What is Morning Sickness?
It’s the pregnancy side effect we all dread: morning sickness, or nausea and vomiting in pregnancy to give it its medical title. Generally short-lived, the symptom affects roughly half of women, ranging in severity from mild discomfort through to its most serious form, hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Affecting nearly 1% of pregnancies, HG causes extreme nausea and vomiting, which without medical intervention can lead to dehydration, weight-loss and fainting.
A common symptom of pregnancy, morning sickness is caused by changing levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and is generally felt from around the sixth week, oftentimes petering out at the twelve or fourteen-week mark.
Temporary as it may be, for many women it’s one of the most difficult times of pregnancy. Here are five tips for managing the symptoms of morning sickness:
Food is the Best Medicine
Morning sickness is actually something of a misnomer, and many women feel waves of nausea throughout the day. For the majority who wake to that telltale queasiness, try to eat something before you rise: keeping a stash of plain biscuits close to your bed might help.
Throughout the day, an empty stomach can often trigger queasiness. A helpful strategy is to carry crackers or even dry cereal in your purse – just in case!
Overeating can be just as problematic, so try eating little and often and avoid greasy or spicy foods in favor of mildly-flavored ones. Go for foods that are easy to digest: natural yogurt is a good one, as are carbohydrates such as toast, rice and baked potatoes.
Increased levels of estrogen during this time can heighten your sense of smell, and oftentimes, it’s a dish’s aroma that can trigger nausea, so consider replacing hot meals with cold ones as much as possible during this period. Better still, avoid cooking altogether, and if you must hit the kitchen, ensure it’s well ventilated to keep stomach-turning odors at bay.
Drink: Small Sips and Ginger
Pregnancy, especially its early stages means it’s more important than ever to stay hydrated. Make sure you’re taking in lots of fluids – water is best – and try taking small sips as opposed to big gulps, as well as avoiding drinking during mealtimes: little and often will be easier for your stomach to handle, and may help prevent vomiting.
Many women swear by ginger ale to alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness. Although there are no conclusive answers as to why the ingredient helps, it’s widely considered to have a calming effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Generally carbonated, in small doses the fizz can also help to relieve nausea. For a soothing brew, try sipping on grated fresh ginger root infused with hot water, or if you’re not keen on the taste, ask your doctor about ginger tablets and capsules
Acupressure relates to the gentle pressing of acupuncture points – no needles involved! The most common in the treatment of morning sickness is an area called Pericardium 6 (P6) located on the inner wrist and linked to feelings of relaxation and improved connectivity between internal organs. Widely available in pharmacies, elasticized bracelets marketed at relieving motion sickness work on the same principle and apply constant pressure to the P6 and can provide sustained relief from the nausea associated with morning sickness.
Ideally you’ll be getting all of the goodness you and your baby need from a healthy diet, but if morning sickness is resulting in a lack of essential nutrients, prenatal vitamins and supplements can provide an important source during your pregnancy.
A word of warning: prenatals can trigger nausea in some women. To minimize the possibilities, try taking them in the evening and with food.
Ingredients to look out for include iron to help prevent anemia, and folic acid which is key to baby’s brain and spinal cord development. The latter can be found in its natural form in spinach, lentils, asparagus, strawberries and more.
Two B-vitamins in particular may help manage symptoms of morning sickness, although doctors aren’t totally clear as to why. Specifically, B6 and B12 not only play a role in the production of red blood cells, they’re also thought to facilitate the metabolism of proteins which may help control nausea and vomiting. Talk to a medical professional about supplements, or else natural sources include bananas, nuts, green beans, carrots, whole-cereals, potatoes, milk and fish.
Your body is undergoing massive changes in hormones at this time, all of which have the effect of making you feel tired. It’s perfectly normal, and ensuring you get enough sleep can make a real difference to managing morning sickness: fatigue will only make you feel more nauseous!
Taking time to relax during what can be a trying period shouldn’t be underestimated. Above all, go easy on yourself: stress is not what you need right now! Find yourself craving a bowl of cornflakes for dinner? That’s OK – and much better than nothing at all. Acting moody at home or in the office? Don’t worry, they’ll understand.
Above all, remember morning sickness is just temporary and for many will have disappeared completely by the second trimester. If you’re at all concerned or want further advice on managing your symptoms, book an appointment with a healthcare professional.
Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.
A collective group of “lady experts” at Intimina who love sharing our personal experiences, even when they are a little too personal. We believe it’s time to start breaking down the taboos around menstruation, motherhood, and menopause, and start owning our female health.