How can I cope with morning sickness?
How to Understand Morning Sickness
Morning sickness, also known as nausea/vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) affects over half of all pregnant women. It is characterized by feelings of nausea, although not all women actually vomit, and is usually accompanied by fatigue and listlessness. Typically, morning sickness occurs in the early hours of the morning and improves as the day progresses, but many women find that it can strike at any time, or even persist throughout the day.
In the majority of cases, the symptoms of morning sickness tend to subside after the first trimester (week thirteen of pregnancy) and pose no serious threat to either mother or baby. In fact, doctors suggest that morning sickness actually indicates a healthy pregnancy. However most women find the unrelenting waves of nausea and/or bouts of vomiting a highly unwelcome part of pregnancy. Understanding why this occurs can help to alleviate fears and concerns, as well as encourage acceptance of what is, essentially, a temporary state.
Accept the positive side of morning sickness.
- If you’re in the throes of being sick, hearing from your doctor that the sickness you’re experiencing is a positive thing might not be very comforting. But studies have shown that morning sickness often bodes towards a healthy pregnancy, with lower rates of miscarriages and stillbirths, compared to pregnancies with no nausea or vomiting.
- That doesn’t mean, however, that those women who experience no nausea in the early months of pregnancy should panic about being more likely to miscarry. A large percentage of them will go on to have perfectly normal pregnancies and births.
Understand the causes and conditions of morning sickness.Despite many studies on this subject, scientists have found themselves unable to agree on one specific factor that causes morning sickness. They have, however, isolated several possible causes:
- Hormonal changes may be the cause. Levels of estrogen and progesterone increase rapidly in pregnancy, so some experts have linked this rise to the incidence of morning sickness. Progesterone, in particular, can relax the muscles of the stomach and intestine, resulting in excess stomach acids and reflux. The hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is also a prime suspect, because hCG levels tend to peak around the same time as the nausea, although no one has been able to prove the link between the two. However, women pregnant with twins and multiples tend to have higher levels of hCG, and also experience more severe morning sickness.
- Fluctuating blood sugar levels may cause it. The placenta’s job is to drain the mother’s body of whatever energy and nutrients are required for the fetus to grow and thrive. This can sometimes result in a state of mild hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which some experts have linked to feelings of nausea.
- Enhanced sensitivity to smell could also cause morning sickness. It is commonly acknowledged that pregnant women develop an enhanced sense of smell and a sensitivity to odors, even those emanating from far away. It is thought that these smells can over-stimulate the normal nausea triggers in the body, and even set off the gag reflex.
- Instinctive protective reflexes may also cause the condition. That fact that morning sickness does not affect every healthy pregnancy has led scientists to debate hotly over whether it is a factor in ensuring a normal, healthy baby or if it could just be an unwelcome side effect of the natural processes taking place within the mother’s body. If that was the case, it should be apparent in all successful pregnancies. Also, morning sickness does not seem to occur in other mammals, even though the reproductive system is inherently similar.
Scientists who analyzed the triggers for nausea found that it is often felt in response to the sight, smell or taste of meat or strong-tasting vegetables – foods that historically were likely to contain food-borne microbes or chemicals that could induce birth defects. Substances like alcohol and cigarette smoke are also common culprits – even evoking negative responses from regular smokers or drinkers.
Morning sickness may actually be a kind of evolutionary protective mechanism, designed to keep mothers away from things that may be dangerous to their developing babies. If a woman with morning sickness does not feel like eating foods like poultry, meat or eggs (food which may potentially carry contamination) and instead favors low-risk foods like rice, bread and crackers, she unconsciously improves the chances of survival for her unborn child.
Women experiencing morning sickness usually report a peak in symptoms between week six and week eighteen of pregnancy, the precise period when embryonic organ development is most susceptible to chemical disruption.
Adopt coping strategies.Even if you know your morning sickness is a sign that your baby is developing normally and your pregnancy is a healthy one, it can still be hard to deal with. Here are some quick tips to help you combat the symptoms:
- Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day so your stomach is never empty.
- Avoid foods that trigger nausea and stick to those you can eat. It’s okay if your diet is temporarily a little unbalanced – getting some nutrition is better than none.
- Try to stay away from heavy, rich, spicy and deep-fried foods, which can irritate your stomach.
- Carry simple snacks like crackers or cereal bars with you at all times to avoid dips in blood sugar levels.
- Keep a small snack next to the bed so if you wake in the night, you have something to nibble on – this may help alleviate the first wave of nausea that hits in the morning.
- Ensure you stay hydrated by sipping on water or juice between meals. If you’ve been vomiting a lot, try a sports drink that will replace the sugars and salts you have lost.
- Try to rest as much as possible, as tiredness can exacerbate the feeling of sickness.
- Try ginger ale or ginger tea – ginger is said to settle the stomach and help ease nausea. Keeping a couple of ginger biscuits by the bed to eat as soon as you wake up (before you get up) can also help. Or ask your healthcare provider to recommend a ginger supplement.
- Consider trying acupressure, which involves wearing bands on your forearms to apply pressure to specific points, said to relieve symptoms of morning sickness.
QuestionIf you have sex and start vomiting after 3 days, what is the cause?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe two instances are not likely related. Morning sickness from pregnancy doesn't usually occur until about six weeks after conception.Thanks!
QuestionIt's my first month, I missed my period and I have been having morning sickness. How long in the pregnancy can I get sick?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe first trimester of pregnancy is when most women develop morning sickness. The first trimester lasts around your first 3 months of pregnancy.Thanks!
QuestionIt is normal to vomit after every meal, even water, during pregnancy?Community AnswerThis amount of vomiting sounds excessive. Please make an appointment to see your doctor.Thanks!
QuestionIs lack of morning sickness during pregnancy normal or does it indicate low hormonal levels?Top AnswererIt is perfectly normal. Even though morning sickness occurs in about 80-90% of pregnancies, there are some women who experience no morning sickness at all. It's healthy and normal and does not indicate a problem. You do not have a higher risk of miscarriage.Thanks!
- If your morning sickness is particularly severe, and you find yourself unable to keep anything down, you may be suffering from an extreme form of the condition, known as Hyperemesis gravidarum, which affects around one in a hundred pregnant women. This condition carries a risk of dehydration and weight loss, alkalosis (drop in blood acidity) and hypokalemia (low blood potassium). If you are worried that you may be suffering from Hyperemesis gravidarum, contact your healthcare provider straight away, as you may require immediate treatment or even hospitalization.
Video: Cures and remedies for morning sickness during pregnancy
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