the Ginger People chews at Trader Joe’s, but then Jen introduced me to the firmer Chimes chews, which don’t go all soft and hygroscopic-y in their wrappers, and I was converted. I found my source of Chimes at Andronico’s, but still eat Ginger People in a pinch.
Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Cookies and Trader Joe’s Vanilla JoeJoe’s Cookies: First of all, it’s a ginger 3-way with the ginger cookies, so that’s fantastic. Second of all, even if I weren’t pregnant, I’d be craving these vanilla JoeJoe’s. No, they aren’t just like Oreos or other sandwich cookies out there. For god’s sake, people, they have actual vanilla bean in the cream filling! Highly addictive and a perfect midnight snack.
Preggie Pops: Yes, it seems like a rip-off to buy very special pregnancy candies when you can just rely on lemon drops or Sour Patch Kids, but I was intrigued, so in the interest of research and in the interest of having a full arsenal to combat nausea, I ordered these. They come in sour fruit flavors (lemon, apple, raspberry, tangerine) and herbal (peppermint, ginger, lavender) and you can buy mixed or single flavors of some. My reaction? Not bad. I went through all the fruit first and picked my way around the herbals. They definitely quelled my rising gorge in times of car trouble, so it was money well spent.
It’s not a long or balanced list by any means, but I wasn’t being a Renaissance eater during weeks 6-13. You really don’t care about the lack of dietary variety when you’re just praying it will all stay down.
Good luck! Just remember: gag softly and carry a barf bag.