Among pregnancy symptoms, morning sickness is probably the most annoying one.
Though it doesn't pose any risks for you and your future baby (it is actually a synonym of your pregnancy running smoothly) it can make you feel miserable for several weeks. Up to 75% of expectant mummies suffer from nausea and vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy. Though the symptoms tend to strike more during the morning, and that's why it's mostly known as 'morning sickness', nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (the medical term) can affect you at any time of the day. Strong smells, even those coming from your favourite foods, can trigger it and catch you unprepared, so be ready to run to the toilet when you least expect it.
Before you get to that point, you might as well learn as much as you can about nausea during pregnancy, so that you can deal with it in the best way possible. That's why we encourage you to keep reading this quick morning sickness guide.
What causes morning sickness?
Though experts don't know for sure the exact causes of morning sickness, they consider many factors to explain them. Mainly, they relate it to the physical changes that you experience when having a baby on the way, especially those caused by the pregnancy hormones, whose levels rise really fast in the first trimester. The same thing happens with oestrogen, so it's understandable that your body reacts in so many ways, including nausea and vomiting.
Also, and as mentioned previously, the sensitivity to odours is linked to morning sickness, and so is stress, which is very common among future mums.
When does morning sickness start... and when does it stop?
Many women wonder when morning sickness strikes for the first time, but the truth is that it depends on each individual case. It is considered to be one of the early signs of pregnancy and it generally starts around 6 weeks after conception, but gagging can also surprise you as early as 4 weeks pregnant. Some women will get relief past the 12th week, but others will have to wait until the 16th to feel better. When morning sickness is over, 'What is nausea and how does it feel like?' will be forbidden questions for you... naturally, you'll be 'sick of it'.
How can I relieve it?
If you want to learn how to stop morning sickness, you first have to take into consideration that there isn't a specific formula to do so. However, there are some tips that can help you ease the symptoms, once you find out what triggers them. Don't miss out on the chance to try:
- Having smaller portions of food: avoid the 'three-big-meals rule' and replace it with healthy and more frequent snacks throughout the day. That will prevent your stomach from being empty.
- Staying away from strong smells: for example, write down those foods that trigger your nausea, so that you can avoid them. And don't forget that hot food has more aroma, so try to eat it at a room temperature or cold, instead. In addition, you should prevent nausea by avoiding stuffy environments.
- Not lying down after meals: everybody likes to rest a little bit after having a nice meal, but that isn't good advice when you have regular morning sickness, because lying down makes the digestion process last longer.
- Sipping fluids: avoid drinking too much at one time, which can make you feel full... and sick. Sipping beverages throughout the day may keep you from gagging.
- Munching on morning snacks: in order to reduce the morning sickness effects, keep snacks by your bed. When you wake up, grab a few crackers and enjoy them while being in bed. Take your time, between 15 and 30 minutes, and then get up little by little, because jumping right up from bed generally makes pregnant women feel sick to their stomachs.
- Replacing lost electrolytes: if you've been vomiting quite a lot, drink sport beverages, like Gatorade, which are full of glucose, salt, potassium and other electrolytes.
- Getting fresh air: that's an easy one. When you feel overwhelmed, don't wait for nausea to hit you. Just leave the place that you are in, and go get some fresh air. Take as much time as you need!
- Taking ginger supplements: ginger is often used to ease morning sickness too, so keep a ginger ale, ginger teas or ginger supplements at hand.
- Wearing an acupressure band: you can buy an acupressure band to wear it on your wrist. Experts state that using one of these bracelets to put pressure on a part of your body may help reduce nausea.
Will morning sickness hurt my baby?
Nausea in pregnancy rarely affects your baby at all. Only severe morning sickness that is sustained over time could potentially cause preterm birth or low birth weight. But, still, whether these symptoms impact your little one or not depends on how you work on your diet. For instance, in case you threw up a lot, you would have to make sure that you still fit into the healthy gain weight standards and, above all, stay hydrated. Also, if nausea doesn't allow you to have a balanced diet, be sure that you make up by having the right dosages of prenatal vitamins.
What if morning sickness is too bad?
Despite being uncommon, morning sickness can hit you so badly that you aren't able to keep anything down, either solids or liquids. When that happens, you could be suffering from a pregnancy complication called hyperemesis gravidarum. Such a condition needs to be taken care of by a doctor, because it can result in malnutrition and electrolyte imbalances, among other problems. If you happened to be in this situation, you would probably have to go to the hospital, where you would receive a treatment based on intravenous fluids and medications.
There's also the possibility that you may have mild or moderate morning sickness and you can't find relief, not even trying all the the tips listed above. Well, under these circumstances you will definitely have to talk to your GP, so that he can provide you with medical alternatives. He or she will probably prescribe you antiemetic, anti-sickness medication that's generally safe to use in pregnancy (muscle twitching is its most common side effect). Certain antihistamines may be useful too when it comes to dealing with nausea.
What if I don't have nausea?
Some women 'skip' nausea and vomiting while waiting for their baby's arrival, but is this a bad sign? Absolutely not! Morning sickness is very common, but not showing any of its symptoms doesn't mean that there's an underlying problem. If that’s your case, consider yourself lucky and enjoy your nausea-free pregnancy instead of worrying!
Finally, remember that your chances of getting morning sickness during pregnancy are pretty high. If you do, it's hard to determine how it's going to affect you and which the triggers will be. It will take you a few weeks until you get 'familiar' with the symptoms and learn how to minimise them by taking action. After all, keep in mind that nausea will clear up, more or less, once you enter the second trimester, when you'll have to face new challenges. Indeed, being pregnant is like running a marathon; you won't get a break until you cross the finish line.