Morning sickness is a much less descriptive term for what it actually is: the misery of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Three out of every four pregnant women experience morning sickness, which usually is worse in the morning but can last all day and sometimes, linger throughout the pregnancy.
The nausea usually starts around four to six weeks of pregnancy, and often gets progressively worse before it gets better. About half of these women feel relief around 14 weeks. What causes morning sickness and what are some ways to combat it?
Causes of Morning Sickness
A combination of the physical changes in a woman’s body due to pregnancy can cause morning sickness. Here are a few:
- Enhanced sense of smell and sensitivity, ascribed to higher levels of estrogen, triggers the gag reflex.
- Hormones –elevated estrogen, progesterone, and cholecystokinin, impact digestive activity, inducing nausea and vomiting.
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone that rises rapidly during early pregnancy; nausea tends to peak around the same time.
- Low blood sugar-levels, which result from increased blood flow to the placenta in its extra need for energy.
- Sensitive stomach –during pregnancy the digestive tract can become more sensitive, which has an effect on your tummy.
- Stress, a psychological response to pregnancy in some women, can result in nausea or vomiting. This can cause additional stress and a vicious cycle is born.
Managing Nausea and Vomiting
Morning sickness can be managed a number of ways. Here are a few that can relieve symptoms and hopefully reduce or eliminate the nasty and sometimes painful symptoms of morning sickness.
- Over the counter medications, such as antacids like Tums and Rolaids, can help with acid reflux. Plus, they are loaded with calcium, an important supplement. Even without morning sickness, you may want to consider taking calcium supplements. Ask your doctor.
- Scents such as lemon, mint, orange help sooth nausea. Whether you enjoy aromatherapy, warm baths, or a dab of essential oils on a kerchief, a little whiff may put queasiness at bay
- Monitoring your computer monitor or smartphone – even the most constant flickering of a computer monitor add to your nausea. Adjust the screen by bolding and enlarging fonts and changing the background to a soft tan or pink color, to reduce eye strain.
- Dehydration aggravates nausea. Sip fluids throughout the day. Stay hydrated by adding apple cider vinegar and honey to water, or suck fruit juice ice cubes to make hydration palatable. Try a sports drink that contains glucose, salt, and potassium to replace lost electrolytes.
- Food and drinks that are high in fat, too spicy or caffeinated often trigger stomach acids. Bland, cold or room temperature foods in small portions are less aggravating.
- A full tummy – we’re talking food. Stomach acids irritate the stomach lining, so keeping your tummy satisfied may reduce heartburn and reflux. Always keep saltines or graham crackers nearby, or reach for a banana, cool applesauce or pears to settle the stomach and regulate blood sugar. Many women opt for high-protein snacks, like cheese, before bedtime. Others prefer to “graze” all day.
- Keep moving – exercise and drawing in fresh air keeps the blood flowing and supports good internal health. After a meal, be sure to go for a short walk.
- Sleeping propped up
- Ginger and peppermint-aid digestion, reduce abdominal discomfort, and relieve nausea. Cold ginger ale or a slice of raw ginger in water or tea, and snacks such as gingerbread, or ginger cookies may also help. Peppermint tea or peppermint candies, also helps settle the stomach.
- Restrictive or tight clothing – let your body breathe.
If you have been suffering from morning sickness, speak up. Let family, friends and colleagues know your triggers and the little changes that can help. Pack a survival bag with a clean blouse, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and breath mints. Carry a plastic barf bag plus a snack stash of crackers or pretzels. If vomiting becomes excessive, you start to lose weight, or you become dehydrated, waste no time contacting your medical professional to avoid putting your pregnancy at risk.
The friendly staff at University OB/GYN Associates welcomes your call and looks forward to serving you. If you have any questions about our women’s health services, please call our office at (315) 464-5162. To schedule an appointment, you can call us or use our secure online appointment request form.