I’ve always thought that even though the blessing of meals after childbirth is such a wonderful gift, women really need them more during first trimester. Unfortunately those first twelve weeks are typically when not enough people even realize the poor tired mama needs help.
Many women experience food aversions or nausea during the first trimester of pregnancy, may be extremely fatigued to the point of lying on the couch for hours, and may even be throwing up nearly everything she eats, especially if she has to smell it cooking.
Ironically, the first trimester is a critical time for the development of the new baby, a time when the expectant mother really should be focusing on good nutrition, healthy fats, protein, and calories enough to sustain the new life within her.
What’s the deal with that?
How is a mom in the first trimester supposed to function on a real food diet, even better than her norm perhaps, when she can’t stand the sight or smell of food (and might not be able to stand long enough to cut a few vegetables)?
Helpful husbands and close family who are “in the know” might try to ease the load by grabbing some fast food or convenience fast food, but the real food mama knows those aren’t what she wants to feed her family, thus increasing her stress and not really helping anything in the long run.
Some husbands go above and beyond and work to make real food, but unless they’ve been very active in the kitchen previously, I’m guessing their repertoire runs out after about three days. Three days does not a full trimester make!
TriLight Health generously sponsored this post to help share advice and tips from the KS community with those blessed expectant women, and I’m happy to spotlight their pregnancy line of herbal supplements. They’re midwife approved for safety and cover everything from fertility support to easing morning sickness, from mineral supplements that replace the OTC don’t-work-anyway prenatal vitamins to a number of products to support mom and baby after the birth.
Keep Eating Real Food Even When You Can’t Stand It
If you truly can’t keep food down or are totally nauseated when you eat during pregnancy, here are a few tips to quell those nasty urges:
- Keep water by your bed and perhaps a cracker or something small. Drink and/or eat before you even get upright in the morning.
- Stay hydrated all day long.
- Eat something high in fat and protein before going to bed – a handful of almonds with some cheese is just about perfect, or a glass of raw milk.
- Try ginger tea (pictured above), hot or iced. Can also chew dried ginger. TLH’s “Morning Soothe” employs ginger as the first ingredient (and they acknowledge that many women have “all day” sickness, so true!).
- Eat a small amount of probiotic food or drink a few minutes before beginning a meal (sauerkraut, kimchi, water kefir, etc.). This can settle your stomach and get it ready for a bit more food.
- Supplement with magnesium in a spray bottle or as part of a liquid prenatal vitamin.
- B6 and B12 can be helpful for energy and nausea too, typically sublingual supplements (found on Amazon) are the best delivery system for those.
- Diffuse peppermint essential oils or drink peppermint tea (although peppermint can decrease milk supply, so not at the end of the pregnancy). While pregnant, don’t risk taking EOs internally and consult a naturopath or someone who is trained in oils before applying topically.
- Eat cheese outside (especially if it’s cold out).
I’m fortunate that I have pretty easy pregnancies, and although I did spend a lot of time sleeping on the couch during the first trimester of this current pregnancy, that may be as much KS’s fault as Baby’s…
Keep Cooking Real Food When it Makes You Sick
Cheese and almonds don’t take much work to have available, which is your first lesson here – maybe cold meals are a good thing! Salads (although I abhor chewing too much in first trimester so salads just fatigue me…anyone else?), cheese and crackers, cold well-sourced sausages, peanut butter and apples, hard-boiled eggs, cheese…I really like cheese when I’m pregnant.
How else can tired mamas get food on the table, since hungry husbands and often children can’t do almonds and cheese at every meal for all of the pregnancy? Some tips:
- Use the slow cooker as much as possible. First, many slow cooker meals are easy for husbands and helpers to put together so you don’t have to get a visual on the raw meat. (Throw in a roast, some scrubbed potatoes and carrots, and turn it on. Done.) Second, you don’t have to stir it and see anything cooking. Third, if you can’t handle the smell of food in the house all day, try plugging it in in the garage, back deck (secure it from any curious animals), or the basement…or maybe even a friendly neighbor’s house! Here are some recipes that have all been tested directly from freezer to crockpot, so you don’t even have to look at the food in the morning. For example: Slow Cooker Ginger Beef, packed with iron and protein from the beef plus ginger for the tummy, served over simple rice. Definitely make a triple batch…
- Freeze ahead. I know that sounds like advice come far too late for the mama who already feels icky, but it’s two-fold advice:
- Make sure you always have some meals in the freezer, at least for a few days. Start now.
- When husband is home on the weekends, ask for his help in making some double meals and easy freezer meals, or if you have a good day, capture it and make a double or quadruple meal “for later.”
- Here’s how to freeze in glass jars if you’re trying to move away from plastic.
- Here’s a whole foods freezer meal plan if you don’t wan to have to think at all.
- Non-meat options can be a welcome break and often cook quickly, too.
- Simple stuff: soups, yogurt, cheese, sandwiches, salads, cottage cheese, raw fruits and veggies…no strong smells! Baked potatoes are also very easy, good for pregnancy with LOTS of butter, and not too aromatic (sweet potatoes too). Rice doesn’t smell much either. Hubs can maybe do some grilling if it’s the right season or stir fry veggies and meat for you if you can manage to cut them up (or just buy frozen pre-cut in this stage!).
- Avocados, cold canned refried beans (you can find them without bad fats if you look hard enough) and organic corn chips
- Ask someone else to bake up a bunch of chicken breasts while you take a walk (or nap on the porch) and then chill them for easy lunches all week. (Bonus: packing healthy lunches for your kids becomes easier too!)
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you have some real foodie friends in the area…
- Don’t afraid to let perfection go a little too – find “better” convenience foods and fast food places (Chipotle comes to mind) and allow yourself some grace.
What are your best strategies for allowing others to cook for you or getting through the ickies and sticking with real food?
Other Resources and Ideas
Healthy babies come from healthy mamas, and there’s a lot you can do in those nine months leading up to seeing those eyes for the first time. This collection of pregnancy and labor posts can help both mama and baby be healthy from the start.
- This talk-show style chat with three other real food blogging mamas ended up being a lot about how to keep from-scratch cooking convenient and fast, helpful tips for any busy, fatigued mama!
- Convenience foods that aren’t a compromise…
- Being prepared for quick meals…
- What to eat when you’re too busy to think
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by TriLight Health. There are also affiliate links in this post to M+BL eBooks, Radiant Life and Amazon from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.