Dietary solutions for your pregnancy woes

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Feeling a little slow? A bit sick? A tad achey? There’s good news: a few simple changes or additions to your diet could mean feeling a lot better, more often.


Countless mothers have had them – cravings for everything from peanut butter brittle to hot sauce on ice cream. So are cravings bad, or a health concern? Scientists aren’t really sure why cravings occur, but they certainly don’t seem harmful. If you occasionally indulge, try your best to keep the portions reasonable, no matter how much baby wants popcorn and pickles.

Morning sickness:

Nausea and vomiting are the plight of many moms-to-be, especially in the first trimester, then again in the third. The cause is unknown, but may be due to hormonal changes or lower blood sugar during early pregnancy. Emotional stress, fatigue, traveling or certain foods can also contribute to the problem. It can also be more common when pregnant with multiple babies.

As the name suggests, morning sickness often occurs in the morning, but it can strike at any time during the day. If you have severe nausea, consult with your doctor. If your sickness is mild (and most cases are), consider these quick tips to help manage morning sickness:

  • Eat smaller portions (maybe break your usual meals into two, with time to digest in between)
  • Think of some nutritious foods you would have for a meal, then try them in a snack-portion size
  • Your sense of smell may be heightened during pregnancy, so avoid potential nausea triggers like food with strong aromas, perfume and cigarette smoke
  • Go for mild flavors over spicy
  • Have a small snack at bedtime, and upon waking, something bland like dry toast or saltines can settle the stomach
  • Take your prenatal vitamins with food
  • Ginger is known to help calm nausea. Try chilled ginger ale, warm or chilled ginger tea, or sucking on a piece of fresh ginger


Pregnancy hormones relax your intestinal muscles and slow the movement of food through your intestine. Your baby is also putting pressure on your intestines, slowing down the process even more. A lot of moms experience a little backup, which might be a symptom you’ve never dealt with before. Here are some simple remedies that may help to get things moving again:

  • Drink plenty of liquids every day, including water, decaffeinated tea, prune juice, milk and soups. Vegetables and fruits with lots of moisture—like celery, berries and watermelon— can also help
  • Eat more fiber-rich foods
  • Be active; exercise, such as taking regular walks, can help keep food moving through the digestive system
  • Ask your doctor if your Iron supplements may be contributing to constipation. If you are taking them, spread out the dose to twice a day, rather than a single dose. Alternatively, ask your healthcare provider for a slow-release version

Swollen ankles:

Ankle swelling is a common side effect of pregnancy. Your body is naturally accumulating more fluid for both you and baby. Hormonal changes may also contribute to the swelling. Swollen ankles seem to be more noticeable in the evening, especially if you’ve been standing all day.

These tips may help bring relief:

  • Drink plenty of fluid to get rid of waste and toxins
  • Put your feet up whenever possible, actually elevate them to drain fluid
  • Don’t wear shoes that have a tight fit

If the swelling gets noticeably worse, discuss with your doctor.


This painful burning sensation in the middle of your chest actually doesn’t have anything to do with your heart. It typically occurs because your baby’s weight is pushing on your stomach and intestines. Because stomach acids are squeezed into the esophagus, and the muscle at the top of the esophagus are relaxed, it creates an uncomfortable burning sensation we know as “heartburn.”

Try making these diet changes to ease heartburn:

  • Eat smaller meals more frequently and eat your meals slowly
  • Avoid greasy and spicy foods
  • Try to wait at least an hour after you eat to lie down

Check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter antacids because many contain high levels of sodium.

Leg cramps:

Leg cramps usually happen at night and most often during the third trimester. If you get them, it’s most likely caused by all the additional weight you’re carrying. You can relieve cramps in a few ways:

  • Stretching calves and flexing ankles.
  • Getting enough Calcium. Yes, it’s good for bone health, but it also plays a role in muscle contractions. If your healthcare provider recommends a Calcium supplement to help relax the muscles, it may also contain Magnesium, a mineral that works to balance Calcium.

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