Common Pregnancy Symptoms and How Food Can Help

Jillian Ondreyka, MPH, RDN, IFNCP, IBCLC

When you’re pregnant you have a lot going on. I’m thinking specifically about inside your body. Your body is changing and it’s a beautiful thing! But man, are there some side effects. Here we round up the common pregnancy symptoms and how you can use food to take them down and feel better.

Headaches

First up, let’s look at headaches. Headaches can be caused by many things and is a very common pregnancy symptom. Some causes include dehydration, poor nutrition, and low blood sugar. Nutrition can address these causes! Make sure you stay well-hydrated and drink plenty of fluids (~13 cups/day) to avoid a dehydration headache. To address the other two causes, aim to eat a well-balanced diet rich in prenatal nutrients with evenly spaced meals and snacks to avoid low dips in blood sugar.  

Leg cramps

Dehydration is one thing that can lead to painful leg cramps that are common during pregnancy. Like the tip from above, stay hydrated! Additionally, magnesium is a nutrient known to regulate muscle function. Try to eat magnesium-rich foods like soybeans, spinach, brown rice, and almonds. You can also try a magnesium supplement. Magnesium glycinate is a form that is the less likely to cause loose bowel movements, so try to find that! Check out our favorite supplement brands in the Fooblie pregnancy store to find one that fits you.

Fatigue AKA You’re Tired Always

Unfortunately, during the first trimester it is common to be exhausted. To help with this, make sure to listen to your body and rest when you need to. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercise can all alleviate fatigue. If fatigue comes back again during your pregnancy, use these same tips to help. Ain’t no shame to be tired! You’re growing a baby!

Dizziness

Next, dizziness. Dizziness can be common pregnancy symptom in the second trimester. Your body is going through a lot of changes in blood circulation, including less blood flow to your head and upper body. Did you know your blood volume increases by 50% when you’re pregnant? Our bodies are amazing! Getting up slowly and drinking lots of fluids can help. 

Swelling

Are you swelling up? Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by additional blood and fluid you’ve got going on. Drinking water can help flush your body and reduce water retention. Avoid eating excessive sodium as this helps your body hold onto fluid. Another thing to try, eat fruits and vegetables; these are rich in potassium which counteract the sodium’s effects and promotes fluid balance.

Congestion and nose bleeds

Another common pregnancy symptom is congestion and nose bleeds. During pregnancy, hormone levels increase, and your body makes extra blood. These changes can lead to the mucous membranes in your nose swelling up, drying out, and bleeding easily. If you are having a stuffy or runny nose, drinking plenty of fluids can help keep these membranes hydrated (and more comfortable!). 

Need some fluid inspiration that’s not water? Try making a ‘spritz’ with 2 parts soda water to 1 part juice or lemonade. 

Constipation

Constipation during pregnancy is a super common pregnancy symptom! It may be related to elevated hormone levels, decreased activity levels, decreased intestinal motility, and the use of iron or calcium supplements. This one sucks, but so many women are right there with you.

What can you do? 

  • Drink enough fluids, 13 cups/day or more
  • Eat more fiber-rich foods (28g/day) with a high fiber-to-carb ratio such as avocado, lentil, blackberries, raspberries, chia seeds, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, and almonds
  • Consider chia seeds
  • Eat more fat
  • Move more
  • Squat to poop (squatty potty or similar stool for the toilet)
  • Consider taking a magnesium citrate supplement (this is a form that can encourage bowel movement!) and a probiotic
  • Avoid calcium and iron supplements, unless medically indicated  

Heartburn

Another pesky common pregnancy symptom is heartburn. Heartburn is often described as a burning sensation behind the breastbone, upper throat, or chest. Watch out for this in the third trimester! But, it may occur anytime during pregnancy. It’s more common in the second half because the baby is pushing up on your stomach. Other reasons include increased levels of progesterone, and slower intestinal motility. 

How to deal? 

  • If you can, avoid antacids
  • Avoid eating too much at meals as this can make you feel overfull (practice mindful eating)
  • Drink your beverages between meals, not during so that your stomach isn’t too full 
  • Chew thoroughly and eat slowly
  • Sit upright after eating
  • Lower your intake of carbohydrates, especially sugar and refined carbohydrates 
  • If you get heartburn at night, try to eat an earlier, smaller dinner and elevate the head of your bed
  • Write down what foods you are eating and when you experience heartburn. This can help identify triggers. Common irritants include spicy foods, tomatoes, fried/greasy foods, chocolate, peppermint, carbonated beverages, and caffeine.  
  • Practice good posture: this can relieve heartburn by making more room for your internal organs and baby!
  • Chew gum: stimulates saliva swallowing which buffers acid in esophagus
 

Nausea, the worst common pregnancy symptom of them all

Last, let’s take on nausea. Nausea while pregnant is a real common pregnancy symptom, most common in the first half of pregnancy. Some believe that if you are sick, you’re carrying a girl. (No data to prove this one, but it was true for me!) Others take comfort in morning sickness (mostly husbands) because there is some evidence to suggest that if you are nauseous, you’re more likely to have a viable pregnancy. So let’s take on some easy food-based tips to help you feel just a little better.

Craft your breakfast

Eat protein in the morning, like an egg. This can help with nausea throughout the day.

Eat mini meals and snacks more frequently

Common triggers of nausea can be being too hungry and having low blood sugar. So, put yourself on a little schedule, where you make sure you have a snack or bite of food every couple hours.

What snacks work?

Sour or salty foods may help. Some specific suggestions are: pickles, lemon water, anything tart like dried cherries, sour gummies, and cashews.

If carbs are easy to hold down, have em

Opt for fruit, cooked sweet potatoes, smoothie, rice before you take on the packaged foods. Remember eating only carbs can spike your blood sugar which is another cause of nausea so when you can try to eat another food with fat and protein in it like nuts, cheese, avocado, yogurt, jerky, etc.

Keep some food by your bed and eat a little bit before you sit up

We love cashews for this one! But any saltine or cracker could help too.

Don’t drink a lot of fluids with your meals

Just trust us on this one.

Watch for odors

Some women find morning sickness is triggered by what they smell. Some tips here are to have someone else cook, only eat cold food or frozen food (like a popsicle)

Some odors can help

Fooblie co-founder loved aromatherapy to help her own nausea. She made a special concoction in her diffuser: try 8 drops lavender, 2 drops peppermint, 2 drops lemongrass.

You can also buy wristbands that have a peppermint smell, and some even hit on acupressure spots on the wrist.

Get more B6

Some women buy a special B6 supplement, while others try to get more B6 in their diet with food if you can manage eating. An avocado is a good place to start.

Ginger tea, ginger drops

Some women swear by this! Some brands are more helpful than others. Be weary of ginger-ale. There actually isn’t enough ginger in that to soothe your tummy.

If you throw up

Once you feel like you can hold something down, try to drink a gatorade, electro-lyte water, or bone broth. The idea is to replenish the liquid you just lost.

 

Did we miss your common pregnancy symptoms?

Sorry about that. There are so many common pregnancy symptoms! Make a coaching call with a Fooblie coach. They can help you troubleshoot and find some food-based remedies to try to help you feel better. 

 

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