Morning Sickness – A Relief Guide
Written by Pamela Lim, https://joyfulparenting.sg
The term “morning sickness” is an unfortunate misnomer since the awful nausea and vomiting that many pregnant women experience can strike any time of the day. It can make you miserable and if severe enough, it can seriously interrupt your daily life.
There is definitely no doubt that pregnancy is a time of growth and transformation, mentally, physically and spiritually. This transformation sometimes come with discomforts. Unfortunately during the first trimester, morning sickness is one of them. When I was pregnant with my first son, I had it bad. I researched everything about morning sickness to help myself through.
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are quite common and it affects somewhere around three-quarters of pregnant women. While some women are more likely to get it due to family history and other factors, scientists still haven’t pinned down its exact cause, though many experts think that it is connected to hormonal changes during pregnancy. That one major pregnancy hormone in particular, called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), is widely thought to be the primary culprit as women with higher levels of this hormone are more likely to get morning sickness.
According to experts, the most important risk factors for morning sickness include:
- If you are pregnant with twins, triplets, etc. (pregnancy with multiples)
- If you had morning sickness during a previous pregnancy
- If other women in your family had morning sickness
- If you have a history of nausea and vomiting prior to pregnancy
Morning sickness usually starts early in a woman’s pregnancy, within the first nine weeks for almost everyone. Symptoms tend to peak around 10 weeks, and then usually subside by 14 to 16 weeks. For some women, nausea and vomiting might continue past that time.
However, if nausea and vomiting begin after nine weeks of pregnancy, let your doctor know so that she can rule out other possible medical conditions.
While nausea can last all day, it is not expected that women will vomit throughout the day. It is noted that mothers should be able to keep down at least some food and liquids. There are other potential effects of morning sickness that can be triggered when you are travelling in a car or on a bus or strong odour may bother you.
What Causes Morning Sickness?
- The cause of morning sickness is thought to be due to the body’s increase of 26 hormones, plus 4 other hormones only produced during pregnancy. So don’t worry. Your body will eventually adjust to all these new hormones.
- Another reason is low blood sugar. So make sure you eat, even if you’re not hungry.
- When you are over tired and not allowing your body to get the much needed rest and recharge that it needs. You are growing a human being in you and that takes up a ton of energy!
What can trigger nausea?
- Odours (e.g. scented cosmetics, candles, chemicals, cooking food, perfume etc.
- Seeing or thinking of food and the way it smells
- Motion of any kind
- Having an empty stomach
- Intolerance to smells and motion
- Pressure on abdomen – for example elastic bands, tight pants etc.
- Stimulation of gag reflex – for example brushing teeth, taking vitamins or the taste of toothpaste
- Taking vitamins especially with iron or taking them on an empty stomach
Well… let’s talk about foods that are easy to digest.
What you should eat and drink…
Say Yes To Tummy Comfort Foods:
- Wholegrain bagels
- Wholegrain cereal
- Frozen yogurt – You can make your own by blending organic, plain Greek yogurt and a cup of frozen strawberries or some other type of frozen fruit. Add a little stevia or honey for extra sweetness. Freeze in a popsicle mold.
- Ginger, available as root extract, fresh ground, capsules, tea, sticks or crystals.
- Organic Grapes – you can freeze the grapes too.
- Lemon drops
- Mints – peppermint
- Sweet Potatoes (baked, boiled, mashed) or just plain potatoes.
- Raspberry leaf tea (you can make the tea and drink it or you can let the tea cool down and make ice cubes out of them and suck on them).
- Sorbet / sherbet
- Yogurt smoothies
- Blended foods
- Pureed Soups
- Mineral rich vegetable broth
Say “NO” To Tummy Discomfort Foods:
- Coffee and cola
- Foods containing monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Fried eggs
- Fried foods
- Greasy foods
- High-fat foods
Here’s what to do to help you get through morning sickness
You can try the following and hopefully you’ll find comfort in one or more of the remedies below.
Take it one day at a time.
Get outdoors for a walk and get fresh air.
Eat a snack like organic yogurt, or organic cheese before bed or in the middle of the night if you have to. Always carry some nutritious food with you. Keep some crackers or a handful of almonds by your bed and eat it before you get up. Every pregnant woman is different, some find that protein helps and others say carbohydrates help. I would recommend trying protein first.
Eat Regularly – Try to eat 6 small meals a day with some protein. Skipping food for as little as two hours during pregnancy can cause you to feel nauseated and depleted.
Vitamins – Take prenatal vitamins with your biggest meal to prevent nausea or before bed.
Rest & Relax – Make sure you are getting enough REST!!!! Go to bed earlier and take naps.
It takes a lot of work to create a human being. Listen to your body.
Drink these Mocktails – they help sensitive tummies and keep you hydrated. Drink up!
- Sparkling water, Cranberry juice, twist of lemon
- Sparkling water with acai juice, pineapple juice, spear of pineapple
- Sparkling water with…….. You get the picture!
Drink homemade lemonade – Mix filtered water with fresh lemon juice and a little bit of honey or stevia for sweetness. But don’t overdo the sweetness. Make enough so you can drink it throughout the day.
Try Apple Cider Vinegar – 1 tbsp. mixed in water in the morning. Drink. FYI – It’s not the best tasting stuff but pregnant moms attest by this, especially for heartburn.
Vitamins that help….
CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR before taking extra supplements.
B6 sometimes helps – Remember that there is B6 (pyridoxine) in your prenatal vitamins. Recommended doses are – 25 mg, 2 – 3 times a day. More is not better because B6 can be toxic in high doses. B6 is very important in maintaining hormonal balance and immune function!
Try increasing your intake of foods rich in B6. For example: whole grains, whole grain cereals, wheat germ, raw nuts, seeds, legumes, bananas, potatoes, and brewer’s yeast. In fact, brewer’s yeast has 2.5 milligrams in one serving. Wheat germ has 1.15 milligrams in one serving and both are high in folic acid. Two for one!
Another “natural remedy” that moms attest by is good old magnesium. The recommended dose of magnesium is 400 – 600 mg a day. Most women are deficient in magnesium and pregnancy is a time when the body requires more. The theory is that cortisol (stress hormone) causes blood sugar levels to increase. Low blood sugar makes morning sickness worse. Magnesium is supposed to help balance out cortisol. (Great as a stress reliever!)
How can you get more magnesium?
- Start taking Epsom Salt baths. You can buy it at your local grocery store or pharmacy. Add 2 cups to your bath, get in and relax. Temperature should be around 37 degrees Celsius.
- Start supplementing with magnesium oil – Magnesium oil is a highly bioavailable source that you can easily spray on and rub in. FYI : Some magnesium oils are contaminated with mercury and other heavy metals. A good brand is Ancient Minerals. Some people dilute it 50% – 50% with water (in a spray bottle) or add it to any skin lotion to reduce tingling or itching. Your skin adapts over time.
Make sure you’re getting enough of the following vitamins.
- Vitamin C – 250 mg a day
- Vitamin K – 5 mg a day
- Zinc – 100mg a day (take with food)
Just a reminder…Never take vitamins on an empty stomach. Take them with food.
Herbs That Help…Consult with your doctor before taking Any herbs!
Ginger (zingier officinal) has a long history of being helpful in gastrointestinal distress, especially with nausea and vomiting. You can eat ginger in your food or drink ginger tea (recipe below). Try drinking a natural ginger ale. Powdered forms of ginger have been controversial. Stick to the fresh root!
- Ginger tea recipe – Steep 1 tsp. of freshly grated ginger root in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes and sip throughout the day. Don’t exceed 2 full cups a day!!
Drink teas of peach leaf (Prunus persica), spearmint, and chamomile flowers.
- Chamomile tea recipe – Steep 1 tbsp. of chamomile to 1 cup boiling water. Steep for 10 – 15 minutes. Cover cup while steeping. Drink throughout the day. Don’t exceed more than 2 full cups a day. (you can use the same recipe for spearmint or peach leaf tea).
Check in with yourself emotionally. Sometimes emotional issues can make nausea worse. Talk to someone about feelings you may have. It’s not uncommon for certain emotions to be brought up during pregnancy. Journaling is one way to get in touch with what’s going on. During pregnancy you become very intuitive, so journaling can be a great way to get in touch with what you need.
What about medications?
There are medications that your healthcare provider can prescribe, for example, B6 (vitamin), antihistamines and anti-nausea medications. However you should know that some medications can cross the placenta to the foetus and their safety to the unborn foetus has not yet been established. That’s why it’s so important to talk with your healthcare provider before taking any medications especially over the counter ones. It’s a good idea to weigh the risk of nausea and vomiting against the potential risk of the medication. Do your research and be informed!
7 Reasons to call the doctor about morning sickness
- The vomiting is not getting better
- You’re urinating less, and your urine appears darker in colour
- Your mouth, eyes, and skin are feeling dry
- You are feeling increasingly tired
- Your mental acuity is lessening
- You are feeling increasingly weak and faint
- You haven’t been able to eat or drink or keep anything down for 24 hours
Dehydration is very serious!!!!! Call you doctor!
If your nausea and vomiting is so severe and you can’t keep anything down, you may be suffering from hyperemesis gravid arum. This can be serious. Your healthcare provider may check you into the hospital to receive IV fluids and medication. Here is a great hyperemesis gravidarum survival guide.
Remember, All of This Shall Pass!