14 Ways To Combat Morning Sickness
Morning Sickness Happens to (Almost) Everyone
So, you find out you are pregnant or you think you might be pregnant. Or maybe you have no clue. But one day you are just going along like every other day, then BAM! You puke. Or, you feel so nauseated that you can’t get out of bed. Welcome to pregnancy! Wah, Wah, Wah. And morning sickness doesn’t discriminate. Even the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Kate, recently had a form of severe morning sickness, called hyperemesis gravidarum, that landed her in the hospital. Oh, and although it is called morning sickness, it can happen all day long.
Morning sickness is usually par for the course. A lucky few women (about 10% of pregnant women) may never experience morning sickness. The other 90%, at the very least, feel nauseated at some point during their early pregnancy. Other women spend half of the day throwing up. And still, others have severe nausea and vomiting for weeks.
What’s your risk?
Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing who is going to be hit with morning sickness the worst, although some people are at higher risk for morning sickness.
You are at higher risk if you
- Have a sister or mother who experienced morning sickness
- You are pregnant with multiples
- You experience nausea or vomiting from taking birth control pills
- You had morning sickness with a previous pregnancy
- You get nausea or vomiting due to motion sickness, migraines or certain smells or tastes.
Morning sickness usually begins sometime between the second and ninth week of pregnancy. Most of the time it starts earlier than later. Although the exact cause of morning sickness is up for debate, it is widely believed that morning sickness is caused by the surge of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). The hCG hormone increases throughout the first trimester of pregnancy then levels off or even decreases slightly after around the 13-14 week of pregnancy. Most of the time women start to feel better after the first trimester, but sometimes nausea and vomiting can continue throughout pregnancy.
A word about hyperemesis gravidarum
A tiny percent of pregnant women will experience hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). HG is a serious form of morning sickness that causes severe nausea and vomiting to the point where it is impossible to go about regular day to day activities. Weight loss, kidney problems, and dehydration are possible with hyperemesis gravidarum. You are at higher risk for HG if your mother or sister experienced it, if you are pregnant with a girl, or if you had HG during a previous pregnancy. If you have HG, there are several things that your health care provider might suggest to help decrease nausea and vomiting. If you are vomiting to the point where you are unable to keep anything down, or you are losing weight, it is best to talk to your healthcare provider, and they will make further recommendations for your care.
There is No Cure
For the rest of you, there isn’t a cure for morning sickness. But there are several things that you can do to decrease nausea and vomiting. You may need to try several of these ideas or all of them together to combat the morning sickness.
14 Ways to Help Combat Morning Sickness
- Keep some crackers or dry cereal by your bed and before you even get up in the morning slowly eat a few. Getting out of bed on an empty stomach will often make nausea worse.
- Eat several small meals throughout the day. Try eating snacks that are high in protein, such as string cheese or peanut butter. High protein foods will help you feel full longer.
- Avoid foods if the smell bothers you. Food aversions often happen during pregnancy, and sometimes just a whiff of a particular food can cause you to heave.
- Try foods with ginger in them, such as real ginger ale, ginger pops, ginger tea, or candied ginger. Ginger has been used in Southeast Asia for thousands of years to soothe an upset stomach and has been found to have both anti-nausea effects and anti-gas effects. You can make ginger tea by taking peeled ginger, slicing it into strips (about two inches worth of ginger), and then boil it in one to two cups of hot water for 10 min or more, depending on how robust you want it. Add lemon and honey as desired. You can also purchase ginger tea where you would buy regular tea. You may be able to find ginger tea at a pharmacy.
- Lemon can sometimes help quell nausea. Try adding lemon to tea, water, or sucking on lemon drops.
- Avoid spicy foods. Spicy foods can upset your stomach and don’t feel very good coming back up.
- Exercise if you feel like you can. Exercising causes your blood to flow into your extremities and away from your stomach, which can decrease nausea. If you do exercise, it is especially important that you keep hydrated.
- Drink plenty of fluids! Not only can this help you feel better, but it is crucial to drink fluids so that you do not become dehydrated. Drinking sports drinks can help you replenish some of the electrolytes that you lose when you vomit. Be sure to drink fluids often, but in small amounts so you can keep it down. Icy drinks or popsicles may also help.
- Studies suggest that acupuncture can help reduce nausea and dry heaving during early pregnancy. Acupuncture is also used for other aches and pains during pregnancy such as pelvic pain.
- Acupressure specific for nausea may help. If you are interested in how to do this, check out this link. Acupressure bands for motion sickness may also help.
- Eating foods high in Vitamin B6. These include fish, beef liver (also high in iron!), meat, potatoes, bananas, and chickpeas.
- Ask your doctor about taking an antihistamine (such as those taken to treat motion sickness). This can help, but be sure to get the okay from your health care provider first.
- Try brushing your teeth before eating instead of after eating. Sometimes brushing your teeth will trigger a gag reflex.
- Get plenty of rest.
Now for a few other things.
Taking a prenatal vitamin during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester, is extremely important in the prevention of neural defects in your developing fetus. Often taking a prenatal vitamin might make you feel even more nauseous. If this is the case and you are unable to take or keep down your prenatal vitamin you need to talk to your provider immediately. Your provider may have alternative options for you.
It is important to discuss with your provider how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy. It can be challenging to gain weight if you have severe nausea or vomiting. Most of the time this isn’t too much of a concern. But if your nausea and vomiting extends much past your first trimester or causes you to lose weight, then it is imperative that you talk to your provider about it.
Morning Sickness Sucks
Morning sickness sucks. It just does. But morning sickness also means that you have a baby, your baby, growing inside of you, which is an amazing thing! So try the ideas listed above. Hopefully at least one will help and remember that most of the time, nausea and vomiting will decrease the further along you get so there is an end in sight. And as always, if you have more concerns about your morning sickness make sure that you check with your healthcare provider.
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