Pregnancy can be an incredible and exciting time, but nothing puts a damper on that initial glow like morning sickness. As many 90 percent of pregnant women experience morning sickness and it’s often one of the first signs of pregnancy.
Exactly how morning sickness manifests varies from woman to woman. About half of pregnant women suffer from vomiting in the early weeks of pregnancy, while many more experience nausea without vomiting. Some women experience symptoms only in the early part of the day, while other women suffer all day long. For most women, symptoms fade by the start of the second trimester, around weeks 12 to 14. Some women, however, experience morning sickness for their entire pregnancy.
All of this is to say that morning sickness is incredibly common and if you’re a pregnant woman suffering from it, you’re not alone. And here’s even more good news: we have plenty of advice on how to help morning sickness below! But first, let’s quickly talk about why morning sickness occurs so that you can get a better idea of how to deal with it.
What Causes Morning Sickness?
Doctors aren’t totally sure what causes morning sickness, but there are a couple of common theories: A number of hormones rise during pregnancy, including human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), estrogen, progesterone, and cholecystokinin. This rise can cause nausea, which probably doesn’t surprise you if you’ve experienced nausea related to hormonal contraception.
Another (and perhaps additional) possible cause of morning sickness is dropping blood sugar levels as a result of the extra energy a pregnant woman’s body expends and the fetus’s energy needs.
How to Deal with Morning Sickness
1. Eat the Right Way
Often when you’re suffering from morning sickness, the last thing that you want to do is eat. But of course you have to so that your body has the energy and nutrition that it needs. Eat frequently, but only a small amount at a time. An empty stomach and low blood sugar levels can worsen nausea.
Eat early in the day, even before you get out of bed in the morning. Keep a stash of crackers by your bed so that you can start your day with something gentle on your stomach within arms reach. Find healthy foods that you can stomach, like saltines, toast, or trail mix. Smoothies or protein shakes can be a great option if drinking is easier than eating solid food and cold food is often easier on you than hot.
Make sure to get plenty of protein and healthy fats to help you obtain more lasting energy. But be sure to try to avoid fried and overly fatty foods which are difficult to digest. It’s also important to take a prenatal vitamin. Look for one that includes vitamin B6 which helps with nausea. Try to take the multivitamin in the evening rather than the morning as it will sit better on your stomach after it’s been digesting all day.
2. Hydrate the Right Way
Hydration is also important, especially if your morning sickness comes with vomiting. Be sure to sip plenty of water during meals, but you may want to drink as little as possible when actually eating. The water together with food can make you feel even more full and irritate nausea further. For extra relief, drink water infused with ginger and fresh tastes like mint, lemon, and rosemary. Sucking on ice and ice pops can also relieve nausea and keep you hydrated.
3. Take It Easy
As much as you probably want to go about your normal routine, don’t push yourself too much. Try to get plenty of rest and minimize stress. Take advantage of distractions to take your mind off how bad you feel, but be careful to avoid staring at a screen for too long. Looking at screens for a prolonged period can cause eye strain which, in turn, can contribute to feelings of nausea.
Instead, read or take time to talk to friends. If you’re feeling up to it, a short walk can be a great way to get some fresh air. It will also help your brain to produce endorphins, which is a hormone that elevates your mood and helps you feel relaxed. You may also want to plan on taking a vacation around week seven or eight of your pregnancy, when morning sickness symptoms are typically at their worst.
4. Be Open to Alternative Solutions
If your symptoms are severe enough, your doctor may recommend medication. But be sure to never take medication, even an over-the-counter one, while pregnant without checking with your doctor first. In the meantime, or if your symptoms aren’t too severe, be open to alternative ways to treat your morning sickness, like aromatherapy, acupuncture and acupressure, and anti-nausea bracelets. Some women also report that sour things, like lemon or sour candy, alleviate their symptoms.
5. Take Control
Don’t be afraid to take the driver’s seat when it comes to dealing with your symptoms. Keep a journal that records what you’ve eaten and when, what you’ve been doing, and what seems to be helping or worsening your symptoms. Then you can look through your journal and see if any patterns emerge so you know what to keep doing and what to avoid.
If your friends or family members are doing something that worsens your symptoms, speak up and let them know. Your loved ones don’t want to make you feel worse. If you’re not much of a homebody, make a morning sickness survival kit. It can contain such handy items as water, snacks that you know you can stomach, plastic bags in case you have the sudden need to vomit, wipes, and anything else that you know helps your symptoms.
And finally, talk to your friends and family members who’ve been pregnant to see what helped them. But ultimately, do what works for you, even if it seems a little odd. After all, you know your body best.