Feeling sick rather than blooming in the early days of pregnancy is very common and completely normal.
How badly affected you are varies widely. Some women have the occasional feeling of mild queasiness when they first wake up, while others may have to endure weeks or even months of feeling or being sick all day long.
Around half to two thirds of all pregnant women will experience morning sickness to some degree, particularly in the first trimester. For most women, morning sickness begins around the fourth week of pregnancy and resolves by the 12th week. However, one in five women endure morning sickness into their second semester, and an unfortunate few experience nausea and vomiting for the entire duration of their pregnancy.
Morning sickness is typically at its worst early in the day, hence its name, but it can strike at any point during the day or night. Despite research, the actual cause remains a mystery, but theories include hormonal changes and fluctuations in blood pressure. In most cases, morning sickness doesn’t harm the mother or the unborn child. However, severe morning sickness that includes weight loss and dehydration needs prompt medical attention.
Symptoms of morning sickness can include:
Nausea can affect you physically, emotionally and socially. Your normal life may go on hold for a while as you find yourself unable to cope with working, socialising, or caring for your other children. Let your family know how they could help you – in practical ways with shopping, cooking, childcare and chores.
Many women have to take time off work due to severe nausea. You may not have told anyone you are pregnant yet, and it can be stressful trying to “keep up appearances”. To get the support and help you need in these early days you may have to tell people earlier than you wanted to.
If you are tired, hungry, stressed or anxious the nausea may be much worse, and if you are expecting twins or triplets you may vomit more often because you have higher levels of pregnancy hormones
Keep Hydrated. Dehydration is a major cause of nausea and headaches. Aim for 2.5 litres of water, unsweetened juices, and herbal teas or whatever you can manage. Slowly sip a fizzy mineral water when feeling nauseated. Soft drinks, caffeinated beverages, and sugary drinks are best avoided throughout your pregnancy. Limit drinks during meals. Try drinking between meals if you’re finding it hard to keep fluids down. Drink a measured amount each hour. Increase or decrease the amount depending on your body’s reaction.
How to Eat. Eat smaller amounts and more often, and try to work out which foods suit you and which may make your symptoms worse. Having an empty stomach can make you feel more queasy. Keep your blood sugars on an even keel by nibbling small amounts of bland, dry food during the day. Keep a simple snack, such as some plain biscuits, by your bedside. Give yourself a little extra time in the morning to eat them, and rest before getting out of bed.
Eat what and when you fancy for a while, but try to avoid rich, spicy, acidic or fried foods, and eat less fat in general. Aim for high-protein foods, and those rich in vitamin B. But anything that’s easy to eat and keep down, like crackers, is fine.
If you are feeling very sick, don’t worry about eating a balanced diet at this stage, so if eating oranges and Nutella is all that you can manage, then stick with them, spiked with a multivitamin if possible, until you can face other things too. And, as reassurance, so long as you were healthy prior to your pregnancy, your liver stores many of the nutrients that your baby needs to develop healthily. It’s better to eat something and obtain some energy from your food than not to eat at all.
Protein. Protein is the best source of sustained energy and will be one of your biggest allies in preventing nausea. Eat some just before bed to avoid feeling queasy in the morning – worth a try.
Record Symptoms. Keep a diary of when you feel worse – and better. There is often a daily pattern, and you may find a particular time each day when you can eat or drink without as many strong symptoms.
Clothing. Wear loose clothes that don’t constrict the abdomen.
Monitor Energy levels. Reduce stress as much as you can, Remedial Pregnancy Massage can help with stress reduction and tight muscles, and research answers to your questions to avoid anxiety from lack of knowledge. Get as much rest and relaxation as possible and take some time off work if you need to. Listen to your body and be kind and patient with it.
Finding a Positive Environment. Many women find that there is a psychological component to their nausea which can be relieved though counselling and talking with others, as well as empowering themselves in preparation for the birth
Citrus. Suck something sour like a lemon. Sniff lemons – the smell of a cut lemon may help your nausea. Add some slices to iced tea or sparkling water.
Ginger. You could try making a tea from grated root ginger. Steep this in boiled water, leave it to cool and sip it throughout the day. Ginger is known to settle stomachs and help nausea. However, ginger should be used in moderation and with care – as everyone’s body is different. it doesn’t help everyone.
MultiVitamins. A specially designed Pregnancy Multivitamin from a reputable company may reduce pregnancy sickness. If you start taking a multivitamin around the time of conception you may get less severe symptoms. Check with your doctor before taking any supplements in pregnancy.
NOTE: Always make sure your doctor or midwife is aware of your situation. Vomiting during pregnancy can quickly lead to dehydration and possibly malnutrition if it continues long enough. In some cases it may be an unrelated pathogen and should be investigated by your caregiver