While the cause(s) of morning sickness are still a relative mystery, there are multiple solutions that have proven effective for the majority of women out there. Even if they don’t completely “cure” morning sickness, they can certainly help to take the edge off.
And, before we progress any further, let us be clear that the term “morning sickness” is somewhat misleading since those who are affected by the dreaded condition can attest to the fact that it is more like “anytime sickness.”
What Is Morning Sickness and Who’s At Risk?
Here is the “good news” about pregnancy-related nausea/vomiting. While as many as 90% of pregnant women experience some degree of morning sickness (many of them very mild symptoms), only about 35% have what is diagnosed as hyperemesis gravidarum, or “excessive vomiting during pregnancy” that requires any real medical treatment.
Contact Overlake OB/GYN or your regular healthcare provider if you are struggling to keep food and/or liquids down altogether. Don’t put you or your baby at risk for dehydration or malnutrition!
Morning sickness typically arrives somewhere around Week 7 of pregnancy and departs entirely by Week 16 or so. Unfortunately, there’s no concrete reasons why some women are more affected than others, nor are their one-size-fits-all treatments. We know hormones are involved, but increasing research shows that things like nutritional imbalances, the presence of certain bacteria and other health conditions contribute to the development of morning sickness and/or its severity.
Your chances of experiencing morning sickness increase if you are:
- A first time mother (primigravida)
- Pregnant with multiples
- A younger mother
- Have a history of either morning sickness or motion sickness
- Pregnant with a girl
- Test positive for Helicobacter pylori.
- Pregnant in a western country (perhaps where immune systems are less robust and where purified water, depleted soil and processed foods make it more difficult to naturally ingest essential probiotics, vitamins and minerals)
- Test positive for Helicobacter pylori.
In other words, most of the pregnant population, since it’s hard to avoid at least one of these criteria. Fortunately, relief from morning sickness may be a reality for you.
Does Pregnancy Make You Nauseous? Try These 7 Tips…
The following 7 tips have shown to provide relief for a considerable amount of our patients.
- Don’t let your tummy get empty. In your pre-pregnancy life, odds are you at predominantly at meal times, or may have skipped meals altogether. During pregnancy, keeping a little food in the tummy at all times seems to be a better way to go. Keep saltine crackers and water on your nightstand and nibble/drink a bit before you get up in the morning. Then, make a healthy smoothie or something light for breakfast. Graze from there on out, eating healthy foods that appeal to you and focusing on foods/snacks that are high in protein and low in sugars, processed carbs and saturated fats. Read, You Are What You Eat…” for more information about a health pregnancy diet.
- Use a few sick days. If you have paid sick days (or if you can afford to take a few days off), use them. Plan to take a few days off here and there during your first and second tri-mesters to rest and give your body a break. Overexerting yourself can lead to more severe morning sickness, which leads us to the next tip.
- Get plenty of rest. Fatigue is a very common side-effect of early pregnancy. Your body is working harder than ever to gear up for what is required to grow and birth a healthy baby. Fluctuating hormones, lethargic digestion (thanks, progesterone!) and low-blood sugar are also culprits. It’s critical that you get enough rest. Pushing yourself while exhausted will inevitably exacerbate both fatigue and morning sickness.
- Get a daily dose of sunshine. Vitamin D is important for the absorption of various minerals, including B vitamins and magnesium; depletion of these vitamins can cause nausea. While synthetic Vitamin D found in supplements and food additives will help, science has shown that the Vitamin D produced by sun exposure is the most effective catalyst for synthesizing nutrients that require vitamin D in order to be absorbed. No need to bake yourself or get a sunburn since just 10 or 15 minutes of exposure per day – even via your face, arms, wrists, etc. – is enough for your body to get what it needs to. Take a daily walk and you’ll benefit from regular exercise as well.
- Smell something fresh. Smells can be a nausea trigger for many pregnant women. Notice we didn’t say, “bad smells”? That’s because you just never know which smells will affect you negatively. For some, it could be the smell of hot garbage waiting to be picked up, for others it could be the smell of a co-worker’s cologne or even a formerly favorite food! Keep a cotton ball, dabbed with a non-offensive scent – like lemon (some women report sucking on lemons or eating/drinking sour foods is helpful too), lemon grass, citrus, rosemary, mint, etc. – in your pocket and use it like a shield when necessary.
- Pregnancy lollipops. There are a variety of lollipops made specifically to curb morning sickness-related symptoms. Most of them contain ingredients such as ginger (ginger and peppermint teas are also helpful as they quell nausea), lavender and/or sour fruit flavors – all of which have been shown to quell nausea and vomiting. Try a variety to see which ones you like best.
- Observe your prenatal appointments. Prenatal appointments are so important to the health and safety of you and your baby. Even if you are going the midwife or homebirth route, your OB/GYN can work hand-in-hand with your delivery team to provide routine prenatal testing and diagnostic tools that can assess what may be contributing to your morning sickness, as well as how to relieve it.