Gastrointestinal symptoms are extremely common in pregnancy. Having a growing baby pressing on all your organs doesn’t lend itself to comfortable digestion! Constipation, diarrhea, nausea, acid reflux, frequent belching, vomiting are all some of the *joys* that can come with pregnancy. Utilizing some gentle nutrition can be helpful in managing some of these symptoms. For example, adding prunes to your breakfast may help keep you regular.
One of the biggest issues I had during my pregnancy was absolutely terrible reflux. I’m talking about “waking up in the middle of the night choking” terrible. This really made eating difficult for me because eating physically hurt. I did not want to eliminate anything from my diet since I was already having so many aversions, not to mention there was no guarantee that would help. I opted for a PPI that worked magically for me. This was a personal choice but I did not want to risk not getting adequate nutrition. Other non-food related interventions that helped were sleeping at an incline and avoiding tight wearing clothes (hello, maternity leggings!)
Intuitive eating during pregnancy helped me know that gentle nutrition is one option of many for managing GI symptoms. Nutrition is not the end all, be all, and sometimes medication can be a helpful option versus eliminating foods.
Low iron is very common during pregnancy. I was diagnosed with iron deficiency halfway through and was prescribed an iron supplement, however it made me very ill. After consulting with my doctor, I decided to focus on adding in more iron rich foods. The two most appealing foods were bran flakes (fortified with iron) which I ate with orange juice on the side, as the vitamin C helps to absorb the iron, and red meat in the form of burgers and tacos. Unlike the reflux, I used gentle nutrition to treat my low iron levels. Thankfully my levels were just mildly low so I was able to bring them up by intentionally eating foods high in iron. It’s important to talk to your doctor here – sometimes iron supplements are necessary due to dangerously low levels of iron.
Intuitive eating during pregnancy helped me use gentle nutrition to add foods to address my nutrition-related concerns.
A common stereotype during pregnancy is the image of a pregnant woman eating pickles and ice cream in the same bite. Hormones absolutely can change the way food tastes and what’s appealing. However, the narrative that women are allowed to be totally uninhibited eaters while pregnant says a lot about what’s expected when not pregnant. I really sympathize with the mindset during pregnancy that says “better eat what I can while I can” because it probably feels so good to feel free from judgment. It’s one of the few (only?) times women are encouraged to eat more! I had many people make comments about how I was allowed to want something or servings were justified as a pregnant woman.
While I did find myself craving something, like a Powerade Slushee from Sonic or a giant lemonade, I didn’t really ever feel my cravings felt different from the cravings I experience in non-pregnant life. That’s partially because I’ve allowed myself to eat these foods outside of pregnancy too. Knowing I was allowed to eat those foods after pregnancy, it didn’t feel overly intense or stressful at all.