What is morning sickness?
For many mums-to-be, a dash to the bathroom to be sick is one of the first signs of pregnancy. During early pregnancy, up to nine out of 10 women will feel sick or be sick at some point. So if you spend your early weeks of pregnancy feeling anything but blooming, you’re not alone. Morning sickness is the most common symptom of pregnancy. How bad the sickness is varies from woman to woman. About one woman in three feels sick but doesn’t actually vomit.
You may get the odd bout of mild queasiness when you first wake up, or certain smells may trigger your nausea throughout the day. You may have to endure weeks, or even months, of feeling or being sick. The term “morning sickness” is misleading, as only one woman in 25 feels sick just in the morning, so it doesn’t accurately describe what most women experience. Nausea and vomiting can strike at any time of the day.
If you get it badly you may find yourself unable to work, care for your other children or do everyday activities. Morning sickness can be a great strain, and not just for you. It can affect your relationships with your partner, family and friends, and even lead to depression. However, there is help available from your midwife and GP. Sharing with other women suffering from nausea can help too. As morning sickness is so common, you’re bound to find fellow sufferers in your BabyCentre Birth Club.
The most severe form of morning sickness is hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). If you’re vomiting many times a day, unable to eat or drink without being sick and if you’re losing weight, you may have HG. Unlike normal morning sickness, HG can affect you and your baby’s health unless it’s treated. So talk to your doctor or midwife as soon as you can.
Week 10 is at the very beginning of your baby’s fetal period, during which time she’ll do most of her tissue and organ development. The foundation has already been laid, because her kidneys, intestines, brain and liver are all there and beginning to get to work doing their respective jobs and continuing to develop.
Her extremities are also making some serious progress. Her fingers and toes have probably lost their webbing and are beginning to grow teensy nails at the ends. Moreover, her joints are allowing for some serious movement, including kicking and flexing of the wrists. If you could see her, you might notice a bit of peach fuzz on her delicate skin, as well as a bulging forehead that contains her swiftly developing brain.
Feeling happier, but still a little nauseous? No worries. You’re not alone here, because about half of all women experience morning sickness, which, despite its name, is as likely to happen at dinnertime as it is breakfast. You may be vomiting multiple times a day or perhaps it just a constant feeling of nausea.
No one knows exactly what causes nausea and subsequent vomiting during pregnancy, but it is often attributed to a combination of hormones and other physical changes. The good news is that for half of the women who experience morning sickness, their symptoms will go away by 14 weeks of pregnancy. If you were underweight before pregnancy and are not gaining a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy, it could affect your baby’s weight, so talk to your health care professional. You also may want to discuss your morning sickness if:
- The vomiting or nausea is severe, especially if you can’t keep down any food or drinks for more than 12 hours or you see blood in the vomit
- You see signs of dehydration, such as dark or infrequent urine or dizziness when you stand
- You have abdominal or pelvic pain or cramping
- Your heart is racing
- You lose more than 5 pounds
Morning sickness isn’t usually harmful to women or their babies, but it is unpleasant. Make every effort to keep taking your prenatal vitamin to maintain healthy nutrients for your developing baby. If you have trouble keeping it down, try taking it at night or with a snack or chew gum or suck on hard candy after taking the vitamin. If these steps don’t help, talk to your health care provider.
Here are some things you can try to help prevent nausea and vomiting, keeping in mind that they don’t always work for everyone:
- Eat smaller meals often throughout the day, avoiding an empty stomach.
- Drink fluids regularly, particularly 30 minutes before eating. Water, ginger ale, lemonade and other cold, clear, carbonated or sour fluids are good choices. You also may want to suck on ice chips or ice pops.
- Eat plain crackers, such as saltines, because the salty, neutral flavors have been shown to calm tummies. Some women find it helps to eat a few crackers or piece of dry toast before getting out of bed in the morning to settle an empty stomach. Foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat may be easier to digest.
- Smell fresh lemon, mint or orange, either fresh or using an oil diffuser.
- Steer clear of greasy, fatty and spicy foods, if they seem to upset your stomach. That plateful of nachos or loaded pizza before bedtime may not be a great idea.
- Avoid foods and smells that trigger your nausea. This varies from person to person and may even vary from one pregnancy to the next, but, for some women, perfume, coffee, chemicals and smoke are common triggers.
- Avoid visual or physical motion, such as flickering lights, driving mountain roads or going on a boat.
- Get a breath of fresh air when you need to, because getting overheated may add to feelings of nausea, and exercise may alleviate them. Weather permitting, open windows when you can.
- Wear an acupressure or “seasickness” bracelets, which can be found in drugstores. Acupuncture and hypnosis are other alternative treatments that some women find helpful.
Your health care professional also may talk to you about taking supplements, such as vitamin B6 and doxylamine, or antihistamines or other anti-nausea medicines. Do not take any supplements or medications without discussing them with your health care professional.
When Does Morning Sickness Start?
Right after finding out you’re pregnant, one of the next questions usually is, when does morning sickness start? The arrival of morning sickness during a pregnancy can often feel like a mixed blessing. On one hand, you may find the queasiness and nausea to be a strange comfort. It’s a poorly-dressed messenger that reassures you that your pregnancy hormones are robust and all is going well.
On the other hand.well, if you’ve experienced morning sickness before, you’ll know all about that. Its effects can often be underestimated, but morning sickness can be severely disruptive. It can cause lost time at work, difficulty with getting through daily activities and severely disrupting your enjoyment of the pregnancy.
Why it Starts?
Keeping a new pregnancy under wraps until the first trimester is over can seem virtually impossible with morning sickness especially if it lasts 24/7. While this aspect of pregnancy is normal for up to 85 percent of women, nausea and vomiting can be a tricky thing to conquer as you try to go about your day.
Symptoms of morning sickness typically begin four to eight weeks after conception and begin to fade as your first trimester winds down, although its not entirely uncommon to feel queasy throughout your entire pregnancy.
Being repelled by certain tastes and smells is common, even by foods that normally appeal to you. Don’t be afraid to follow your intuition, as ignoring an aversion could just make you feel worse.
Will morning sickness affect my baby?
Morning sickness won’t affect your baby as long as you’re able to keep some food and fluid down. Even in very severe cases it’s unlikely to cause any harm as long as it’s treated. Feeling sick is a good sign that the placenta has developed well and that your pregnancy hormones are working to keep your pregnancy going. Research suggests that women who experience morning sickness may be less likely to have a miscarriage than those who don’t.
But that’s not to say that if you don’t feel sick you won’t have a perfectly healthy pregnancy. You may just be one of the lucky ones! Eat a balanced diet if you can, but if you’re feeling very sick, just eat whatever you can cope with. This means that you may have odd or limited food choices for a while. You may only be able to manage crackers, bread or potatoes for a month. Try not to worry – there’ll be plenty of time for you to eat healthily once you’re over your sickness.
In the meantime, your baby will get the nutrients he needs from your body’s reserves, even if you aren’t eating well. When you get your appetite back, our trimester-by-trimester meal planners can help you to get the nutrients you need throughout your pregnancy. An important nutrient in the first trimester is folic acid. Take a daily supplement of 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid, as this will help your baby’s spine and nervous system to develop. You should also take a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D .
You can take a pregnancy multivitamin which contains 10mcg of vitamin D and 400mcg of folic acid. Taking a multivitamin has the benefit that you’ll only have one tablet to swallow, if you’re finding it hard to keep anything down. If you’re vomiting often, are unable to eat and drink without vomiting, and are losing weight, you may become dehydrated.
It’s important to call your doctor straight away. There are treatments that can help you at home and the earlier you start them, the better they’ll work. Warning signs that you need help include:
- your urine is very dark in colour or you pass no urine for more than eight hours
- you can’t keep anything down for 24 hours
- you’re suffering repeated, unstoppable vomiting
- you’re vomiting blood
- you have abdominal pain or fever
- you feel weak or faint
If home treatments don’t work or you’ve developed complications because of the vomiting, you may need to be admitted to hospital to control your sickness and to top up on fluids and nutrients via a drip.
Why am I feeling sick?
Though it won’t help your nausea, feeling sick is actually a good sign that your pregnancy hormone levels are high and your pregnancy is likely to continue. The exact cause of morning sickness is unknown, but it’s thought to be connected to the pregnancy hormones, human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) and oestrogen.
Good levels of HCG ensure that your pregnancy continues and develops until the placenta can maintain it. Levels of HCG tend to decrease at around 16 weeks to 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is when the sickness usually comes to a halt. It’s possible that your increased sense of smell and nausea is a protective measure during your pregnancy. This makes you less likely to eat something harmful or to expose yourself to toxins.
Another factor could be that the pregnancy hormone progesterone relaxes the muscles of your digestive system, so it takes longer for food to move through your system. This could also make you more likely to feel sick and nauseous.Whatever the cause, it can be a shock to find yourself overwhelmed by morning sickness. It’s unclear why some women get it and others don’t, but there are lots of factors that can make it more likely that you’ll get it.
Risk factors for morning sickness include:
- You’re expecting your first baby.
- You’re expecting a girl.
- You’re expecting twins or triplets, as the pregnancy hormone levels will be higher.
- Your sister or mum had HG during their pregnancies.
- You suffered from HG in a past pregnancy.
- You have a history of nausea when using oestrogen-based hormonal contraceptives.
- You’re prone to travel sickness or migraines.
- You were overweight at the start of pregnancy.
- You’re young.
A molar pregnancy is another risk factor for severe nausea and vomiting, although this condition is rare.If you are tired or hungry your nausea may become worse. Stress may make your morning sickness worse. However, severe morning sickness itself causes a lot of distress.
Can Feel Like All Day Sickness
Its so painfully ironic – while its called ‘morning’ sickness you can certainly experience it at any time of day – or all day. To me, morning sickness with my first pregnancy was like feeling hungover every single day, until about 14-15 weeks of pregnancy. It was awful! There is an old wives tale about morning sickness and gender too – find out if its thought you’re having a boy or girl.
Is Something Wrong?
Don’t be mistaken for thinking that no morning sickness means that there is a problem with the pregnancy. Every individual pregnancy is unique – you may have bad morning sickness for one, and very little for the other. Some women just get no morning sickness, and say they’d feel more reassured if they did have morning sickness! But in this case, you’ll just have to count your blessings that you’re not sick.
Can I Prevent Morning Sickness?
It’s probably not possible to prevent morning sickness, but some studies seem to suggest that taking prenatal vitamins before you become pregnant can reduce the chance of you experiencing it. Continuing your vitamins during the pregnancy may also help to reduce your symptoms, particularly if you are taking B6. Ask your doctor about the correct dosage.
Common Pregnancy Symptoms in Week 10
- Breast Changes: tenderness, fullness, darkening of the areola
- Frequent Urination
- Morning Sickness
- Heartburn or Indigestion
What is Works of Morning Sickness?
The way that you may experience morning sickness is very individual and so too will be the way that you react to the many possible remedies that are available. Try a few, but listen to your body till you find what works best for you:
1) Acupressure Wrist Bands
A number of studies have shown that acupuncture can be helpful in relieving morning sickness. Many women have found specially designed wristbands effective. These can be purchased at many chemists and comprise a soft wristband with a small bead or button that stimulates an acupuncture point (the P6 or ‘Neiguan’ point) on the underside of your wrist. Pushing down on the button before you get out of bed in the morning or any time that you feel nauseous can interrupt the feelings of sickness.
This can be a difficult one for many women, but sometimes what your body really needs from you is rest! Don’t try to bravely push through on your own. Now is the time to ask for help from your partner, family and friends. Take some time for yourself. If you need some time off work, that’s fine too.
3 ) Peppermint (or Ginger) Tea
Ginger has long been a traditional remedy for morning sickness, but some researchers are becoming concerned about the possible effects of ginger on the unborn baby. The amount of ginger contained in a cup of ginger herbal tea or a ginger biscuit shouldn’t be anything to worry about but it would be wise to seek professional advice if you are planning to ingest significant amounts of raw ginger. Alternatively, many women have found peppermint, in the form of sweets or tea, to be very effective in relieving their symptoms.
4 ) Acceptance
There is no doubt that morning sickness is a physical condition, but that is not to say that the mind does not have a role to play as well. While you may not be able to rid yourself of morning sickness altogether, cultivating an attitude of acceptance that the nausea you are experiencing is an integral part of this part of your pregnancy can help. When the waves of nausea hit, try stilling your mind, breathe quietly and allow the waves to subside. This may not always work, but you may find with practice that you are able to control at least the milder bouts this way.
5 ) Listen To Specially Designed Music
A relative newcomer to the remedy field, there are now CDs and apps available that use sound to interrupt the messages of nausea between the brain, vestibular system and gut. A popular version is called ‘morningwell’ and it has had some very good results – relieving symptoms in 90% of the women that participated in a recent English study. You merely need to listen to the program through a set of headphones whenever you feel your symptoms arising.
6 ) Nausea Medication
For those who have terrible morning sickness and want medical help, there are some medications which can help with nausea. If you feel you can’t manage your morning sickness, speak to your doctor or midwife who can discuss your options and side effects of any medications.
No matter what remedies you try, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to keep hydrated and eat nutritious foods to stay healthy. It can be hard to eat certain foods with morning sickness, but try to eat a diet with plenty of fresh vegetables in a range of colours, leafy greens, protein (e.g. egg, fish, chicken, meat) and foods rich in good fats, for example avocado, eggs, coconut oil and salmon. Keep sugars, grains and caffeine to a minimum.
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