Everything you wanted to know about morning sickness and tackling it

Morning Sickness in Pregnancy, Treatment & Symptoms

If you have always dreamt of enjoying a glamorous pregnancy, something that celebrity moms seem to boast of, it’s time for a reality check! The excitement of a pregnancy is often balanced by the tiredness and discomfort that come with morning sickness. While nausea and vomiting are quite common during this phase, especially during the first few months, it might leave you irritated, weak and disillusioned. The extent to which a woman might suffer from morning sickness varies from one to another. However, the good news is that, there are plenty of homely ways to tackle the situation and go about your life. To know more, read on.

When does morning sickness occur?

Morning sickness is commonly seen during the first trimester. It begins around the 6th week of pregnancy and eases out after the 12th week of pregnancy. However, contrary to its name, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day.

Why do you experience morning sickness during pregnancy?

Pregnancy is, without a doubt, a hormonal roller-coaster, and morning sickness is one of the side-effects. If you’re wondering how, here’s a closer look. While the exact reason for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is not yet known, the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a pregnancy hormone, is thought to be the biggest contributing factor.

Other hormones, specifically oestrogen and progesterone, have also been found to cause nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Oestrogen is said to cause morning sickness by slowing down the time taken for food to pass through the digestive system. Progesterone also partners with oestrogen and aggravates nausea and vomiting.

A woman is more likely to develop nausea and vomiting during pregnancy if she:

  • Has conceived twins or triplets
  • Has had severe nausea and vomiting in a previous pregnancy
  • Tends to get motion sickness (like car sickness)
  • Has migraine or gets headaches
  • Has felt sick after using contraceptives containing oestrogen
  • Is pregnant for the first time
  • Is obese
  • Is under stress
  • Belongs to a family in which morning sickness is heredity (runs in the family)

Is morning sickness harmful?

Generally, morning sickness does not harm your health or your baby. However, if you are unable to eat and hold down any food/fluids, it can lead to weight loss. This can, in turn, impact the baby’s birth weight.

Here are a few red flags that you should keep an eye out for:

  • Infrequent, dark-coloured urine
  • Feeling of light-headedness or dizziness after standing
  • Repeated vomiting throughout the day, particularly if there is presence of blood in the vomit
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain or cramping
  • Unable to keep down any food or drink for more than 12 hours
  • Weight loss of more than 2.3 kg
  • Fever or loose stools (diarrhoea)

Can food and diet help tackle morning sickness?

Yes, there are a few dietary and lifestyle changes that can help manage nausea and vomiting.

Food

  • Avoid staying on an empty stomach as it aggravates nausea. Eat before, or as soon as you feel hungry.
  • On the other hand, avoid an overly full stomach as well. Plan small, frequent meals (every one to two hours).
  • Avoid skipping meals, eating forcefully, or consuming large meals.
  • A snack (such as biscuits or rusk) at bedtime and just before getting out of bed is useful.
  • Ensure that you eat meals and snacks slowly and rest after eating.
  • Avoid lying down, especially on the left side, immediately after meals.
  • Avoid food that is either extremely spicy, acidic or has a strong aroma.
  • Foods high in fat or sugar can trigger nausea.
  • Try peppermint (tea or candy) to reduce nausea after eating.
  • Sucking on small bits of ice or frozen fruits may be helpful.
  • Cold foods may be better than hot food as they have less odour/aroma.
  • Ginger (lollipops, tea, drinks with ginger) relieves nausea during pregnancy.
  • Try banana, rice, apple sauce, and toast (B.R.A.T diet) as they are bland, easy to digest foods.

Fluids

  • Make sure that you are well-hydrated always.
  • Ensure that fluids are consumed at least 30 minutes before or after solid foods to avoid the feeling of fullness.
  • Cold, clear, and carbonated or sour drinks such as lime juice or fresh lime soda may ease your symptoms.
  • Lemon or mint tea can help a few women.

Dine in a well-ventilated area so that odours do not trigger your nausea. Bear in mind that stuffy rooms, odours (such as perfumes, chemicals, smoke), heat, humidity can act as triggers for morning sickness. If it is feasible, you can ask someone else to cook for you, open the windows, or turn on fans. Small changes in habits such as brushing your teeth after a meal, spitting out saliva, and frequently washing out the mouth can also prevent the onset of nausea and vomiting. Last but not the least; sniffing lemon or ginger is also a great idea!

Wrapping up

Most women experience morning sickness or nausea and vomiting during early pregnancy or throughout the 9 months. It is mostly caused by hormonal changes that are associated with pregnancy and get resolved after the 12th week of pregnancy. However, certain changes in diet and lifestyle, as discussed above, can help ease the symptoms of morning sickness and help you have an easier first trimester.