Doctors, diet and morning sickness

Pregnant? Wondering about when you should see your doctor, what you should eat and what to do about morning sickness? A few tips from Medi-Clinic.

In an ideal situation, women should consult their doctors before they even fall pregnant.

Not all pregnant women are healthy and free of medical conditions and doctors can identify any risk factors that could complicate the pregnancy. These can then be monitored and corrected, if need be, during the pregnancy.

Once a woman is pregnant, her first visit to the doctor should be early in the pregnancy and be followed by regular check-ups as advised by the doctor.

This regular contact allows the baby's development, the mother¡¦s health and nutritional status, and the development of any new risk factors to be checked and monitored.

This is also important as conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes may develop during pregnancy and could be life-threatening if not recognised and treated early.

Dietary advice can also be given early and a nutritional plan could be devised in conjunction with the doctor or dietician, if required. This may be useful if a person has special religious or dietary considerations, financial restrictions affecting their diet, or any questions or beliefs about certain foods that may need explanation.

So, if you are planning to fall pregnant, or are already pregnant, do not hesitate to see your doctor.

Pregnancy and diet
If you have been following a well-balanced diet before becoming pregnant, all you usually need to do is to continue with your normal diet and add a little extra to supplement the growing baby¡¦s needs and the needs of your own body. Remember, however, that eating for two does not mean that you have to eat double the amount you normally eat.

On the other hand, if you were not following such a diet prior to pregnancy, being pregnant can be treated as an opportunity to make your diet a balanced one.

A well-balanced diet means eating foods from all four food groups. These include dairy (which contains protein, fats, calcium and certain vitamins), meat (which contains protein, iron and other substances), fruit and vegetables (which are a source of vitamins and fibre) and breads and cereals (which are a source of carbohydrates, fibre and vitamins).

Remember that pregnancy does increase the need for energy-containing foods and depending on the specific situation, additional substances such as folic acid and iron.

Each person is unique and situations and opinions do vary. Therefore, it is recommended that you always consult your doctor, as soon as you become pregnant or, ideally, even before you fall pregnant. He or she can then discuss your specific situation and make suitable recommendations.

Morning sickness
Pregnancy is often associated with morning sickness, or nausea.

Morning sickness is not pleasant for the woman experiencing it, fortunately, there are some ways to alleviate its symptoms:

  • Firstly, if the morning sickness is severe, if you are not eating or drinking well and/or you are vomiting, consult your doctor immediately. There is effective medication available to assist with the symptoms. Depending on the circumstances, one should also exclude other serious conditions, evaluate if you are taking in sufficient foods and fluids and check the condition of the baby.
  • Try to still eat as well as you can under the circumstances.
  • Drink plenty of water, especially if you are losing fluid through actual vomiting.
  • Eat smaller meals more often. High levels of acid in an empty stomach can, in itself, increase nausea. Low blood glucose caused by insufficient food intake is also a cause of nausea. By eating something small more often, it is possible to avoid these.
  • Get your partner to bring you a dry biscuit or a slice of toast while you are still on your back in bed and eat it before you get up.


This is a very exciting time for both you and your baby. So enjoy it and do not hesitate to contact your doctor if you are experiencing any troublesome symptoms.

(Information supplied by Medi-Clinic, February 2006)

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