While pregnancy is an exciting time for soon-to-be mothers, waiting for the new baby to arrive comes with its fair share of issues.
Along with back pain, bladder problems, and fatigue (to name a few), morning sickness is another health issue pregnant women can add to the list of things they have to deal with. But don't fret, there are lots of remedies that can help you deal with any pregnancy-induced nausea or vomiting.
Morning sickness is one of the most common health issues women face during pregnancy, with 70-80% of women experiencing morning sickness during pregnancy, so you're not alone. Even royalty like Kate Middleton and celebrities like Beyoncé have suffered from morning sickness.
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What Causes Nausea During Pregnancy?
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can be caused by different things for different women and health professionals are often unable to work out exactly what causes morning sickness in their patients. Here are a few possible causes:
Pregnancy Hormones: Changing hormone levels that occur during pregnancy are thought to be the main cause of morning sickness.
Increased Levels Of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): hCG levels usually spike at the peak of your morning sickness. It is thought that hCG doesn't cause morning sickness itself, but it stimulates estrogen production which causes nausea. The good news is that high levels of hCG can be a sign that your placenta is healthy and growing well.
Increased Levels Of Estrogen And Progesterone: These hormones relax the digestive system which could play a role in feeling nauseous.
Vitamin B6 Deficiency: Morning sickness may also be linked to not having enough vitamin B6 which you can find in many fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Low Blood Pressure: Alongside low blood pressure, there are many other underlying factors that could be contributing to your nausea so it's important to get help from a health professional if your symptoms don't subside.
Morning Sickness Symptoms
It's an understatement to say that the name morning sickness is a bit misleading. Anyone who has experienced or is experiencing morning sickness knows that this nausea and vomiting can strike at any time of the day. In fact, less than 2% of women experience morning sickness solely in the morning. Some people feel it the worst in the afternoon or evening, while some especially unlucky people have constant nausea all day. Some women are lucky enough not to experience any nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, and this too is normal and not a cause for concern. The main symptoms of morning sickness are:
Feeling Nauseous Or Queasy: The feeling may be similar to motion sickness and can occur at any time of day. Hunger pangs may also occur during or after feeling nauseous.
Vomiting Or Dry Retching: Your nausea may be so severe as to cause you to vomit or dry retch.
Nausea Triggered By Food: You may feel nauseous after you eat or smell certain foods.
You should seek medical advice if your nausea or vomiting is severe and persistent, you can't digest liquids, your heart is racing, you are only passing small, dark amounts of urine or you feel faint when standing up.
What Are The Worst Weeks For Morning Sickness?
The worst weeks for morning sickness are usually from about six to 12 weeks of pregnancy and it often peaks during weeks eight to 10. So thankfully, a lot of women will be done with morning sickness by the end of their first trimester.
Most women begin experiencing nausea and/or vomiting at roughly nine weeks and morning sickness is likely to be its worst during the peak weeks. Morning sickness completely stops for about 50% of women by week 14 of pregnancy, and by around 20 weeks for 90% of women.
Severe Morning Sickness: Severe morning sickness can cause significant weight loss, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance. If you have severe morning sickness or your morning sickness lasts more than 12 weeks, it is important to talk to a health professional.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a very severe form of morning sickness that only affects around 2% of pregnant women. Women with this condition will experience nausea and vomiting that can cause significant weight loss and dehydration due to a lack of appetite. The marker for HG is when a mother loses 5% of her pre-pregnancy weight.
Before treating your morning sickness symptoms, it's important to work out if your condition is morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum. This type of morning sickness requires medical treatment and some women who develop the condition end up in the hospital and treated with intravenous (IV) fluids and anti-nausea medications. Hyperemesis gravidarum is the second leading cause of hospitalization for pregnant women and if you don't seek help for HG, this condition could impact the health of your baby.
If you experience HG during pregnancy, you are more likely to develop the condition in future pregnancies. While health professionals do not know for sure what the cause of HG is, some risk factors are thought to include conceiving at a young age, carrying twins, being overweight, having a family history of the condition, and stress.
Top Tips For Morning Sickness
Here are some top tips to manage your morning sickness symptoms.
Pay Attention To Your Diet: Aim for easy-to-digest foods that are protein-dense and low in fat. Bland food such as bananas, rice, and bread are also a good option for easing your stomach into digesting food while you're feeling nauseous. Try to avoid eating foods that are spicy, greasy, and very fatty as they can upset your stomach even more.
Eat Small Meals And Snacks Throughout The Day: Eating small meals and snacks a few times a day is preferable over eating the usual three big meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A big meal may make your morning sickness worse as it is harder to keep it down.
Make Sure You Eat Enough: Not eating enough can also make your morning sickness worse. Your stomach produces hydrochloric acid to break down your food and when you don't eat, this acid builds up and can cause nausea and acid reflux which is definitely not what you need.
Stay Hydrated: It's important to make sure you are getting plenty of fluids, but drinking too much at once can make your morning sickness worse. Take small sips of water throughout the day and if you struggle to drink water straight, try decaffeinated tea.
Avoid Foods That Trigger Your Morning Sickness: During pregnancy, you may experience a heightened sense of smell and taste due to increased levels of estrogen in your body, so make sure to stay far away from foods that make you feel queasy to prevent upsetting your stomach.
Wash Your Mouth After Vomiting: Make sure you wash your mouth after you've been sick as the acid from your stomach stays on your teeth. Rinse your mouth out with water, diluted mouth wash, and one teaspoon of baking soda, and then spit. Wait about half an hour before you brush your teeth as brushing too quickly just moves the acid around your mouth and rubs it into your teeth.
Morning Sickness Remedies
While these remedies may help a pregnant woman feel less sick and might help you to cope with morning sickness, your health and your baby's health is your first priority, so make sure you contact a health professional before trying any of these nausea remedies.
Anti-Nausea Medication: Your doctor may prescribe you anti-nausea medication that is safe for you and your baby if you have severe morning sickness and the symptoms persist. Prescribed medications may include antihistamines, phenothiazine, metoclopramide, or antacids.
Vitamin B6: Your doctor might suggest that you start to take Vitamin B6 supplements if your morning sickness symptoms don't get better. Check with your doctor before you take any supplements or medications during pregnancy.
Ginger: Ginger has been used as medicine for hundreds of years and is thought to be potentially as effective at treating nausea as some anti-nausea medications. It is safest to stick to less than 1500 mg per day to prevent any side effects. Keep in mind that ginger ale can actually make your nausea worse so it's best to stay away from this and any other fizzy drinks.
Alternative Treatments: Acupressure, acupuncture, hypnosis, and aromatherapy are alternative medicines that are often said to help with morning sickness and might be worth looking into if nothing else is helping. Check with your doctor before you try any alternative treatments.
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