Natural Ways to Manage Morning Sickness
Despite its name, morning sickness isn't restricted to the prenoon hours. Nausea can strike pregnant women at any time of the day.
While morning sickness is a common and familiar condition affecting pregnant women, its causes are not well understood. Doctors suspect hormonal changes in early pregnancy are to blame. There’s also evidence that morning sickness runs in families and may have a genetic predisposition. First-time mothers-to-be and women carrying multiple fetuses are also at higher risk.
Tips to keep food down
Pregnant women may find smaller meals easier to tolerate. Try eating frequent snacks and choosing cold foods that don't have a strong odor. In addition, spicy food and greasy dishes are less likely to appeal to your senses when you're not feeling well. Nausea, combined with a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy, can make foods such as fish, chili, onions, garlic and eggs seem unbearable.
A better option is to pick lighter food such as whole-grain crackers, cheese sticks, apple slices, peanut butter or almonds. A protein shake is a good choice, too, but look for brands without long lists of chemical additives.
You can also experiment with meal timing. If you don't have the stomach to eat something first thing in the morning, then don't. Wait until later in the day when you feel up to it.
Try to limit high-sugar foods, but don’t worry if you aren't getting much variety in your diet during the early days of pregnancy. It's more important to eat anything that helps you feel your best. And taking your prenatal vitamin every day will ensure your baby gets vital micronutrients, such as iron and folic acid. You may also want to include supplements that contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid that can aid the baby’s brain development.
Stay hydrated during pregnancy
Many women worry about not eating enough during the first trimester, but at this stage, the baby doesn't require many calories to thrive. It's more important to focus on hydration, especially if you've been vomiting. Get hydrated by using juice, water, popsicles, smoothies, and even soups and fresh produce.
If you live in a hot environment, stay cool indoors and take it easy. There's plenty of time to boost your physical activity once your stomach starts feeling better.
Unfortunately, no surefire cures work for everyone when it comes to managing morning sickness. Many over-the-counter pills are off-limits to pregnant women, so it's crucial to consult your doctor before trying any new over-the-counter supplements or medications.
Women report varying degrees of success with natural remedies such as ginger tea or ginger gum, acupuncture, vitamin B6 supplements and aromatherapies, especially those that use peppermint oil, chamomile or lemongrass essential oils. Always discuss your plan to incorporate natural remedies with your OB-GYN, especially because supplements and natural remedies are not typically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
When to call your doctor
Nausea and vomiting during the first trimester are usually nothing to worry about. For most women, morning sickness resolves itself as the pregnancy progresses to the second trimester. However, in up to 3 percent of pregnancies, morning sickness develops into a more serious issue called hyperemesis gravidarum, which poses a potential negative impact on both the mother and her developing baby.
Keep your doctor informed of your symptoms, and don’t hesitate to call their office if you're concerned that your morning sickness is more severe than what's considered normal. Weight loss, vomiting three to four times per day, a fruity mouth odor (signaling the presence of ketones, or alternative fuels for the body made when glucose is in short supply), fainting, dizziness and rapid heart rate are all signs that may warrant medical intervention and monitoring.