Gluten-Free and Pregnant

Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease is a lifelong digestive disorder, an allergy to gluten.  Gluten is a protein found in all types of wheat and also in rye, barley and triticale.  Gluten is found mainly in food, but can also be found in medicines, vitamins, glue on stamps and envelopes and even on your significant other's lips!  If a person with Celiac Disease eats even a small amount of gluten a toxic immune reaction takes place which damages the small intestine so food cannot be digested properly.  Over time this can cause many varied symptoms, including chronic diarrhea / constipation, recurring bloating and abdominal pain, vomiting, depression, fatigue, iron deficiency that doesn't respond to iron therapy, liver disorders, neurological conditions, pain in the joints, tingling numbness in the legs, unexplained infertility, recurring miscarriages, and osteoporosis.  Sometimes there are no symptoms.  It can be diagnosed with a blood test and treated with a strict gluten-free diet.  It is estimated that 97% of people with CD have not been diagnosed yet!  More than 1%, or at least 3 million people, in the US have Celiac.  By comparison, Alzheimer's Disease affects about 2 million.  

The good news is:  If you've been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and have been living gluten free, your pregnancy should be just a normal pregnancy!  That is extremely good news for our family, because my daughter was diagnosed with CD after her second pregnancy, and she is now pregnant with her third!  I have been scouring the internet and the neighborhood for things that might help my daughter, because some of the standard "remedies" for pregnancy symptoms don't fit into the gluten-free lifestyle, and gluten free daughters still call Mom when they don't feel good!  (*Gluten free people need their families to support them.  Learn all you can about your loved one's disease!*)  This is what we have learned so far!

Morning (all day) Sickness:  There doesn't seem to be a gluten-free alternative to saltines (but I will be experimenting in my kitchen soon!).  If the GF crackers have too much taste for you you can try unsalted rice cakes.  They used to tell us to leave something by the bed and eat it before you get up, but I always got up and brushed my teeth first!  Toast and tea is what I used to eat when I was sick to my stomach, and gluten free breads and bagels are getting better all the time.  And of course when you feel up to it, cook up a big pot of potato or chicken soup or beans and rice so it is around when you're not feeling so well.  Better yet, get your sweet husband to make up a batch!  I will put fast, easy gluten-free recipes here that the whole family can eat so you can cook in big batches and get the rest you need.  You'll need to eat small amounts of food all day long so your stomach is never too empty.  And remember:  THIS TOO SHALL PASS!  It might be a good idea to focus on your spiritual beliefs to help get you through the rough times.  I always liked "Guideposts" because it's non-denominational with short, inspirational stories that I could read in a couple of minutes for a really big lift!  Whatever inspires you is what you should have around.  Keeping your spirits up affects how you feel.  Believe it or not, there is even a medicine you can take for the nausea, but it requires a prescription.  It is called Zofran, and it is dissolved under your tongue.  I'm told it has a funky aftertaste, but it's worth it!  Ask your doctor about it.  Another amazing treatment for nausea is drinking water!  I always thought it made you sicker, but my daughter says it actually worked!  It's amazing what you can find on the internet!  I never thought dehydration caused nausea.  By the way, holding ice against the roof of your mouth makes your headache feel better, and so does drinking water if the headache is from dehydration.  I even suck on ice for migraines.  Unfortunately it only feels better while the ice is in your mouth.  My Mother-in-law used to swear by Coke syrup for nausea.  I don't know if they have fountains in the drugstore any more where you can get the syrup separately, but if you can, take a spoon of it.  If not, my Mom used to give us ginger ale, and since ginger aids in digestion it makes sense to me.  I have a great recipe for homemade ginger ale, and it's easier than you think.  Top it off with fresh mint leaves and you have a winning combination!

Mom's favorite: Cup of Tea

When you're done with the tea you can chew on the fresh mint leaves.
When you're done with the tea you can chew on the fresh mint leaves.

Tummy-settling Ginger

Ginger root, found in the produce section of your local supermarket, can be used to make homemade ginger ale, ginger candy, and it adds wonderful flavor to many oriental dishes.  It aids in digestion.
Ginger root, found in the produce section of your local supermarket, can be used to make homemade ginger ale, ginger candy, and it adds wonderful flavor to many oriental dishes. It aids in digestion.

Foods that Aid Digestion

  • Artichokes
  • Chili peppers
  • Flax
  • Honey (make sure it's pasturized!)
  • Mangoes
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Yogurt


Fresh, nutritious, gluten-free food!
Fresh, nutritious, gluten-free food!

Things to keep on hand

  • yogurt (it's pre-digested)
  • fresh fruits and veggies (easy and nutritious)
  • unsalted rice cakes (bland)
  • gf granola bars and crackers (quick, easy snack)
  • gf cereal and milk (fairly gentle on the stomach)
  • gf cold cuts and bread (quick, easy meal)
  • frozen entrees like Amy's (quick, easy meal when your family wants pizza)
  • brown rice (bland and filling) / good with stewed tomatoes or salsa
  • prune juice (for irregularity)
  • stool softener (Colase or generic)
  • bananas (filling, nutritious, and gentle on the stomach)
  • avocados (bland, loaded with vitamins)


It is not uncommon to get "bound up" when you're pregnant.  Stool sofeners (Colase or the generic, docusate sodium 100 mg) can be taken before bed to help you "go" more easily in the morning.  Start with one caplet, and if that doesn't work you can take two.  Senokot is another common aid for constipation.  It is natural vegetable fiber in a pill form and can also be bought over the counter.  Make sure you drink plenty of fresh water, and prune juice can be added if all of this doesn't work.  Fresh fruits and vegetables as well as beans and whole grain rice will add fiber, so it is important to eat a healthy diet.  Of course you should ALWAYS check with your doctor before doing anything, even if it seems to be "natural" and "safe".  And, just in case, beans, cabbage, and peaches help hemorrhoids:  Apples and bananas block diarrhea.

Foods that Prevent Constipation

  • Apples
  • Beans
  • Blueberries
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Oats (make sure they're gluten free!)
  • Prunes                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Cinnamon Fruit dip

Mix up a big batch of dip and keep it in the fridge for a quick and easy snack or desert.
Mix up a big batch of dip and keep it in the fridge for a quick and easy snack or desert.

Cinnamon Fruit Dip

  • 1 lb sour cream (or low fat or fat free plain or vanilla yogurt)
  • 2 c brown sugar 
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 2 t vanilla
  • Mix well.  This makes quite a lot, but that's good.  Keep covered and refrigerated until you get the urge for a quick snack or desert.  It goes very well with tart apples, but works with many fruits.  You could also dip in pieces of gf cake.

Potato Soup

This is what my next door neighbor made for me when I couldn't get up off of the sofa!  It was HER family secret for nausea!  (ingredients in this recipe are estimates because I never make it the same way twice and it's always good!)

Medium size pan

1 small onion, browned quickly in butter (1-2 Tablespoons) or olive oil

4-6 cups chicken stock or water (add to onion, getting up stuff stuck to bottom of pan)

2-3 potatoes, cut into chunks (red, yellow or white)

fresh herbs, salt & pepper ( I grow my own, but you can get them in the produce dept.  I like parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, celery leaves, a little rosemary, or McCormic's garlic pepper grinder blend, but I'm not sure if that's gluten-free.  If you're really nauseas you might want to stick to salt and pepper.)

When potatoes are cooked, turn it off and add about a cup of milk.  Correct seasonings, add grated parmesan or cheddar if desired.  Can be mashed or left in chunks.

Homemade Ginger Ale and Candy

  • 2 c ginger slices, peeled (1/8 " thick)
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 c water
  • 1 qt soda water
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges
  • 4 mint sprigs
Mix ginger, sugar and water in saucepan and bring to slow simmer.  Reduce mixture by 50% until syrupy consistency is reached.  Syrup will thicken as it cools.  Strain warm syrup.  Allow to cool.
While syrup is cooling, make ginger candy.  Take slices drained out of syrup and completely coat with sugar.  Spread on sheet pan and slowly dry out in 225 degree oven for 3 hours.  Ginger slices should be dried, but still chewy.
In tall glass of ice, add mint sprig and a ratio of 1 part ginger syrup to 7 parts soda water.  Squeeze lime wedge and add to drink.  Use more syrup if desired.  Stir and enjoy!

Black Beans and Yellow Rice

  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3/4 t turmeric
  • 1 c dry brown rice
  • 2 1/2 c chicken broth
Saute onion and garlic in oil in flying pan over medium heat 1-2 minutes.  Stir in rice, turmeric, and broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes or until done.
  • chopped onion and garlic
  • 1 1/4 c black beans
  • 4 c chicken broth or water 
  • salt and pepper
Saute a little onion and garlic in oil in medium saucepan.  Add beans and enough broth or water to cover beans and maybe an inch above them.  Add salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on low for 1 1/2 hours , more or less, until beans are done (I like them a little firm, not mushy).  Add more liquid if necessary.  Add to rice.  Can also add a cup or 2 of cut up cooked chicken.
Broth: *I make my own chicken broth with a leftover chicken carcass or a few small pieces of chicken, herbs from the back yard, celery tops, S & P and anything else that looks good (bay leaves, peppercorns).  If it is uncooked chicken, I brown it first in butter or olive oil, maybe with a little onion and/or garlic, then add fresh water (stirring to loosen up anything stuck to the bottom--that's where the flavor is!) to cover everything and a little more, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.  Strain broth through colander and pick any chicken meat out of colander to add in later.  Can be frozen for later use.

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Comments 6 comments

SandyHoyt profile image

SandyHoyt 6 years ago from Madisonville, LA Author

*This hub is dedicated to my daughter: I wish I lived closer to you, Robin! I hope this will help. If I made any gluten-mistakes let me know so I can correct it right away! I'll add video of making soup later. This has helped me to be more aware of how easy it is to accidentally get gluten in your diet!

Love, Mom

Robin 6 years ago

Great hub page! There is never enough information about being gluten-free or about pregnancy, and I love that this combines the two. Thanks so much for all the hard work! I hope it helps others out there who are new to gluten-free prenancies also.

SandyHoyt profile image

SandyHoyt 6 years ago from Madisonville, LA Author

PS Robin said it needs to GF vanilla!

Kara 6 years ago

people with celiac disease cannot eat oats, gluten free or otherwise

karmiko 6 years ago

This is wonderful information!

SandyHoyt profile image

SandyHoyt 6 years ago from Madisonville, LA Author

Thanks, Lynne!

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