What is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is usually one of the very first signs to indicate a woman is pregnant. It often passes by 3 months into the pregnancy. For some women, it can be disturbing to experience severe morning sickness. Majority of all pregnant women experience morning sickness which is associated with nausea and vomiting.
Morning sickness usually starts around week 6 and it can last all day for some women. Different women will have different experiences. Morning sickness does not need medical attention unless it is severe and leads to weight loss and dehydration. Some tips and home remedies can help.
Nausea during pregnancy is usually associated with an increase in estrogen levels, low blood sugar counts, and a greater proneness to some smells.
The exact reason is unknown, but factors responsible for morning sickness may include:
- a rise in hormones, especially estrogen, progesterone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), and cholecystokinin, causing changes in digestive activity
- a decrease in blood sugar, resulting from the placenta’s need for energy
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Another theory on what contributes to nausea in early pregnancy is related to the sense of smell. A woman’s sense of smell is more subtle in pregnancy, and this could increase the feelings of nausea.
Morning sickness mostly occur during the first 3 months of pregnancy, and it often subsides once into the second trimester.
- Excessive vomiting during pregnancy, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum, can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, and weight loss. This condition usually affects around 1 in 300 pregnant women, and usually only during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. The use of medications is not recommended during pregnancy until prescribed.
A woman should see a doctor if:
- she loses more than 2 pounds in weight
- she vomits blood, which may be red or black
- she vomits more than four times in one day
- she is unable to keep fluids down for more than one day
The doctor may recommend dietary changes, plenty of rest and the use of antacids. In severe cases, the patient may need to receive fluids and nutrition intravenously.
Here are some tips for minimizing the unpleasant symptoms of nausea during pregnancy.
Take Ginger and peppermint teas
Ginger has long been used to help in digestion and reduce abdominal pain and discomfort. Sip cold ginger ale or to add a slice of raw ginger to water or tea. Snacks such as gingerbread, or ginger cookies may also help. Peppermint tea may also help settle the stomach to prevent nausea.
Sufficient fluid intake
It is quite essential to stay hydrated during pregnancy. It may be difficult to consume eight glasses of water a day while experiencing nausea, but dehydration can worsen feelings of nausea. You can add apple cider vinegar and honey to water may make it more pleasant.
Eat with care
Foods that are fatty and spicy should be avoided during pregnancy because these foods and caffeine increase the chance of triggering the release of stomach acid. Bland foods may be less irritating.
Also, eat small portion sizes to help reduce the chance of vomiting. Having an empty stomach can deteriorate the feelings of nausea. The stomach produces acids, but they have nothing to work on, except for the stomach lining. This adds to the feelings of nausea. Eating salty crackers or a protein snack before getting out of bed in the morning may help.
Eat pears, bananas, cold apple sauce, or any citrus fruit to help you feel satisfied early. Carbohydrates like rice, baked potatoes, and dry toast can also help. Eating a snack high in protein before going to bed will help control your blood glucose levels during the night. Eat food cold to reduce the smells experienced when eating.
Be physically and mentally active
Keeping busy can help take your mind off the feelings of nausea. Reading a book, doing puzzles, watching television, playing cards, or going for short walks around the block can help.
Get lots of rest
It is essential to get a good night´s sleep. Napping during the day may help too, but not right after a meal, because this can increase the feeling of nausea. For those who work night shifts, it may help to wear a sleep mask or use blackout curtains to block out light. A maternity body pillow may help your back and abdomen. Go to bed early and wake up early, so you can take time to get out of bed. Avoid using sleeping pills unless prescribed by a doctor.
Wear loose clothing
Wearing tight clothing may worsen the symptoms of nausea. Women who experience nausea during pregnancy have fewer symptoms of nausea when they wear loose-fitting clothes.
Vitamins and supplements
Make sure the supplements taken should only be prescribed by a doctor. If you are taking vitamins, it may be best to take them before bed and with a snack. Vitamin B6 may help reduce nausea.
Iron supplements that are prescribed during pregnancy can lead to nausea. A doctor may recommend a slower-release form or a lower dosage. Take iron supplements with orange juice to increase absorption.
Avoid computer monitor flicker
A computer monitor flickers rapidly, this may contribute to morning sickness. If it is not possible to avoid using a computer monitor, it may help to adjust the screen by making the fonts bold and larger and changing the background to a soft tan or pink color to help reduce eye strain.
Morning sickness is linked to an increased sensitivity to smell. Some strong smells can worsen the symptoms, but scents such as lemon extract and rosemary may help.
An individual will learn to recognize which triggers bring on an episode of nausea, and they can avoid these as far as possible.
Help for acid reflux
Sometimes, the nausea and vomiting may be caused by acid reflux. A doctor may be able to recommend antacid medication to take before going to bed to reduce stomach acid levels, and the following morning vomiting.
Check with a doctor before taking any medication during pregnancy.
The American Pregnancy Association (APA) suggest eating:
- Plain fruits and vegetables
- Cold foods
- Bland foods, such as chicken soup
As snacks, the APA recommend:
- flavoured popsicles
- Preggie Pops, a kind of candy in different flavors such as ginger, lemon, and mint, to reduce nausea feelings.