To anyone who has not been pregnant – or lived with someone who has been pregnant – I have to tell you that the term morning sickness is somewhat misguiding. About 80% of all pregnant ladies complain of morning sickness, but for most this nausea lingers the whole day and doesn’t lift until the 14th week of pregnancy. The constant pang of nausea is unsettling and if you add vomiting to the equation, day-to-day life is simply exhausting.

The most likely cause of morning sickness is the body reacting to the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This is the hormone that is detected on a pregnancy test.

Some women experience a more severe form of morning sickness, called hyperemesis gravidarum, where it’s challenging to even ingest a glass of water without being sick. This is a completely crippling condition and will most likely require hospital treatment.

It’s a challenge to eat when struck with nausea, but it’s vital to try and tolerate some food. It’s best to adopt the policy of grazing on small amounts of bland food during the day, such as porridge, toast, bananas, scrambled eggs or mashed potatoes. Nibbling on some dry biscuits or crackers just before getting up in the morning can help ease early morning nausea.

Foods which may encourage nausea include fried, fatty foods and ones that are highly spiced, so these are best avoided.

The heightened sense of smell, which accompanies most pregnancies, can also increase bouts of nausea.

Every pregnancy is different, so keep a diary of the foods and smells that trigger the nausea and try to avoid them. When avoidance isn’t an option, stay in well-ventilated rooms.

At a time when it’s most difficult to tolerate food, it is crucial to remain hydrated. As well as sipping on water throughout the day, introduce other ways to increase fluid intake, such as sucking on ice cubes, eating fruit, vegetables and low salt soups.

Nessa Robins grew up on a farm in Moate, Co Westmeath, where she lives with her husband Diarmuid and four children. Her first cookbook, Apron Strings: Recipes From A Family Kitchen is published by New Island, RRP €22.99. Visit

Apple & Blueberry Bircher Muesli

At the turn of the century, Dr Bircher-Benner developed the recipe for bircher muesli as an alternative breakfast for his patients who had difficulty eating. The Swiss doctor was one of the earliest promoters of the raw-food diet and his revolutionary recipe was simply based on grated raw apple and oats.

Worldwide, many recipes have derived from the original. It’s loved by many, but I find its mild flavours make it particularly enticing to anyone with a queasy tummy. It can be prepared in minutes and left overnight in the fridge to enjoy as a tasty and nutritious breakfast.

Serves two

  • 50g of oats
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1 large, red apple, cored but not peeled, coarsely grated
  • 200ml of apple juice
  • 1 tbsp of honey, extra to serve
  • 50g of Greek yogurt, extra to serve
  • 50g of blueberries
  • Sprinkling of sunflower seeds
  • 1 Place the oats, chia seeds, grated apple and apple juice into a medium-sized bowl. Stir to combine. Cover tightly with cling film and place in the refrigerator overnight.

    2 The next morning, before serving thoroughly stir through the honey and yogurt. Spoon into a bowl and add an extra dollop of yogurt, a few blueberries, a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and a drizzle of honey.

    Ginger Snaps

    Ginger has been used for centuries to ease a queasy tummy. When inflicted with nausea you may not be too inclined to whip out the mixing bowl, so pass this recipe on to your other half, or anyone who’s looking to give you a helping hand. Store them beside the bed, in a sealed tin, to help ease the early morning pangs of nausea.

    Makes approximately 12

  • 110g of butter
  • 75g of soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp of golden syrup
  • 225g of wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°/gas mark four. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

    2 In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup over a low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir continuously until the mixture is fully melted and combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

    3 Sift the flour, ginger and cinnamon into a bowl. Add to the saucepan, stirring well to form a ball of dough.

    4 Once the mixture is cool enough to touch, take a spoonful, about the size of a soup spoon, from the pan and using the palm of your hands, roll into a small ball and place on the prepared baking tray. Leave a little room between each biscuit as they do expand a little during baking. With a fork, gently press down on the top of each biscuit. Repeat with the remaining dough, to make approximately 12 biscuits.

    5 Place in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until the biscuits have puffed up a little and are a delicious golden brown colour. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire tray. Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container for up to three days.