“What can I do about morning sickness? Do I just have to wait it out or can I take action?”
We are often asked these questions and we thought it would be useful to put together a guide that might help you to cope if you are suffering with morning sickness.
Many women experience morning sickness during early pregnancy. There are varying degrees of sickness, not everyone is sick, and it may not occur in the morning! Generally morning sickness goes away by week 14, although 1 in 10 women will continue to feel sick after week 20.
There are several things you can do to try to eliminate morning sickness:
Double Check Your Diagnosis
This is the first thing you should do! Sometimes the symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency can be mistaken for morning sickness, as can stomach upsets or other medical conditions. It is important to mention your sickness to your GP or midwife so they can check for other causes. Often in these cases other symptoms will also be present, such as diarrhoea or a rash or swollen tongue in B6 deficiency.
If you are deficient in B6, or think it wouldn’t help to try to increase your uptake, it can be found in beans, nuts, lean meat and fish. Pregnancy vitamins also tend to contain B6 as levels are often low in pregnancy.
The Power Of Ginger
Some studies show that eating ginger can help with morning sickness, you can buy crystalised ginger from supermarkets or health food stores, or even add ginger to your meals. This has been shown not to have any side effects for either you or baby, and is a cheap solution to those who benefit. However, if you decide to take a supplement rather than adding ginger to the diet, it may be advisable to speak to a healthcare practitioner.
Other herbal supplements such as raspberry leaf, camomile and peppermint are sometimes advertised as treatment for morning sickness, however, their efficacy has yet to be proven.,
Acupressure or Acupuncture
Studies show that acupuncture may help reduce morning sickness in some women. The point used is P6, which is commonly cited as 3 fingers down from the inside of the wrist in both hands. You may go to a licensed acupuncturist to try this, or buy ‘sea sickness bands’. If you are not sure whether this will work for you, try using a plaster to tape down a bead to the point.
There are some medications available on prescription to help ease morning sickness, including antihistamines (anti allergy tablets) and tablets based on vitamin B6. There are different options to discuss with your doctor. Some will have side effects – but it is nothing like the thalidomide scandal in the past.
Stress has been shown to make morning sickness worse, as does focusing on it! Working out a way of destressing (maybe a pregnancy massage, foot rub or a good film), a break from work or asking for a hand with household chores can help. Some women find counselling helpful.
Adapt Your Diet
Nausea (a feeling of sickness) is often worse when the stomach is empty. So try to eat before you feel hungry. Avoid anything that may irritate the stomach; trying to eat a bland, dry carbohydrate based, low fat diet can help (ryvita, toast, jacket potatoes, sweet potato, pasta, rice with small amounts of vegetables). Smaller meals or a series of snacks may go down better than the traditional 3 meals per day.
Some women find eating a small meal of protein or salty food helpful.
Prevention is better than cure!
There is evidence to suggest that taking a multivitamin when trying to conceive, and continuing to take one during early pregnancy reduces the risk of morning sickness!
If you suffer from morning sickness it is vital to replace any lost fluids. Drinking plenty is always helpful; try water or an isotonic sports drink, as that will also help you replace lost salts and vitamins. Maybe try a ginger beer?!? However, if you continue to lose fluids, or your urine becomes dark or you begin to lose weight you must speak to your GP as morning sickness may develop into hyperemesis gravidarum – which needs to be treated immediately.