Managing Morning Sickness
Although Morning Sickness is the name given to the nausea most women experience during pregnancy, it can strike at any time.
Morning sickness usually starts in the first month of the pregnancy, peaking at 8 – 12 weeks, and resolving by the 16th week of pregnancy for most women.
For some women it may take up to 20 weeks to get relief and approximately 5% of women will have morning sickness off and on for their entire pregnancy.
In severe cases, hospitalisation and medication may be required to manage the symptoms and dehydration of hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness).
Despite having some negative effects on the quality of life of pregnant women, morning sickness is a natural process hypothesised to have evolved to protect the foetus and mother from potentially harmful foods and other toxic substances.
It also provides women with a timely reminder to slow down and conserve their energy as they undergo the amazing process that is pregnancy.
Previously thought to be primarily caused by out-of-control pregnancy hormones, research suggests that morning sickness is also related to dietary choices.
How To Manage Your Morning Sickness
While triggers will vary from woman to woman, often strong odours and fatty and spicy foods are triggers for pregnancy nausea and vomiting.
Reduce your exposure to these triggers as much as possible, and avoid contact with excess chemicals by using natural cleaning products, perfumes, etc. as these can set off nausea as well.
Aversions to alcohol, caffeine and tobacco smoke are common in early pregnancy, and should be avoided as they have been shown to detrimentally affect embryonic health.
Drink Plenty of Water
Dehydration due to excess fluid loss from vomiting is a common result of Morning Sickness or Hyperemesis Gravidarum and can become quite serious.
Dehydration can also make nausea and vomiting worse so it is important to ensure you are drinking enough water.
We recommend sipping on water between meals – avoid having too much with food as it might cause you to feel too full, and trigger nausea.
Adding some fresh lemon, orange or ginger to water may improve fluid tolerance for some women. Herbal teas also contribute to your overall fluid intake, so try some tea such as the Mums-To-Be blend which is safe during pregnancy.
If you are experiencing signs of dehydration, such as fatigue, dizziness, muscle aches or cramping, try adding a magnesium formula to your water as this will provide your body with essential electrolytes and aid in rehydration.
Stabilise Blood Sugar Levels
It is important to avoid feeling hungry as this can aggravate nausea, so eat small, protein rich meals and snacks throughout the day.
Protein rich foods with some healthy fats also help to maintain blood sugar levels to avoid energy fluctuations and sweet cravings. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates as these will exacerbate the problem.
Pregnant women are also commonly advised to have a protein snack before bed to help maintain blood sugar regulation over night and to reduce the likelihood of nausea upon rising.
Once you are up, nourish your body with a balanced breakfast such as rolled oats with some nuts, seeds and fruit, or egg with vegetables or a protein smoothie, and take your nutritional supplements with food, not on an empty stomach.
Traditional Asian medicine systems have identified Acupuncture and acupressure points on the body to help manage nausea.
Some trials have shown benefit for acupressure bracelets stimulating a certain point (P6) on the wrist to reduce pregnancy nausea.
Acupuncture may also be useful for reducing nausea in some women, however clinical evidence is not yet conclusive for the proven effectiveness of these therapies in morning sickness.
Use Natural Anti-Emetics
Anti-emetics are substances that help to reduce emesis (vomiting).
Ginger chews can also be useful to settle mild nausea if you are on the move.
Numerous randomised and controlled research trials have shown ginger to be an effective remedy for the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. The amount recommended is equivalent to 1 gm standardised extract (i.e. 1 tsp freshly grated ginger) daily, in divided doses.
Although some theoretical concerns for the use of ginger in pregnancy exist such as prolonged bleeding time, no adverse effects have been clinically noted.
Drinking chamomile and peppermint tea or inhaling the scent of peppermint essential oil from a vaporiser may also help to attenuate nausea and settle the stomach. However peppermint tea is best avoided if you are also experiencing reflux.
Maintain Optimal Nutrition
To maintain adequate nutrition throughout pregnancy it is important to take a high quality pregnancy multi-vitamin and mineral.
A woman's nutritional requirements are greatly increased during this time as the foetus requires a lot of nutrients for growth and development.
Certain deficiencies such as folate are closely linked to problems throughout pregnancy and may also increase the likelihood of Morning Sickness.
Add to this frequent episodes of vomiting or reduced food intake due to nausea and the chance of becoming nutrient deficient is further increased.
We recommend that every woman planning on becoming pregnant or who is pregnant has a nutritional blood profile done to address any existing deficiencies before becoming severely depleted during pregnancy.
Vitamin B6 is a nutrient specifically found to help with Morning Sickness. Research suggests that it is safe to take as a supplement throughout pregnancy and reduces the severity of nausea experienced, with mild benefits for vomiting.
Musceleze P5P can be used as a source of Vitamin B6 and Magnesium to help alleviate nausea as well as muscle cramping and spasms.
- Making a Healthy Baby
- Emed Nutrient Status Profile
- Emed Mineral Status Profile
- Eating Badly During Pregnancy Increases Your Child's Obesity Risk
- Are Environmental Toxins Hampering Your Chances of Becoming Pregnant?
King, T.L. et al. 2009, Evidence-based approaches to managing nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy, Journal of Midwifery and Womens Health, Vol. 54(6)