Morning sickness is what we all associate with early pregnancy, and it seems that most pregnant women experience some form of nausea and/or vomiting at some point during their pregnancy. It is called morning sickness because it typically affects women in the morning, however many still experience it throughout the day as well. Some are very unfortunate to develop hyperemesis gravidarum; a severe form of vomiting during pregnancy, though this is the minority.
Nausea & vomiting usually starts around 6 weeks of pregnancy and continues up to 12-16 weeks, but can last longer in some cases. It is one of the most unpleasant side effects of pregnancy, and yet there is little out there that has been shown to be really effective. You may have heard about a drug called ‘Thalidomide’ that was given to pregnant women in the 1950’s to help relieve nausea and vomiting, but was later found to cause severe malformation of the limbs in their babies. Since then most women are very cautious when it comes to taking drugs for morning sickness. Although there are certain drugs that are thought to be safe, I would still exercise caution and use these only if necessary.
The physiological reasons for nausea and vomiting during early pregnancy are still unknown. There is a theory that it is your body’s natural protective mechanism against eating ‘unsafe’ foods that may harm your baby during such a critical developmental time. Another issue is that the increased hormone levels interfere with blood sugar regulation, and therefore giving you sugar low’s that make you feel sick. On top of all that, your sense of smell is greatly heightened which makes you feel sick after a whiff of anything it may seem.
The common advice you may get is to take small, regular meals and snacks that are protein rich, to help keep your blood sugar levels stable. From this also comes the advice to keep some dry crackers by your bed, so when you wake up in the morning after having fasted overnight, you eat something before getting up. These things work for some women, but sadly not for all.
As a midwife I hear all sorts of different things women do or eat to help curb the nausea, and being a Naturopath I thought I’d compile a list of things you may want to try. You may also find your own that works that may not be on the list, but please feel free to share it in the comment box! You never know, you might help another woman out there that finds that works well for her too.
- Ginger (tea, capsules, chewy’s, smoothie, soup) *Be aware that ginger ale, ginger beer and ginger biscuits contain a lot of sugar and may give you sugar low’s that bring on the nausea again
- Bland/plain/dry food
- Citrus fruits (lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange)
- Cold foods (temperature wise)
- Peppermint ice lollies (make a jug of fresh mint tea or use tea bags and freeze into ice cubes)
- Oat water (soak a handful of oats for 30 min, drain and drink the water)
- Watermelon (fresh, juice, or ice lollies)
- Vitamin C (supplements, dissolvable tablets)
- Sea bands (tight wrist bands that press on an acupuncture point: measure three fingers width from your hand to your inner wrist to place the ‘button’ in the right place). You can get these online or at most pharmacies.
- Fizzy water
- Keep well hydrated and eat regular small snacks and meals
- Vitamin B6 (tablets). Get them at health food stores, online, or some pharmacies.
- Nevasic App (a phone app you can download (at a cost) which plays sounds that help relive nausea)
- Homeopathy: Nux Vomica (if no relief with small amounts of food). Cocculus (if worse first thing in the morning or with movement). Sepia (if smells trigger it). Take a dose of 30c, x3 times per day. You can get these from health food stores, some pharmacies or online. You may also want to consult a homeopath to get a more accurate remedy for you.
- Acupuncture (see an acupuncturist)
*Please seek medical help if you are unable to keep anything down. You may have developed hyperemesis gravidarum and require medical help to manage this condition.