When a woman is pregnant, her body undergoes many changes, some causing more problems than others. Morning sickness is one of the most common issues women face during pregnancy, occurring in up to 80 percent of cases to a greater or lesser degree. The nausea usually appears in the first trimester of pregnancy and most commonly disappears around the 16th week. Some women, however, have it for their whole pregnancy. While morning sickness can affect the woman’s quality of life, it is not harmful to the child.
Morning sickness: Dealing with a topsy-turvy stomach
When a woman is pregnant, her body undergoes many changes, some causing more problems than others. Morning sickness is one of the most common issues women face during pregnancy, occurring in up to 90 percent of cases to a greater or lesser degree. The nausea usually appears in the first trimester of pregnancy and most commonly disappears around the 20th week. Some women, however, have it for their whole pregnancy.
While morning sickness can affect the woman’s quality of life, it is not harmful to the child. We do not know exactly what causes morning sickness. It is probably related to the many changes taking place in the body, hormonal changes in particular. It seems that women who are sensitive to nausea in other situations (e.g. carsickness, taking the pill) are more likely to suffer from morning sickness. Women who tend to get acid reflux or heartburn, and women carrying more than one baby, are also more likely to get morning sickness.
What – and when – to eat
Has your mother told you to try eating crackers in bed before getting up in the morning? It makes sense! It seems that an empty stomach can lead to nausea in the morning and throughout the day. In addition to eating a few bites of food in bed, try eating several small meals and snacks throughout the day, so that you never have a totally empty or overly full stomach.
And which foods should you eat?
The ones you can keep down! In other words, avoid any foods whose odor or texture nauseates you. As for liquids, it’s very important to stay hydrated, especially if you’ve vomited. Drink small quantities of liquid regularly. Avoid drinking with your meals, so as not to overload the stomach. It is best to wait 20 to 30 minutes after a meal before you drink anything. Cold drinks appear to be better tolerated than hot ones, especially when odors provoke nausea.
Multivitamins: Yay or nay?
It can be reassuring to take a daily multivitamin if your diet lacks variety due to nausea. However, many women suffer from nausea when they take multivitamins!
Since the iron content is usually the culprit, you can try a product that contains little or no iron. If you stop taking your multivitamin, make sure to replace it with a folic acid supplement because that vitamin is essential during pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects. The baby can usually obtain all the other vitamins and minerals from the mother’s reserves until the nausea runs its course and the mother returns to her balanced diet or multivitamin use.
During pregnancy, the mouth produces excess amounts of saliva, which can trigger a gagging reflex. Some experts recommend spitting the saliva out rather than swallowing it, and to gargle regularly with water or mouthwash.
Constipation can exacerbate nausea, so it’s important to drink regularly and to eat tolerated fibre-rich foods every day. If constipation persists despite these measures, you may need to take a laxative. To determine the product best suited to your needs, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Fatigue is another factor that can worsen morning sickness. Pregnant women, especially those with morning sickness, should adapt their daily activities to their level of energy and include some rest periods during the day. This is the perfect time to let go and accept help from your spouse, family and friends!
Consider alternative therapies and natural health products
Acupuncture can help relieve nausea in certain women. Acupuncture is safe as long as the practitioner respects the necessary hygiene measures, such as using sterile single-use needles. Applying pressure to a specific spot on the wrist can also relieve nausea in some women. You can stimulate that pressure point, which is called P6, by applying pressure with your fingers or wearing a bracelet designed for that purpose.
Ginger is also known to relieve nausea. You can eat a few pieces of marinated ginger (the kind that comes with sushi) or drink ginger beverages. Ginger is also available as a supplement. The recommended dose is 250 mg every six hours, without exceeding 1,000 mg per day.
When all else fails
Is morning sickness ruining your life? Are you spending your days vomiting? Consult your pharmacist, especially if you are showing signs of dehydration (e.g. dark urine, wrinkly skin). Your pharmacist can prescribe medication that will relieve your nausea while being safe for your baby.