Most women who have been pregnant will attest to the incorrectness of the term ‘morning sickness’. For many, it is more like all-day sickness, or some-of-the-day sickness, affecting as much as 90% of the pregnant population.
There are many old wives tales around morning sickness, that it indicates the baby’s gender, that it means you’re having multiples, that it is a healthy pregnancy, and so on.
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But why do we really get morning sickness?
Well some old wives tales might actually have some truth to them. Not the gender one, really there is no way to tell gender other than a scan or blood test. But, the health of the pregnancy and whether or not you’re having multiples may have an impact on your nausea levels.
Morning sickness tends to show itself after the first 4 weeks, around the time you will see that very exciting extra line on your pregnancy test. It will then finish around week 13 or 14 … if you are lucky. For some pregnancies it goes for much longer than that.
Interestingly what causes those two lines to show up on a test is your hCG level. This is a hormone which is being produced to help maintain the lining of the uterus, to make sure the new foetus is being nourished.
It also serves many other functions, including suppressing your immune response, to make sure your body does not treat the growing baby as an invader.
Also note-worthy is that hCG peaks at around 8 – 12 weeks, then dramatically drops off in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy.
So there is a good argument for changes in hormones, particularly hCG, to be linked to nausea. And you could probably say that because hCG helps maintain a pregnancy in the early days, having morning sickness may indicate a viable pregnancy.
However…a BIG however…there are many pregnancies that go perfectly fine with no morning sickness. You can just count yourself lucky.
One of the hardest things about morning sickness is that it happens mainly in the first trimester. You know, the time you’re still trying to keep your pregnancy a secret from those pesky work colleagues…or that auntie who keeps asking why you’ve not popped out 10 kids yet.
For those who get it really bad, it may impact your ability to function day to day. This could mean time off work, a very tough time chasing around after older kids, or the inability to get good nutritional intake.
So what can you do to combat this morning (or all-day) sickness?
The main thing to aim for is even blood sugar levels. Changes in blood sugar levels can also interact with hunger, and hormones, which all affect nausea.
Here are some mum-to-be tested tips;
- Eat small, frequent meals. Having a big meal that your body has to process can trigger nausea and vomiting. It also means you are waiting too long between meals, causing your blood sugar levels to peak and dip all over the place. Small and consistent is the key.
- Opt for high fiber. High fiber foods help slow digestion, again regulating those blood sugar levels. They also tend to be packed with B-Vitamins which have been shown in studies to combat nausea and fatigue.
- Eat first thing in the morning. Breakfast is thus named because you are breaking your overnight fast. Morning sickness can present itself in the morning because you are waking up with low blood sugar levels and an empty stomach. Many mums-to-be find having a little snack by their bedside table such as crackers, or convincing a helpful partner to bring toast to bed, is a great way to get on top of nausea before it takes over your day.
- Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water and herbal teas. Stay away from caffeinated beverages such as coffee, black tea, and soft drinks, which may dehydrate you even more.
- Get plenty of rest. A lack of sleep has been linked with morning sickness. So rest up if you can! There is a good chance you will be very tired in the first trimester anyway, so take naps if those work for you, or get a really early night.
- Take your prenatal vitamins at night. Sometimes taking prenatal supplements first thing on an empty or semi empty stomach can cause nausea. So play around with what works for you. Many women find taking it with dinner is easier to stomach.
- Take a combo of Vitamin B6 and Ginger. Both of these have been found in studies to reduce nausea caused by pregnancy!
Hopefully some of these methods work for you, and do remember that most morning sickness will be gone around the end of the first trimester.