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Morning Sickness: Tips for Managing Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy

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Morning sickness, experienced by 70 to 85 percent of pregnant women, is a common condition characterized by nausea and vomiting. Contrary to its name, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day. In fact, about 80 percent of women feel sick throughout the day. The causes of morning sickness are related to hormonal changes during pregnancy. While some women are fortunate enough to avoid it altogether, others may require hospitalization due to its severity.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of morning sickness typically manifest around week 5 or 6 of pregnancy and can worsen at around week 9. However, they tend to improve by weeks 16 to 18. For approximately 15 to 20 percent of pregnant women, symptoms persist until the third trimester, and for 5 percent, they last until delivery.

Will Morning Sickness Harm My Baby?

It’s important to note that experiencing nausea and vomiting will not affect the health of your pregnancy. Interestingly, research suggests that women with mild morning sickness have fewer miscarriages and stillbirths compared to those who don’t experience it. However, a small number of women may suffer from severe and prolonged nausea and vomiting, which requires medical attention. If you experience signs of dehydration, repeated vomiting, pain, cramping, or significant weight loss, it is advisable to speak with your midwife or doctor.

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Managing Morning Sickness

Though the exact cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy remains uncertain, there are steps you can take to alleviate your discomfort. Here are some tips to help manage morning sickness:

Stay Hydrated

Continuous vomiting can lead to dehydration, so it is crucial to drink fluids to prevent this. Drinks containing sugar are generally better tolerated. Sip on beverages such as lemonade, cordial, electrolyte or glucose drinks, ginger beer, mineral or soda waters every 15 minutes. Additionally, sucking on icy poles, frozen fruit juice, ice-blocks, or frozen yoghurt can provide relief. Jelly is also easier to keep down. However, it’s advisable to avoid high acid drinks like orange juice, as they can irritate your stomach.

Try Ginger

Ginger is known for its medicinal properties and has been used in many cultures to alleviate indigestion and nausea, including morning sickness. It can be taken in various forms such as powdered ginger dissolved in tea, grated ginger root as a warm drink, ginger beer (non-alcoholic), glace or crystallized ginger, ginger-flavored biscuits, or cordial. You can even make your ginger cordial by simmering crushed ginger root and honey in water for 20 minutes, then refrigerating and mixing it with mineral water.

Choose Healthy Options

As your vomiting lessens, you can gradually introduce more nourishing drinks into your diet. Consider options like full cream or fat-reduced milk mixed with soda water, fruit juices or vegetable juices (diluted if needed), nutritional supplement drinks like Sustagen, milkshakes or fruit smoothies, and soups at room temperature.

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Try Small Amounts of Food

Eating small amounts of carbohydrates every half hour can help manage morning sickness. Examples include cracker biscuits, a tablespoon of rice, pasta, or breakfast cereal, and a teaspoon of banana or other fruit. Additionally, consuming a small amount of carbohydrates 10 minutes before main meals and having smaller, more frequent meals can be beneficial. It’s advisable to avoid drinking fluids during meals.

Opt for Low Fat Foods

Foods low in fat are generally easier to digest and can help reduce discomfort caused by overeating. You can incorporate foods such as dry toast with honey, jam, or vegemite, plain salty crackers and cheese, jelly and custard, popcorn or dry breakfast cereal, stewed, canned, fresh, or dried fruit, rice, pasta or noodles, steamed, boiled, or fresh vegetables, and soups into your diet.

Foods to Avoid

Certain foods may upset your stomach and exacerbate morning sickness symptoms. It’s best to avoid fatty or fried foods, thick and creamy gravies or soups, sweet foods like chocolate, rich desserts, cakes, and pastries, nuts and dry chips, strong-smelling vegetables, coffee, tea, cocoa, and cola drinks, as well as spicy or rich foods. Wholemeal and high-fiber bread should also be avoided.

Other Helpful Hints to Manage Morning Sickness

In addition to dietary changes, there are other strategies you can implement to manage morning sickness:

  • Eat small amounts of food frequently, aiming for 5 to 6 small meals a day.
  • Avoid skipping meals, as an empty stomach can exacerbate nausea.
  • Take your time when eating.
  • Practice relaxation techniques.
  • Wear loose clothing.
  • Spend time outside in the garden while eating to get fresh air.
  • Sit upright during meals.
  • Rest after meals, but avoid lying flat. Use pillows to elevate your head and shoulders.
  • Chew your food thoroughly.
  • If getting up in the mornings is challenging, snack on dry toast or salty crackers before rising.
  • Prepare and freeze meals on good days, so they’re ready to eat on days when you’re not feeling well.
  • If possible, stay away from the kitchen while food is being prepared.
  • Consider taking vitamin B6 supplements (10 to 25 mg, three times a day) as they can alleviate mild to moderate nausea. Consult your doctor or midwife for more information.
  • Some women find acupuncture, acupressure, and hypnosis helpful.
  • Quit smoking and avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.
  • Only take iron tablets if prescribed by your doctor.
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Seeking Further Assistance

If you continue to experience ongoing problems with morning sickness, your doctor or midwife can refer you to a hospital dietitian for specialized assistance.

For more information on morning sickness, visit Ratingperson.

Remember, morning sickness affects more than 70 percent of pregnant women, but there are simple measures you can take to alleviate symptoms. If your vomiting becomes severe or you experience pain or cramping, seek advice from your healthcare professional.

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