Morning sickness, unlike what the name suggests, doesn’t just happen in the mornings but can occur during any part of the day. It tends to be more common in the morning mainly due to an empty stomach. One of the most common symptoms of pregnancy, morning sickness usually decreases by around the mid-third or fourth months of your pregnancy, after which you should experience an increase in your appetite and energy.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a variety of morning sickness that is characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss and electrolyte disturbance. The symptoms of HG usually appear between 4-6 weeks of pregnancy and may peak between 9-13 weeks. Most women receive some relief between weeks 14-20, although up to 20% of women may require care for hyperemesis throughout the rest of their pregnancy.
Mild cases can be treated with dietary changes, rest and antacids. More severe cases often require a stay in the hospital so that the mother can receive fluid and nutrition through an intravenous line (IV). Do not take any medications to solve this problem without first consulting your healthcare provider. Check with your doctor when in doubt about alternative measures.
Coping with Discomfort
1. Tips to cope with morning sickness:
- Chewing on a small piece of ginger or having a ginger-based drink or any fluid with a slice of fresh ginger and lemon helps relieve the feeling of nausea.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and starchy foods such as rice, rotis, whole grain bread, pasta and baked/boiled potatoes.
- Eat foods rich in protein, such as lean meat and chicken, eggs, pulses (beans and lentils) and soya nuggets.
- Consume dairy foods such as milk, cheese, cottage cheese and curd/yogurt.
2. Tips to cope with acidity, heartburn and indigestion:
- Have small, frequent meals and take your time over your meals. Eat slowly and chew your food properly.
- Avoid fatty and spicy foods, chocolate, citrus fruits and coffee.
- Don’t lie down for at least two and a half hours after a meal. This would help relieve bloating.
3. Tips to cope with constipation:
- Eat fibre-rich foods like oats and cracked wheat, wholegrain bread, whole wheat rotis, nuts and dried fruits, especially figs and fresh fruits and vegetables.
- It is important to drink lots of water with the above foods as fibre absorbs water, and not having enough water may worsen constipation.
4. Tips to improve general well-being
- Sleep is an essential restorative during pregnancy. Get at least 10 hours of sleep on an average, you can split this up by napping for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Sleep on one side as your pregnancy progresses.
- Wear comfortable clothes that do not constrict the area around your belly. A well-fitting bra will give support and comfort to growing breasts, which could become sensitive. Belts and high heels are not advisable during pregnancy.
- As your pregnancy advances, your sense of balance will be a little off so be extra careful while taking a bath, etc. It is essential to have a bath every day though as cleanliness wards off many infections. Good oral hygiene plays a vital role in preventing many diseases too.
FAQs from our Readers
1. What causes morning sickness?
Increased production of the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone in early pregnancy is what primarily causes nausea or morning sickness. The levels of HCG are very high during the first pregnancy and multiple pregnancies.
2. Will my baby suffer because of morning sickness?
No, though in severe cases of morning sickness, the mother-to-be will be hospitalized to prevent the dehydration.
3. What can help prevent morning sickness other than drugs?
Making sure your stomach is not empty by eating smaller meals at regular intervals, eating more vegetables and fruits and avoiding fatty fried foods, avoiding unpleasant smells and taking adequate rest will hopefully work for you and alleviate the feeling. Natural remedies such as ginger taken as such or in the form of ginger teas, candies, etc., help relieve the symptoms. A cup of chamomile or peppermint tea also helps with the uneasiness. Vitamin B6 is also helpful. If you have any doubts about the alternative measures, ask your OB.