Your morning sickness survival guide
Morning sickness (nausea and vomiting) is a frequent and troublesome symptom of early pregnancy.
The cause is still uncertain but the changing hormone levels in pregnancy have been postulated. It is most common during early pregnancy (from approximately four weeks) and may occur throughout the day. By mid-pregnancy (20 weeks) the condition should have resolved.
Women who complain of symptoms have been accused of being hysterical, or attention seekers. While psychological and social factors probably do not cause the problem, they may certainly affect it’s clinical expression.
The spectrum of nausea and vomiting ranges from troublesome but manageable nausea to severe vomiting called hyperemesis gravidarum. This infrequent complication may cause dehydration, electrolyte disturbances and organ damage. In such cases admission to hospital is necessary. Thus hyperemesis gravidarum can endanger the health of both the mother and her foetus.
Advice for the prevention and treatment of morning sickness
- Eat small and frequent meals - Hunger seems to heighten the nausea, and then eating to appease the hunger exaggerates it. This means eating a small amount about every two hours.
- Eat in bed - Eat dry crackers before getting out of bed each morning.
- Exercise regularly – Exercise, such as walking, aids digestion and prevents nausea.
- Eat low-fat, bland foods – Examples are unbuttered rice, potatoes, noodles, crackers, toast, cereal, unbuttered cooked vegetables, soft fruits (especially bananas), poached or boiled eggs, and most soups.
- Try ginger - Drink ginger ale or ginger tea (boil ginger root in water and strain, serve with honey) or eat ginger snaps.
- Try peppermint - Either smelling it in aromatherapy form or sipping the tea can help curb nausea.
- Vitamin B - A daily dose of vitamin B6 supplement has been found to be of benefit.
- Drink a soothing beverage – Drink a fruit juice or flat soda when nausea strikes.
Avoid common triggers
- Strong smells – open windows or use the extractor fan when you cook to get rid of odours
- Greasy foods – they take longer to digest
- Spicy foods
- Alcohol or tobacco
- Stress – it provokes morning sickness too. So when possible, dodge the rat race. Rest often. If possible, catnap during the day. Sometimes a little peace and quiet is all you need to nip the nausea.
What can your partner do?
He can help by offering support and sympathy. Take over the jobs that are likely to heighten nausea, such as cooking the meals, feeding baby number one or the dog, nappy changing, grocery shopping or cleaning the bathroom. Help her to avoid fatigue, as that can worsen symptoms. Encourage her to get as much rest as possible.