Meet the expert: Louise Pyne is a registered nutritionist
As the saying goes, you are what you eat, yet when you're growing a baby, the various aches and pains you experience can mean eating is the last thing on your mind. That said, the nutrients from these fix-it foods are the perfect home remedies for all your ailments!
A pounding headache is a common complaint for many mums-to-be, especially during the first trimester. Headaches can be caused by a variety of factors, including dehydration, stress, tight muscles, fluctuating hormones and increased blood flow. If you’re experiencing strong, persistent migraines, it’s worth getting in touch with your GP, but otherwise eating more spinach could relieve your symptoms.
Why? Magnesium, a mineral fond in spinach, has been shown to improve the blood flow to the brain, acting as a headache preventative. Frozen spinach is thought to have more magnesium than fresh, but if you’re not a fan, the darker the leaves, the more nutrients. What’s more, it’s more nutritious cooked than raw, so try steaming it lightly.
One you might not feel comfortable discussing on those mummy Facebook forums, constipation is a common pregnancy side effect. The secret to beating the uncomfortable bloat – eat more fibrous foods. An apple a day is a great source of fibre; the insoluble fibre in the skin has a natural laxative effect, while soluble fibre in the flesh aids digestion.
If you’re experiencing foot and leg cramps in your third trimester, you’re not alone. This is the time of your pregnancy when your body is feeling the full effects of carrying the extra weight. Your growing baby impedes your circulation, causing painful muscle contractions which create the spasms.
Leg cramps can often be a sign of dehydration, or a deficiency in nutrients such as potassium. If you’re struggling with severe cramps, it’s time to stock up on Instagram’s favourite superfood – avocado.
Indigestion and heartburn
Eight out of ten women will suffer with indigestion and heartburn during pregnancy. The burning, bloated feeling is a result of elevated progesterone produced in the early stages of pregnancy. Progesterone relaxes muscles, meaning your stomach acid can leak through the valve of your stomach and into your oesophagus.
You may find symptoms worse during the first trimester when progesterone levels are at their highest, however, there’s an easy fix! Lemon works as a natural antacid. It’s best consumed on an empty stomach first thing in the morning to increase the production of digestive juices to neutralise the acid.
Another unfortunate side effect of pregnancy is thrush, which is caused by an increase in vaginal discharge. You should always consult your GP if you get an infection, but it’s also worth taking preventative measures from the start.
Eating natural yoghurt rich in probiotics is one of the most effective dietary cures to combat thrush. Why? Probiotic is a fancy word for good bacteria, which live in your vagina as well as your digestive system, so eating foods rich in this protective bacteria will internally restore the correct balance of things down below.
Another common pregnancy complaint, this is one that usually eases off after the first trimester once levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) drop. If you’re suffering with morning sickness, it could be time to try the super-food cure that has been around for centuries – ginger.
Increasing the secretion of various digestive enzymes that help to neutralise stomach acid, ginger also contains a special compound called gingerol, which helps to block receptors linked to nausea. Eating fresh ginger is perfectly safe, so give it a go when morning sickness strikes!