by Stephanie Lopes
Congratulations! You’re pregnant! A precious miracle is forming inside of you, but you might not be feeling so elated and rather like you want to vomit.
Morning sickness occurs often during pregnancy with feelings of nausea; it is estimated that it affects around 70 to 80 percent of expecting mothers. While some mothers do not experience morning sickness, those who do have a range of symptoms – from mild nausea to frequent vomiting – and it most frequently happens during the first trimester, although it can happen at any stage of pregnancy – day or night.
Why does morning sickness occur? No conclusive answer exists for the exact causes of morning sickness although many doctors suspect the drastic changes in hormone levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and progesterone are to blame.
The good news is that morning sickness does not normally hurt the baby or the mother’s health, and the symptoms tend to dissipate by the second trimester. However, if the feelings of nausea or vomiting are severe, urination is infrequent or dark in color, dizziness, faintness, or a fever occurs, much weight is lost, an inability to keep liquids down develops, or the heart is racing, it is important to consult with a doctor, as medications and other medical measures are available to address severe morning sickness.
If you do not have any of these drastic symptoms to warrant a doctor’s visit but are still experiencing queasiness, a number of steps can be taken to help tame a tumultuous tummy.
Choose calming foods.
Easily digestible, bland foods may be best during times of morning sickness. Try bananas, watermelon, applesauce, rice, crackers, or toast, and avoid greasy, spicy, and heavy foods. Your appetite most likely will gravitate towards the more appealing, lighter, healthier foods.
While this may be counterintuitive, frequent snacking instead of big meals or not eating at all can help to reduce nausea. An empty stomach can lead to more morning sickness symptoms, but big meals unsurprisingly might make you want to explode. Grab some crackers first thing in the morning, yogurt and fruit a few hours later, and then a simple almond butter and banana sandwich for lunch.
Make protein a priority.
Not only does protein help build bones and muscles and stabilize blood pressure, it also can offer relief from nausea as opposed to carbohydrates or fats. High-protein snacks like cheese sticks, nuts, tofu, yogurt, and milk are good choices.
Savor sour foods.
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and lime can help with digestion and ease nausea. Also lemon or ginger candy have been known to tame tummy aches.
During pregnancy, you actually do not need to eat for two but rather only about an additional 300 calories per day. However, you do need to stay hydrated – for you and baby’s health and also to help ease morning sickness woes. Dehydration can contribute to feelings of nausea, so aim to drink eight glasses or more of liquid per day. Water, of course, is a great option, but sparkling water, ginger ale, coconut water, non-caffeinated tea, and fruit-infused water are also other appealing options. Try to limit sugary juices and sodas to control blood sugar levels.
Sit up. Stand up.
Feeling exhausted and queasy during pregnancy may make you want to lie down horizontally. But laying down can cause the stomach’s gastric juices to rise. After eating, it is recommended to stay vertical, either by sitting or going on a brief walk, to assist the stomach in digesting.
Strategically brush your teeth and rinse.
Are you feeling like gagging after brushing your teeth? Waiting at least 30 minutes after eating is advised to lessen the likeliness of triggering gag refluxes when brushing teeth.
Realize the hormone changes during pregnancy can also cause dental problems like gum disease and tooth decay, so it is important to keep consistent dental hygiene habits. This means if you do vomit, rinse with water (and baking soda if palatable) after to neutralize the acid and protect your teeth.
Avoid off-putting smells.
Is it that perfume, your husband’s body odor, garlic, or another trigger? If you can, do your best to avoid these odors, explaining pregnancy hormones – not anything personal – are making these smells unbearable.
Breathe in fresh aromas.
Peppermint, lemon, ginger, orange, and chamomile have all been known to relax uneasy stomachs. A cotton ball filled with these essential oils, or a fresh glass of hot tea might do the trick to tame morning sickness. Stepping outside to breathe in fresh air might also help ease nausea. If you are up to it, try some smells to see if they help; if they don’t help, move on.
Take prenatal pills.
Prenatal vitamins are important for baby’s development and your body, including adding folic acid for brain and spinal cord development and iron for healthy red blood cells. However, prenatal pills might be contributing to the nausea; if this is the case, try taking the pills in the evening with a few crackers instead of in the morning.
Experiment with alternative medicines and therapies.
Some women swear by acupressure wristbands, acupuncture, herbal ginger supplements, hypnosis, and aromatherapy to overcome morning sickness. Although little scientific research supports these methods, some women might opt to try them.
Focus on overall health.
Sleeping well, daily exercise, fresh air, and limited stress – an overall healthy lifestyle – can help to ward off morning sickness while also keeping mommy and baby healthy for the best pregnancy possible.