Pregnancy is a truly special and very exciting time, characterised by images of the happy, glowing mum-to-be. Whilst this may be the case for some, unfortunately morning sickness can make early pregnancy a miserable time for many pregnant women.
If you’re experiencing morning sickness, the first thing to know is that this can be a very normal part of pregnancy. Your baby will get all the nutrients it needs to grow and develop. It also is good to know that, in most cases, it will only last for a few weeks.
Short-term pregnancy sickness is very common, affecting around seven out of ten pregnant women. It commonly starts between weeks 6 to 9, is usually at its worst around weeks 9 and 10, and then should start to disappear around weeks 12 to 14. It is often associated with a growth spurt in your baby and occasionally can recur for short periods of time particularly in your third trimester when your baby is putting on some extra weight. You can always talk to your midwife or obstetrician at Nest if you are worried.
Although we are unable to determine exactly why pregnancy sickness occurs, there are a number of strategies that you can try to help reduce the severity of your symptoms.
- Eat small amounts often and eat before you get out of bed
The term “morning sickness” came about as women most commonly experience nausea as soon as they got out of bed. An empty stomach causes nausea because your stomach acids have nothing to feast on, and this is especially so after going without food overnight. Try keeping some snacks by your bedside so that you can eat a little before you rise and eating small amounts, ideally every two hours. Try a snack before bed time to reduce the amount of time you are fasting overnight. Also consider length of time between meals. Morning sickness can affect many in the evening when there has been a long break between lunch and dinner. Try a low GI snack like nuts, avocado on toast or a banana in the afternoon to help get you through until dinner.
- Keep drinking water
Getting your eight glasses a day can seem impossible when you’re having a hard time keeping anything down but it’s essential to stay hydrated. Dehydration can increase your nausea. Try drinking sips of water between meals if you’re finding it hard to keep fluids down. You can try sucking ice cubes if you are vomiting fluids. You also may find it helpful to experiment with temperatures, as you may find icy cold or very hot water more palatable. Sometimes making the water have a slight taste can make it more palatable. Adding a little squeeze of lemon, lime or orange juice can help with this.
- Avoid strong smelling food and drink
There are certain food smells that seem to trigger pregnancy sickness more than others. This is particularly so if the food is hot, fried or spicy. Try to identify the trigger and avoid it where you can. Coffee and cooking meat are common triggers as is cigarette smoke. You can also try eating cold food for a while. This may also deliver a nutrition bonus as cold foods retain all the vitamins they would otherwise lose in the cooking process. For some women, avoiding acidic foods may also help.
As simple as it may seem, sleep is often the best cure for pregnancy sickness. It provides your body with a wonderful opportunity to conserve calories and allow your baby to grow. Use your resources of family and friends to help especially with other children, cooking meal and household chores. Growing a baby is a huge job and a little help and support can go a very long way to easing the effect of pregnancy sickness.
- Seek help if symptoms become severe
Occasionally pregnancy sickness is very severe causing constant and uncontrolled vomiting and an inability to keep any or very little food or drink down for 12-24 hours. It’s important to seek help if your symptoms become severe as this can lead to dehydration and rapid weight loss. This condition is known as Severe Pregnancy Vomiting and usually requires medical treatment, which may result in a short hospital stay. If this is occurring please seek help through either our Nest health care providers or Mater Pregnancy Assessment Centre.
If you’re experiencing pregnancy nausea or sickness, you can discuss this at your next Nest appointment. Every woman and pregnancy is unique and our obstetricians and midwives can provide you with further advice and assistance to help find strategies to help manage your morning sickness.