Morning sickness refers to the nausea and vomiting women experience during pregnancy. If you want to learn why it happens and what your management options are, stick around, because we’ll cover all of that and more in this article.
What is morning sickness?
While nausea (the feeling you’re going to vomit) and vomiting can happen anytime, if it happens during a pregnancy, it is called morning sickness. The term came about because the symptoms usually occur in the morning.
When does morning sickness strike?
The answer would seem obvious – in the morning! However, while we said earlier that the symptoms usually occur in the morning, they can appear at any time during the day (or night).
As for when in the pregnancy, morning sickness usually happens in the first trimester, or the first three months, often starting before nine weeks.
This makes it an excellent indicator of a pregnancy. If you have had unprotected intercourse and are experiencing morning sickness, getting a pregnancy testing kit may be a good idea.
Will morning sickness affect my baby?
Many women are concerned that the act of retching or vomiting may strain the abdominal muscles and harm their baby. While it may seem concerning, your baby is in fact completely safe, cushioned happily in their sac of amniotic fluid. In fact, scientists have found a link between morning sickness and a reduced risk of miscarriage!
So, as long as the symptoms aren’t severe, you’re alright. Just take good care of yourself and your baby, eat healthy and have a healthy lifestyle, and you will soon welcome home a beautiful little bundle of love!
If your symptoms are severe, however, you risk getting dehydrated, or depriving your baby of proper nutrition, in which case they may be born underweight or unhealthy. Contact your GP at the earliest if your symptoms are severe.
Symptoms and causes
People are often worried that the symptoms of morning sickness extend beyond the obvious, but luckily, that isn’t the case. So, simply put, this condition has two symptoms:
- Nausea, or a feeling that you’ll throw up. This has been likened to seasickness or motion sickness.
- Vomiting (which does not always occur)
Both these symptoms are unpleasant and distressing, but they can be lessened to some degree with natural remedies and proper management – which we will cover in the next section. Now, let’s talk about causes.
Morning sickness has no known causes. It’s one of those things that just happens during the first trimester of a pregnancy. There may be a link to hormone changes or, in rare cases, to medical conditions such as thyroid or gallbladder disease.
Morning sickness affects most pregnant women, but some are immune to it. You’re likelier to have morning sickness if you already had these symptoms before pregnancy (due to motion sickness or other factors), had the condition during a previous pregnancy, or are pregnant with multiple babies (twins, triplets).
How to cope with morning sickness using natural remedies
Pregnancy isn’t easy, and when you add unpleasant symptoms such as these to the list you can really start to feel miserable. However, luckily, there are many ways you can lessen the symptoms with homemade or natural remedies. Let’s go over a few:
Vitamin B6 has been found to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness in pregnant women. It has been found that the vitamin helps nausea to a significant degree, although it may not help much with vomiting.
A 1991 study conducted on fifty-nine women found that women who took B6 supplements experienced a noticeable difference in their symptoms. The nausea and vomiting were significantly reduced in the group that received the vitamin, while the placebo group continued to have symptoms at the same level.
As with everything, however, exercise caution. Too much of a good thing can be bad, and B6 is no different. Experts advise not taking more than 200 mg per day, as an excess of the vitamin will do more harm than good.
Vit B6 is also important for normal brain development, and for maintaining the health of your nervous and immune systems.
An excess of this vitamin, however, can have severe symptoms, such as a lack of muscle control, painful skin lesions, heartburn, nausea, photosensitivity, and numbness.
This happens if you take more than 1000 mg a day, but you have a developing fetus inside you, so you must exercise utmost caution.
If you’d like a treatment option that’s wholly natural and has few to no side effects, try ginger. Its soothing properties make it perfect for relieving nausea and vomiting, and a refreshing ginger tea will take your mind off the unpleasant symptoms. Ginger comes in many forms – capsules, candies, ginger ale, powder form, and raw ginger, which you can crush and add to a tea.
The root contains various plant compounds that help alleviate pain and nausea, among other problems. Certain compounds in the root help speed up the process of emptying the stomach, which can help reduce nausea and vomiting. Ginger also helps aid in proper digestion if taken in moderation.
Ginger capsules are extremely effective at treating morning sickness, but you can also try consuming it in any of the other forms.
To make ginger tea, brew some black tea in a pot, crush up a bit of fresh ginger (don’t make it too strong!) and add to the boiling water. Let it steep for a couple minutes, and then serve.
As for risk factors – avoid consuming ginger tea close to labor, as it may increase the chances of bleeding. In addition, frequently drinking ginger tea may lead to heartburn and gas.
If you have a history of vaginal bleeding or spotting, consuming ginger may worsen the symptoms.
Another treatment option you can try at home is Doxylamine, or Unisom. It is often used in conjunction with vitamin B6 to treat signs of morning sickness. This combination has been recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The drug comes in tablet form and can be taken orally like a supplement.
Eating or drinking something with lemon in it is a great way to stave off nausea. It doesn’t have an overpowering smell, and the neutralizing acids in the citrus fruit create bicarbonate compounds that help soothe an upset tummy.
Whenever you’re feeling queasy or nausea, don’t wait for it to get worse – simply mix a little lemon juice with a pinch of salt in a glass of water, and sip. It will take effect almost immediately, and provide relief. Lemon juice is also good for heart health, weight loss, anemia, digestion and many other common health ailments.
Peppermint or mint
Another little tip if you’re feeling nauseous is using peppermint. This could be in the form of essential oils, mouth freshener, or even mint leaves! Inhaling the oil, using the mouth freshener or chewing on some fresh leaves will not only help with the symptoms, but also remove the icky aftertaste of regurgitated food and stomach acids from your mouth!
So, these were some commonly used natural remedies for morning sickness. There are various others that you can try, to see which works best for you – drinking water, sports drinks, and cinnamon being a few options. Everyone’s body is unique, and your needs change from day to day, so your body may react well to ginger one day but not on another.
Tips for management
Here are some tips that you can practice at home, to manage morning sickness and lessen the symptoms to some extent:
- If you feel sick in the morning, get up slowly after you wake up, and have something dry, such as a piece of toast or a cracker soon after you wake up.
- Rinse your mouth after vomiting. It may also be advisable to brush your teeth and use mouthwash, to get the taste of vomit out of your mouth. This helps tremendously!
- Clean up any messes immediately, so you don’t have to look at them – looking at gross things or messes will induce nausea
- Drink water after vomiting. This will further help get rid of the awful taste in your mouth without (hopefully) re-triggering a bout of vomiting
- Don’t avoid eating because of the symptoms. Instead, try to eat light meals. The key is to eat little and often.
- If you’re feeling nauseous, sit up instead of lying down. It may be a good idea to get a bucket or trashcan close to you, in case the symptoms worsen.
Generally, try to look out for triggers and avoid them, and try and steer clear of anything in general that may trigger nausea (such as smells, textures and sights). Other than that, stay healthy, and ride it out. The symptoms will fade soon after the first trimester. To be more specific, symptoms usually start to improve by the middle or end of the second trimester (or set of three months).
Severe morning sickness, or hyperemesis gravidarum
If your condition is severe and you find you’re unable to keep food and liquids down, you may need to consult a doctor. Severe symptoms can lead to malnourishment and dehydration, which can affect both your and your baby’s health negatively.
Hyperemesis gravidarm (HG) is sometimes used as a synonym for morning sickness, but it in fact refers to a severe form of the condition, which can have serious outcomes. It happens when you experience serious fluid loss, or loss of over 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight. HG affects roughly 0.1% of pregnant women, and requires specialist treatment.
Symptoms of HG include:
- Severe nausea and vomiting that won’t stop
- Dehydration (symptoms of which include dizziness, fatigue, thirstiness, and dark yellow or strong-smelling urine)
- Unexpected weight loss
- Low blood pressure when you stand up
If you have severe nausea and vomiting along with these symptoms, go to a doctor immediately. If you can’t drive on your own, get someone to take you.
Hyperemesis gravidarum does not have any known cause – some women simply have it, while most don’t. There is evidence that it runs in families, however, so if your mother or sister experienced it, you should be prepared, just in case. It has also been found that if you had HG in your previous pregnancy, you are likelier to have it in subsequent pregnancies than other women. It has also been reported that HG is commoner in pregnancies where the baby is a girl.
There is over-the-counter medication you can use to stop nausea when it strikes. However, like the proverb goes – prevention is better than cure. So, let’s go over some ways to prevent morning sickness from happening in the first place!
- Take your supplements as directed – taking vitamin supplements during pregnancy can help reduce discomfort to some extent
- Stay hydrated by frequently drinking small amounts of water. Reminder apps may be helpful if you aren’t in the habit of drinking water frequently.
- Eat little and often. Small but frequent meals will help reduce the symptoms to some degree.
- Reduce your intake of fat, instead focusing on meals with a high carbohydrate and protein content
- Sweet, salty or spicy foods may trigger the symptoms, so instead have bland or mildly flavored meals. If you enjoy spicy food, it doesn’t mean you need to give up the things you love – just hit the pause button for a few weeks. Once the symptoms subside, you can go back to enjoying your favorite food!
- Don’t eat aromatic meals. This may mean eating cold meals (especially if it’s summer), as they tend to be less aromatic, and will therefore not trigger nausea and similar symptoms.
- Make sure you get enough rest, and avoid smoking. These are generally important during a pregnancy, but especially so if you want to avoid morning sickness symptoms.
These were some ways in which you can manage and lessen the chances of the symptoms striking. Not only will this make your life a little more pleasant, but these can really come in handy if you’re planning on traveling or attending any events.