During pregnancy, you may experience discomforts such as morning sickness, constipation, heartburn, leg cramps and leg swelling. These discomforts are normal and occur as your body undergoes hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy.

“In many cases, these discomforts do not require medication. Instead, adjusting your diet and eating habits may help you better cope with the common pregnancy discomforts and feel better,” says ​Ms Kellie Kong, Dietitian​​​ from the​ Department of Nutrition & Dietetics at ​ KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Ms Kong ​shares​ some diet tips to help you better cope with common pregnancy discomforts.

Diet tips to overcome morning sickness

Morning sickness, unlike its name, may happen at any time of the day. It is caused by a combination of factors, including genetics and hormonal changes during pregnancy. About 7 in 10 women experience morning sickness between the 6th and 9th week of pregnancy and 9 out of 10 say the nausea improves by the third month of pregnancy.

Dietary adjustments may help you cope with morning sickness and reduce the severity of the symptoms, even if it cannot be prevented entirely.

Get enough nutrition

  • In spite of the nausea, you should still try to eat enough.
  • Instead of 3 large meals, have smaller meals and snacks and at more regular intervals.

Avoid nausea triggers

  • Avoid foods that may trigger nausea. These are usually foods with strong aromas, oily foods, or spicy foods.
  • If it helps, ask a colleague to pack lunch for you instead of going to the food court or hawker centre, where you could be exposed to sensory overload.
  • When you get your food, open the lid to let the smell of the food dissipate before you start eating. Similarly, as hot foods have stronger smells than cold foods, try eating foods at room temperature instead of hot foods, e.g. a cheese and tomato sandwich instead of prawn noodles.

Stay hydrated: To ensure adequate hydration, drink at least 8 -10 glasses of fluids per day. Fluids include soups, water, juice and milk.

Please consult your doctor for anti-nausea medication or further treatment if you are experiencing severe morning sickness.

Tips to overcome leg cramps during pregnancy

The exact cause of leg cramps during pregnancy is uncertain. Dietary factors, such as low sodium or calcium intakes, have been suggested, but there is no firm evidence for this. As such, taking calcium supplements during pregnancy may not help alleviate your leg cramps.

If you have an attack of leg cramps, consider some gentle leg stretches to relieve the discomfort. Alternatively, you may ask your spouse to massage your legs.

See next page for diet tips to o​​vercome constipation during pregnancy​, leg swelling and other pregnancy discomforts.

Ref: O17​