Morning sickness is an unfortunate side effect of pregnancy. For some women, experiencing the waves of nausea and queasiness clue them in to the fact that they might be pregnant. Not every woman suffers from morning sickness. Only about 70 percent of women report this unpleasant result from pregnancy hormones surging through their bodies. Of those, 3 percent report nausea and vomiting as severe enough to warrant a call to their doctors.
While morning sickness might be a normal part of pregnancy, that does not mean you do not have to silently suffer through it. There are things you can do to help minimize your risk and reduce symptoms if you have them.
What causes morning sickness?
In one word, hormones. Specifically, the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estrogen. Pregnant women suddenly experience dramatic increases in both estrogen and progesterone, as well as changes in the production and function of other key hormones in their bodies. All these rapid shifts can cause moodiness. They also can cause what is commonly called morning sickness. Do not be fooled by the name. Although it can be more common first thing in the morning, women can be struck by nausea and vomiting at any time during the day.
How long does morning sickness last?
Most women who experience it say the queasiness and throwing up start around their fifth or sixth week of pregnancy. The worst part of it tends to happen around 9 or 10 weeks because that is when levels of hCG are at their highest. Around 11 weeks, hCG levels begin a downward spiral and drop by nearly half around week 15. The good news is for most women, the symptoms resolve by the beginning of the second trimester.
Natural remedies for morning sickness
Women with severe morning sickness who risk becoming dehydrated should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Prescription medications like Reglan and Zofran can help extreme cases of nausea and vomiting. If your morning sickness is mild to moderate, these natural approaches can help ease your discomfort.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
While eating may be the last thing on your mind when you have nausea, not eating can make your upset stomach worse. Eating a large meal is not the best approach (and just gives your stomach more ammunition to expel). Instead, focus on eating smaller meals more often. Instead of the typical breakfast, lunch, dinner routine, try having five to six smaller meals spaced out throughout the day. Balance your meal choices with protein and carbohydrates. To ease the early morning get-out-of-bed-queasies, keep some plain crackers or dry cereal at your bedside and have a few before trying to get up.
- Avoid trigger foods
Fatty and greasy foods might taste good going down, but they can wreak havoc on pregnant bellies. The list of foods to avoid list includes those that are too sweet or spicy and raw veggies because they can cause gas. High protein, carbohydrate-rich foods seem to work well for women experiencing morning sickness issues. The blander, the better. Another trick is to avoid eating and drinking at the same time. Try eating your meal first. Wait about 15 to 20 minutes, then drink something.
- Avoid strong odors
Smoke, perfumes, and anything that carries a strong scent – even otherwise pleasing smells – can trigger nausea in pregnant women. Some women report not being able to tolerate the odor of cooking meat and other dishes they once enjoyed. Pregnant women who must cook should open windows and turn on ventilation systems to help keep odors at a minimum.
- Take prenatal vitamins at the right time
Iron is one of the many vitamins and minerals pregnant women need to stay well and to help the healthy development of their babies. Prenatal vitamins include higher doses of iron than what is found in regular daily vitamins. When taken on an empty stomach, that extra iron can trigger your nausea and vomiting. Instead of taking prenatal vitamins in the morning, consider taking them at bedtime. That gives your body time to absorb the iron in case you experience nausea and vomiting in the morning.
- Stay hydrated
Throwing up can cause dehydration, which is not a good thing during pregnancy. It might seem like a fruitless effort when your stomach is queasy, but the more dehydrated you become, the more you will vomit. It is a vicious cycle. Eating salty foods – which can settle nausea – prompts your body’s thirst response. You can calm your stomach and drink fluids at the same time. Sports rehydration liquids like Gatorade and Powerade can help stave off dehydration and help with upset tummy at the same time.
Help for pregnant women
Learning how to deal with morning sickness is just one of the things pregnant women must face. Care Net Pregnancy Centers has a multitude of resources for pregnant women and their partners. Reach out to us today to learn how we can help support your healthy pregnancy.