Morning sickness can be unpleasant, challenging and for a few women, a source of health concerns and complications during their pregnancy. Though the experience is different for each woman, morning sickness is defined as any nausea or vomiting that occurs during pregnancy. Every pregnancy journey is unique and different, and the same can certainly be said for morning sickness. For most women though, morning sickness will begin in the first trimester, and typically begins before 9 weeks. Most women will notice their symptoms reduce and subside by 3 months, but for some women, morning sickness can persist throughout their entire pregnancy.
Despite its name, morning sickness can occur during anytime of the day, evening or night, but may be referred to as ‘morning sickness’ because women may experience nausea first thing in the morning when they haven’t eaten. Nausea and sickness are the common symptoms associated with morning sickness, but some women may experience other symptoms including dizziness, loss of appetite and an aversion to certain foods and smells.
Most women can manage their symptoms at home through a variety of natural methods or over the counter medications, but women who struggle with their symptoms can seek support from health professionals. Like most things in pregnancy, morning sickness will vary in frequency and severity for every woman, but for some morning sickness can be severe, persistent and concerning. Women who experience persistent sickness, an inability to keep down food or water and nausea that lasts all day may have hyperemesis gravidarum, a serious form of morning sickness that can mean a woman needs urgent medical attention and, in some cases, hospitalisation. Hyperemesis gravidarum can result in dehydration for some women, which can be dangerous during pregnancy, so women should speak to their doctor or any other health professional if they have concerns about their morning sickness.
Experiencing morning sickness and any pregnancy symptoms can be debilitating and difficult to manage, so it’s important that pregnant women recognise and lean into the support systems that are around them throughout their pregnancy journey. Whether that be from friends and family, health professionals or support in the community, there are always ways to reach out and rely on those around you during your journey through morning sickness.
A trigger is anything that can exasperate, worsen, or cause your morning sickness. Expectant mothers are likely to experience a multitude of triggers that bring on their morning sickness – some that are common and others that may be specific to them and their lifestyle or environment. Being aware and mindful of your triggers, especially in the first trimester, is important.
Knowing your triggers will help you to manage and overcome your pregnancy symptoms and can support both your mental and physical health throughout your pregnancy. Around two thirds of women will experience morning sickness, and in the first trimester this is likely to be caused by rising and fluctuating hormones. Medical research has revealed that nausea and vomiting during pregnancy could be caused by a hormone that is produced by the placenta called human chorionic gonadotropin. Essentially though, the root cause of morning sickness is largely unknown, but there are certain things that are thought to be key ‘triggers’ for morning sickness – both physical and chemical.
Pregnancy affects your body in many ways, but women with low blood sugar are thought to be at higher risk when it comes to experiencing morning sickness. Similarly, blood pressure fluctuations can occur during pregnancy which may results in bouts of morning sickness. While the physical changes taking place in your body are often unavoidable, environmental triggers are often responsible for episodes of morning sickness and luckily these can be managed more easily. Any women who have experienced stress and anxiety brought on by the stresses of daily life know that sometimes this can result in feelings of nausea and sickness, and pregnancy anxiety is extremely common. Concerns about your baby, health and labour are normal and can potentially trigger sickness and pregnancy nausea.
Unfortunately, stress can result in a reduced appetite and a lack of sleep for some people, both of which have also been identified as being triggers for morning sickness, meaning managing stress throughout pregnancy is of paramount importance.
Many women also find that their morning sickness worsens when they eat (or even just smell) certain foods. These could be foods or smells that you often enjoy in your home, which means that sometimes making adaptations to your lifestyle is important for managing your morning sickness. Whatever your triggers may be, it’s important to recognise that you can make changes and take steps to manage your morning sickness.
The first question most women who experience morning sickness want answered is this – what will provide me with relief?
Because pregnancy symptoms vary from woman to woman, it’s important to recognise that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Morning sickness relief comes in many forms, and it’s important to find what works for you when it comes to managing your pregnancy symptoms.
For mild morning sickness, most women will find some relief when they adopt a variety of different lifestyle changes. As most expectant mothers know, the pregnancy process can be draining and exhausting, both physically and mentally. Because of this, ensuring that you are having adequate rest not only helps to ensure your pregnancy is healthy, but it can also help you manage your nausea and sickness.
For lots of women, foods and smells can be huge triggers for their morning sickness. To manage this, making adaptations to your eating habits and diet can help with morning sickness. Consider opting for mild, low-fat, and easily digestible foods. Plain crackers, toast, rice, and bananas are examples of gentle, easily digested foods that may help ease nausea.
You may also see benefits when you avoid greasy, spicy, or strongly flavoured foods that could trigger symptoms. While you may have to remove certain foods from your diet when your morning sickness flares up, adding in ingredients can also help you manage your symptoms. Ginger has long been hailed a morning sickness remedy powerhouse thanks to its natural anti-nausea properties that can help soothe an upset stomach. You can try ginger in various forms, such as ginger tea, ginger candies, or ginger capsules, all of which will help you reap the benefits of this all-natural ingredient.
For some expectant mothers experiencing more severe or long-lasting morning sickness, acupressure bands can yield good results. These wristbands work by applying pressure to specific acupressure points, such as those used for motion sickness, and they may help relieve morning sickness for some women. The bands can be used throughout the day or night, depending on when your morning sickness peaks and worsens.
Suffering with morning sickness can be a stressful and isolating experience, which is why it’s so important you take steps to promote your general health and wellbeing. Stepping outside for some fresh air or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or prenatal yoga may help reduce morning sickness symptoms. Whatever works for you, seek solutions to your morning sickness that are gentle, soothing and help you to feel your best.