I have wanted to write my experience of being pregnant and gluten free for a while now because it was challenging, but completely manageable and I know there are many people who are going through what I went through nearly five months ago now. Every pregnancy symptom I experienced was normal and I did not have any complications. Teagan Adele was delivered 15 days over due via c-section and weighed 9.4 pounds. She is really healthy and continues to thrive!
Here are my “rules” for handling being pregnant – nausea and all.
- Let go of your expectations. I had cut out sugar and caffeine before finding out I was pregnant. These are great options, but the only thing that would help with nausea were lemon candies, Starbursts, Dum Dum Pops and other fruit-flavored candy. A small amount of caffeine helped me survive the constant migraines throughout my pregnancy. I didn’t deal with these symptoms through my first pregnancy, but each one is different and, no, I don’t think they were a result of having Celiac Disease.
- Stock up on your go-to food items. I ate a lot of Silk vanilla yogurt, Amy’s gluten free and dairy free mac and cheese, Yogi brand teas, watermelon, eggs, and oatmeal.
- Pay for the gluten free sandwich. I was trying to stay within a budget, but was seriously hungry all the time and if I missed my window of when I needed to eat it felt like I couldn’t catch up. Treat yourself to your favorite lunch because by taking care of yourself you are keeping your stress level down and it truly helps take care of your baby.
- You can still get glutened. This was the worst thing to deal with, but I accidentally glutened myself after eating a bowl of regular cereal – I don’t recommend buying a gluten version and gluten free version of the same cereal! I immediately got a migraine that lasted for three days and, although I can’t prove this, I think it lowered my immune system which caused me to catch the virus going around and lead to bronchitis. This was just plain miserable, but I felt so much better after resting for a few days and I learned to be much more careful around gluten.
- Be upfront with your doctor about having Celiac Disease. This was not an issue for me, but I was clear that it was a major concern. I found that any medicines I needed to take were gluten free and the shots and vaccines I had during the pregnancy were also gluten free. My one concern – that I thankfully didn’t have to deal with – was whether my body would react with if I had to receive a blood transfusion from a person who did not have Celiac Disease. I still do not know this answer, but nurses and doctors confirmed that there was no gluten present in the RhoGam shot and whooping cough vaccine I had while pregnant.
- Make a plan for food when you are in the hospital. I wasn’t exactly sure whether or not there would be many gluten free options available – and who wants to accidentally get glutened after having a baby? – so I opted to bring in my own food. Other moms have spoken with a dietitian at the hospital to gather insight into the best food options available during your stay. This was a little tricky because I had to have food on-hand and a list available for my husband and Teagan finally came 15 days late. Yup, I had to do my “final” grocery shopping trip and cooking day twice. It was crazy, but I was so thankful for all the food my hubby brought – and the freshly picked strawberries my mom brought to the hospital. Having a baby in the summer time was great because there was so much fresh produce! I did order a few things from food service, such as the cherry chicken salad and it was completely safe. I also ordered a donut and muffin for my older daughter to munch on when she came to visit each day.
- Always say yes when people offer to make food for you, but proceed with caution. I loved when people brought me food after having the baby, but I used caution because of the ways that gluten is hidden in everything. There were a few times I tried some and didn’t feel the best, so I opted not to eat all of the food, but my husband and daughter devoured the meals. Yes, the rest of my family had to eat, so I welcomed regular gluten-filled meals too.
- You will cry over food. Mostly likely anyways and that’s okay! I broke down because I felt like I was starving and overwhelmed with how much cooking I had to do in order to keep up with my growing appetite. It’s okay – it’s really just the hormones and I’m certain that every pregnant woman cries for at least one food-related reason.
- I’m gluten free and so is my baby. Yup, Teagan is currently gluten free. She is almost five months old and I did give her some baby oatmeal (which contains gluten), but she seemed to get an upset tummy. I don’t know if this is because she can’t tolerate gluten or because her tummy is still immature, but I’m giving her more time before trying solids again. She was really fussy and just seemed to be uncomfortable. We won’t know for certain if she will have an issue with gluten or not, but we are proceeding cautiously and I will be making all of her baby food.
A special thank you to the Gluten Free Facebook group who submitted their experiences with staying gluten free while pregnant. What are your specific questions? Comment below and I will answer them (or reach out to a huge community who bring their own unique experiences).