Pregnancy is an undeniably exciting and monumental experience, individual to each and every woman the world over. Throughout their nine months of pregnancy, women will encounter many life-changing firsts: the first kick, the first heartbeat, the first scan. These milestones are pure magic, but that’s not say that pregnancy doesn’t present its unique challenges.
But what actually is morning sickness, and what can you do to alleviate the (at times) debilitating symptoms? We’re here to debunk the myths, get the facts straight and help you manage your morning sickness symptoms, ensuring that your pregnancy continues to be the magical journey you always dreamed of.
Pregnancy-related nausea, or morning sickness as it commonly referred to, is any form of nausea and vomiting that occurs during pregnancy. Despite its name, morning sickness can actually affect women at any time of the day but tends to take place during the first trimester – that is, from the first day of your last period until the end of week 12. Like many of life’s challenges for women, morning sickness is thought to be caused by hormones. The hormone responsible is called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) and is produced by the placenta. Women experiencing pregnancy will begin producing HCG soon after a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. It’s thought that a number of risk factors can mean women are more likely to experience morning sickness, such as being pregnant with twins, a tendency to experience motion sickness and a history of migraine headaches.
Unfortunately morning sickness can strike at any time of day, but it is thought that it earned its name because it often occurs when women have an empty stomach. When you wake after 8 hours sleep, it’s normal for your stomach to be grumbling due to hunger, and it’s this feeling that often contributes to pregnancy-related nausea.
If you’ve been struggling with persistent morning sickness throughout your pregnancy, it’s not uncommon to feel helpless and alone, especially if your symptoms don’t seem to be subsiding or are in fact getting progressively worse. It can be frustrating, and with no established treatment for eliminating morning sickness, some women can feel that their options are limited. Luckily there are a number of natural, holistic and medical options at your disposal:
Drinking your 3 litres daily for optimum health is important even if you aren’t pregnant, but if you’re up against a nasty bout of morning sickness, chugging your water couldn’t be more key. Frequent vomiting can lead to dehydration, which will only make your symptoms feel worse.
Most of us have heard a pregnant woman complaining about a certain smell or flavour of food that they just can’t stomach or be around. When it comes to aromas, woman experience a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy, so things they used to love to get a whiff of (think a freshly brewed coffee or your favourite perfume) now leave them feeling queasy. If you are struggling with morning sickness, it’s worthwhile to ensure you carry a journal around with you to keep note of any smells or flavours that you just can’t seem to stomach. This will make it easier for you to avoid them and will help you to alleviate your symptoms.
If you’re into your vitamins and supplements, you may be aware that vitamin B6 is a tried and tested remedy for morning sickness. While it can’t prevent vomiting, it can help to reducing pregnancy-related nausea. This powerhouse vitamin works by supporting our bodies to process certain amino acids and studies have even revealed that women suffering from morning sickness presented lower levels of vitamin B6 in their blood. A daily supplement is a tried and tested way to ward off that queasy feeling, plus it boasts other benefits such as supporting a healthy nervous and immune system.
You may never have considered or even heard of these treatments, but they can work wonders when it comes to managing morning sickness. Both techniques rely on gentle pressure or minuscule needles to target certain nerve centres in the body – and if you’re looking for a quick fix, studies have shown that women will begin to notice a reduction in feelings of nausea by the second week.
Exercise might be the last thing on your mind, and it might seem counterintuitive with regards to tackling morning sickness, but there is some evidence to suggest that regular, gentle exercise can help you beat that queasy feeling. Just 20 minutes a day of something light (think a brisk walk or relaxing swim) can be enough. That’s because, as we know, exercise releases endorphins, which can actually reduce feelings of nausea.
Morning sickness can be frustrating and difficult to manage, but in most cases, it is something that will clear up naturally without any excessive medical intervention. Having said that, it is thought that around 3% of women will experience severe morning sickness, medically referred to as Hyperemesis Gravidarum. This can be dangerous and can result in dehydration and malnourishment. Signs of severe morning sickness include morning sickness that persists throughout the entire day, not being able to keep anything in the stomach and vomit that is either brown or streaked with blood. If you are dealing with any of these symptoms, you should call your doctor immediately.
Pregnancy-related nausea may feel like a minefield, but we hope that this blog has helped you find some light at the end of the (at times unbearable) tunnel that is morning sickness. It’s comforting to know that there are steps you can take to manage your morning sickness, and we hope you find the combination of strategies that works for you. Remember to lean on friends and family who have experienced pregnancy too. They can be your greatest source of strength when it comes to pregnancy problems – and try to remember, this journey is a gift, even when it doesn’t feel like it!