6 Ways to Treat Morning Sickness
It’s very common for women to experience morning sickness during pregnancy.
Research shows around 80 per cent of mums-to-be will have some nausea and 50 per cent will have vomiting during the first trimester. Although the term “morning sickness” can be misleading, because it can hit any time, day or night, sometimes it can happen all day and for some women it extends well beyond the first trimester.
Even though it’s unpleasant and can unfortunately have an impact on your quality of life, rest assured no harm will come to your baby. However, there are cases where immediate medical treatment should be sought. If you cannot keep any food or liquids down over a 24-hour period, have very dark urine, have a high temperature or feel weak and dizzy, please call your midwife, obstetrician or GP for advice immediately. You may have “hyperemesis gravidarum”, a condition that occurs in one per cent of pregnancies.
Morning sickness symptoms
Often thought of as one of the first pregnancy symptoms, morning sickness:
- Typically begins in week two to four and usually tapers off around week 12
- Can occur at any time, day or night
- Symptoms are nausea and/or vomiting. Many women have nausea without ever vomiting
- Has individual triggers. It could be the smell of certain foods, being tired or even brushing your teeth. Triggers can come out of the blue and can seem very peculiar.
What causes morning sickness?
Nobody knows for certain but it is thought that hormone surges during pregnancy, blood pressure fluctuations, carbohydrate metabolism and the bodily chemical changes could be contributing factors.
Here are some suggestions to try to alleviate symptoms:
Eat small meals, often
Even though you might feel ill at the very thought of food, not eating can make your symptoms worse. Keep a variety of snacks on hand – in your car, in your handbag, in your work drawer – and eat before you go out. Heavy meals, and fatty or spicy foods are often triggers for nausea, so eat slightly blander when you’re going through a stage of nauseousness You may also stomach cold meals better than hot ones.
Being dehydrated can make symptoms worse. If you can’t tolerate water, try slowly chewing on ice blocks, drinking ginger ale or weak tea, or sucking an icy pole.
Eat before you get out of bed
Preventing nausea is even better than easing it. One way to do this is to make sure you ‘break the fast’ before you get out of bed. Many women find nibbling on plain or salty dry crackers stops the morning waves of nausea.
Take care lying down
Some women find propping their head and shoulders up with a few pillows helps. Try elevating yourself at least 15cm. And take your time getting up. This is particularly important in the morning, so allow yourself plenty of time to get ready and don’t force yourself to jump out of bed immediately if you don’t feel up to it.
This tried and true method has been recommended for centuries and is thought to work by soothing the digestive system and reducing inflammation. Freshly brewed tea with grated ginger and hot water is the best option, but ginger ale, store-bought ginger tea and ginger biscuits may also help.
Some women may find vitamin B6 supplements ease their symptoms. However, we recommend seeking your doctor’s advice before taking any supplements, as high doses can be harmful. You can also eat more vitamin B6-rich foods, such as chickpeas, salmon, chicken breast, potatoes and bananas.
There are many other tricks that could work for you, including:
- Acupressure, particularly on the wrists
- Asking someone else to prepare meals if the smell of cooking food is off-putting
- Wearing loose-fitting pants
- Taking regular short naps and getting plenty of night-time sleep.
If you are concerned about your morning sickness, contact your midwife, obstetrician or GP. Seek medical advice before taking any medications.
At St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital, we provide a comprehensive maternity care service beginning with the first antenatal stages of your pregnancy. Find out about our maternity services here.