Friday, December 14, 2012

Why do I have morning sickness?

Nausea and vomiting is a common but not well understood condition or pregnancy, is certainly not confined to mornings and in fact, it can be all day sickness.  Symptoms usually appear by 4-6 weeks of pregnancy and one of the signs that a woman suspects that she could be pregnant.
It can also be very debilitating and may not be well understood by family, friends and employers.

It is usually associated with rising levels of hormones that feed the early developing baby until the placenta is fully formed and by 12-14 weeks the symptoms have resolved.  It is extremely difficult to treat because of the potential harm that medications can cause.  

Certain foods, tobacco and smells can trigger the nausea and make it worse.   I came across an interesting study undertaken by two Cornell biologists, who suggest that morning sickness protects the mother and her developing baby. The researchers believe that it may explain why many women have an aversion to meat, certain vegetables, caffeinated beverages and tobacco in the early stages of pregnancy.  It is because her body is trying to protect the developing embryo from the toxins and chemicals that may be present in certain foods and chemicals.  The body is also protecting the mother’s immune system which is naturally suppressed at this time.

Had I known this when I had very bad morning sickness when I had my children, it would have made more sense of my situation, maybe not have made it easier to bear but understanding why I was constantly sick and ‘listening’ to my body.

There are some self-help remedies that you can do to help yourself

  • Instead of three large meals a day, eat 6-8 smaller meals throughout the day.  A snack of dry toast or dry crackers before bedtime and before getting up in the morning, this will help to maintain your blood sugar levels to reduce the risk of nausea.
  • Avoid highly spiced and fried foods, although the smell may put you off these foods anyway.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake and keep tea and coffee to a minimum of 2 cups per day.
  • Vegemite or marmite spread on toast or crackers for its natural Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is a natural antihistamine that may help to reduce the nausea.
  • Ensure that you are drinking plenty of fluids, at least one glass of water an hour during the waking hours.
  • Gentle walking after eating may help.
  • Slippery elm (available at the supermarket) may help to reduce the nausea.  It is quite bland so mixing it with some honey will make it more palatable.   
  • Sipping ginger tea or ginger ale made with real ginger.
Alternative therapies
  •   Acupressure wristbands help some women
  •   Acupuncture

If you are continuously vomiting and you are unable to keep any fluid or solids down, this is a much more severe form of morning sickness called Hyperemesis Gravidarum and needs to be treated immediately.  Please contact your midwife or gp who will be able to advise you.

Morning sickness may be protecting you and your baby

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