Nausea in the first trimester - what worked for me

For me, that faint second line appearing on the test one early morning (on my test two lines meant a positive result) carried the message of exhilaration. I was pregnant! It was really early though, I was only four or five weeks but the subsequent mornings that second line got more and more clear. 

Around week six I started to get heavily nauseous, especially in the mornings. I tried every trick of the book. Crackers upon waking and before leaving bed each morning. The nausea remained and only left hard crumbs on the sheets (to my husband's frustration). Any type of ginger: ginger tea, ginger smoothie, ginger sweets. Nothing worked. Some days when the nausea was really bad I stayed in bed, read books, watched TV, and slept, which for me - only made the nausea more intense. I looked for Ayurvedic remedies and read that many recommended a tablespoon of Shatavari in warm milk in the evenings. Tried and failed. My body responded with heavy nausea and I vomited one hour later. I started to feel desperate.

As the weeks went by I started to get more used to the feeling of being nauseous. This was a big realization for me. I noticed that the more I resisted the nausea, the worse it became. Despite the physically frustrating feeling, I decided that the nausea was a good sign. A sign of a healthy pregnancy (I found some stats that nausea reduced the risk of miscarriage). I didn't know if it was true, but I held on to it.

While the nausea was still the worst in the morning, I let go of some of my early morning classes. I soon noticed getting plenty of sleep helped a lot. I also noticed that getting out of the house was an important step. When I had a distraction from the nausea, the worst of it disappeared, at least for an hour so. I got into the rhythm of always eating the last thing before leaving the house and always keeping snacks on hand. I filled my bag with treats made with nuts and dried fruit, apple slices, carrot sticks, hard-boiled eggs. Whatever I craved that day. 

While I usually stay away from dairy I noticed some goat cheese, goat yogurt and labne (kefir) helped soothe the worst acidity that could build up. Most of all, I craved carbs such as pasta, rice, bread and fruit. I made sure to satisfy my cravings the best I could.

At my first meeting with my midwife in week 9 she prescribed me Vitamin B6 and encouraged me to eat some leafy greens every day. It's probably the last thing you want right now she said with a smile. She was so right. Apparently, the greens contain important vitamins that can help combat the nausea. I tried with rocket salad dressed with olive oil, introduced some kale salad and spinach smoothies. After eating so many plain carbs for weeks, it felt good to reintroduce some fresh food into my diet

Listen to your cravings - Carbs helped me to combat nausea

Listen to your cravings - Carbs helped me to combat nausea


Here's list of what did and didn't work for my nausea

What didn't work
Crackers before leaving bed in the morning

What made it worse
Fatty, oily food
Trips with the car (unless I was behind the wheel)
Staying in bed all day

What did work for me
Keeping the company of friends
Walks in fresh air
Getting out of the house
Getting plenty of sleep
Eating every two hours (Not a little snack but until satisfied)
Plenty of carbs (rice, pasta, bread, crackerbread)
Introducing some dairy (yogurt and cheeses - pasteurized of course)  
Deep breathing exercises
Hip opening yoga poses (Pigeon and Butterfly pose)
Always keeping a snack in my bag
Supplementing vitamin B6 (prescribed by my midwife)

In terms of yoga, I taught my classes as usual but my home practice changed dramatically. I stopped all flow based practice and started to incorporate Restorative Yoga. Below you can find some examples of some of the few poses I enjoyed in the first trimester. It helped me a great deal to combat my anxiety and worry of the early pregnancy.

In these postures, my focus was mainly on the breath to become more relaxed, grounded and present.  

Restorative Pigeon pose with two bolsters to open the hips and encourage an inward focus.

Restorative Pigeon pose with two bolsters to open the hips and encourage an inward focus.

Restorative Twist with bolster for grounding and relaxation.

Restorative Twist with bolster for grounding and relaxation.

Legs supported by a bolster for increased circulation and to release the lower back.

Legs supported by a bolster for increased circulation and to release the lower back.

How I found yoga

I began practicing yoga as a result of an ankle injury in 2008. I had been a longtime runner and orienteer (what is orienteering?), making my way up and down the Swedish mountains with a map and compass. I liked the effect running had on my mind. Running was my moving meditation, by listening to the sound of my breath and the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground, I felt strong, calm and centered. I remember how I often returned from a run, bursting with new ideas and projects, and sometimes with a solution to a problem. With time I learnt that many questions could be answered, simply by looking inside.

Through orienteering I faced many fears, I crossed ice-cold swamps and practiced at night in pitch-dark forests. I learnt that I was strong. Knowing how to remain calm and focused, was key to find the way back home. Then, due to some hasty moves on a longboard in 2008, I fell and injured my ankle. This lead to surgery and a whole summer in a cast. Suddenly, I felt like a prisoner in my own body.

For recovery, I was recommended light exercise, such as yoga or pilates. I attended a yoga class with my mom at the local gym. At first, I found the practice too slow. In some poses, I almost felt like napping on my mat. Yet, it felt good to move and stretch my body.

As I began to practice more regularly, I soon felt the benefits yoga had on my body and mind. I learnt how to breathe more deeply and to stay focused in tough situations. I soon noticed a new sense of balance in my body, while I was building both strength and flexibility.

Yoga changed my life. After the injury, I have a new appreciation for movement. A new understanding of breath. Simply put, my connection to the practice has developed far beyond where four wheels and a board could ever take me.

Looking back, I’m grateful for finding yoga already in high school, since it has allowed me to grow my practice from an early age. It has been a long journey, from almost sleeping on my mat in the beginning, to challenging myself through a rigorous practice, to finally learning how to adapt my practice daily to cultivate balance and harmony in body and mind.

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest

Karin Karlsson Comment
Power protein chocolate balls

I'm so excited to share this recipe with you all. These little power balls meet all my top criteria for the perfect snack:

- They have no junk, only real ingredients that are easy to find at most supermarkets.
- They are delicious but satisfying thanks to good amounts of protein and some healthy fats.
- They remind me of childhood treats. I was inspired to make a healthier version of a super popular treat in Sweden "Chokladbollar" (English: chocolate balls). However, those are usually made with oats, lots of sugar, chocolate and butter and if you get the store bought ones, they are most likely full of with additives and preservatives.

These are completely vegan, dairy-free and are naturally sweetened with dates and a little maple syrup.  They can also be made gluten free by choosing GF oats (oats are naturally GF but most oats are packed in facilities with gluten foods).  


Power protein chocolate balls (makes around 15)

1 cup (100 g) rolled oats
1/4 (50 g) cup protein powder (I use hemp, this brand)
1/2 cup (38 g) desiccated coconut (+ extra for rolling)
20 pitted dates
2 tbsp raw cacao powder (I use this brand)
1 tbsp almond butter or coconut oil
4-6 tbsp filtered water
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp fine salt

Add the oats to a food processor and mix until it resembles a coarse flour. Now add the dates (make sure there are no pits), protein powder, desiccated coconut, almond butter (or coconut oil), maple syrup and salt. Mix until crumbly. Slowly add the 4 tablespoons of water while mixing. Depending on the dryness of your dates, you may need to add more water until the dough is sticky but not wet. To test whether it's ready, pick up some dough with your fingers and try to shape into a ball. It should come together easily. Roll each ball in desiccated coconut and store in the refrigerator or freezer.