Eating concerns in early pregnancy

Nausea

  • Changing what you eat and drink may help.
  • Eat small meals often. Do not get hungry. 
  • Eat snacks between meals.
  • Low fat bread and cereal are easy to digest. They also give you energy. 
  • Try popsicles, Pedialyte Pops®, or sherbet. 
  • Lemonade, lemon slices, potato chips, and crackers may help.
  • Limit drinks during meals. Get enough liquids between meals.
  • Eat a high-protein snack before bed to stabilize your blood sugar, such as:
    • Cottage cheese
    • Cheese and crackers
    • Half a sandwich
  • Eat right when you wake up, before rising. This will lessen stomach acid and help with nausea. Put a snack next to your bed, such as:
    • Crackers
    • Popcorn
    • Dry cereal
    • Vanilla wafers
  • Avoid eating greasy or spicy foods.
  • Have someone else do the cooking. Cooking odors can make cause nausea.
  • Avoid eating or drinking coffee or citrus. These can lead to more stomach acid.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking also leads to more stomach acid.
  • Take iron supplements only as you are told. Iron can upset the stomach. Taking the vitamin can be delayed for a few weeks if it causes nausea.
  • You may take over the counter Pepcid Complete® as needed for:
    • Heartburn
    • Indigestion
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Listen to your body. Do what works best for you.

Vomiting

Nausea can lead to vomiting. Call your care team if you vomit many times in  24-hours and you think you are getting dehydrated. You should be seen that day.

People who vomit 1 or 2 times a day, but can keep most food and fluids down, can try managing the nausea at home. Try:

  • Stop the prenatal vitamin (PNV) until you are not having nausea.
    • Start taking folic acid 0.4 mg when you stop your PNV. This helps prevent neural tube defects.
  • Take Vitamin B6 25 mg 3 times each day.
  • Take Unisom® (doxylamine Succinate) 25 mg at bedtime.
    • It is a sleep aid. You do not need a prescription. It helps lessen stomach acids.
    • You can get 25 mg and 50 mg doses. Buy the 25 mg dose.
    • Generic is fine.
    • You may take 12.5 mg (1/2 tab) in the morning and afternoon if you need help with nausea during the day.
    • It will cause drowsiness. Do not drive after taking it.
    • It can be taken with vitamin B6.
  • If you still have problems, try: 
    • Ginger 1000 mg each day or 250 mg 3 times each day
    • Sea Bands® (These work well for some people.)
  • Eat and drink as suggested for nausea.
  • After vomiting:
    1. Start sipping on fluids.
    2. Try drinking 1 or 2 tablespoons every 15 minutes.
    3. Start with clear liquids, such as:
      • 7-Up®
      • Pedialyte®
      • Pedialyte Pops®
      • Popsicles
      • JELL-O®
    4. Slowly start eating bland foods.
    5. Eat snacks every 2 hours.
  • Eat and drink less dairy until nausea and vomiting are better.
  • Call your care team to talk about a prescription if you keep having problems.

Heartburn

  • Do not eat too much at any meal. Eat small meals often instead.
  • Do not lie down for at least 30 minutes after eating.
  • Do not take in the following, they can cause heartburn:
    • Smoking
    • Coffee
    • Foods that are spicy
    • Fried or fatty foods
    • Onions
    • Chocolate
    • Citrus fruits
  • You may take over the counter Pepcid Complete® as needed for:
    • Heartburn
    • Indigestion
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Constipation

Causes may be:

  • Hormones of pregnancy that slow the movements of the intestine.
  • Not drinking enough fluids to meet the higher demands of pregnancy.
  • Taking iron or the prenatal vitamin.
  • Doing less activity than normal.

This can be helped by:

  • Eating high-fiber foods, such as:
    • Fresh fruits (try prunes or prune juice)
    • Whole grain bread
    • Oatmeal
    • Popcorn
  • Drinking plenty of fluids. Drink at least 8 glasses each day.
  • Eat and drink less caffeine.
  • Allow time for a bowel movement. Go right away when an urge is felt.
  • Exercise 30 minutes most days, such as going for a walk.
  • Eat frequent, small meals. This is easier to digest than large meals.
  • When a laxative is needed, try Metamucil® or Citrucel®.
    • Take 1 to 2 teaspoons each night at bedtime with 8 ounces of water or fruit juice. Then drink at least 8 to 12 ounces of water.
    • Slowly take more as needed. Take up to 2 tablespoons 2 times a day.
    • It can take 2 to 3 weeks to see full effect.
    • It may cause flatulence (gas) at first. This will get better in 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Take Miralax® 1 time each day as needed.
    • Follow the directions on the bottle.
    • This can be taken long term.
  • Take Colace® (docusate sodium) 100 to 150 mg by mouth up to 3 times each day as needed.
    • It works 1 to 3 days after the first dose.
    • Take it with enough water.
  • Take Milk of Magnesia® 1 to 2 tablespoons 2 times each day for severe constipation. They may cause diarrhea.

We do not often suggest enemas or suppositories during pregnancy. A provider may suggest it in some situations.

Last reviewed: 
January 2021

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