Preventing Nausea During Pregnancy

Maternity Care

a pregnant woman feeling nauseous at the sight of her coffee

Morning sickness is one of the early signs of pregnancies. Tell-tale nausea usually starts at week four and for most women finishes by the 14th week however nausea and vomiting can continue throughout the pregnancy for some. While symptoms are often worse in the morning, some women can feel unwell at any time of the day and suffer from morning sickness all day.  

Approximately three-quarters of women experience nausea during the first trimester. Half of all pregnant women will suffer both nausea and vomiting. Extreme morning sickness known as hyperemesis gravidarum can require hospitalisation in a small percentage of pregnancies. Prolonged, severe nausea and vomiting can cause dehydration, weight loss, low blood pressure and depression.  

The Cause of Morning Sickness

It is thought that increased hormones human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), oestrogen and progesterone which rise rapidly during early pregnancy cause morning sickness however it is not known why some women’s bodies react to the spike in hormones while others don’t.

Twin and multiple pregnancies can cause higher hormone levels than singleton pregnancies. Women carrying girls may also be more likely to suffer from morning sickness due to higher levels of oestrogen.   

Pregnancy can cause a heightened sense of smell and sensitivity to odours which can trigger the gag reflex.

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Foods that may Improve Morning Sickness

Foods are important in all pregnancies but if you are suffering morning sickness, eating can provide some relief. An empty stomach can make the nausea worse, so it’s important to keep eating small meals throughout the day to help ward off nausea. Some pregnant women will start the day with dry crackers before they even get out of bed. If you are taking a pregnancy vitamin check that it contains B6 as a deficiency can cause nausea.

There is a range of herbs recognised for their nausea curing properties. It may take some trial and error to find the one that works best for you. Ginger is the most well-known aid for morning sickness but if you are eating it in a processed form, check how much ginger you are really consuming. You may also like to try slippery elm, peppermint, spearmint, catnip, fennel tincture and red raspberry leaf (second trimester onwards).  

Green smoothie drinks or supplements containing alfalfa, kelp, spirulina and chlorophyll can help with balancing the body’s nutrient levels.

Other Tactics for Combating Morning Sickness

Some pregnant women wear motion sickness bands on their wrists’ pressure points to relieve nausea. Others use acupuncture to attempt to restore balance in their body.   

Getting fresh air can sometimes help with nausea. If possible, take regular walks or open a window, so the room isn’t hot or stuffy. Aromatherapy has helped some women either using a diffuser or essential oils on a cloth. Lemon, mint and orange are thought to be the most effective oils for reducing nausea.   

It is common for pregnant women suffering morning sickness to lose weight in the first trimester. While it is worrying for mothers to be, they can be reassured that most of the nutrients a growing baby needs can be gained from their mother’s stores.

If you have any concerns about morning sickness or any other aspect of your pregnancy, speak to your GP or obstetrician.

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Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.

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