“Morning sickness” is one of the most common things women have to deal with during pregnancy. In fact, around 9 in 10 women say they experience nausea at some point during their pregnancy. This doesn’t necessarily always occur in the morning. Nausea and sickness can occur at any time and can be caused by a range of everyday triggers – from strong smelling foods to being in a car.
Morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy is most common during the first trimester, and often subsides after around 13 weeks, but it can continue for longer. It is thought to be linked to the production of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone, which the body starts to produce after the fertilised egg attaches to the uterine lining. It is also linked with estrogen production.
While sickness during pregnancy is unavoidable for most women, there are some things you can do to help prevent and manage it. Here are some tips for dealing with morning sickness.
Change Your Eating Habits
We are used to having three large meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. And while this is not necessarily ideal, it is the most common of eating habits. However, this means that you go through large portions of the day where your stomach is relatively empty. When there is nothing in your stomach, your stomach acids can irritate your stomach lining, making nausea worse. Snacking throughout the day is a great way to keep your stomach full. Eating small meals throughout the day will also help you avoid eating too much for lunch or dinner, which can help ward off sickness in the evening.
Try Eating Ginger
Ginger has been a natural remedy for nausea since ancient times, and modern studies have found that is an effective way to ease a queasy stomach. If you are snacking throughout the day, try snacking on some ginger. There are lots of options: slices of fresh ginger with some lemon hot water, drinking cloudy ginger beer (not clear ginger ale as this is very gassy, and can make you feel worse), ginger candy, gingersnaps or classic gingerbread.
Take It Easy
If you wake up in the morning and your nausea is making the thought of going to work seem like an impossibility, take the day off. Pregnancy is taxing on the body – you’re already working overtime to take care of you and your growing baby – so you deserve to take a day off every now and again. Rest and relax as much as possible. If you like to meditate, this can help too.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking water while you are struggling with nausea can be tough – it even might seem counterintuitive (why put more in your stomach when you’re struggling to keep anything down?). However, it is very important you keep your fluids up, because dehydration will actually make your nausea worse. Unfortunately, too much water combined with vomiting can lead to you dropping levels of electrolytes in your bloodstream to levels that can affect your health (“water intoxication”). If in doubt, call your doctor.
Avoid Foods That Make You Feel Sick and Stick To What Isn’t
Is there something in particular that’s making you want to retch as soon as you smell it? Steer well clear of it. Spicy food, fatty food, creamy food, seafood, and other rich dishes are common culprits. It won’t take you long to figure out what you simply cannot be near without feeling ill. But in the end, you have to eat – in fact, it is extremely important that you are eating plenty every day. Find out what is working for you and stick to it, even if it’s a little abnormal. Plain carbs, fruits and vegetables, icy treats, and lean meats are all great options.
Consider Natural Remedies
Aside from ginger, there are a number of natural remedies that you might want to try. There are a million out there, find what works for you: chewing mint, lemon water, milk with a drop of rosewater, apple cider vinegar, green tea, coconut water, aromatherapy. None of these have any scientific basis, but the smell and taste can be refreshing.
Do Some Light Exercise
Being active is probably the last thing you feel like doing when you’re feeling unwell, but doing some light exercise can help combat nausea. Even a quick walk will release endorphins to help counteract fatigue and nausea.
Try Taking Vitamins
A 25mg vitamin B6 tablet taken roughly every 8 hours, has been shown to really help reduce nausea and sickness. Vitamin B6 is also found in foods such as bananas, nuts, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, lean meats, so try and include these in your diet.
Consider Taking Prescription Medication
There are some medications that you can take to help reduce morning sickness. These may be necessary if you are really struggling to keep anything down and are concerned about your health. Be sure speak with your doctor about your options before taking medication.
If you have any questions about your pregnancy, including morning sickness, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Dr Bevan Brown is one of the most trusted gynaecologist and obstetricians in Sydney. Personalised care and strong relationships with our patients is of utmost importance!