What is Morning Sickness?
Nausea, sometimes accompanied by vomiting, is a common symptom of early pregnancy. About 50 to 70 per cent of pregnant women experience it in the first trimester. Not only is nausea normal, it's usually a sign that your pregnancy is healthy.
The condition is called 'morning sickness' because that's often the time when the symptoms are the worst. However, you can feel queasy and throw up at any time of day when you're pregnant.
What causes nausea when pregnant?
It's believed that the symptoms are caused by the pregnancy hormone hCG, which is produced by the developing placenta and which helps to maintain the pregnancy. But other factors such as low blood sugar, increased stomach acid, stress and fatigue can also contribute.
Nausea Prevention Strategies
- Keep some plain crackers, rice cakes or even a piece of chocolate at your bedside and eat something the moment you awaken, to raise your blood sugar before you get up.
- Instead of eating three large meals a day, eat five to six small meals to avoid an empty stomach and keep your blood sugar stable.
- Include sufficient amounts of protein in your diet (meats, fish, eggs, cheese) and complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains) to meet the requirements of your developing baby.
- Some nutrition experts recommend taking 50-100 milligrams of a vitamin B6 supplement to prevent nausea. Take your regular pre-natal vitamin as well.
- Stay away from spicy or greasy foods, avoid becoming overheated and sweaty and get adequate rest.
Coping With Morning Sickness
When you're feeling nauseous, try the following:
- Make yourself relax. Breathe slowly – in through the nose and out through the mouth – or try visual imagery, focusing on something pleasant.
- Avoid the sight, smell and taste of foods or other substances (such as tobacco smoke) that make you queasy.
- Suck or chew ice chips, or suck on a freshly cut lemon.
- If brushing your teeth makes you gag, try a mouthwash instead. Use it frequently to keep your mouth fresh.
- Try a glass of milk or two calcium tablets to neutralise the acid in your stomach.
- Try ginger, a natural remedy for nausea. Grate it on vegetables or other foods.
- Drink chamomile or ginger tea.
- Maintain your fluid intake, even if you don't feel like eating solids. It may help to not mix solids and fluids during the same meal.
If your symptoms of nausea and vomiting are persistent (occurring more that once or twice each day), prevent you from eating or drinking altogether, or continue past your first trimester, report this to your healthcare provider.
How long does morning sickness last?
The good news is that for most women morning sickness ends by the fourth month of pregnancy, when hormone levels begin to decrease a bit.
Keep reminding yourself that the nausea is normal and will soon pass – and think about the positive side of being pregnant and the happiness that your baby will bring you.