Nix that nausea...
Yay! You’re expecting a baby and over the moon. But around week five the dreaded morning sickness often raises its ugly head. How can you relieve the symptoms?
Nine ways to relieve the retching...
Nothing sucks the joy out of pregnancy like morning sickness. Around half of all pregnant women are thought to suffer from it and the name can often be a misnomer – it can occur at any time of the day or night and for some unlucky women it’s a 24-7 condition. It can make early pregnancy a nightmare, especially if you’re trying to keep your news a secret until later on – having to rush to the bathroom every five minutes to be sick is a red flag to relatives, friends and colleagues, particularly if they’ve had it themselves!
Morning sickness is thought to be related to pregnancy hormones and does usually clear up by week 12 or so, although for the unlucky few it persists right through pregnancy. Rest assured that normal morning sickness won’t harm your baby – he will still get the nutrients he needs even if your breakfast regularly reappears half an hour after you’ve eaten it. In rare cases, however, sickness can be so severe you can’t keep any food or drinks down and it is possible your baby could be affected. This condition is called hyperemesis gravidarum and if you think you may have it, tell your midwife or obstetrician – as well as severe vomiting, symptoms include dehydration (look for dry skin and infrequent peeing), weakness and weight loss.
Practically everyone you know: your midwife, your mum, the old lady who lives opposite, will have a morning sickness remedy to suggest. Some of them have research studies to back them up, but don’t dismiss folk remedies out of hand – you never know what might work for you…
1 Snack first thing
Low blood sugar has been linked with morning sickness, and it could be the reason why it does tend to be worse when you wake, having gone eight or nine hours without eating. Keep a baggie with a plain biscuit or cracker, or a slice of unbuttered toast, on your night stand and eat it slowly the moment you wake, then wait a few minutes before getting up. Many women do find this does the trick, so if you’re pushed for time in the mornings it’s worth setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier to give you time to snack. Even if it doesn’t stop the nausea, it may well make all the difference between you actually throwing up and not!
2 Be a fussy eater
A UK study suggests that morning sickness may be linked to a higher intake of sugars, sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine and meat and to lower consumption of cereals. Balance your diet with plenty of fruit and veg and wholegrains as well as unrefined carbs that release energy slowly. Eat small meals often rather than three large meals, and focus your diet on bland food. Avoid fatty foods and hot spicy meals: you may find you’re naturally turned off these anyway particularly if your sense of smell becomes more sensitive, which is fairly common in pregnancy, and strong cooking smells turn your stomach. Salty crisps may help settle your stomach prior to mealtimes; sucking boiled sweets may offer relief if nausea tends to strike on the way to work. Vitamin B6 may also help, but consult your doctor before supplementing.
3 Rest when you can
Overtiredness can aggravate pregnancy sickness so try to take a couple of quick 15-minute power naps during the day – if you’re working, tote some earplugs and a sleep mask with you so you can shut out the world for a while.
4 Tune out
The brain, ears and stomach are all linked and when you feel sick messages are sent to your brain from your stomach via your ears. There’s some evidence that certain sounds can interrupt these messages and relieve sickness and nausea. Morning Well offers an audio tape of music, specific frequencies and pulses designed to do just that and in trials, 90% of users said it worked.
5 Breathe in
Scent may help with morning sickness – women have reported that sniffing lemons or green apples helped, so grate some zest of lemon or apple peel into a square of muslin, tie it and keep it handy. Search out perfumes, bath products and moisturizers with these scents. Another good trick is to scent a handkerchief with lemon or peppermint oil and hold it up to your face if a wave of nausea hits.
6 Juice some ginger
Research indicates that ginger may relieve sickness so try grating some root ginger onto your cereal or into hot water (sweeten it with a little honey), or treat yourself to some ginger and lemon tea – most grocery stores now stock a selection of herbal teas. Ginger biscuits can have the same soothing effect.
7 Drink up
Dehydration worsens nausea so drink plenty of water and avoid caffeinated drinks, which can cause dehydration. Sucking on ice cubes is also a good little trick for easing nausea, as well as upping your fluid intake.
8 Apply some pressure
Acupressure wrist bands, designed to relieve travel sickness, can often work just as well on morning sickness – in fact, studies have indicated that 71% of pregnant women will have less intense sickness if they use them. They incorporate a stud that presses on an acupressure point in your wrist that’s thought to reduce nausea and vomiting. Your local chemist should stock Sea Bands.
9 Try acupuncture
It’s been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting – trials have also suggested it can ease the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum.
Find out more
- Morning Well Info about its specially designed sound audio tape.
- The British Acupuncture Council has an online database of registered practitioners.
- Pregnancy Sucks: What to Do When Your Miracle Makes You Miserable by Joanne Kimes. The bad side of pregnancy, reported with wit and humor that will have you laughing even if you feel as sick as a sick thing.
- Managing Morning Sickness: A Survival Guide for Pregnant Women by Miriam Erick. Info, advice and tips on how to cope whether you’re just feeling a little off or you’re in the grip of severe morning sickness.
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- Hyperemesis Gravidarum - not just morning sickness: Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a very extreme form of morning sickness which can blight a woman's pregnancy. Here we explain what it is, and that you can get through it!
- Hyperemesis Gravidarum - a personal story: Becoming pregnant should be a joy, but for those women who suffer from Hyperemesis, it becomes more akin to a nightmare. Johanne Jakeway tells her story.