Morning Sicknessby Your Baby Club
You’ll be pleased to know that not everyone gets morning sickness. About 70-80% of women do experience some level of nausea and/or vomiting23, but not all. Fingers crossed you’re in the other 20-30%! Nausea is a spectrum too, where some may feel only mildly queasy at the sight of food, others could be full-on gagging at the most random of smells, and some never vomit, but do feel a bit nauseous. It can be occasional, or it can be constant, and can hit at any time of day or night. It can hit early on in your pregnancy and typically lasts until 12-14-weeks, though some women suffer much longer. Every woman and every pregnancy is different, so let’s help you understand what’s causing it, and how to relieve it.
Morning sickness (nausea and vomiting in pregnancy - NVP) typically kicks in around the 6-weeks mark, when your hCG and estrogen levels are elevated in your first trimester. Combined with gastroesophageal reflux, (due to the relaxation of your digestive tract tissue), and the super heightened sense of smell pregnant ladies develop, morning sickness can be one of the most dreaded early symptoms.
It is a common worry amongst first-time mums, that not being able to keep food down is stopping your baby from growing, but this is rarely the case. If you are throwing up lots and subsequently losing weight yourself, this can be a cause for concern as it can indicate excessive sickness. If this is the case for you, speak to your doctor, as you may be suffering from what Kate Middleton had; hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).
Although we don’t really know the exact cause of NVP, some theories on morning sickness speculates a few factors.
- If you are carrying multiple fetuses, or those with higher-than-average hormone levels can experience sickness more often, whilst those with low hormonal levels may suffer occasionally or even not at all.
- Some women are neurologically more sensitive than others meaning they’re more likely to respond to irregular hormonal changes and other triggers during pregnancy. If you get carsick or seasick quite a lot, you’re also more likely to have severe morning sickness and nausea.
- Stress can also be a factor. Emotional stress is a known aggressor of your digestive system. So, try and stay as relaxed as possible in those early stages and you may find your NVP doesn’t hit as hard.
- Fatigue - both mental and physical, can aggravate symptoms of nausea and vomiting, which in turn increases your level of fatigue - what a horrible cycle!
- Morning sickness also tends to be a lot more common and severe in first pregnancies, as your body is new to the rapidly changing hormones, as well as the mental element of increased anxiety when you’re going through this all for the first time.
- Some women also swear that you’ll have worse NVP if you’re expecting a girl, though there is no scientific evidence to support this.
- Although there’s no cure, here’s some tips on how to relieve those horrid feelings of nausea:
- Nausea is more likely to hit when you have an empty stomach, so try and eat as early as you can, so that you’re not chucking up stomach acid. Similarly, try and have a snack (high in protein and complex carbs) before bed so that your stomach isn’t too empty while you sleep. Keep something like a rice cake, crackers, or nuts and seeds on your bedside table so that you can snack on them throughout the night for when you get up for your midnight toilet runs.
- Don’t stuff yourself like a Christmas turkey. An over-full stomach is just as nausea-inducing as an empty one. Eat little and often and those bouts of queasiness may subside.
- Getting food in your stomach and keeping it down should be your main priority but try to eat as healthy as you can. A balanced diet, high in protein and calcium for those baby-making nutrients, as well as complex carbs, can be the difference between throwing up all day and feeling a little nauseous in the morning.
- Be sure to increase your fluid intake if you’re throwing up a lot. Not only is it much more pleasant (if that’s possible) to upchuck liquid than re-experience your dinner, but also, your body needs hydration more than it needs food. So, try and pack some nutrients and vitamins into a smoothie or juice. Electrolytes and coconut waters are also great for nauseous mums to be. If you find that your sickness is becoming debilitating, it is important that you contact your GP, as it may be necessary for you to have a short stay in hospital to rehydrate you and ensure you are not becoming deficient in certain nutrients.
- The best old wives’ tale - stock up on ginger! Use ginger in your cooking, whether you’re making soup, stir fry or baking a cake, ginger is a home remedy we can all get behind. Ginger biscuits, gingerbread and even hot water with ginger can get you feeling better.
- Some swear by anti-sickness bands, like the type you’d wear when on a boat or in a plane. They lay across pressure points, which in Chinese medicine, is said to help relieve sickness. You can also try acupuncture for this too.
- Brush your teeth or gargle with mouthwash (that is free from alcohol) after throwing up. This can stop you from feeling sick and freshens your vomit-scented breath.
- Finally, rest up. Get as much sleep as you can! You’re less likely to feel nauseous when you’re asleep than when you’re awake, so here’s an excuse to take those midday naps you’re likely in desperate need of.
If all else fails, speak to your GP, as they will be able to prescribe you with some anti-sickness medication suitable for pregnancy. Again, if you are concerned about the severity or frequency of your morning sickness and think you may have HG, consult your doctor who will be able to help.