I can still remember the day we found out that we were expecting our little girl. Of course we had been trying so I suppose seeing a positive shouldn’t have been too shocking but for some reason a positive pregnancy test will always make your heart skip a beat and give you instant butterflies in your stomach. I, like many others, couldn’t wait until the skipping a period sign so I took my first test on the earliest possible day, Bad move, since it came back negative and left me very disappointed. So, Dan and I agreed to wait a few more days and try again, little did we know what that day would bring.
It was early on a Sunday morning and we had one more non-digital, line reading test. I left the test on the bathroom counter while I went about my early morning routine, almost forgetting to check back in the right amount of time. We decided to take a look together and I think our jaws both dropped at the sight of a faint second line. In fact, my husband was so surprised he ran to the Rite Aid down the street and bought some digital tests for a more definitive answer. Sure enough, a few short minutes of a flashing hourglass and the word pregnant illuminated the screen. We were pregnant!!!
Next to our wedding day and the actual birth of our daughter, I can’t remember a more nerve wracking/exciting time other than when I find out that we were pregnant. As the worrier of all worriers, how I was going to navigate a pregnancy gluten free was one of my main worries since Day 1. From dealing with the first trimester aches and pains without the normal gluten standbys and satisfying those cravings for my favorite gluten sweets from years past that were sure to come down the road, the questions were endless. But for the immediate future I was just crossing my fingers, toes, and everything else that could be crossed that I would survive the first trimester by any gluten free means I could. Check out how I relieved some of my first trimester symptoms.
I was certainly lucky, I only experienced the occasional morning sickness during the first trimester, but to my surprise, later on towards the end of my pregnancy, I experienced a lot more all day nausea than I had at the beginning. This was a tough symptom to work with seeing as I always used to combat nausea with my favorite saltine crackers. Unfortunately in the gluten free world, a perfect saltine cracker substitute has yet to make its debut, but I definitely made do with the crackers that were on hand at the time. Some of my favorite options at the time were by Wellaby’s, who makes some great crackers that have the perfect texture with a smidge of flavor too, along with Glutino who offers some plain crackers along with some light bagel chips. These weren’t the perfect substitute for saltines but they did the trick for me at the time, but I’d have to say now since my first pregnancy, Schar has introduced some perfect cracker options to try. Schar now offers some standard Table Crackers that are really mild and texturely on point but also they have their Entertainment Crackers which taste and feel just like Ritz Crackers. Any of these can certainly help with your nausea, but I have some other suggestions too if the crackers don’t cut it.
Like I mentioned before, my nausea really kicked in towards the end of my pregnancy and was more all day sickness than just morning. Sometimes the crackers were the only thing I could keep down but for a little extra help I also tried adding some ginger to my diet. Ginger is a popular go to for nausea relief and my doctor gave me the okay and the 100% healthy approval to go ahead and try it. I first gave a type of ginger tea a whirl, one in particular that I could stomach was the Lemon Ginger by Twinings. If you enjoy drinking hot tea, this is a great option for you and it definitely helped me with my nausea too as an added bonus. You could also try drinking ginger ale, I preferred this one to the tea, just make sure it’s a ginger ale that was made with real ginger so get the benefits of ginger. Also, just a little tip, I woud always stir my ginger ale until the carbonation died down a lot because all of the bubbles usually didn’t sit well, not to mention they would add to my bloating. And in case you needed one more ginger option, aside from drinking it and cooking with it, there are these gluten free hard candies by GoNaturally. Their ginger hard candies are gluten free, as well as free of many other allergens too and could definitely provide some relief. I had a whole package of these on me at any given time; the combination of sucking on a hard candy that has some of the relieving ginger in it helped me on more than one occasion, especially while out and about.
One of my main go tos though for nausea relief were the Sea-Bands. These are great and I’ve used them on many an occasion from motion sickness during our travels to periodic nausea here and there when I’ve been sick. They’re a natural approach to dealing with nausea that is completely safe while pregnant too. In case you haven’t heard of these before, they’re just wrist bands that work by acupressure; you wear these bands at a specific place on your wrist where a little knob on the inside of the band pushes on a pressure point. They definitely worked for me, in fact I think you’d spot me many day, all day wearing these attractive 80s sweat band kind of wrist bands. So if you want to give a non-medicine, non-food thing a try, than go with the Sea-Bands, they definitely have worked for my nausea, pregnant and not.
Acid Reflux/ Heartburn
Acid reflux was one of those lovely symptoms that I saw through my first, second, and third trimesters. With all of that heartburn, it wasn’t a surprise for me that the old wives tale of heartburn indicating lots of hair on your newborn’s head held true, as my little girl was born with a full head of dark brownish blackish hair. But even though I wondered the entire pregnancy if the old wives tale would be true for me, I was still desperate for some relief. In fact at the end, it had gotten so bad that I had to take Zantac, doctor approved and perfectly safe to take at the end of pregnancy, everyday to try to deal with the burning feeling inside that just wouldn’t budge. But at the beginning it wasn’t too bad and I could usually get some relief from some gluten free Tums. Just a note, I usually buy the Target brand that are not only cheaper but also marked gluten free on their bottle. These are absolutely safe to take even early on in your pregnancy so if you don’t get any relief from diet changes than give Tums a try.
If you are experiencing acid reflux, aside from trying Tums, you can also check out some food and diet adjustments that may help too. There are definitely some foods that can cause that burning sensation without any problem in the average individual, let alone in a pregnant woman. Eating chocolate, caffeine, really fatty foods, but most of all citrus foods or juices can all cause acid reflux. I know for me, I loved eating fruit when I was pregnant and drinking juice but I had to limit it because of all of the acid reflux. So if some of these are staples in your diet, try scaling back a little and see if you get some relief that way.
Aside from diet adjustments, try changing a few habits that could worsen your naturally, pregnancy caused acid reflux. Avoid eating too close to going to bed at night. Try to limit what you eat before bed to something light and easily digested so your body isn’t working in overdrive when you lie down. Also, when it is time to get some sleep make sure you prop yourself up on a couple pillows to keep your upper body angled. As I’m sure many of you realize, lying with your head or upper body elevated can help a number of ailments, so I personally always sleep like that but especially when it comes to acid reflux, sleeping like this can help prevent stomach acids from creeping up and giving you that burning feeling in your throat.
This was one of my biggest symptoms since Day 1 of my pregnancy, but thankfully it just stuck around for the first trimester and lessened quite a bit during the latter part. But when I say bloated, I mean stomach was hard as a rock and stuck out a few inches. That feeling was sadly all too familiar for me and took me back to my gluten days where I’d wake up feeling that same balloon feeling every single day; thankfully the reason for that same feeling now was a much happier one.
As far as relief for this symptom, that’s a tough one, especially since I had such severe bloating but there are definitely some tips and tricks that I tried that gave some relief. The first route you should go is to avoid food and drink that may worsen your situation. For example, things like cauliflower can cause really bad bloating for me, so even though I really enjoy it, I avoided it completely. Other food/drink items that might be triggers to worsen your pregnancy bloating could include some other vegetables like beans, too much dairy or sugar can contribute, and finally carbonated drinks. The carbonation along with the sugar, let’s say in soda can be a huge problem, but at the same time drinking Ginger Ale for example was a necessary evil for me to relieve some nausea. So if you still want to or need to enjoy a carbonated beverage here and there, try stirring a small glass of the drink until the bubbles go away, several minutes or so, and that way you can still enjoy the taste or flavor, and also the relieving effects too, but without the bubbles.
One last thing that can help with your bloating is to get moving. Trust me, I know going for a walk or doing yoga isn’t the first thing you want to do while you’re dealing with a multitude of pregnancy symptoms but moving around can lessen some of these. Something as simple as going for a walk can break up some of that bloating just enough to give you some relief. So why not give it a try, it may just work for you!
A little tip to my fellow gluten free mommy-to-bes, when you’re gluten free and expecting it’s very important to keep being as vigilant with your gluten free diet as you normally would be. We all remember what we felt like when we used to eat gluten on a daily basis and if that was so long ago that it’s a faint memory, I’m sure we can all recall a glutened event in our gluten free life that left us feeling far from spectacular. Intentionally or accidentally consuming gluten or wheat can worsen your first trimester symptoms, especially since gluten/wheat already are triggers of bloating in the average individual, for us they’re even more detrimental. So if you’re experiencing the pregnancy bloating that I definitely did, try some of the tips that I offered for relief and also make sure that there’s no gluten or wheat slipping into your diet by accident, but mostly just remember that this to shall pass and there will be a day of relief in your future.
At any point during my pregnancy, especially the first trimester, you could open my purse and see a bottle of water, tons of ginger candies, ziploc bags of crackers, sea-bands, and Tums, a pregnancy purse of champions I like to say. While every trimester has it’s tough parts, in the first trimester you’re facing so much uncertainty and anxiety, along with new physical challenges that you have to be prepared to deal with at the drop of a hat, hence the purse of remedies. It can be tough but always make sure you talk to your doctor about all of your symptoms. Taking to your doctor can not only assure you that that symptom is perfectly normal, but they’ll also be able to provide you with some safe treatment options. But what’s most important is that you can’t be afraid to try them out. Just remember, as long as your doctor says that those treatments are perfectly safe for your baby, there’s no need for you to be uncomfortable and ill, so try them out.
So good luck to all of you newly, expecting mommies, gluten free or not! Make sure you share with me what pregnancy symptoms you’re facing and how you’re dealing with them. Through so much of my pregnancy I hoped there was someone else out there that was experiencing and feeling exactly how I was, but I just couldn’t find them. So please share what you’re first trimester is looking like and I’m sure you’ll meet some other expecting mommies that are feeling the same way!