How Being Keto/Low Carb taught me how to overcome my Morning Sickness, and how it can hopefully help you.
My Pregnancies Before Keto:
I had 3 babies before starting Keto. They all came out strong, smart, and incrediby hearty. They almost never get sick, thank goodness!
But that didn’t stop me from being incredibly sick while creating them!
I have a mild case of low blood sugar. If you’ve ever seen “Paul Blart, Mall Cop” then you’ll know what an extreme case is like. And fun fact, Pregnant women’s blood sugar naturally goes down an extra 20 points during the first trimester.
I have learned to control my blood sugar pretty well through carb control and Intermittent Fasting (check out my story here).
But one week after finding out I was pregnant, that went straight out the window. . . or I should say, into the toilet. before that moment, I had this idea that I would be like many other women, who wouldn’t be affected by nausea. So I was totally unprepared, and threw up every single morning till 14 weeks.
The things I did right with my first few pregnancies:
I still wanted to keep my blood sugars level. So even though I did not have diabetes, I decided to follow a low-glycemic diet.
So I cut out all treats. I can count on my one hand how many times I had a dessert my whole pregnancy. . . usually ice cream, but one time it was brownies with ice cream, yum. I hadn’t cut sugar out completely, I had no idea how to even do that at that point in my life, so I still ate things that contained sugar, like cereal and yogurt.
So in my first trimester especially, I found that high sugars, made me throw up, and eating meals without protein made me throw up, and not eating for more than an hour and 15 minutes, made me throw up. (I was also gluten-free at the time, and kept that going)
I usually made a bunch of small red potatoes, and ate one an hour with healthy oils, cheese and sour cream and sometimes chicken.
So I kept my sickness mostly in check. Except that I ALWAYS threw up EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING.
I quickly got to the point where I kept a banana by the bed, ate about half of it the moment I woke up, and then waited till I felt the urge. . . then threw up, and then went and had eggs and gf toast for breakfast.
And here is a random tip for you. Bananas are the BEST thing to throw up, they are soft and slimy on the way back up. . . and Doritos are the WORST to throw up, they taste like a chemical bomb blew up in your throat and mouth.
This was my life. And I accepted it. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t as bad as others. And there did come a day when I didn’t throw up.
The Morning Sickness just kept getting worse
But unfortunately, my morning sickness got a little worse with my second pregnancy. Despite trying my best to follow my rules, it was a lot harder to do for some reason.
And then my third child was EVEN WORSE! None of my rules seemed to work! I still threw up every morning, but I ALSO threw up several timess throughout the day.
I kept eliminating food that I thought was the culprit, till I was only eating chex cereal with milk. But I would just curl in a ball on the couch trying to delay throwing up as long as possible, just hoping that enough nutrients could pass into my intestines before I upchucked the food. And it lasted till 18 weeks. It was like a living death.
I would just cry to my husband. I was so hungry, but so afraid to eat anything. I honestly thought I might not survive my morning sickness.
I tell you this so that you truly understand the miracle of my 4th pregnancy and my lack of nausea/morning sickness.
Despite throwing up 7 times a day, I gained 40 pounds my first trimester with my 3rd. . . then another 40 by the end. I had an 11 and a half pound baby!
And the weight didn’t come off until I started doing Keto (my story here).
I was strict Keto for a while, then slowly became less strict as it became more a lifestyle and less a diet. I became my ideal size, and really wanted one more baby. (hoping for 2 boys 2 girls).
So despite how unpleasant pregnancy is. We got pregnant.
If you are interested in Keto and Pregnancy, I highly suggest buying and reading these books by Lily Nichols.
I had been following a keto pregnancy/keto mommy group on facebook for a while, kind of hoping that maybe this was the key to no morning sickness. And although there were a couple of people that said that keto stopped their morning sickness, there were far more people who said it didn’t make a difference and they needed carbs to survive.
Since I started this blog, I had been paying really close attention to cues that my body gave me about what works and what doesn’t. and I just had this feeling that this would work for me.
So the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I would have one week before nausea hit. And I was going to listen very carefully to my body.
Things I did that first week of my Keto Pregnancy.
- I upped my protein. Keto is mostly good fat, moderate protein, very little carbs. But I immediately noticed how hungry I was, and that only eating protein would satisfy that hunger. So I don’t do a strict keto pregnancy because I have a lot more protein now. (check out this article about keto pregnancy and protein)
- I woke up STARVING in the middle of the night. So I brought protein food to bed with me, and ate a few bites every time I woke up. First it was nuts, but then I found the costco brand protein bars, and they are perfect.
- Then as early as I could, I would go and eat a good breakfast immediately.
I love my sleep, and for my other pregnancies, I’d dread mornings. I would wake up, then ignore it and go back to sleep till my body was screaming to eat and throw up. I had also refused to eat in the middle of the night because, you know, cavities. . .but throwing up constantly didn’t do my teeth any favors either.
- The last thing I did was go on morning walks. This was the only thing that I did opposite to what my body felt like doing. Because my body usually wanted to go back to sleep. But I found that If I had already eaten, and I was still feeling off a little bit, a quick quarter mile walk was all I needed to get rid of the last semblance of sickness.
These 4 things are my top reasons for not being crazy sick during my first trimester.
It’s also important to note that I kept strictly with keto friendly food. But I was eating every 45 minutes, so I was eating way more carbs altogether during the day. I kept it low enough to keep my blood sugar steady. And I think for me especially, low and steady blood sugar is the key to a nauseous-free pregnancy.
This is what worked for me, so now I am going to try my best to explain WHY I think it worked.
I am NOT a doctor, and you should definitely talk to your doctor about ways to help with your nausea. My Doctor worked very closely with me during this time of pregnancy, and it is his insights, that helped, hopefully, put it all together for me and why my body responded well to these things.
We are now going into the realm of complete hypothetical. Most of my internet research, I did as an interested pregnant person, and not as a blogger. As a blogger, I would have saved and documented the places that I found facts and information. But as a pregnant person, I forgot to do that. And because I now cannot find the resources. You should never actually believe something as fact that does not site its resources (like this blog post). Hopefully I’ll find the sites again and someday update this correctly.
Pregnant Women in the first trimester have naturally lowered blood sugar. 20 points lower than normal according to one post I read on the internet.
That means that during a period of fasting (like sleep) their body might dip naturally into ketosis. But, especially with a body like mine, that already had lower blood sugar, it meant that I was in a bit of a dangerous zone by morning, hence the throwing up as soon as I ate something. . . especially something that would take my blood sugar from dangerously low, to sky high, like a carb/sugar rich banana. And then if I didn’t give it stabilizing protein, it would crash, and I’d get sick again, and the cycle would continue throughout the day.
This is why eating protein in the middle of the night is essential for me. It stops me from ever dipping too low.
But why keep with keto foods?
I mentioned I was pregnant to a new-aged massage therapist. And of course, she kind of said in passing. “Well morning sickness is caused by your liver, so make sure you are taking a liver enzyme supplement.” I mentioned how I found that keto during pregnancy had kept it at bay, and she said “Yep, that makes sense.” then she walked away.
This all intrigued me enough to start researching the roles of the liver, and how keto affects it. Now I don’t know why or how she knew that the liver is tied to morning sickness, as far as I could research, I haven’t found others saying it’s a connection. But just because she threw it out there, I learned some interesting things.
The role of the liver is to break down fats, proteins, and sugars into energy. But during pregnancy, it is also in charge of regulating the influx of hormones until the placenta is fully in place (up to 18 weeks). If the liver is bogged down then it can’t handle the extra hormones, which then create the morning sickness. So my hypothesis is that by staying low carb, I have taken, basically, a third of the liver’s job (converting carbs into sugar/energy) away. And I think that has helped give it a better ability to handle the extra hormones.
I should also note that I’m taking a vitamin supplement that my doctor recommended for nausea.
he said “This should help with nausea, but it also will help break down fats“. So after learning a little bit about the liver, I wonder if it helps with nausea BECAUSE it helps break down fats (less work for the liver) then just as a side effect. Something to think about.
If you are interested. These are the vitamins that my Naturally-Minded Doctor recommended. He adores the company Standard Process. He is of the mindset that most vitamins are almost useless, because of how they process the vitamins. But that this company has set higher standards for itself and keeps the vitamins intact.
AF Foods for nausea
Tuna Omega 3 oils (for brain growth)
and Folic acid For proper bone development (it’s called folic acid, but it comes from real sources, so it is really folate, which is healthier for you)