Morning sickness in some form affects about half of all pregnant
women, usually in the early stages pregnancy, from 1 to 12-16 weeks.
It can take the form of a feeling of general un-wellness, nausea
or actual vomiting, and can occur at any time of the day.
There is not one clear cause of morning sickness, but it appears
that the symptoms are probably caused by either large numbers of
hormones being released into the body, changes in blood pressure
or changes in the digestive system.
Although morning sickness usually stops around the 12th to 16th
week, it can persist through to the last few weeks of the pregnancy
without causing any major damage to mother or baby. 'Morning' sickness
does not necessarily occur in the morning, it is an umbrella term
for feelings of nausea and vomiting at any time.
Morning sickness can take a variety of forms. Some women find that
they feel a little unwell at some time during the day, and that
no special action is required to combat the symptoms. Others find
that they vomit more than once a day, and that they feel ill for
most of the day.
There are a number of remedies for morning sickness, not all of
which work for every pregnant woman, and some of which suit different
degrees of symptoms.
Classic morning sickness - the feeling of nausea first thing in
the morning can be caused by the action of moving first thing in
the morning on an empty stomach. A solution to this is to eat some
simple food, like a dry biscuit, water biscuit or piece of toast
before rising in the morning.
Morning nausea can also be helped by eating something like cereal
with milk last thing before going to sleep. Milk is useful because
it is difficult to digest, so keeps the intestines active for longer.
Food can be a trigger for feelings of nausea; some women find the
sight of some foods can cause feelings of nausea. Others find that
it is the smell of food causes a feeling of queasiness. As well
as avoiding cooking (a good excuse to get Dad-to-be to practise
his culinary skills!) try buying foods that need little preparing
and therefore are likely to have so strong a smell.
Other smells can also cause problems; some women find that perfumed
products such as soaps and washing products, or the smell of cigarette
smoke, make them feel sick, so avoidance is probably the best cure.
There are some general rules to keep to that should help prevent
feelings of nausea, or reduce these feelings if they occur.
- Keep fluids in the system, even if it is only water that is drunk.
Drink little and often rather than glassfuls at a time.
- Other fluids may be useful in combating feelings of nausea. Tea
or herbal teas can be helpful, especially mint flavoured varieties.
Fizzy drinks are known to settle the stomach, and some women find
that lemon varieties are particularly effective
- Don't worry too much about eating a healthy diet at this time
in the pregnancy. It is better to eat something, whether or not
it is healthy, and keep it down, rather than eating nothing for
fear of putting on weight.
- Some women find that B vitamins are useful to combat the feeling
of morning sickness, although it is sensible to consult a GP before
taking any new supplements, especially during pregnancy.
- Ginger in any form is reputedly helpful in stopping nausea and
sickness. There are a variety of ways to get ginger into the diet.
Root ginger is sold in health food shops and can be grated and chewed
whenever necessary. Ginger tea is available, and can be drunk either
hot or cold. Some women find that ginger biscuits are a good dual-action
remedy, as they are a simple food that should not upset the stomach
as well as introducing ginger into the diet. Similarly dual natured
is ginger marmalade, as it can be added to bread or biscuits.
- Eating little and often is also helpful, as hunger can make the
symptoms of morning sickness more severe, and eating whatever interests
rather than the set food for the time of day is also a way of keeping
some food in the system. For example, cereal with milk is a good
food source for pregnant women because of the high calcium and fibre
content, regardless of whether it is breakfast time or not.
- Avoid eating fatty, rich or spicy foods if morning sickness is
a problem, as these types of foods can trigger symptoms. Individual
foods can also cause problems, so keeping a diary of food eaten
and any effects noticed can be a useful way of linking foods to
-If at all possible, sleep whenever it feels necessary. Tiredness
can make morning sickness feel worse, and short naps can help combat
- Glucose sweets can be a good way to stop feelings of nausea,
and also help keep the blood sugar levels up. Sweets can be kept
in the car, desk drawer or handbag and used in emergency situations.
Many women find that alternative therapies such as reflexology,
acupuncture and homeopathy can provide relief from the symptoms
of morning sickness, and sometimes stop the condition from occurring
The simplest form of relief can be found from wearing an acupressure
wristband. These are designed to combat travel sickness, but have
been found to be very effective, as they press onto a pressure point
and stop feelings of nausea.
Reflexology is also helpful. This may be due to its relaxing nature,
but some women find that putting pressure on certain parts of the
feet can reduce feelings of sickness.
Homeopathic remedies such as Ipecacuanha and Phosphorus are used
to great effect by women suffering from morning sickness. It is
wise to consult a homeopath before using remedies, as some are not
recommended for pregnant women.
Herbal remedies are also helpful. Hop tea, black hawhound or mint-flavoured
teas have a calming effect on the stomach.
While morning sickness can be very unpleasant, as long as some solid
food can be kept down there should be no danger to either mother
or baby. If food and fluids cannot be kept down, a GP should be
consulted, as this can be a sign of hyperemesis gravidarum. This
is a condition that causes severe vomiting in the first 20 weeks
of pregnancy, and affects the system so severely that no food or
drink can be kept down at all. Severe hyperemesis gravidarum often
means hospitalisation, as dehydration can be a problem with persistent
vomiting. The hospital will also be able to monitor the condition
of the baby as well as the mother during this period of stress.
This condition should not harm the growing baby, and hospital treatment,
if necessary, is very effective at stopping severe vomiting, and
keeping other symptoms to a minimum.
As unpleasant as morning sickness can be, it is often a good sign,
as it means that the baby and its surrounding environment are developing
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